Wheat has been the staple of many civilizations for thousands of years and most (if not all) of these people (up to the last few decades at least) were pretty darn healthy. So how can we blame wheat for the current obesity epidemic and all the illnesses that go with it?!
Well, obviously there are factors, other than wheat, responsible for today’s poor health, but it’s important to note that the wheat we know and love today, is nothing like the wheat from biblical times…or even 50 odd years ago.
The ancestry of wheat is quite well known…the most ancient ancestor of wheat is einkorn, which over generations mated with other plants which developed another strains of wheat. This process continued throughout history until the history of wheat starts reading like the bible…and einkorn begat emmer…which begat triticum aestivum (heck I don’t speak latin but you get the picture)
Anyway, triticum aestivum became popular among people because of it’s bake-ability (texture etc.) and its high yielding qualities, and so far, nature had just gone about doing what it does…
That’s until the 1940′s, when, due to growing global hunger, scientists began modifying wheat to increase the yield. Great intentions right?!
The stalks became stronger but shorter, the heads of grain became larger, and any possible changes to nutritional value as a result of the modifications were largely overlooked. In other words, it was assumed that regardless of what humans did to wheat, it was still wheat and therefore healthy
A few recent studies suggest otherwise, some showing that modern wheat produces more of the glutens associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease when compared with ancient strains of wheat.
That’s right, there’s more than one type of Gluten just like there is more than one type of fat…and just like fat, some glutens are good and some are bad…and it appears that most of the bad ones are found in modern, man-made strains of wheat.
So lets buy some ancient einkorn wheat and make our own healthy, gluten-friendly breads right? Sadly, pre-modified strains of wheat are almost impossible to come by in this day and age because farmers have, understandably, gone for the high yield kinds of grain that are available to them…the one’s we’re told are healthy (what a predicament?!).
So what are we to do? We could lobby governments and large food companies to provide non-GMO wheat, the ancient kinds that many people suggest don’t have the harmful qualities of modern wheat, OR we could stop eating the breads, donuts, cakes etc. that are made with a substance we call wheat, but which doesn’t have much resemblance at all to wheat by the original definition.
Either way, start small, reduce your wheat intake (bread, pasta etc.) gradually, and enjoy the benefits of a reduced-wheat diet.