Traditionally, wheat bread has been seen as a foundational food, the “staff of life.” But today’s wheat is different, genetically and biologically, than the wheat used prior to the 1960s. Previous generations used to consume ancient varieties of wheat such as Emmer, Einkorn and Kamut. Today’s bread is made from high-yield dwarf wheat, a product of cross-breeding and genetic manipulation, and for many people, bread is not a healthy choice.
You probably know that one of the proteins in wheat, gluten, is not well-tolerated by many. People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity (and these are different conditions) experience major digestive problems, inflammation and even autoimmune diseases when they consume gluten. Gluten itself is comprised of hundreds of smaller compounds, and any of these can trigger an adverse response.
According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, gluten-sensitive people who continue to eat grains have an increased mortality risk of up to 75 percent. The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 health conditions that can be attributed to gluten, including:
Irritable Bowel Disease
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue
Moreover, according to a study that appeared in Plant Physiology, modern wheat can produce approximately 24,000 unique proteins, some of which may present health challenges scientists do not currently understand. This may explain why some people who test as non-reactive to gluten still have problems eating wheat. Wheat also produces a chemical to ward off predators, called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). WGA can product toxic effects in your body, including your heart and brain. It can disrupt your hormones, impair your immune system, and – like gluten – create digestive upset and systemic inflammation. The highest concentrations of WGA, by the way, are found in whole grains.
You are the best expert on your own health. When you eat bread, do you notice any of the following reactions:
Headaches and fatigue
Chronic sinus issues and lowered immunity
Arthritis, bone and joint pain
Acne and other skin problems.
If you do exhibit any of the above symptoms, give yourself a break from eating wheat and bread products. If you find yourself feeling better after a couple of weeks, you may be one of the millions of people for whom bread is not the “staff of life.”