Give us this day our daily bread….or not? Depending on your experience with food, eating wheat is either just a fact of your daily life, or it’s something to be avoided at all costs.
According to Harvard’s T.H.Chan School of Medicine “Grains are good, depending on the kind of grain.” They advise consuming unprocessed grains that are whole. A healthy breakfast, according to them is something like steel cut or old fashioned oats. If you prefer a bowl of cereal, you might choose a cold cereal that contains as least 4 grams of fiber and less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
Using whole grain breads (breads that list the first ingredient as whole wheat, whole rye, etc.) instead of breads with processed flour is certainly healthier. The bread touted as healthiest by TH Chan School of Medicine is one made of only whole grains. Other options include grains like brown rice or quinoa.
Harvard did find that “whole grain intake was associated with up to 9% lower overall mortality and up to 15% with lower cardio vascular disease-related deaths.” Researchers have not, however been able to show any effect on cancer-related deaths from eating grains.
So how can wheat be bad for us? Some of it has to do with how it is processed, according to Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, modern flour milling, called steel roller milling, is one of the problems. It robs the grain of much of its nutrients. Due to industrialized farming, our wheat has actually changed since the wheat our grandparents used. “The problem with gluten is far more serious than anyone ever imagined.” Perlmutter states. “Modern…structurally modified, hybridized grains contain gluten that’s less tolerable than the gluten that was found in grains cultivated just a few decades ago.”
Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly agrees. “This thing being sold to us called wheat is this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat is biochemically light-years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago.”
Perlmutter’s theory is that avoiding wheat and sugars helps to avoid chronic diseases later in life. Perlmutter believes that preventative medicine can help us live longer, healthier lives and that conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and possibly ADHD can be prevented with a gluten-free, low-carbohydrate and higher fat diet. This, along with a healthy exercise program are his keys to success. If you would like to find some gluten-free alternatives for your menu, Dr. Perlmutter provides a list of gluten free foods, here.
So who’s right and what can you do? Some of who is right, may depend on how your body processes wheat. We are back to that bio individuality conversation once again. Try eliminating it from your diet and see how you feel after several weeks. Then reintroduce wheat into your system. This is often the best way to see how you truly react to a food. Certainly making smarter choices about food is a low-risk proposition. Learning what works for your body and your lifestyle is always an important step to an overall healthier life.