Wheat We Won’t Eat – and Why…

Our family had been on the fence about wheat and grains form quite some time.  Bread was always enjoyed and was also super-convenient (tough to eat a tuna salad sandwich without the bread…;-) ).

But the “staff of life” has quite some problems that are increasingly coming to light with new observational studies, new controlled studies and finally – the analysis of many learned and accomplished doctors and science professionals,  and NOT just for those with diagnosed celiac disorder.  In fact, wheat and grains may just be unsuitable for almost everyone. I think this article (The Dark Side Of Wheat) was the beginning of the end of eating wheat for us – the one that knocked us off the fence.

Quite a perplexing problem for the world, however, if the evidence starts stacking up against wheat as a “healthy” hi-carb food stuff – various estimates place the worldwide caloric consumption of wheat at more than 50%!  That means over 50% of the dietary caloric needs of people worldwide are at risk here – not to mention the very livelihood and survival of huge numbers of farmers and industries that sell wheat and wheat products.

Our current decision was based on the following list of evidences that we have uncovered in our research over the last couple of years – I’ll try to keep it simple (for both you and me!)

1) Wheat has at least 3 main “questionable” components for which there has been *a lot* of research.  WGA lectins (wheat germ agglutinin), gluten, and anti-nutrients –  phytates.

a) WGA – There is a multitude of papers and negative opinions on this one – here are 2 that are not too dense and easier to understand – here, here, and here

b) Gluten – It’ NOT just NOT for celiacs. Very good details here and here.

c) Phytates – An “anti-nutrient” is a substance that, when ingested, actually binds-up and makes unavailable to your body certain nutrients and minerals otherwise helpful and needed.  Too much/too regular eating of anti-nutrients can start to cause deficiencies both by blocking their absorption from the food you eat but also strip away from your body what is there already. Good explanations of phytates here and (focus on soy but good phytates explanation). Please Note: the Weston Price article is a very good explanation of phytic acid, but we have our strong concerns as to the actual reduction in phytates and gluten due to the sourdough process – there seems to be an almost total lack of research to determine the actual reduction of these nasties with souring.  If any has such studies – we’d appreciate hearing from you!

2) Some years ago as I learned the dangers of seed oils, the idea that held the most sway over my discontinuing their use was simple (more detail on oils in our post here). Seeds have evolved defense mechanisms to keep from being eaten and/or more likely, to NOT be digested if eaten so the seed passes through the animal intact ready to germinate, thus perpetuating the plant. Squeezing seeds for oil (or grinding them for flour) in no way removes these very anti-digestive compounds, enzymes and anti-nutrients.  If a predator keeps eating these compounds, they will get sick and die – leaving no offspring to again eat those seeds.  Pretty nifty defense – huh?

3) Grains simply are NOT the wholesome high nutrient foodstuff that we’ve been pitched that they are – they are relatively low as compared to animal products and other vegetables.  Some very detailed insights here and here.

4) Modern strains of wheat – The problems here are that the older strains of wheat, einkorn/spelt/emmer, have faded in exchange for literally thousands of “new” forms bred for a variety of disease resistance, growth attributes and virtually no concern for their respective contents of the above explained problem substances. The result is that all modern wheat is much higher in these nasties – some good blog from a doctor on this here (scroll down for several discussions).

5) Nasty hi-carb foodstuff – grain flours dangerous trashing of your insulin, resulting in reduced insulin sensitivity (a bad thing) and low and behold – obesity. Here is Gary Taubes on YouTube – the latest researcher to get a pretty good handle on why we get fat (and diabetes 1 & 2, and and and…).

6) Our daughter Lola’s teeth (and ours as well…)- see our post on this grain-based/phytate/based decay problem here.

7) And last but hardly least, Denise Minger, the rising star of nutritional study analysis and sensible, intelligent explanations exposes the real conclusions that infamous Dr. Colin Campbell so ineptly missed in his The China Study data book and analysis – Wheat is Murder?

There are 2 grains we still eat in moderation – both have been studies and the literature is moderately convincing that neither of these 2 are seriously unhealthy – but not THAT healthy either – just nice as meal compliments from time to time – Rice (white – the brown has lots more nasties cause it has the husks) and buckwheat (not technically a grain but rather a grain-like fruit and with not many nasties).

That about sealed the issue for us – but – as we said earlier – a nice slice of bread would be a pleasure if we could see that the traditional souring process really did hugely reduce/remove phytates, gluten and WGA – if anyone has that scientific study data – please share with us here!!

… on the other hand – bread is lots easier to give up than you think.

Do you have wheat/grain related problem stories of interest? Comments on traditional sourdough? Please share them here:




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