When is the last time you heard someone recommend that you eat either no grains (Paleo), or gluten free or no refined grains or no bread at all? Probably not too long ago. In today's American culture, grains, especially wheat, have been vilified. In this article, I will give you an historical, cultural and modern perspective on the on-going trial prosecuting grains and wheat.
Points made by the prosecution on eating grains:
Points made by the prosecution regarding wheat:
And now, the prosecution rests and its case and the defense may speak.
Based on the facts, who should and shouldn't eat wheat?
Anyone with leaky gut, inflammatory conditions in the gut (IBS, IBD), allergy or sensitivity to wheat, auto immune disease (especially celiac), inflammatory conditions, obesity and/or diabetes and those with other serious health conditions would do well to avoid wheat until their condition improves or resolves. The fact is that wheat is inflammatory for some people at certain times.
Wheat in general has not been proven to be bad for all people at all times. However, according to historical and cultural practices, all grains have traditionally been prepared by soaking, sprouting, fermenting or by a long sourdough process. This kind of preparation is likely a key to better digestion of grains, and it especially important when eating the whole grain since these processes help to break down the proteins that may cause inflammation in the guts of some people. Additionally, these processes improve digestion of grains, making them less likely to cause intestinal irritation or end up partially undigested, which contributes to more inflammation.
If you choose to eat grains, and particularly wheat, buy organic when possible, prepared by one or more traditional methods. Eat the whole grain and if you find that you are gaining weight, eat less. A properly prepared whole grain bread made from grains that have not been overly milled, eaten by a person without the above conditions may be a nutritious and delicious addition to a healthy diet.
For recipes that include “proper preparation” see Sally Fallon's cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. Look for breads in the frozen section of the grocery store that say “100% whole grain and sprouted”. Local bakeries may offer a long fermented sourdough bread as well.