4

votes

Is wheat really that bad for all people?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I have noticed benefits from adding more fat to my diet but I haven't experienced any trouble eating wheat every once in a while.

I know people say they experience hell when they eat gluten...but doesn't the same thing happen to vegans if they eat meat after shunning it from their diets?

When you don't eat a food group for an extended amount of time your body becomes terrible at digesting that food group. I had a vegan friend who decided to 'cheat' for the first time in 2 years and have a steak.....he spent the next couple of days in the bed and in the bathroom.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Hundreds of billions of people-years even.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 04:13 PM

Given the billion of people-years of wheat consumption, I'm inclined to think a lot of gluten-intolerance is just leaky gut. A healthy non-leaky gut should have no issue with wheat, as none of the constituents are toxins.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:44 PM

What do you think of the roughly quarter of the population with at least one copy of an major histone compatibility (MHC) gene that reacts to gliadin? With a healthy enough gut, does it then become just another immune challenge that conditions our immune system but at a low enough level to not cause damage?

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:39 PM

It's hard to tell if it's the wheat itself, or it being junk food, that is the culprit. It would be interesting for your friend to try getting his/her wheat only in less processed forms: unmilled wheat cooked hot like rice or oatmeal. My husband doesn't react to wheat like I do, but since he dropped gluten so as to not contaminate me (I have celiac disease), he has lost about 10-15 lbs. He also feels afternoon sluggishness now on the rare occasion he does he gluten, but we can't tell if that's because those come in the form of junky foods or not.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:34 PM

sorry, by "clients" I mean "patients"

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:17 PM

Oats aren't completely nutritional deficient. Eat them if you like them and they agree with you.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 30, 2012
at 02:26 AM

My experience with wheat is very similar -- like a toxin that affects my entire system.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 29, 2012
at 08:21 PM

I liked Wheat Belly, but I actually didn't find it too full of information. He certainly has gotten good results with his clients, and the hypothesis that the red dwarf variety has more problematic gluten than other varieties is interesting, but otherwise, he was short on details and mechanisms.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on July 29, 2012
at 08:17 PM

Perfect analogy!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 29, 2012
at 07:49 PM

Actually, this effect on zonulin is only seen in people with celiac disease, not people who are allergic/sensitive.

4ecfe8ee47ea62a11be516cd59701a4b

(30)

on July 29, 2012
at 07:19 PM

You have to know your genetics. There's a spectrum of tolerance based on your homo/heterozygous status for various HLA haplotypes - look at your DQ 8, 7.5, 2.5 & 2.2. Up to 30% of people may be hetero for at least one of these, suggesting some intolerance.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 29, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I've seen gluten-free oatmeal at Trader Joe's.

93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on July 29, 2012
at 06:23 PM

Actually oatmeal is delicious and I love it! I have been craving it and wish I could get some, but it's particularly hard to find gluten-free versions of it..

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on July 29, 2012
at 05:26 PM

I know its nutritionally bland...but I'm starting to wonder if that's what i need.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on July 29, 2012
at 05:25 PM

i've just been eating huge amounts of spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes and not feeling great..i'm starting to wonder if I have a toxic level of Beta Carotene, Vitamin K, or oxalic acid in my system...I'm thinking about adding oatmeal (I'm aware its not wheat) back into my diet.

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on July 29, 2012
at 05:14 PM

No, not everyone. If your healthy and it doesn't bother you then fine, but why would you want to? I'd rather see us replenish the North American Bison herds and then let them crap all over it.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 29, 2012
at 04:28 PM

I think there is definitely something to wholly avoiding something and then when you do encounter it you have issues digesting it. Definitely. I don't have problems with wheat or other grains, either.

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10 Answers

best answer

8
45ace03a0eff1219943d746cfb1c4197

(3661)

on July 29, 2012
at 06:11 PM

That's a bit like asking if bourbon is really that bad for all people. How bad it is will vary, but it's not something that would top your healthy foods list ever.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on July 29, 2012
at 08:17 PM

Perfect analogy!

7
81cf1892bafcdfa38779f4b9b488198d

(606)

on July 29, 2012
at 05:32 PM

Read The Wheat Belly, it will answer your question.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 29, 2012
at 08:21 PM

I liked Wheat Belly, but I actually didn't find it too full of information. He certainly has gotten good results with his clients, and the hypothesis that the red dwarf variety has more problematic gluten than other varieties is interesting, but otherwise, he was short on details and mechanisms.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:34 PM

sorry, by "clients" I mean "patients"

4ecfe8ee47ea62a11be516cd59701a4b

(30)

on July 29, 2012
at 07:19 PM

You have to know your genetics. There's a spectrum of tolerance based on your homo/heterozygous status for various HLA haplotypes - look at your DQ 8, 7.5, 2.5 & 2.2. Up to 30% of people may be hetero for at least one of these, suggesting some intolerance.

