(This article is part two in my 3-part series on ridding your home of toxins and creating a healing environment. To read part one, click here.)
Step Two: It’s time to quit wheat.
Hold everything… did I just say “Quit Wheat”?
Well, yes I did. I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.”
Americans love wheat! We love those chewy pizza crusts, crisp Italian loaves, and melt-in-your mouth donuts. Why would we ever give those up? How could we ever give those up? How could wheat be bad for you?
Well, as I’m sure you already gathered from the intensity of Step One: Go Non-GMO, I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t have a really good reason.
Quit Wheat is Step Two of my 3 Step Plan for Ridding your Home of Toxins and Creating a Healing Environment because, second to GMO foods, wheat is the most dangerous food a person can consume. Combine its risk factor with the frequency in which we encounter this product and you have now identified the culprit behind the ugly face of many illnesses affecting both the old and the young in America today.
Is Wheat Bad for You?
First, let me clarify that we are talking about modern wheat, not ancient wheat. In fact, you might be surprised to know (as I was) that the wheat we are eating today is not really wheat at all. The wheat we are eating today is a product of genetic modification, not natural evolution. In fact, we are able to trace just how far we come thanks to a Neolithic glacier mummy called Otzi.
Otzi the Iceman was found in September of 1991 by two German hikers vacationing in the Alps. A DNA analysis of this Neolithic glacier mummy tells us that Otzi’s last meal consisted of red deer, dicots, and wheat cereal. Otzi’s wheat is what we now know to be Einkorn wheat, the first wheat known to man. Einkorn wheat contains 14 chromosomes. That’s important, so don’t forget it.
Where did Einkorn wheat go?
Einkorn wheat never disappeared. It just lost popularity.
The point here is to tell you how we got from innocent Einkorn to what is being mass produced today. At some point during Biblical times the Einkorn wheat naturally hybridized with a goat grass producing the new Emmer wheat variety. Now, plants are not like people or animals when they mate. People give half their chromosomes to their children. We know that we are half our mom, and half our dad. But plants have the ability to retain the sum of the chromosomes from both parent plants. It’s called polyploidy, and it means that the new wheat variety, Emmer, possessed 28 chromosomes which is exactly twice the number of chromosomes that Einkorn had.
The process of natural evolution continued, and Emmer wheat again mated with another wild oat grass and produced the wheat your Grandma baked with called Triticum Aestivum Wheat. The parent plants again each contributed their full set up chromosomes, resulting in 42 chromosomes total. Emmer gave its 28 chromosomes, and the oat grass gave its 14.
Wheat – The First GMO
Now, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Norman Borlaug.
Mr. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply. He is called “The Father of the Green Revolution” for his work in creating a hybridization of modern wheat. Mr. Borlaug, honorable as his intentions may have been, likely had no idea of the impending disaster that would follow his “brilliant” creation. Or did he? Regardless, that’s beside the point.
Mr. Borlaug joined The Cooperative Wheat Research Production Program in 1944 to figure out how to boost wheat production in Mexico. Mexico was importing most of its grain and the idea was that if Mexico could create more grain, it could feed more people and create a marketable product to export. So Mr. Borlaug went to work in his laboratory and eventually produced Dwarf Wheat by genetically modifying the naturally hybridized Triticum Aestivum Wheat.
Why Farmers Like “New Wheat”
The GM Dwarf wheat boasted wonderful new features very attractive to farmers.
It is scientifically engineered to withstand drought, pesticides, and fungus. This dwarf wheat is only two feet tall and very sturdy. Compared to the modern wheat which stands over 4 feet tall, is slender and easily broken by strong winds, GM dwarf wheat means less crop failure from storm damage. Additionally, this new wheat increases the average yield per acre 7 – 10 fold. An added bonus is that the new shape of the wheat head is manufactured to be hulled by machines instead of by man as natural wheat requires.
This is Your Grandma’s Wheat…
This is Your Grandmas Wheat on Drugs…
The Unintended Effects of GMO
One of the unintended consequences of crossbreeding to create the new GMO wheat was that in addition to the DNA structure being unrecognizable to ancient Einkorn and Emmer wheat, the new GMO dwarf wheat also created some brand new, never-before-seen-in-nature proteins.
These proteins are by-products of the scientifically engineered crossbreeding and have never been tested to see how they affect humans when consumed.
Instead, we have been the lab rats and the documented proof that modern wheat is not safe to consume is evidenced by the outrageous number of people who now suffer from allergies, food sensitivities, and general gluten intolerance. Recall that the product of this modification was being consumed in great quantities by the 1950’s, and since then we’ve seen dramatic increases in gluten related disorders.
