I’ve talked a lot about how healthy sprouted grains can be. But don’t get too excited. This type of wheat may be healthier than its counterparts, but that doesn’t make it healthy for everyone.
The fact of the matter is: wheat has changed. Wheat today is not the same wheat our grandparents ate. It has been crossbred over the last fifty years, and the new “hybrid strains” of wheat are genetically and biologically different than old or “ancient” wheat, plain and simple. In olden times, people ate wheat varieties like Emmer, Einkorn, and Kamut. Today nearly all commercial wheat is a shorter, “dwarf wheat” that produces not only high yield crops but also many health concerns.
First, certain wheat proteins today provoke an inflammatory immune response in the GI tract. This can weaken the lining of the gut wall (which is already thinner than your eyelid!) Gluten, specifically, stimulates the release of zonulin, which loosens the junctions between cells in the gut. (2) (3) This can allow undigested food particles to slip out of the intestines into the bloodstream.
When this happens, the immune system considers it a foreign substance (an invader), and it sends out red flags (antibodies) to find and destroy the gluten. Over time, this can develop into a wheat/gluten sensitivity, allergy, or even a serious autoimmune condition like Celiac Disease.
What’s also alarming is that this new gluten looks a lot like various tissues in the body—especially thyroid tissue. So sometimes, the immune system can get confused. Since gluten and thyroid tissue look alike, some immune cells can end up attacking the thyroid by mistake, thinking it’s gluten. It’s a case of mistaken identity (also known as molecular mimicry), which can lead to other autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s Disease. (I highly recommend a great article by Dr. Amy Meyers called “3 Important Reasons to Give Up Gluten if You Have an Autoimmune Disease” located here.
Once upon a time, it was thought that wheat was just a concern for people who have a wheat allergy, Celiac Disease, or a genetic predisposition for it (if a family member has “issues with wheat”). But a 2006 study showed that another wheat protein—gliadin—activates zonulin too, regardless of whether you have the gene or not! (4) In other words, wheat can affect anyone, whether you have a family history or not.
Not convinced? Another study compared the effects of ancient Kamut wheat and modern wheat on healthy participants. Ancient Kamut caused a reduction in cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation compared to modern wheat, which in some cases increased it. (5) What’s more, another study showed that ancient Einkorn caused significantly fewer reactions in celiac patients than modern gluten. (6) So the question is: is it all wheat or just new wheat that is problematic?
My belief: the Architect of your temple didn’t design the fueling system to use this new wheat hybrid efficiently. But if you aren’t willing to give it up just yet, then follow the strategy outlined here to choose the healthiest kind. Whole grain wheat flour is better than refined or enriched wheat flour. But organic whole wheat is even better than regular whole wheat. Organic sprouted wheat is better than even organic whole grain wheat. And ancient wheat is better than sprouted modern wheat. Confused? Here’s how it looks from best to worst:
Organic ancient grains
Organic sprouted wheat
Organic whole grain wheat
Non-organic whole grain wheat
Refined or enriched wheat
Now, that’s the general order. However, when we are talking about rebuilding your temple, I don’t think that picking a fuel from the low end of the totem pole is going to get the job done. This is especially true if you have an autoimmune disease, thyroid issues, leaky gut syndrome (or any gut issues, actually), or if you even suspect you (or anyone in your family) has these issues.
My professional recommendation: Ditch. The. Wheat. Take the same principles outlined here and apply them to other, gluten-free grains. Look for bread with organic, gluten-free ancient grains (preferably sprouted) like amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, and teff. Or begin a grain-free paleo diet, using flours such as almond and coconut. But whatever you do, do not choose gluten-free grains like rice and corn that are not organic or non-GMO verified. They are just as harmful as non-organic wheat. (Again, I will talk much more about GMOs later on.)
If you do not have any of the above issues (or a family history of these issues), and you do not want to give up wheat at this time, then I strongly advise you to at least limit the quantity of it—and by “limit” I mean only eating wheat at one meal a day. That means if you have wheat toast for breakfast, then do not to have a sandwich at lunch or pasta at dinner.
If you’re not quite sure whether you or someone in your family has an autoimmune disease, check the list at the link below. There are more than 100 classified autoimmune diseases currently, with 40 more being studied.