03 March 2010

The Surprising Truth About Wheat and Your Health

As a nutritional healer, I use autonomic response testing to determine the state of health of a body and what foods and supplements are right for it and those that are not. This is a very exact and accurate way of assessing health, one person at a time. It leads to individualized or personalized nutritional programs that can bring the individual who follows it to perfect health very quickly. While every person is unique, there are some amazing patterns that emerge over time.
One of the most surprising to me is the number of health issues that are caused by or related to the consumption of wheat.
During a recent 'Abundant Life on the Road' trip, I found nearly 75% of tested individuals having a problem with wheat. One woman was totally incapacitated by wheat suffering from mental fog and depression, severe body pain, thyroid disease, diabetes, digestion problems and more, only to find that it was entirely due to her consumption of wheat! When the wheat factor was taken into consideration, her long list of complaints and weak body reflexes went down to ZERO!!! Nothing much was wrong with her except the wheat in her diet. It was literally killing her. And maybe you too.
Most of us (me included) are surprised to learn this. That is because we have been taught that wheat is an excellent food for health. But what we have not known is how wheat is now grown in this country and all of the things done to it that have now made it a danger to health and life for many, many people.
Read the following 2 articles to learn as much you need about wheat -that once was good- that has now become suspect in many of our common illnesses and complaints. You should be tested to see if you are one of the many who may be suffering from the altered wheat in our diet.
(More on this important topic later)
Enjoy. Learn. Share.
More Reasons to Avoid Wheat
Wheaty Indiscretions: What Happens to Wheat From Seed to Storage
By Jen Allbritton, Certified Nutritionist
Wheat--America’s grain of choice. Its hardy, glutenous consistency makes it practical for a variety of foodstuffs--cakes, breads, pastas, cookies, bagels, pretzels and cereals that have been puffed, shredded and shaped. This ancient grain can actually be very nutritious when it is grown and prepared in the appropriate manner. Unfortunately, the indiscretions inflicted by our modern farming techniques and milling practices have dramatically reduced the quality of the commercial wheat berry and the flour it makes. You might think, "Wheat is wheat--what can they do that makes commercial varieties so bad?" Listen up, because you are in for a surprise!
It was the cultivation of grains--members of the grass family--that made civilization possible.1 Since wheat is one of the oldest known grains, its cultivation is as old as civilization itself. Some accounts suggest that mankind has used this wholesome food since 10,000 to 15,000 years BC.2 Upon opening Egyptian tombs archeologists discovered large earthenware jars full of wheat to "sustain" the Pharaohs in the afterlife. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was said to recommend stone-ground flour for its beneficial effects on the digestive tract. Once humans figured out how to grind wheat, they discovered that when water is added it can be naturally fermented and turned into beer and expandable dough.2
Botonists have identified almost 30,000 varieties of wheat, which are assigned to one of several classifications according to their planting schedule and nutrient composition3--hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum, hard white and soft white. Spring wheat is planted in the spring, and winter wheat is planted in the fall and shoots up the next spring to mature that summer. Soft, hard, and durum (even harder) wheats are classified according to the strength of their kernel. This strength is a function of the protein-to-starch ratio in the endosperm (the starchy middle layer of the seed). Hard wheats contain less starch, leaving a stronger protein matrix.3
With the advent of modern farming, the number of varieties of wheat in common use has been drastically reduced. Today, just a few varieties account for 90 percent of the wheat grown in the world.1
When grown in well-nourished, fertile soil, whole wheat is rich in vitamin E and B complex, many minerals, including calcium and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Proper growing and milling methods are necessary to preserve these nutrients and prevent rancidity. Unfortunately, due to the indiscretions inflicted by contemporary farming and processing on modern wheat, many people have become intolerant or even allergic to this nourishing grain. These indiscretions include depletion of the soil through the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals, high-heat milling, refining and improper preparation, such as extrusion.1
Rather than focus on soil fertility and careful selection of seed to produce varieties tailored to a particular micro-climate, modern farming practices use high-tech methods to deal with pests and disease, leading to overdependence on chemicals and other substances.
It Starts with the Seed
Even before they are planted in the ground, wheat seeds receive an application of fungicides and insecticides. Fungicides are used to control diseases of seeds and seedlings; insecticides are used to control insect pests, killing them as they feed on the seed or emerging seedling.7 Seed companies often use mixtures of different seed-treatment fungicides or insecticides to control a broader spectrum of seed pests.8
Pesticides and Fertilizers
Some of the main chemicals (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) used on commercial wheat crops are disulfoton (Di-syston), methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, diamba and glyphosate.9
Although all these chemicals are approved for use and considered safe, consumers are wise to reduce their exposure as much as possible. Besides contributing to the overall toxic load in our bodies, these chemicals increase our susceptibility to neurotoxic diseases as well as to conditions like cancer.10
Many of these pesticides function as xenoestrogens, foreign estrogen that can reap havoc with our hormone balance and may be a contributing factor to a number of health conditions. For example, researchers speculate these estrogen-mimicking chemicals are one of the contributing factors to boys and girls entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages. They have also been linked to abnormalities and hormone-related cancers including fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer and endometriosis.13
Hormones on Wheat?