Check this out, from the Mayo Clinic’s website:
“The prevalence of celiac disease appears to be rising dramatically. Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo gastroenterologist, says celiac disease is becoming a public health issue. Studies show four times the incidence compared to 1950, with fatal complications if it goes untreated.”
Your Gut is Leaking
Doctors who specialize in helping people who are challenged with Autism, Allergies, Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, IBS, and other gut related disorders have drawn the conclusion that the gluten from this genetically modified plant is causing major damage.
Our bodies are just not equipped to digest the scientifically engineered proteins found in new wheat.
The problems begin because the proteins in wheat are not able to be digested, which in turn rips holes in the gut lining and causes Leaky Gut Syndrome. Once we have holes in the gut lining, we develop allergies, food sensitivities, and whole litany of other painful and debilitating diseases and auto – immune disorders.
It is possible to trace increases in cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, diabetes, arthritis, celiac disease, skin disorders, and yeast infections to rises in the consumption of genetically modified wheat. People are catching on to this and more and more data is being produced warning the American population to avoid it.
Americans Are Second-Class Citizens, Apparently
What happened to America!?!
Hopefully you remember my rant from Step One about how ridiculous it is that other countries care so much more about the health of their people than America seems to.
For example, in Europe GM foods are completely outlawed. They also do not have to label food as organic. Instead, food is expected to be organic. Their laws make it mandatory for manufactures and producers to label any and all chemicals used in or on the food. Could you image what the produce section of our supermarkets would look like if America did that, too?
Let’s Get Back to Wheat and Why It’s Bad For You
Did you know that European countries won’t import our wheat?
There used to be sixteen countries in the world that rejected our GMOs, including wheat. Now there are at least twenty-six, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia.
Significant restrictions on GMOs and wheat exist in about sixty other countries. But in America, the freedom of the corporations to sell whatever they want to sell takes priority over American health.
Feeling like a second-class citizen yet?
Still wondering if wheat is bad for you?
Let’s talk about a few more major reasons why wheat is dangerous.
1.) Exaggerated Blood Sugar Levels
The Glycemic Index (GI) is the ability of foods to raise blood sugar levels. This leads to the body’s increase in insulin production, resulting in an increase of fat storage and an insulin roller coaster in the body. This is one of the biggest reasons why diets like Atkins, and others that advocate giving up carbs, help people lose weight – at least temporarily. Let’s be clear, I am not advocating those diets, I’m just using it as an example. My point is that modern wheat actually increases blood sugar levels more than people think. Consider these facts:
- Wheat bread has a GI of 72.
- White bread has a GI of 69.
- Table sugar has a GI of 59.
- Snickers candy bar has a GI of 41.
Here you are, thinking you’re making a good choice by choosing whole wheat, whole grain bread or bagels and then you learn the nasty truth from me. You’d have been better off eating a snickers candy bar than that whole wheat bread. (Source: Foster – Powell, 2002; Jenkins, 1981; Jenkins, Insulin sensitive obesity, 2010 June 22).
2.) Increased Aging
Thanks to wheat, Americans are aging faster than we used to. High blood sugar acts as a major accelerator in the aging process. The short of this is that whenever glucose levels increase, a process in the body called glycation increases as well. The glycation process creates long protein chains that throw off by-products called Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGE – for short). AGEs cannot be broken down – ever. Once they form, they become a permanent fixture in your body, hard and inflexible. They are what cause us to stiffen and become old and brittle. When you eat foods high on the GI (like wheat) the rate of AGE’s in your body increases exponentially.
3.) Increased Appetite
There is one new protein identified in the new GMO dwarf wheat that is of particular interest. Its name is Amylopectin. This nasty little protein has been proven to be an appetite stimulant. Take a look at this interesting analysis of American caloric intake taken from the USDA Government Factbook .
Americans are over-eaters, and now we know one of the reasons why.
Because of wheat, it is difficult for us to feel full or satiated by our meals. We supersize it and still want more. So the more we over-eat, the bigger bellies Americans get. We used to call it “beer-belly”, but now the correct term is “wheat-belly”. Today, even people who rarely drink have large areas of fat protruding over their belts. This belly fat is called visceral fat, and visceral fat adds to the trouble. The visceral fat is responsible for triggering the body to release all sorts of hormones like leptin and resistin, which both play roles in increased inflammation.
