Go Ancient

I’m not a fan of wheat, wheat products or anything containing wheat and have avoided it for a fair while now. I get questioned and criticized for it all the time, with no real basis behind their arguments, but that doesn’t stop them. But what is the real issue here? Is wheat really that bad? Is it just the modern food industry that has messed it up?

I have written on this subject a couple of times now, but a new study comparing modern wheat products to products made of ancient wheat* has shed a little more light on the subject.

The study took 20 subjects (13 female and 7 male) with moderate Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They received wheat products for 6 weeks and were asked to fill in a regular questionnaire on how they felt in regards to abdominal pain, stool consistency, bloating and tiredness to name a few. Half of them were given products made with modern wheat and the other half the ancient form of wheat. It was a double blind study meaning not even the researchers knew who was getting what until the study was completed.

They noted a significant reduction in abdominal pain, frequency of pain, bloating and abdominal distension with an increase in the quality of life for the ancient wheat subjects. There was also a reduction in the amount of inflammatory markers in the stools of these subjects as well. As far as the modern wheat subjects went, there was no noticeable difference.

What does this mean for us? Maybe you are fortunate enough to not have IBS? Maybe you seem to be fine on wheat? But really when you look into it, the modern farming methods are far removed from the way the ancient grains are grown. Modern wheat is designed to grow faster with a far higher yield than the older strains which generally means lower nutritional values and higher inflammatory values. Not good for anyone, especially us as athletes. Can you imagine carb loading the night before a big race only to wake up the next morning with an upset stomach? You wouldn’t be happy, would you?

So maybe you don’t have any of the obvious symptoms, but do you have a bit of belly fat that you struggle to get rid of, or do you suffer regular attacks of an uncomfortable stomach and excess flatulence, or is it just that you get tired easily even when you are supposedly fully rested? All these symptoms may be related, maybe not, to an intolerance of modern wheat. Have you ever considered cutting it out of your diet for a month or two just to see if it does make a difference? You will never know unless you try.

There are alternatives out there, but you generally won’t find them at your local supermarket. Maybe find a good health food store in your area or a baker who uses ancient methods at a local market. If that’s not an option, just try cutting it all out for a while like I did and maybe you will come to the same conclusion as me, that wheat is really not for you.

If you have tried wheat free and have any comments to make on it, please feel free to leave your comments below. I would love to hear about it.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

*Effect of Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum wheat on irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blinded randomised dietary intervention trial. – Sofi F1, Whittaker A2, Gori AM3, Cesari F3, Surrenti E4, Abbate R3, Gensini GF3, Benedettelli S2, Casini A1.

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