Sounds strange, but farmers apply hormone-like substances or "plant growth regulators" that affect wheat characteristics, such as time of germination and strength of stalk.11 These hormones are either "natural," that is, extracted from other plants, or synthetic. Cycocel is a synthetic hormone that is commonly applied to wheat.
Moreover, research is being conducted on how to manipulate the naturally occurring hormones in wheat and other grains to achieve "desirable" changes, such as regulated germination and an increased ability to survive in cold weather.12
No studies exist that isolate the health risks of eating hormone-manipulated wheat or varieties that have been exposed to hormone application. However, there is substantial evidence about the dangers of increasing our intake of hormone-like substances.
Chemicals Used in Storage
Chemical offenses don’t stop after the growing process. The long storage of grains makes them vulnerable to a number of critters. Before commercial grain is even stored, the collection bins are sprayed with insecticide, inside and out. More chemicals are added while the bin is filled. These so-called "protectants" are then added to the upper surface of the grain as well as four inches deep into the grain to protect against damage from moths and other insects entering from the top of the bin. The list of various chemicals used includes chlorpyrifos-methyl, diatomaceous earth, bacillus thuringiensis, cy-fluthrin, malathion and pyrethrins.14
Then there is the threshold test. If there is one live insect per quart of sample, fumigation is initiated. The goal of fumigation is to "maintain a toxic concentration of gas long enough to kill the target pest population." The toxic chemicals penetrate the entire storage facility as well as the grains being treated. Two of the fumigants used include methyl bromide and phosphine-producing materials, such as magnesium phosphide or aluminum phosphide.14
Grain Drying
Heat damage is a serious problem that results from the artificial drying of damp grain at high temperatures. Overheating causes denaturing of the protein26 and can also partially cook the protein, ruining the flour’s baking properties and nutritional value. According to Ed Lysenko, who tests grain by baking it into bread for the Canadian Grain Commission’s grain research laboratory, wheat can be dried without damage by using re-circulating batch dryers, which keep the wheat moving during drying. He suggests an optimal drying temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).27 Unfortunately, grain processors do not always take these precautions.
Modern Processing
The damage inflicted on wheat does not end with cultivation and storage, but continues into milling and processing. A grain kernel is comprised of three layers: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outside layer where most of the fiber exists. The germ is the inside layer where many nutrients and essential fatty acids are found. The endosperm is the starchy middle layer. The high nutrient density associated with grains exists only when these three are intact. The term whole grain refers to the grain before it has been milled into flour. It was not until the late nineteenth century that white bread, biscuits, and cakes made from white flour and sugars became mainstays in the diets of industrialized nations, and these products were only made possible with the invention of high-speed milling machines.28 Dr. Price observed the unmistakable consequences of these dietary changes during his travels and documented their corresponding health effects. These changes not only resulted in tooth decay, but problems with fertility, mental health and disease progression.30
Flour was originally produced by grinding grains between large stones. The final product, 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour, contained everything that was in the grain, including the germ, fiber, starch and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Without refrigeration or chemical preservatives, fresh stone-ground flour spoils quickly. After wheat has been ground, natural wheat-germ oil becomes rancid at about the same rate that milk becomes sour, so refrigeration of whole grain breads and flours is necessary. Technology’s answer to these issues has been to apply faster, hotter and more aggressive processing.28
Since grinding stones are not fast enough for mass-production, the industry uses high-speed, steel roller mills that eject the germ and the bran. Much of this "waste product"--the most nutritious part of the grain--is sold as "byproducts" for animals. The resulting white flour contains only a fraction of the nutrients of the original grain. Even whole wheat flour is compromised during the modern milling process. High-speed mills reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and this heat destroys vital nutrients and creates rancidity in the bran and the germ. Vitamin E in the germ is destroyed--a real tragedy because whole wheat used to be our most readily available source of vitamin E.
Literally dozens of dough conditioners and preservatives go into modern bread, as well as toxic ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and soy flour. Soy flour--loaded with antinutrients--is added to virtually all brand-name breads today to improve rise and prevent sticking. The extrusion process, used to make cold breakfast cereals and puffed grains, adds insult to injury with high temperatures and high pressures that create additional toxic components and further destroy nutrients--even the synthetic vitamins that are added to replace the ones destroyed by refinement and milling.