4.) Inflammation from Wheat
Now, inflammation is intended to be our body’s natural way of healing itself when wounded.
We get swelling and redness from the rush of immune cells and nutrients our body rushes to infected or damaged area.
But when the body is in a constant state inflammation then it is also in a constant state of producing these immune cells, which is extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. Chronic inflammation damages arteries, which leads to high cholesterol, heart attacks, and stroke (source). Chronic inflammation also depresses the immune system (source), and has been correlated to a higher risk of developing cancerous tumors (source).
The Bottom Line about Wheat, Gluten, and The Dangers of Both
The elimination of wheat from your diet will absolutely bring positive health changes to you and your entire family. You can expect excess weight to drop off, hyperactivity to disappear in children, and acne and eczema to finally resolve. People find immediate GI relief, their joints feel better, and swelling and inflammation finally subsides. Many notable physicians today are reporting that when their patients successfully remove gluten from their diets, the vast majority of their health challenges are completely corrected.
A Three Step Plan to Quit Wheat and Rid Your Home of This Toxin
The goal for Step Two is for you to become aware that wheat (and the gluten and proteins lurking within) isn’t the innocent bystander we are lead to believe. It’s actually an instigator, sticking its nose in everybody’s business. It can also be extremely difficult to completely eradicate from your diet. It’ll keep turning up in places you never expected, so beware.
Follow these three steps to quit wheat:
Step 1.) Read Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis.
I have given you a short version overview of why wheat isn’t acceptable for human consumption, but reading Dr. Davis’ book will help you identify the ways that wheat is specifically attacking you and your loved ones.
*Special note on the Wheat Belly Controversy: I have read articles by highly educated and intelligent people attempting to debunk Dr. Davis’ claims against wheat. Consider this: What does the person speaking stand to gain (or lose) by presenting their case? In other words, I personally will choose to listen to those people who speak from personal experience with their lives and the lives of their patients, rather than believe a person who gets their paycheck from the Wheat Foods Council who basically says “the other guy’s a liar! Eat Wheat because my job depends on it!”.
Step 2.) Start reading labels.
Understand that wheat is everywhere, and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Even the smallest trace of wheat in your diet will continually increase your chances of developing health issues. The rule of thumb, if you can’t see the label, your best bet is to just assume wheat is an ingredient and avoid the food.
You need to know that you are consuming way more wheat than you think you are. For example, most people are completely unaware that wheat is a listed ingredient in most vitamins and supplements and Chinese food sauces like soy, oyster, hoisin, and bean sauces. What makes even less sense is that wheat is added to cosmetics, shampoo, lotion, chocolate, canned broth, canned soups, condiments and salad dressings, seasoning packets, ice cream, pie-fillings and puddings, hamburgers, sausages, and luncheon meat… Honestly, the list is longer than I have time to write out. My point is simply to get you to comprehend that when you put something in your mouth, 9 times out of 10 it has wheat in it. If you don’t believe me I challenge you to start reading every label you can get your hands on. You’ll be a believer by the end of the day.
Step 3.) Change your thinking.
My experience has been that when people learn that they need to quit wheat, they go into a sort of panic. “What will I feed my kids? What will I make for dinner?? How do I pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my kindergartner’s lunch??? Once you change your habits, you’ll realize that the only things tying you to these food traditions are force of habit and wheat’s addictive properties that have you convinced life isn’t possible without it.
Here are some common wheat based meals that people identify with. I’ve labeled them as BAD. Underneath the BAD food choice, you will find a GOOD food choice made of really healthy whole foods that are easy to digest and are completely gluten free.
BAD School Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple slices, juice box, goldfish crackers
GOOD School Lunch: organic peanut butter, carrot sticks, apple slices, cold pieces of leftover chicken, water bottle flavored with fresh lemon juice and raw honey.
BAD Breakfast: pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice
GOOD Breakfast: Eggs over easy, fresh fruit, pancakes made with nut butter, fresh ginger tea with lemon
BAD Dinner: Pasta, salad with store-bought, pre-made salad dressing, garlic bread
GOOD Dinner: Roast Chicken, salad with homemade salad dressing, sautéed asparagus with garlic butter, broccoli
For more help quitting wheat, check out my gluten-free cookbook “101 Delicious and Nutritious Gluten Free Foods For Your Table” for more healthy and delicious tasting recipes. Every single recipe is nutrient dense, gluten-free, sugar-free, low starch, and absolutely delicious!
Questions? Comments? Join the discussion below in the comments! I’d love to know your thoughts!