Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Modern wheat a "perfect, chronic poison"

Did that get your attention? It got mine too. Did everyone see the clip of Dr. William Davis on CBS This morning yesterday?  I only caught a few seconds of it but I did hear him say that modern wheat is a "perfect, chronic poison."

Strong words, but really - haven't you been wondering about this? As you know we lean heavily toward a paleo-kinda diet. I tried for years to be on the no/low fat, high carb thing and all it did was make me sick and tired and decidedly not that perfect size. So I threw everything I learned about nutrition from women's magazines out the window and started thinking for myself.  Now I'm not sick, not tired, and altho I'll never look like those anorexic girls parading around on the runway, I don't have any health problems and I don't take any of those medications advertise on TV.

Looking around lately I've been shocked and a little horrified at the number of people I personally know who are on some kind of restricted diet. Now these aren't foodie elitists trying to make some kind of political statement, these are regular, working people who can't afford the specialized diets that are improving their health. I know a lot of these people.

It has really been grinding on me lately - why are so many people so badly affected by their food? We didn't have food allergies when I was in school. I knew one kid who was a diabetic and there were only a handful of fat kids. So something changed. And why were so many people having so many digestive problems? One question has been noodling around in my noodle....

What if it wasn't the donuts themselves...what if it was a step back. What if it was the wheat?

Of course people have cultivated wheat for thousands of years, bread is the stuff of life, and the Bible talks about wheat as a blessing... so what gives?

Lean in, friends, your world is about to change..... what is currently being produced in this country is not the same wheat we've had throughout history. Its not your grandma's wheat and certainly not your great-grandma's wheat. Its a relatively new thing called semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat. Its great for growing - as advertised it produces extremely high yields. Unfortunately one of the unintended consequences is that it produces a new protein called gliadin. Now this isn't the same as gluten, its different and it seems that most folks a susceptible to the health problems it appears to cause.

To be honest I've avoided Dr. Davis and his Wheat Belly. Mostly because he seemed a little like a slickster and I thought he was just another flash in the pan diet guru. But this interview with him (it runs about 4 minutes) is worth the watching. The interviewers had some pretty interesting expressions. I'm not sure if they thought he was nuts or if they were about to jump up from their chairs and throw away all of the bagels they were about to have for breakfast.

I was even more shocked to learn that his advice for folks is largely what we've been doing - eat single ingredient, non processed foods. Not what I expected from a slickster or a diet guru.

I did some further investigating - does everyone know my pal Wifezilla? She's got a blog about her nutritional experiences and is a lot more scientific than I am. So I asked her about this Davis character and she gave me some links that explain his ideas:

First Dr. Davis has some nuts and bolts info about this new wheat and why we might wanna be a little suspicious of it.... and then also there is the short version of it.  These links are from his blog about heart disease prevention here. There is also his blog about the Wheat Belly book.

What if this is all quackery and snake oil? Might be - but I sure think it warrants further investigation. What I know is that I cannot live by bread alone....and certainly not from the highly processed, chemical laden baked goods made with a "perfect, chronic poison" found on store shelves. Even if I make my own bread I know that I feel better if I stick to my meat-n-fat diet that keeps me upright, happy, and free of sickness and health problems.

Of course the easiest way to find out if its all just a bunch of baloney is to try it yourself. Can't give up your cheap $1/loaf sandwich bread, Puffy Wheaty-O's, or Costco sized tub of "cookies?"  Come on, friend, you can take some baby steps. And what if you did it? What if you admitted to yourself that what you are eating is largely culturally based and almost always because of marketing? What if you stopped wondering why you are sick and tired and not healthy and tried something different?

I assure you that you will not burst into flames, altho you might burst into tears the first couple of days. Find a program that works for you or just find something else to eat besides that "no, really its GOOD for you" cereal at breakfast, or "what else is there to eat besides a sandwich" for lunch, and what if you actually made dinner from real food?  You'd be surprised what is out there - real food. Right there waiting for you and its not in a can or a heat-n-eat tray. You can do it.

I'm not pretending that Dr. Davis has all the answers but it sure settled some questions that I've had for a while. I'll be keeping an eye on this.

That's all I've got for you today, friends. Looks like another day inside, we are still being soaked by the last of Hurricane Isaac. While I can't stand the humidity oh gosh am I glad to see the rain.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


freemotion said...

553Ugh, who wants to look like "anorexic girls parading around on the runway" anyways? It looks like the clothes are on a wire hanger!

I was one who wept over the loss of wheat in my diet. Now it is an occasional treat, like once a month, and always home made. It has changed our health dramatically. Great post.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Free, I know that you are a huge proponent about real food and good nutrition. Does everyone know Free's website? great info:

darius said...