People have become accustomed to the mass-produced, gooey, devitalized, and nutritionally deficient breads and baked goods and have little recollection of how real bread should taste. Chemical preservatives allow bread to be shipped long distances and to remain on the shelf for many days without spoiling and without refrigeration.
Healthy Whole Wheat Products
Ideally, one should buy whole wheat berries and grind them fresh to make homemade breads and other baked goods. Buy whole wheat berries that are grown organically or biodynamically--biodynamic farming involves higher standards than organic.34 Since these forms of farming do not allow synthetic, carcinogenic chemicals and fertilizers, purchasing organic or biodynamic wheat assures that you are getting the cleanest, most nutritious food possible. It also automatically eliminates the possibility of irradiation31 and genetically engineered seed. The second best option is to buy organic 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour at a natural food store. Slow-speed, steel hammer-mills are often used instead of stones, and flours made in this way can list "stone-ground" on the label. This method is equivalent to the stone-ground process and produces a product that is equally nutritious. Any process that renders the entire grain into usable flour without exposing it to high heat is acceptable.
If you do not make your own bread, there are ready-made alternatives available. Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store. If bread is made entirely with l00 percent stone-ground whole grains, it will state so on the label. When bread is stone ground and then baked, the internal temperature does not usually exceed 170 degrees, so most of the nutrients are preserved.28 As they contain no preservatives, both whole wheat flour and its products should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Stone-ground flour will keep for several months frozen.28
Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening "pre-digests" grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.1 These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.1
Sprouting also causes a beneficial modification of various nutritional elements. According to research undertaken at the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density of a food. For example, sprouted whole wheat was found to have 28 percent more thiamine (B1), 315 percent more riboflavin (B2), 66 percent more niacin (B3), 65 percent more pantothenic acid (B5), 111 percent more biotin, 278 percent more folic acid, and 300 percent more vitamin C than non-sprouted whole wheat. This phenomenon is not restricted to wheat. All grains undergo this type of quantitative and qualitative transformation. These studies also confirmed a significant increase in enzymes, which means the nutrients are easier to digest and absorb.33
You have several options for preparing your wheat. You can use a sour leavening method by mixing whey, buttermilk or yogurt with freshly ground wheat or quality pre-ground wheat from the store. Or, soak your berries whole for 8 to 22 hours, then drain and rinse. There are some recipes that use the whole berries while they are wet, such as cracker dough ground right in the food processor. Another option is to dry sprouted wheat berries in a low-temperature oven or dehydrator, and then grind them in your grain mill and then use the flour in a variety or recipes.
Although our modern wheat suffers from a great number of indiscretions, there are steps we can take to find the quality choices that will nourish us today and for the long haul. Go out and make a difference for you and yours and turn your wheaty indiscretions into wheaty indulgences.
The Weston A. Price Foundation
Dangerous Grains
by Dr. Mercola October 05 2002
If you suffer from a condition such as osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis or depression, you're unlikely to blame your breakfast cereal. After all, intolerance of wheat, or celiac disease (CD), is a an allergic reaction to a protein called gluten, thought to affect only about one in 1,000 people.
But now two American clinicians, James Braly and Ron Hoggan, have published a book, Dangerous Grains, claiming that what was thought to be a relatively rare condition may be more widespread than was previously thought. Braly and Hoggan suggest that gluten intolerance does not just affect a few people with CD, but as much as 2-3% of the population.
They claim that gluten sensitivity (GS) is at the root of a proportion of cases of cancer, auto-immune disorders, neurological and psychiatric conditions and liver disease. The implication is that the heavily wheat-based western diet - bread, cereals, pastries, pasta - is actually making millions of people ill.
Your doctor, if asked about CD, would tell you that it involves damage to the gut wall, which makes for problems absorbing certain nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin D. As a result, you are more likely to develop conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia, as well as a range of gastrointestinal problems.
Children who have it are often described as "failing to thrive". The proof that you have CD comes when gut damage shows up in a biopsy. The treatment, which has a high rate of success, is to remove gluten - found in rye and barley as well as wheat - from your diet.
But if Braly and Hoggan are right, the problem is far more widespread than the medical profession believes. Celiac disease, they suggest, should be renamed "gluten sensitivity" and, in an appendix to the book, they claim that no fewer than 192 disorders, ranging from Addison's disease and asthma to sperm abnormalities, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism, are "heavily overrepresented among those who are GS".
Dangerous Grains contains more than a dozen case histories of people who have recovered from a wide variety of chronic conditions - back pain, chronic fatigue, the auto-immune disorder lupus - simply by following a gluten-free diet. Both authors claim great personal benefits from such a change. "After eliminating gluten grains," writes Hoggan, "I realized how uncomfortable and chronically ill I had been for most of my life."
