A few weeks back we discussed gluten sensitivity/intolerance {See What’s the Big Deal About Gluten?} and the fact that gluten is, in fact, a poison inside of a grain (which is really a seed) meant to ward off animals and pests to allow survival of the seed.  Though humans have not adapted in the same way some birds and insects have to be able to digest this poisonous protein some people tolerate gluten much better than others. Gluten alone, however, does not seem to be the main issue in today’s health crisis prominently featuring such players as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune illnesses, infertility, some types of cancer, and even depression.

Dr. William Davis, MD, author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” believes modern wheat, bred to produce high yield, pest resistant crops, is the culprit behind the obesity epidemic and that by avoiding wheat in its many forms we can not only lose weight but reduce or eliminate chronic illnesses and their often severe symptoms.

In his practice, Dr. Davis is seeing countless patients losing between 30 and 150 pounds just by cutting wheat.  Those may sound like staggering and somewhat suspect numbers but considering modern wheat contains the protein gliadin which is an opiate that stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain which, in turn, stimulates appetite to the tune of an average 440 extra calories a day.  (Hmm. Wonder if that’s why bread baskets are passed around so liberally in restaurants.)  440 calories x 365 days a year.  That’s 46 lbs worth of calories in a year!  If you are lucky enough to be very active, that may not sound like a lot, but if you are one of the countless numbers of couch potatoes out there that may be one major cause of, what Dr. Davis affectionately calls, the “bagel butt”  or “man boobs”  many today are sporting.

Those of you who have read A View from the Kitchen knows how I feel about the numerous diet theories out there though I am well aware that different things work for different people.  Raw vegan diets agree with some, while others are more suited to being “careful omnivores”.  One of the biggest challenges I face today as a holistic nutritionist, however, is getting my clients to see that anything grown or made in a lab or by a lab (and that includes genetically modified plants, grasses, and grains) is not food.  Natural foods do not cause inflammation in the body.  Fake foods do.  Inflammation is a major cause of many illnesses (including the steep rise of countless numbers of autoimmune illnesses!) so cutting lab created, genetically modified “frankenfoods” out of your diet is rapidly becoming the number one key to balanced health.

Modern wheat is one such creation that I believe should be not only reduced but avoided like the plague due to the simple fact that its very nature is responsible for raping vital farmland and stripping it of nutrients needed to sustain future generations leaving vast wastelands and creating nothing more than “green deserts”.  Wheat, in and of itself, may not be the problem.  The wheat our grandparents grew up on is massively superior to the wheat of today.  Artisan wheat (such as Einkorn from Jovial Farms) is made up of a simpler genetic structure which may make it miles better for digestion.  Early studies have shown these artisan strains of wheat may even be better tolerated by those with gluten sensitivities.

Those who have not been properly tested, who may suspect a gluten and/or wheat sensitivity may want to experiment by cutting wheat out of your diet for 30 days while choosing other grains which may or may not contain gluten.  If cutting wheat alleviates symptoms and clears the head, reintroducing wheat in the form of artisan strains and seeing how that affects you will indicate whether you  a true wheat intolerance or not.  If cutting only wheat does not solve problem, try going gluten-free for another 30 days.

Some people find that cutting grains out of their diet altogether is the missing link. Going grain-free scares the bejeezus out of most people.    If you have tried going wheat-free and gluten-free and you are still not having any luck relieving inflammation symptoms, grain-free is the next logical step.

Whichever level you find yourself, modern wheat-free, totally wheat-free, gluten-free or even grain-free, remember there are many delicious recipes to accommodate any nutritional plan.  Creativity is the optimal word to discovering perfectly balanced health.