Love it or hate it gluten-free is here to stay and while our tummies may be grateful, this movement has left one (perhaps) innocent victim in its wake: Wheat. Once considered one of nature’s health heroes for it’s high nutritional content (including fiber, vitamin b, folate), it has now been knocked off its perch as many embrace a life without the allegedly “menacing” grain. The question now is have these nutritional benefits really disappeared, or were they even there at all? Chloe Elgar, founder of Chloe’s Countertop and Sand & Smoke contributor believes so however the issue is what happens to this grain as it makes its way to our plate. So, the good news for those of us who can’t resist the lure of freshly baked bread, is that if consumed consciously, wheat could in fact make a comeback to our diets. We sat down with the holistic nutritionist to get the facts on why wheat has gotten such a bad rep in recent years
BEHIND THE SCENES.
Wheat is a lot more complicated than just that delicious piece of bread that makes up your mouth-watering sandwich, or that tantalizing dish of pasta. As with much of the food in our world today the integrity and quality of the product is compromised due to factors like cost, profit and quantity. When wheat became a health hero for its high fiber content, increased demand meant mass production which caused the quality of the product to plummet. We have seen the same thing happen with soy, corn, oil and sugar and even more recently with quinoa.
Several process severely decrease the nutritional content of wheat as it goes through the production process:
Wheat in its natural state is a rich source of nutrients such as B-vitamins, proteins, iron and fiber. During the process of refinement these nutrients are leached and destroyed and substances of sugar and carbohydrates are concentrated. Due to the refining process and concentration of sugars, wheat products have a similar effect on the brain and the body that drugs do. That’s why removing wheat or gluten from your diet can be difficult- and you experience things like cravings.
Not all wheat products are bleached, however when they are whatever hasn’t been damaged or lost through refining is guaranteed to be lost through bleaching. The process of bleaching is to create the uniform colour that makes for a more attractive, sellable product. Bleaching destroys the last of the B-vitamins, protein & other trace minerals.
Without the process of refinement the effect of yeast on the body would not be intense. The issue with yeast is that it feeds something called candida albican, which is a fungus present in the human body. Candida albicans becomes an infectious agent when there is some change in the body environment (like refinement) that allows it to grow out of control. So, when your body is experiencing a candidiasis (candida overgrowth) things like sugar and yeast feed it, and increase the rate of overgrowth.
WINNING THE WHEAT BATTLE.
I am not saying you have to cut out all wheat products for the rest of your life. My recommendation is to put a little more time, effort and value into the food that you buy and eat. Convenience and mass production mean that the quality of chain store products is compromised, the best thing you can do is to spend a bit more time researching what your food is and where it comes from or spend a little bit more money to buy from local professionals who do put more of their time into the food quality and integrity. Buying wheat products in as close to their natural state as possible means that you can be sure that the nutrients of the grain are still in tact.
My recommendations for winning the wheat battle:
Buy Organic, and buy local.
Local businesses especially; bakery, cafes and coffee houses, look/ask to see if they make their own products (e.g., pastry, bread).
Farmers markets (these products are almost guaranteed to be of higher quality as they are coming directly from the farmer/small business who specialize in the production of that product- and most likely, their values are more towards quality versus quantity.
Do some of your own research online.
GET TO KNOW YOUR GLUTEN.
Be mindful of gluten free products too…the concept gluten-free is becoming so trendy, big companies are tapping into this and once again, integrity and quality of these products are being compromised. So, when purchasing your gluten-free bread, pasta, pizza dough– have a look at where it’s from and what company has produced it.
Flour, kamut, semolina, spelt, wheat bran, regular white-flour pasta, bread, pizza dough
quinoa, oats, rice, buckwheat, amaranthe, millet, wild rice
This is an adaptation from previously published article. For the orginal feature please visit www.chloescountertop.com.
Image credit: Elle Magazine March 2009