If you are someone who has visited a clinical nutritionist or a naturopath, this will come as no great surprise. One of their most common suggestions is temporarily to remove wheat from the diet to see if it makes a difference. In fact, so widespread has talk of a wheat allergy become that last November the Flour Advisory Board felt impelled to issue a statement warning of the dangers of this idea. Professor Tom Sanders, head of nutrition and dietetics at King's College, London, was quoted as saying: "Unless you suffer from celiac disease, a very rare condition, cutting wheat out of your diet is extremely unwise."
Sanders certainly represents the mainstream medical view, but there is good evidence - such as the work of Dr Harold Hin, a GP from Banbury in Oxfordshire - to suggest that it may be in need of revision. Over the course of a year, Hin carried out a blood test on the first 1,000 patients who came to his surgery complaining of symptoms that might indicate CD, such as anemia or being "tired all the time". Thirty proved positive and a diagnosis of CD was confirmed by a biopsy.
This indicated that CD was showing up at a rate of three per 100 - 30 times more than expected. Significantly, all but five had no gastrointestinal symptoms. "Underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of coeliac disease," Hin concluded in an article for the British Medical Journal in 1999, "are common in general practice and often result in protracted and unnecessary morbidity."
More recently, a large research program carried out by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore has confirmed Hin's findings. Scientists there tested 8,199 adults and children. Half the sample had various symptoms associated with CD and, of those, one in 40 of the children tested positive for CD and one in 30 of the adults.
But it wasn't just those who seemed ill who were having problems with wheat. Far more worrying was what the Maryland researchers found when they tested the other half of the sample, who were healthy volunteers, selected at random. Among kids under 16, one in 167 had CD, while the rate among the adults was even higher - one in 111.
If those proportions are true for the American population in general, this means that 1.8m adults and 300,000 children have undiagnosed CD - people who, sooner or later, are going to develop vague symptoms of feeling generally unwell, for which they will be offered various drugs that are unlikely to make much difference. Ultimately, they are at higher risk of a range of chronic diseases.
There seems, therefore, to be good evidence that CD is underdiagnosed. But Braly's and Hoggan's proposition is more radical than that. They believe that the immune reaction to gluten that damages the gut in CD can also cause problems almost anywhere else in the body. The evidence for this is a test involving a protein found in gluten called gliadin. When the body has an immune reaction, it makes antibodies. The test for anti-gliadin antibodies is known as AGA and people who test positive to AGA often have no sign of gut damage.
In fact, according to Dr Alessio Fasano, who carried out the University of Maryland research, "Worldwide, CD 'out of the intestine' is 15 times more frequent than CD 'in the intestine'." Braly estimates that between 10% and 15% of the US and Canadian populations have anti-gliadin antibodies, putting them at risk of conditions as varied as psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, jaundice, IBS and eczema.
The idea of gluten causing damage to parts of the body other than the gut is supported by another UK practitioner, Dr M Hadjivassiliou, a neurologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. He ran an AGA test on patients who had "neurological dysfunction" with no obvious cause and found that more than half tested positive. What is more, only a third of the positive group had any evidence of CD gut damage. In other words, while the gluten antibodies can damage the bowels, they can also cause problems elsewhere. In this case, it was the cerebellum, or the peripheral nervous system.
So if a reaction to gluten can cause problems in the brain, might it also be linked to immune disorders? Braly and Hoggan certainly think so, and claim considerable clinical success in treating patients for conditions such as Addison's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis with a gluten-free diet. In fact, almost all the body's systems can be affected (see below). So if you suffer from a chronic condition that doesn't seem to respond to treatment, cutting out wheat for a while seems worth a try.
Are you gluten sensitive?
If you suffer from any of the following, the possibility that you are GS may be worth investigating.
Upper respiratory tract problems such as sinusitis, "allergies", "glue ear"
Symptoms related to malabsorption of nutrients such as anemia and fatigue (lack of iron or folic acid), osteoporosis, insomnia (lack of calcium)
Bowel complaints: diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and distention, spastic colon, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis
Autoimmune problems: rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, Crohn's disease
Diseases of the nervous system: motor neuron disease, certain forms of epilepsy
Mental problems: depression, behavioral difficulties, ME, ADD
The Guardian September 17, 2002

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting information, both about wheat processing and about medical conditions which may stem from reactions to wheat.

What is unclear (at least to me) is whether individuals with wheat allergies are really reacting to the chemical/hormonal/processing issues or to the wheat itself. Is there any research as to whether conditions mentioned (RA, anemia, etc.) which seem related to wheat in the diet re-appear when the same folks eat only "natural" whole wheat products (such as non-treated fresh ground wheat)?