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Wheat- The Good and Bad of it.

by DrLeAnne Deardeuff on May 5, 2014

 By Guest Blogger Dr. David Deardeuff

We hear a lot of talk these days about wheat being bad for us – any grain, really. Bashing grains has become quite the current topic. Let's briefly address some of the issues.


Many testimonials show that people lose weight on grain-free diets. This is true, and I lost weight myself on a no-carbohydrate yeast cleansing diet. You can lose weight on the Master Cleanse too, but it isn't a good long-term diet choice. You could also lose weight by eating only things that have no calories, but at what cost? Grains have important nutrients that we need in our diets, and they're economical.


Some people who promote a so-called Paleo diet claim that our prehistoric ancestors didn't eat grain and therefore we are not equipped to digest it either. Hold on, it's a little too easy to claim to know what went on before there was any history, and to say that it matters to us today. Sounds like a marketing ploy. Our gut bacteria are agile enough to change from one day to the next depending on what we eat, and I’m sure our digestive tract can change too, so I don't buy this theory. I think our bodies can digest grains.


The rise of civilization pretty much parallels the raising of grain. Come to think of it, grain cultivation parallels the history of history itself. Do the people promoting the Paleo diet really think we would be better off if we lived like prehistoric hunter-gatherers?


What about phytic acid, that is said to block absorption of nutrients and so forth? This actually reminds me of the scare about spinach not many years ago, when the oxalic acid it contained was supposed to make it toxic and indigestible. Oops, cooking destroys oxalic acid; scare over. Phytic acid and other things in wheat help preserve it, so it doesn't rot before it has a chance to grow into a new plant. When wheat is properly prepared, the phytic acid breaks down and no longer binds minerals. Other objectionable components in wheat are also changed by preparing it properly.


It is true that celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and other disorders are on the rise, and they are linked to wheat and other grains. Note that they are on the rise, they are relatively new on the health scene. They have not always been so prevalent. Since people have been consuming grain for millenia, the problem must not be with the grain itself. I will address this a bit later.


Also some have pointed out that ancient wheat species had far fewer chromosomes than today's wheat. That isn't necessarily a problem; potatoes have 48 chromosomes while humans have 46. It is true that wheat has undergone a lot of breeding by scientists, but technically, it still has not been genetically modified in the way that other crops have been, with the addition of foreign genes spliced in. It has been bred for desirable characteristics by crossing various species, just as happens in nature.


Another lemon theory is the low-fat diet. We were all sold the idea that avoiding fat would make us less fat, but what happened was that we ate more food as our bodies hungered for the missing nutrients found in fats. One way to make low-fat food taste better is to put more sugar in it, and we ended up eating a lot of carbohydrates and sugar, and got fat. It's the sugar that makes you fat, not the fats. (Well, maybe trans fats do.) We eat too much sugar; it's hiding in almost everything that contains carbohydrates.


A major objection I have to the anti-grain theory is that it lumps all carbohydrates together. This drives me crazy. Whole natural grains are most definitely not the same as cookies and cakes and crackers and white bread. They can't be painted with the same "unhealthy carbohydrate" label. For example, an article in Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Abdominal Fat states that whole-grain bread is more beneficial with regard to abdominal fat than refined bread.


Contrary to the hysteria going around, there are numerous studies showing that grains do not cause inflammation, and that low-carbohydrate diets are linked to greater incidence of disease and death. And there just aren't that many celiacs out there. It's another fad, folks.


Finally, think about your ancestors. If you have pictures of them, most likely they are slim and trim. Other people from bygone generations certainly were. No one was on a diet or worried about their weight, they just ate grains and vegetables and fruit and meat, raw milk and butter and animal fats. What they didn't have was packaged, processed foods.
Okay, now what about the problems with wheat and other grains. How could they be bad for us? In my view, it stems mainly from modern commercial handling and processing that destroys the basic structure and nutritional value of the wheat.


