Jan 17 2014

Is wheat bad for you? Not for most people.

As Food Navigator-USA puts it, “No, wheat does not make people fat and sick.”

Bread lover that I am, I consider recent research to be giving us good news.

Food Navigator is referring to a review of research on whole wheat and health just published in the Journal of Cereal Science of all places.  The authors conclude that unless you have celiac disease or wheat allergies, eating whole-wheat foods is good for you.

In fact, foods containing whole-wheat, which have been prepared in customary ways (such as baked or extruded), and eaten in recommended amounts, have been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a more favourable long term weight management. Nevertheless, individuals that have a genetic predisposition for developing celiac disease, or who are sensitive or allergic to wheat proteins, will benefit from avoiding wheat and other cereals that contain proteins related to gluten, including primitive wheat species (einkorn, emmer, spelt) and varieties, rye and barley…Based on the available evidence, we conclude that whole-wheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the general population.

The authors find little evidence in support of popular myths:

  • Proliferation of wheat products parallels obesity and is causally related.  No, it does not.
  • Wheat starch differs from starches in other foods in especially undesirable ways.  No, it does not.
  • Whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than sugar.  No, it does not.
  • Wheat contains opioids that make people addictive. No, they do not.

In the meantime, the FDA has been working on updating its 2006 guidance to industry about how to label statements about whole grains. The agency has been conducting research on how consumers judge:

  • Food products, including nutritional attributes, overall healthiness, and health benefits.
  • Labeling statements in terms of their credibility, helpfulness, and other attributes.
  • Terms and statements such as “Made with Whole Grain”, “Multi-Grain”, and “100% Whole Wheat.”
  • Whole grain statements beyond the scope of the statements themselves (i.e., halo effects).
  • How whole grain statements influence consumer use of the Nutrition Facts.

Can’t wait to see the results.  They ought to be out soon.

  • http://nhprogressives.wordpress.com John Ranta

    You seem to be arguing both sides of a dilemma. If you accept the American food system as it exists, then you can’t deny that wheat is bad for us. Because, in the American food system, wheat is the heavily processed, carb-laden panoply of food products we find in the middle aisles of our grocery stores, which you yourself admit are bad for us.

    For the average consumer, shopping in the typical American grocery store, it is not only reasonable, but nutritionally sensible to decide that “wheat is bad for us” and to only buy meat, vegetables and fruit. Because the typical American consumer is far better off avoiding any of the wheat products available to them in their supermarkets.

  • JD McLelland III

    No, I’m not arguing both sides. Quite simply…wheat is not bad for us…period.

    Refined flour byproducts ingested at the rate most Americans do? Absolutely. Refined flour is an over-processed stripped down version of wheat that removes the fiber, vitamins and minerals and leaves starch and sugar.

    Wheat does not equal commercial, refined wheat.

    You act like we don’t have a choice in America, like refined flour products are all we have. No. We have a lack of conscious and will power. There are plenty of options and would be more if there was the support and demand. The unconscious “elimination” campaign weakens the potential growth of quality solutions even more. Thank God people didn’t swear off tomatoes and instead turned to organics and heirlooms.

    Your statements and conclusions are actually quite ignorant. There are plenty of options and access….and the promotion of the elimination of wheat is reckless and void of reality.

  • JD McLelland III

    George…it seems almost all your sources and “facts” are completely misguided and straight up false. There is more land in the world with wheat growing on it than an other item on the planet. It’s been this way all through history.

    Is it shocking to you that the US is really the only country in a gluten and wheat uproar? Perhaps it’s due to the fact that we are fat obese nation that buys everything made and processes and eats on average 150% of needed calories daily.

    Wheat itself in the whole form is NOT bad for it. At some point…make the separation between overdose of white, commercial refined wheat and the actual wheat itself. It’s not wheat, it’s irresponsible eating and laziness.

    Your ideas and claims are not only scientifically false…they are empty of any common sense.

    Stop immersing in theoretical, non applicable marketed ideas by Dr Davis and Perlmutter and start looking at facts.

  • JD McLelland III

    6% includes only 3% that are true celiac, and only 1% that has serious adverse reactions. Celiac is extremely easy to detect, you have incredibly false information. Your information on allergies is also false. 100% theoretical and your source should be ashamed for publishing it. by the way…celiac IS wheat allergy!

    The tests are inconclusive because you don’t have it! Period.

    Of course you feel better when you stop eating a white, refined, commercial flour based diet…especially when you replace it with organic fruits and veggies full of vitamins and minerals.

    You would have the exact same results balancing your diet and switching to a true balanced diet with whole grains and true whole grain byproducts.

    You have not been made ill by wheat, you have been made ill by a poor choice of commercial flour byproducts and too much of them.

  • George

    Wrong. I was a hippy and avoided white bread, ate whole grain products, far more than most people.
    The rate of celiac disease seems to have been lower in the days when people ate mostly white bread.
    I don’t think you always need a test to know that something is ruining your life.
    If your mouth burns and your tongue swells and the world turns sour when you eat one particular food, just don’t eat it anymore, and save your money.

    Balancing my diet? Thanks for the advice but I am not a teeter-totter.
    I’ll just eat to get nourished without toxicity, if it’s all the same to you.

  • George

    I don’t live in the US. Your statement is not correct. This has long been an issue in many other countries. The ones where most wheat is eaten.

    I haven’t read Davis and Perlmutter. I knew what I know before they started writing. But I expect they’re mostly right. And, they’re doctors. They see patients. Do you have that experience? Or, have you ever had the kind of disease you’re trying to redefine and invent treatments for?

    “There is more land in the world with wheat growing on it than any other item on the planet.”
    no wonder the world is such a mess.

    “It’s been this way all through history.”
    there are such things as history books where such thoughts can be checked before they are written down.

  • jcherfas

    The link to the paper is broken.

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  • Cactus_Wren

    The dangers of wheat and wheat by-products!

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  • Logicandegg

    I just have to point out, that whenever an article is written defending wheat, the gluten free crowd, sounds like they have been brain washed and joined a cult. You can find whole wheat bread, but not from the companies like Pepperidge Farm, etc.

  • http://quipstravailsandbraisedoxtails.blogspot.com/ Michele Hays

    IMO, one unintentional driver of the gluten-free craze: many wheat products are high in salt (bread is one of the top 10 sources of sodium in our diet.) While I agree that most of the GF stuff is based in conjecture or flat-out wrong, people who remove gluten from their diets may also be reducing sodium…which might account for why they report feeling better.

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  • Lucero Cardenas

    I wouldn’t say that this article is biased, I would just say that this post is just stating simple facts about foods with wheat. But I don’t actually see how wheat would reduce some diseases but be bad at the same time?

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