I am extremely fortunate not to be gluten intolerant among all the other food sensitivities I have. I am, however, wheat sensitive.
Over seventy years ago, my mother’s doctor told her that if she ever wanted to lose weight and keep it off, she had to give up wheat, specifically baked goods. Back then, doctors were trained to read the body’s signs. They knew things without resorting to a myriad of tests and they trusted their knowledge.
My grandmother’s doctor could look at her hair and know whether or not she needed more thyroid medication. It was a good thing too, because the problem that runs in my family does not show up in today’s standardized tests.
So, other than gluten, what are the problems with wheat? There are two other major problems with wheat, especially in the United States. The first is that it has almost become a mono-culture.
According to prevalent statistics, 70-80% of wheat grown in the US is winter wheat. The majority of the remaining wheat grown in the US is hard red spring wheat. We grow wheat that is higher in protein and gluten which is better for mass bread production.
In Europe, for the time being at least, a softer wheat, which is lower in protein and gluten, predominates.
But we now export 55% of our spring wheat crop around the world.
And wheat can be found in almost all processed foods. If your body is bombarded constantly with the same ingredient over and over, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.
Unless you search specifically for unbleached, unenriched flour, all flour in the US is enriched with vitamins and minerals. This policy began during World War II as an easy way to get extra nutrients to the troops, who were eating poorly at best. Processing wheat into flour, especially white flour, removes the nutrients, so adding vitamins such as Thiamine and minerals such as iron, seemed like a sensible thing to do.
However, Thiamine is a sulfur based B vitamin and iron is hard to digest for many people. So for families like mine, you’re getting a double negative effect from the wheat in commercial products. It lead, in our case, to inflammation, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.
The rise of the processed food industry, heavily dependent on wheat as a main ingredient, has led to over-exposure to an almost mono-culture product that is chemically modified in the name of better nutrition.
Next week: The Other Difficulty with Wheat