You’ve all heard the claims.
Wheat is the STAFF OF LIFE! The Bible proclaims it!
Wheat is one of the chief destroyers of the human body!
Whole wheat is one of the healthiest foods to consume!
Wheat is hard to digest, and causes bloating and yeast growth!
Sooooooo………….. uh huh……… WHAT DO WE DO with this information????
First I’d like to let you all know that I am NOT a certified anything.
Yep. You read that right. Not “certified” in anything specific. Sure, I have gone to culinary school. Sure, I have my Bachelors in Business. Sure my husband has Celiac’s disease which has everything to do with wheat. Sure I have had my own experimentations on my own body and seen it in my children as well. Sure I have read at least 5 books that deal with “to wheat, or not to wheat.” Sure I have seen first hand in more than 40 clients what wheat can do. Sure I have read popular and even doctor based diet and health articles and blog posts and a few “certified” medical studies about wheat and digestion……..
BUT——-> I, am not personally “certified” in anything. What does that mean to you? Take this with a grain of salt. Disclaimer over.
Here are the points I’d like to discuss (since there are over 150 different claims about wheat…..I had to pick just a few that I felt would apply to my readers):
#1: Is wheat, in and of itself, a grain that is GOOD for the human body?
#2: What is wheat’s role in proper digestion?
#3: Does consuming wheat affect weight loss/gain?
So here we go.
#1. Is WHEAT, in and of itself, as a grain on God’s good earth a GOOD thing for the human body?
Lets go back to history for just a second…… remember when we talked about BUTTER? And we discovered that people have been consuming butter for THOUSANDS of years, and when a few people thought saturated fats (which are in butter) was causing heart disease, they replaced butter with margarine, and the heart disease cases CONTINUED to rise? In fact, the cases almost rose faster after butter consumption was cut drastically. That ultimately means, that BUTTER was not the culprit after all. HOWEVER—- the scare of saturated fats that flooded the press, and the commercials and the health profession training manuals, and eventually landed in our own school health text books over the next 60 years lasted. Despite new research proving otherwise….. Ya. Well, I feel that something similar has happened with WHEAT- but not due to the nature of the grain itself in its whole form, but rather due to what some scientist and farmers have done to it over the years.
Humans have been consuming wheat FOREVER. Like, seriously, the earliest records state the fact. And there were not mass amounts of people dying from it, or complaining about IBS. YES— there were records of people pin pointing a digestive upset and a few other claims pointing to wheat, back 2000 years ago in Egypt… but I don’t pretend to conclude from those few records, that wheat should have been avoided for the sakes of the 5 billion other people on the world and now almost 8 billion…… Wheat is a relatively EASY crop to grow, has fed our race for thousands of years and kept billions of peoples alive and it does have great nutritional value as a grain. The nutritional properties of WHEAT, as a GRAIN are many! I need to specify the word GRAIN, since you can GRIND it up into a powder, and bleach it of color, and strip off the fibrous hull, and add lace it with a few vitamins and call it “Enriched All-Purpose flour”…… But that my friends, is NOT WHOLE WHEAT that I am talking about here.
Here are a few key things you need to know about WHOLE WHEAT: “The health benefits of wheat depend entirely on the form in which you eat it. These benefits will be few if you select wheat that has been processed into 60% extraction, bleached white flour. 60% extraction—the standard for most wheat products in the United States, including breads, noodles and pastas, baked goods like rolls or biscuits, and cookies—means that 40% of the original wheat grain was removed, and only 60% is left. Unfortunately, the 40% that gets removed includes the bran and the germ of the wheat grain—its most nutrient-rich parts. In the process of making 60% extraction flour, over half of the vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber are lost.
Since 1941, laws in the United States have required “enrichment” of processed wheat flour with vitamins B1, B2, B3 and iron in response to the problems created by 60% extraction. Since not nearly as much of these B vitamins and iron are replaced as are removed from 60% extraction flour, “enriched” seems an odd word to describe this process.
If you select 100% whole wheat products, however, the bran and the germ of the wheat will remain in your meals, and the health benefits will be impressive! Our food ranking qualified whole wheat (in its original non-enriched form) as a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese, and as a good source of magnesium.