5
2c7026111493687e2d619c9e20e47915

(693)

on July 29, 2012
at 05:32 PM

I don't have a problem either, but to be fair, I've only been Paleo for about 4 mos and the longest I've gone w/out wheat is 30 days. I don't know what it would be like if I'd gone many months or years w/out it.

While I've noticed 1 "cheat" doesn't seem to bother me, if I let myself slide down that slippery slope I do start to feel it - low energy, moodiness, etc.

4
307aae7ecf2276ed12cbe9adc4ae6a9d

on July 29, 2012
at 04:31 PM

In my own experience, I can tell you that I've always had problems with digestion, migraine headaches and terrible stomach cramping and diarrhea several times a week. After I eliminted grains and dairy, I don't have any of these problems anymore unless I add them back in and "cheat". So "cheating" isn't really an option for me.

I'm sure there are varying degrees of sensitivity, and cessation from ingesting a food that your body does not respond well to will result in a build up of the antibodies against it. So... when you do eat it again, your body goes into overdrive to fight the problem food.

3
Fdf101349c397fbe1ecb98b310fb3737

(358)

on July 29, 2012
at 06:43 PM

There is a range of how well people tolerate wheat. So let's say that there are a lot of people who do just fine with wheat, i.e. it causes no problems at all. (I don't know if this is true. My totally unfounded suspicion is that most people are adversely affected from eating wheat and are unaware).

But even for those people who do not have problems, I would ask whether it;s the best thing to eat in any given situation. Wheat, even whole wheat is nutritionally barren, and it is a rapidly assimilated sugar. So best case is you get a slug of sugar devoid of nutrition.

Worse case you get leaky gut, which can lead to autoimmune and other problems, allergies, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, etc.

Bottom line is that there is no good reason to eat wheat, and lots of possible reasons not to.

2
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 30, 2012
at 02:31 AM

I think there are people who tolerate wheat without problems.

However, I also think there are people who THINK they tolerate wheat, but really don't, and don't realize it until they stop eating it completely for a while.

I was talking to a coworker a few weeks ago about diet. I mentioned that I was on the paleo diet, and he said he could never do it because he would miss his pizza and pasta too much, and besides he tolerated them so well that he didn't see the point.

However, after our conversation it turns out that he tried dropping all wheat (not full on paleo though) and lost 17 pounds in 3-4 weeks. He didn't change anything else, no exercise, etc. So he was thinking that wheat wasn't a problem for him, but when he dropped it he lost almost 10% of his body weight (he was overweight) almost immediately. My conclusion is that he could not actually tolerate wheat, and it was keeping him fat, and he never knew it until he dropped it.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:39 PM

It's hard to tell if it's the wheat itself, or it being junk food, that is the culprit. It would be interesting for your friend to try getting his/her wheat only in less processed forms: unmilled wheat cooked hot like rice or oatmeal. My husband doesn't react to wheat like I do, but since he dropped gluten so as to not contaminate me (I have celiac disease), he has lost about 10-15 lbs. He also feels afternoon sluggishness now on the rare occasion he does he gluten, but we can't tell if that's because those come in the form of junky foods or not.

2
5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on July 29, 2012
at 11:36 PM

I was once a vegetarian, then a vegan, for several years. I had absolutely no trouble eating meat when I finally resumed doing so.

My re-introduction to animal foods was a rib-eye steak. I hadn't eaten beef in eight years at that point, and neither chicken nor fish had been on the menu for the previous six, but when I devoured that steak it was amazing--it felt like my whole body welcomed it. I had no difficulty digesting it, and did not feel the least bit sick afterward.

So no, not every veg*an will lose the ability to digest meat (assuming it was not a problem for them before they stopped). In fact, my brother-in-law, who was raised Hare Krishna from birth and never ate meat, fish, or eggs as a kid, had no trouble digesting fish or eggs when he finally introduced them to his diet for the first time. (He still is leery of meat, and hasn't eaten it, but it's largely a humane issue.)

Wheat, however, was never my friend. I can look back at my life and see it clear as day, now--I was a chubby kid and teenager with attention problems and a constantly runny nose; I was a chronically scatterbrained young adult who battled weight gain, carb-cravings, and eating binges; and I was a middle-aged adult who, by 40, had resigned myself to waking up stiff and sore every morning, getting through my day half brain-fogged, watching my fingers and ankles swell up over the course of the day, and suffering through chronic sinusitis and what I believed were inevitable seasonal allergies.

Once I stopped eating wheat, my chronic joint aches and pains ceased. So did my edema. So did my sinus problems. So did my allergies. My constant tiredness and brain-fog lifted. My mental focus has improved so much, I'm still kind of shocked by it.