When I cut wheat out of my diet 2-3 years ago, I started feeling LOTS better and lost belly fat. Eventually I missed bread, and started eating more of it, gaining ALL the weight back.

I'm once again off wheat but thinking of getting some Einkorn flour (an ancient wheat) to have on hand for the very occasional loaf of bread or pasta dish.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi Darius! Yep thats kind how it goes, huh? Over on "the Facebook" we've been talking about how Tropical Traditions has Einkorn grains (already milled) for sale - they are a great company with lots of interesting offerings. Check it out:

Diane said...

I have an on-again, off-again dirty affair with wheat.

It's so dang cheap & easy to make bread & pizza crust, etc at home that I continually fall back into its dastardly arms.

Yet, I know it's bad for me. I've read about Dr. Wheat Belly for a long time now and he strikes me as a little... questionable. But, from personal experience, wheat does bad things to me. It's not a direct effect so it wasn't easy to pin down. I can eat wheat and have problems with it. But, when I eat wheat, I become allergic to over half of the foods I eat (carrots, all melons, all nightshades, all berries, dairy, and on and on). My chronic sinusitis whacks me upside the head every. single. day. Once I kick wheat to the curb again, it takes a bit to clear it out and then, voila, angels start singing and my allergies begin to fade away.

I've experimented and re-experimented and re-re-experimented over and over again during the past couple of years and always get the same results.

I do need to add that I can eat wheat very occasionally if I've done a long fermentation on it (sourdough). I don't know what's up with that but there ya go.

So there's my Wheat Belly story. Maybe one of these days, I'll put on my big girl panties and tell wheat to shove it for good.

Jody said...

We've gone to strictly locally grown organic spelt. We have to drive an hour to get it, but it's worth it. We mix it with whole wheat. We have to buy the wheat berries at the health food store. It's a little expensive and time consuming to make. When we don't have time to make it, we go without. Winter is turning out to be the time in the year when we eat lots of bread.

David said...

huh.. I have some reading to do... not that i feel crappy and I do make most meals from scratch - including bread, but ... how long to go as an experi,emtt?

Damummis said...

Thank you for this post. it is baby steps for me but I am working on it.

Chai Chai said...

The problem is that the non-modified seeds are becoming hard to find or completely extinct.

Unknown said...

Yes modern "wheat" is nothing at all like ancient "wheat". I did some Paleo this summer, but can afford all the grassfed beef.... but I felt better and cravings went away afer a week or 2...

Unknown said...

Very interesting, I knew that wheat had changed, but didn't realise that a protein was affected, that explains a few things... It doesn't mean the end of bread and baked goods though, if you look hard enough there are some farmers/millers making flour from old varieties of wheat, and from other grains (spelt, rye, kamut etc). If you're making it yourself anyway, may as well make it good aye! I haven't tried to source alternative flour yet, but I was just waiting for a good reason. We only eat one home-made loaf a wk btw two, so even though alternative flours are expensive, its not a major part of our diet. I wonder if my process of soaking the dough for 24 hrs helps with protein digestion as well. Lots of things to research, thanks!

freemotion said...

Farmer_liz, although sprouting is better, a good soaking helps in some ways. Phytates, present in all grains, block mineral absorption, as you know, and zinc is one of these. Zinc is necessary to the production of hydrochloric acid, among many other roles it plays in our bodies. HCl is necessary to break down proteins efficiently. Low HCl leads to many problems, including increased permeability of the small intestine....which leads to...food allergies!

So the cascade looks kinda like this: Phytates from grains=blocked minerals including zinc=low stomach acid=leaky gut=food allergies, mostly to proteins, including those in wheat.

Interestingly, every client I've worked with so far is extremely low in zinc and stomach acid, thanks to today's food. Good for you for taking control through home made gourmet deliciousness!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Diane, yep - there's a reason that civilization was built on bread, plus, dontcha just love it! But yep its a balancing act with weird symptoms and bread-joy.

Jody - excellent thanks for sharing this strategy!

Dave, I answered your question in the next post. the short version is "2 weeks" but really, i can tell a difference in just a couple of days.

Damummis - baby steps is fine, remember its about what works for YOU. i do fine most of the time but can tell if i overdo it, especially with the highly processed stuff. blech.

CC - i posted a link for where to get seeds. i think there is probably a huge moneymaker in this with more people finding out that some of these frankengrains are kinda wonkadoodle.

Nancy - isnt it funny how the initial "i cant do without" just kinda fades?? you really can change your tastes and cravings. those first couple of days tho....ugh!

thanks Farmer Liz! thaks to Freemotion who posted a great answer (below) I also posted it on facebook.

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