My notes that ended up becoming What’s The Deal With Wheat…
What’s up with wheat? This is a good question…
Is it terrible or is it the healthiest thing we can eat?
Not quite sure and, as always, I think the answer is “it depends.” To tease out the details of how it depends we need to think about a couple things…
Does wheat cause a problem for some people? Yes. The question is why does it cause a problem. What I’m interested in is looking at some of the details and wondering if wheat may be a casualty of circumstance.
Here’s what I think the problem is: first, we eat a version that’s never been eaten before. Second, we eat way too much of it. Third, we eat it with a lot of other unhealthy things. Lastly, our bodies are under a tremendous amount of stress in general.
Let’s start that one in reverse order. I think that even with some of the potential problems of wheat, bodies not under stress can handle some of the proteins in different things (i.e. pizza) easier. Are there proteins that irritate the gut lining? Yes. The problem is, when the body is under stress the extra stress of the wheat/food may be overwhelming. When not under stress the body can handle that little bit of assault… sometimes.
The problem is you can’t eat wheat all the time (three times a day plus snacks), in all these different forms (the hybrid version combined with all the preservatives, additives, gums, sugar, polyunsaturated fats), non-fermented non-traditionally prepared while the body is under stress (i.e. overtired) and expect our bodies to be able to deal with that long-term.
It is a traditional food that has been in use for a long time- there are some questions as to how healthy it’s been, how different populations have done with it but because we can’t not go back in time to check these people out it’s really hard to tell.
I think it’s safe to say that wheat is probably not an optimal food for most people. What you could say is that it’s a food we are capable of eating when it’s an original grain or when it’s traditionally prepared or when it is not combined with lots of other foodstuffs or when we get out from the “under stress” category.
Can people have some whole wheat bread? Sure, as long as it is only bread and not some kind of combination of crazy things bought the grocery store and slathered with so you think it’s I can’t believe it’s not butter and then eaten with pancakes and other stuff.
A little thought: we just consume way too many calories and I think when you do that you make the body insensitive to many things, wheat included. I also think that all of the crap we eat and that includes preservatives emulsifiers dies chemicals make it harder for the body to deal with wheat and other grains that have a little bit of built-in protective mechanisms that are trying to keep the seed alive and perpetuate its journey until getting sprouted.
What if wheat is not the problem? What if it’s wheat in pancakes? Or crackers? Or donuts? Or pastries? What if it’s all the other things that we eat with wheat that are making wheat a problem or seem like a problem?
What if it’s the fact that were just overeating calories in general? Or what if we just eat so much wheat in general we can’t repair and keep up with the onslaught?
So it boils down to this: a person who is well rested and stresses managed should be able to handle some natural old-fashioned wheat every once a while (say piece of bread once a day) without a problem.
Some people certainly can’t handle any wheat and I also think that some heritages have a harder problem digesting wheat.
Then we also have to think is it the most optimal food? It certainly is something that I think under the right circumstances we can eat or at least most of us can eat. But what I am wondering is if it’s something we should be eating. Almost all foods have something about them that we could analyze/criticize and say is harmful, challenging or not optimal for the body. Wheat does seem to have a few more of those things particularly now the way we eat it, the newer species of it and how stressed most of us are which is why I have pause about recommending wheat for most people.
It is no longer a traditional food in both species and preparation. We eat way too much of it. It has a lot of potential problems with it. We eat it with or in the context or combined with too many other harmful foods. And our bodies are Not able to deal with the stress and the onslaught of the wheat and all the different things we eat it with.
Remember to look at wheat and tolerance/sensitivity to it like a bell curve. Some people are on one end where they are celiac or very, very sensitive to it to the point of getting sick. Other people are on the other extreme where they could eat wheat all day long every day, even under stress, and never have problem. Most of us are in that two standard deviations in the middle part of the bell curve. Since most of us range from somewhat sensitive to quite sensitive we need to keep in mind all these different parameters. If you feel like you’re on the more sensitive side then either you stay away from it or you try to eat it when you’re not under stress, eat a better version of it, eat it more simply or in the context of a better diet.
Here’s a question: if we all were less stressed, better slept, had a better overall more nutritious and nutrient dense diet and then ate old-fashioned wheat without overdoing it and without combining it with sugar, additives and vegetable oils would it still be a problem for most of us?
I think the answer is no. I think most of us, in ideal conditions, can handle a little bit of “good, old-fashioned heart healthy whole-grain wheat” as long as it was simple and not overdone. Unfortunately since most of us don’t fall into that category I think we all should think about the kind of wheat that we eat, what we eat it with and in what context. Doing that I think is this a much better way to look at wheat as opposed to just labeling it good or bad.
Bottom line: if you treat it this way it might change how you look at it.
If you feel better without wheat- keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not sure, experiment and see what happens.