Breaking the grain down into starch, endosperm and bran destroys the wholeness and completeness of the nutritional value. Once again, the modern approach of thinking the whole is merely the sum of the parts (as also seen in the medical approach to health) proves our undoing. The parts are meant to be eaten together, they complement each other.


Further, in our grandparents’ time, whole grains were prepared slowly, which broke down harmful things (think phytic acid) and released the full nutritional benefits. Porridge for breakfast was soaked overnight. Bread dough was raised slowly. Grains were sprouted, whereupon they burst forth with all kinds of vitamins that weren't in the dry grain.
Today, grains raised for the big production companies are subject to pesticides, high temperature milling, rancidity in storage and separation of constituent parts that should remain together as nature intended. Then modern commercial bakeries mix grain and other ingredients for only 5 minutes and let the dough rise briefly before kneading for 2 minutes, proving for 50 minutes in the breadpans, and then baking for 20 minutes. Then it is allowed to cool for an hour to an hour and a half, half the total baking time. This high-speed baking process yields an artificial product that simply is not right. Even it it began with whole wheat, the abuse of the grain all along the way robs it of its original value, and this is saying nothing of all the additives that are mixed in.


Breakfast cereals – and probably other grain products – are made by extruding a slurry of flour and water through a tiny orifice at high pressure and high temperature, destroying the structure of the proteins in the process. these unnatural bits of protein are not nutritious, they are toxic. Biochemist Paul Stitt, in a book called Fighting the Food Giants, reported that in an unpublished study done at a breakfast cereal company, "four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat grains, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given water and white sugar. A fourth set was given nothing but water and synthetic nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on a white sugar and water diet lived about a month. The study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks—even before the rats that got no food at all. Since the rats that got only water and vitamins lived 4 times longer than the rats that also got puffed wheat, the ones that ate puffed wheat could not have died of malnutrition, rather it must have been that the puffed wheat was toxic. Note, however, that the rats that ate whole wheat grain in its natural state lived for a whole year. It is not the wheat that is unhealthy, it's the processing.


So although the ingredient list may proclaim the cereal is made from whole grains, perhaps even made from organic whole grains (which undergo the same awful processing), it's not something our digestive systems can deal with. This is the problem with wheat and grains: the processing. Let me reiterate: it’s the processing.
Wheat is an outstanding, nutritional grain that doesn't take abuse well. When eaten as a whole food, it digests slowly, without glycemic spikes. It reduces fasting insulin levels, and helps prevent type-2 diabetes. Those who eat whole grains live longer. They have less fat, lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced cholesterol, and reduced risk of cancer and stroke.


How to enjoy wheat, then? The way our forefathers did: in hot cereals soaked overnight, and in breads made with a slow rise. Even supermarket whole grain breads are made wrong. Find a local baker who makes bread slowly, or make your own. Sourdough breads are excellent. The fermentation breaks down the gluten and creates many vitamins, chelates toxins and feeds the beneficial flora in the colon. This health-promoting bread stays fresh for days on its own, without any additives. This is what sustained pioneer families and medieval families, who often had nothing else to eat. This was the staff of life for the soldiers of the Roman Empire. It's still a wonderful food! I have found that it is possible to live on sourdough bread almost exclusively. The question is, do we care enough about our health to take time to prepare our own food, or will we continue to buy denatured stuff from the supermarket, according to whatever fad diet comes along?

 

David DeardeuffDr. Deardeuff, the husband of Dr. LeAnne Deardeuff is co-author of the books, "Inner Transformations  Using Essential Oils" and "Taming the Dragon Within". Dr. Deardeuff, father of 12 Children, graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1996. He has a subtle sense of humor which you can pick up in his blog above. His co-authoring with Dr. LeAnne, his wife making her higgedly-piggedly dyslexic writing style more legible– he claims! His favorite thing to do is research and read. He loves goat farming and enjoys nature. He enjoys discovering God's ways of doing things. He loves traveling around and seeing new places and things. Moving every few years is his way of having new and fun opportunities! Always on to the next great adventure!

  • dj2me

    It is hard to do all the food prep but will make more of an effort for the granddaughter

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