Here's the thing: I don't feel any GI distress when I eat wheat. My belly swells up a bit, but it's not painful. I don't keep dashing to the toilet, either. If I only paid attention to what was happening to my guts when I ate wheat, I wouldn't think it was a problem.

But when I do eat wheat these days, all my joint aches and stiffness come back, as does my sinus congestion, and I wake up the next day with what feels like a cross between a monster hangover and the flu. It's awful.

And while I used to think that I had developed an intolerance to wheat by not eating it, I finally realized that no--this was how I used to feel every single morning. I really did feel that lousy, but since I thought that was normal, I didn't think about it that much.

That said, you might be one of those people who tolerates wheat/gluten just fine (and your vegan friend may have had a problem digesting beef even before going vegan). But don't just count on what's happening to your belly when you eat wheat before deciding whether you do have an intolerance. Is there any sort of chronic condition, however minor, that goes away when you stop eating wheat entirely, then recurs when you start eating it again? Maybe not--in which case, you're one of the lucky ones.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on July 30, 2012
at 02:26 AM

My experience with wheat is very similar -- like a toxin that affects my entire system.

2
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 29, 2012
at 06:36 PM

I've been able to find two papers showing harmful effects of gluten in non-celiacs. The first is quite old, from 1981: Gluten-induced mucosal changes in subjects without overt small-bowel disease. Since I don't have the full article, I'm not sure if the non-celiacs they're referring to are non-celiac gluten-sensitive folks, or truly normal (not overtly sensitive) folks.

The second one is more recent, in 2007: Is gliadin really safe for non???coeliac individuals? Production of interleukin 15 in biopsy culture from non???coeliac individuals challenged with gliadin peptides. The main jist is that celiacs and non-celiacs have an inflammatory response (via a pro-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin 15), but the progression of inflammation to changes in gene transcription stops short in non-celiacs.

One thing to keep in mind, too, is that 20-30% of the population has the "celiac" alleles, even if they don't develop celiac disease. My guess is that eventually we'll find that this 20-30% do better without gluten in their diet. I'm not sure if gluten is outright damaging to the rest of the population, though, aside from the usual issues of effective nutrient density.

1
81ead405cb501cece1b7bf8f2a7c0f33

on July 29, 2012
at 06:51 PM

For people who are allergic to gluten (and there are many, many people who are and don't know it)...eating any gluten causes their body to make a chemical called zonulin. Zonulin basically makes the small intestine and the blood-brain barrier open up. When proteins from any food eaten along with gluten get into the bloodstream (as particles much larger than they should be), the body identifies them as invaders and attacks. This means that people develop allergies to a variety of other foods as well.

But the most dangerous thing about it is that if the body happens to identify a particular protein as an invader...and that protein is very similar in structure to proteins the body makes and needs...then the body will start to attack its own cells. So wheat is at the center of every autoimmune disease. It makes the body turn on itself, makes it overproduce drastically (skin cells, oil, etc.), and makes its own immune system weaker.

Again, this is only for people who are allergic/sensitive. If you don't have any reaction to wheat...consider yourself lucky!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 29, 2012
at 07:49 PM

Actually, this effect on zonulin is only seen in people with celiac disease, not people who are allergic/sensitive.

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:25 PM

My opinion on wheat (and other paleo verboten foods) is that much of how we tolerate them is in the condition of our gut. A leaky gut (a disordered, dysfunctional state) is not going to tolerate as much as a healthy gut. I think there's a low-level of leaky gut in many folks and that once that is corrected, wheat (and other) intolerance goes away.

I never experienced a moment where I identified wheat as problematic, I did experience a month or two of noticing very minor symptoms from eating wheat. As I continued eating a whole-food paleo diet, those symptoms when consuming wheat went away. I can only assume that my gut regained optimal function and I no longer had minor immune responses to stray wheat proteins.

There are folks with real wheat intolerance. There are folks who aren't as lucky as I, and have done irreparable damage to their gut linings. They're both going to have to avoid wheat for the long haul. These folks are not the majority, they are a minority in the population as a whole. Folks who eat paleo tend to be the ones who need to eat this way to function in a somewhat normal way. There's likely loads of people who try eating paleo and find no immediate benefit, they simply don't have the dysfunction that others do.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Hundreds of billions of people-years even.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 30, 2012
at 04:13 PM

Given the billion of people-years of wheat consumption, I'm inclined to think a lot of gluten-intolerance is just leaky gut. A healthy non-leaky gut should have no issue with wheat, as none of the constituents are toxins.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on July 30, 2012
at 12:44 PM

What do you think of the roughly quarter of the population with at least one copy of an major histone compatibility (MHC) gene that reacts to gliadin? With a healthy enough gut, does it then become just another immune challenge that conditions our immune system but at a low enough level to not cause damage?

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