The many benefits of whole wheat products are being recognized more and more by consumers. Even though many health-conscious individuals have been cutting back on their intake of total carbs and refined wheat products (by about 10% between 1997-2007), the demand for whole wheat products has actually increased during that same time period. This trend fits in well with a Mediterranean diet approach to health, which looks to lower overall carbs but higher whole grains, including whole wheat.” (George Mateljan Foundation)
So—— bottom line? I will say YES. Whole Wheat, is a good food.
#2: What does wheat do for our digestion and body?
Well, continuing on from #1’s conclusion, we saw that it contains a good amount of FIBER in the BRAN. Fiber is awesome for our digestion, as it keeps things MOVING and “sweeps” the colon clean. 🙂 Lack of fiber in the diet causes a LOT of problems. Google it. A few key ones to consider however, are better overall digestion and satiety from eating due to fiber. As well as magnesium and manganese help with energy and brain development. The protein that in included in whole wheat, is not however the best source…. it does not contain many amino acids, and to complete the chain from a wheat source to make it a good protein source is not super easy. So sorry folks. In my humble opinion, whole wheat is not that great of a protein source. How much do you NEED??? Honestly, I don’t think anyone NEEDS wheat. Whole wheat is NOT a food to fill 80% of your diet with, but one or two meals including WHOLE WHEAT a week, is about right. And some will disagree with me. Like I said, take it with a grain of salt. 🙂 I do NOT suggest to anyone to eat WHEAT daily or multiple times daily. It has been my personal experience that wheat products are mostly processed, and that ALL FOODS are best eaten spaced out, and with variety so as to not “overload” your body with “too much of a good thing.” Yes, I think you can EASILY get caught in a trap of thinking a food is healthy, therefore it can be eating all day everyday…. sorry folks. It just aint so! Wheat can wreak HUGE amounts of havoc on the human body in large portions and too often- and treat the processes stuff as a TREAT. VERY sparingly. That includes all BAKED GOODS, breads, pastas, crackers,
etc. So PLEASE use it as a grain source in your diet as bran flakes, wheat germ, cooked puffed wheat (but seriously, who eats that anymore…) sprouted wheat breads, etc but only once or twice a week. (Many baked goods also contain SUGARS and YEAST which are, again in my humble opinion… 😉 one of the LEADING causes of bodily upset that is overtaking people without warning… the natural yeast in our bodies can be beneficial… but when fed by sugar and yeast containing products…. oh man. It can over grow and cause a NUMBER of problems including skin, hair, nail weakness, hormones, overall feeling of alertness, yeast infections, poor immunity and fatigue (since your body is constantly fighting something.) So read up on that if you feel like you may have that issue, and start slowing down your wheat intake.
#3. Does eating or not eating wheat affect weight loss/gain?
No, if you are eating in moderation. Same with butter. Same with cheese. Same with oils, nuts and seeds. Same with all starchy veggies and grains! TOO MUCH WILL HARM YOU in one way or another. In all my clients and personal experience, eating wheat in moderation or not eating wheat has not affected their results UNLESS of course, they have a sensitivity to the protein called GLUTEN in the wheat, and then they report bloating, and upset, etc. OR they totally binge out on rice and beans, which are high calorie… so you see, its a BALANCING act. And I’m happy to help you through it if you want! I work closely with my clients in my Health and fitness challenge groups each month looking at their food intake and weight loss, energy, etc. I will say however, that I do see that people that come to me, and are very over weight, 90% of the time are eating PROCESSED wheat, multiple times a DAY! So I do not deny a correlation between consuming lots of processed wheat products and weight GAIN.
So how does your day to day diet measure up???? Are you eating TOO much wheat???
A good book to give you some scientific ideas about the affects of wheat on the body, is Wheat Belly. I think most commercialized studies like this one, have an agenda, so I tend to not “Read” into 100% of all they say— but I usually give them an open minded review and take into consideration what they have to say, but try to see BOTH sides of the coin on issues like this one.
These are broad conclusions, I know. But this is not an official medical journal either. This is based simply on my experiences, my observations, and my own study and opinion.
Do me and my kids eat bread? Yes. Probably for the kids, 3-4 days a week or so you’ll find toast being made, or a wheat cereal being poured. But we don’t eat wheat for dinner, especially since Dad is a Celiac, and we love to eat oatmeal, eggs, and other grains and fruits and veggies for our meals and snacks. Myself, I rarely will be found eating breads or baked goods. But a piece of toast or a bowl of bran flakes isn’t something you won’t see me consume every now and again.