Is eating wheat smart or stupid?

There’s a huge discussion going on out there about whether we should be eating wheat or not. And, as usual, you’ll find extremes on either side.

A few years ago, a cardiologist published a book about wheat called “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health.” 

In this book, Dr. William Davis claimed that wheat was the largest contributor to the obesity epidemic we face in this country.

Grocers promote eating wheat

He said if we give up wheat, we could drop the excess weight and achieve optimal health. Oh, to be so simple.

Does that mean we no longer have to worry about all that extra sugar and alcohol and other junk food we’re stuffing in our faces?

Of course, wheat is prevalent. It’s in so many products that unless we’re very careful label readers, we don’t even know when we’re eating wheat half the time.

Most of us realize that wheat is in cereal, pasta, bagels, muffins, pancakes, donuts and crackers.

But did you know it’s also in soy sauce and other condiments, some canned soups, salad dressings, imitation and pasteurized cheeses, taco seasoning and many other products? It’s hard to avoid.

Davis claims that the wheat of today, after years of modification, is now toxic to people. It’s a “perfect poison.” He said it has a new protein called gliadin, which causes addiction to wheat, making you want to eat more and more.

The wheat industry flatly denies that claim. It says that gliadin is not new and has always been a component of wheat protein. And they deny that it’s an opiate.

OK, so maybe Davis didn’t get his facts straight. Who knows?

There are many contradictions when it comes to proper nutrition. We just need to keep an open mind and gather our information with due diligence.

What we do know about wheat

Gluten, the part that makes dough elastic and pliable, is the main protein found in wheat. 

Wheat has been tremendously modified over the years

Many have a hard time properly digesting gluten, including the 1 percent of the population who can’t tolerate it. They are the ones diagnosed with celiac disease.

Many others, an estimated 5-10 percent of the population, appear to be sensitive to gluten.

These people have symptoms after ingesting it such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea, anemia, heartburn, inflammation all over and low energy.

The phytic acid in wheat is known to bind minerals we need such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium, preventing them from being absorbed. Even though phytic acid, or phytates, is found in most plant-based food, grains and legumes have the highest concentration.

Without these precious minerals, we experience muscle cramps, skin issues, fatigue, osteoporosis and other problems.

The best test for eating wheat or not

Some people don’t seem to have any problems with wheat products. They have no tolerance issues with wheat.

However, if you suspect you might not be one of these or do have some of the symptoms, a sure test is to stop eating wheat for 30 days and see what, if anything, is different. 

At the very least, you’d likely lose a few pounds.

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