Wheaty Truths

This may surprise you, but growing up, I wasn’t exactly fed the worlds best diet. I’m not saying it was the worst, but it was definitely not the best. Especially compared with the way I eat now. There was one staple of my diet as I grew up, which over the past 10 years or so, I have weeded out to the point where I rarely, if ever, allow it to pass my lips. What is this food you ask?

I will give you a small clue. It starts with “W” and ends it “heat”. Any clues? Alright, it’s wheat! I used to eat a wheaty breakfast, a sandwich for lunch where the bread was obviously wheat and quite often a dinner that may have had pasta as part of it. Yep, more wheat. Along with a cake and a biscuit or two, and that’s enough wheat to keep a horse happy!

Unfortunately, most people consider a day like this to be completely normal. Any nutritionist worth anything will tell you a good diet should consist of a wide variety of foods with a wide variety of nutrients. Having wheat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is far from what we would call “variety”. Especially when it is taking place of things like vegetables.

If this was the only issue surrounding wheat, it wouldn’t be too bad. I would even go so far as to say, “Eat it in moderation”. But unfortunately, it’s not. When a food like this is responsible for disrupting the absorption of foods consumed with it, it really is something that should be wiped out of our diets completely.

Wheat has been used for many centuries and there have been over 30,000 varieties identified by botanists which all had different qualities. Some were winter crops, others summer, some were hard, some soft, some were fast to grow, others would take a year or so. But they were all used in some form in ancient times. Today, most farmers grow just a few of these varieties.

Rather than choosing a variety that is suited to the climate and soil conditions it will be grown in and the resistance to local pests, we rely far more heavily on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and high speed milling processes. All this has lead to a high incidence of intolerance to this once healthy, nutritious grain.

Many people are being prescribed pills, or liquids to overcome acid reflux, poor digestion and a general feeling of being unwell. When in most cases, if they were taken off wheat, the symptoms naturally disappear. The amount of inflammation that occurs in the digestive system of people who are intolerant to wheat, disrupts the digestion of any other foods combined with it. What we end up seeing is a growing number of people with nutritional deficiencies, despite being well fed.

What can we do about it. Step one, stop it! Just stop eating the stuff. It’s easy once you try. The other alternative is looking for substitutes that have not been overly processed or changed through selective breeding and genetic modification.

A couple of the ancient varieties, that still remain very similar to the ancient forms are spelt and kamut. If you can find organically grown, stone ground varieties of these two, you are on a winner. As they are not popular, so of no interest to the modern food industry, they still retain all the nutrients they were designed to have. Like the proteins that aid in the digestion of the gluten (which is at far lower levels than modern wheat), higher levels of vitamin E which help naturally preserve it and the B vitamins that aid in digestion of the carbohydrates.

It comes back to the same old argument. The modern day foods you find in the major retailers are far from what they should be. It is far more expensive and time consuming to search for these more nutritious forms of foods, but really worth it in the end. Your body will thank you for the change.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

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