Wheat-free is not gluten-free

Eliminate wheat from your diet and wonderful things happen:

--Lose 15-20 lbs, sometimes in the first 1-3 months. (More or less, depending on your prior dietary habits, weight, age, etc.)
--HDL cholesterol goes up, triglycerides go down
--Blood sugar drops
--Small LDL is reduced
--C-reactive protein is reduced
--Pre-diabetics often convert to non-diabetics
--Diabetics gain far better control over blood glucose. Some even become non-diabetic (as long as they maintain the wheat-free, low-glycemic index diet and weight control).
--You feel better: Less mental fogginess, more energy, better sleep.
--Appetite shrinks dramatically.

(Many diet programs makes lots of money promising similar results. Prescription medications like the pre-diabetes drugs, Actos and Avandia, and the fibrates, Tricor and Lopid, nearly--nearly--reproduce the effects of eliminating wheat. Of course, these medications do not lead to weight loss or make you feel better. In fact, Actos and Avandia usually trigger a weight gain of 8 lbs in the first year of use.)

All of these wonderful effects develop with elimination of wheat. . . unless you confuse wheat-free with gluten-free. There's a difference.

Remove wheat from your diet, but discover the world of gluten-free products made for people with celiac disease, or gluten enteropathy, and you can regain the weight and recreate many of the phenomena associated with wheat. I've talked about this in past, but it trips up so many people that it's worth talking about again.

The concept that I am advocating is really low-glycemic index (or low glycemic load, actually). Foods that trigger a substantial rise in blood sugar, whether immediate (like whole wheat crackers) or delayed (like whole wheat pasta) are the culprits. The same effects develop with candy, cookies, fruit drinks, pizza, chips, table sugar, and other junk foods.

However, I pick on wheat specifically because it so dominates the American diet. It has grown to fill so many processed food products. It is also a food ingredient that is falsely advertised as healthy. In reality, pretzels, whole wheat crackers, whole grain bread, high-fiber cereals, etc. exert the same effect on blood sugar as candy or white table sugar. They also generate all the "downstream" phenomena listed above.

But wheat is hardly the only food that makes us fat, diabetic, and unhealthy. This is true for foods made with cornstarch (taco shells, cornbread, tortillas, chips, breakfast cereals); rice flour, puffed rice, and polished rice; and potatoes, particularly pulverized potato starch (potato chips). There are others.

These are the gluten-free products that are marketed to the gluten enteropathy (celiac disease) market. Yes, you can make muffins with cornstarch and no wheat gluten, but is it good for you?

No. It is nearly as bad as wheat. It can still skyrocket blood sugar, drop HDL, raise triglycerides, create small LDL, heighten inflammation, etc.

Ground flaxseed, oat bran, barley, quinoa, are some of the alternatives that do not create these effects. But not the majority of gluten-free products on the market.

Ingredients: Potato starch, rice flour, modified corn starch, olive oil, yeast, vegetable protein(lupine), corn syrup, sugar, salt, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, diacetyltataric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of edible fats, natural flavor.

". . . only naturally gluten-free and wheat-free ingredients and adhere to the strictest quality processes, testing every batch for gluten using the ELISA assay."

Serving Size 7 bread sticks (31g)
Servings per container 5

Calories 120 Calories from fat 25
Amount per serving
Total Fat 2.5g
Saturated Fat 0.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 310mg
Total Carb 24g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars less than 1g
Protein less than 1g

Comments (10) -

  • Danimal

    5/21/2008 6:57:00 PM |

    I'm rather fond of low-carb whole wheat wraps. They have 8 grams of carbs (of which 4 is fiber). They're made with a combination of whole wheat flour and flax seed. Is that ok, or will it spike my blood sugar?

  • Anonymous

    5/21/2008 7:27:00 PM |

    After many gut episodes, I visited OB, GI, and ER, with ultrasound, colonoscopy, and CT all being normal. I did an elimination diet on my own, and found that wheat/gluten triggered the episodes (the pasta challenge caused the ER trip).

    The OB had ordered general bloodwork for my age; my A1C at 6.1 but my fasting blood sugar was less than 100. So he told me to tell my GP so they could follow up. I finally made it in to the GP yesterday (no gluten for 6 weeks, except possible cross-contamination from Quaker Rice Cakes, causing quite a few episodes until I smartened up).

    My A1C was 5.7, so I am no longer considered pre-diabetic. I also weigh 20 pounds less. My original lipid tests from the OB were decent, so the GP didn't order more, so I won't know if going off wheat helped my lipids. He ordered celiac bloodwork after looking it up in his lab book, which didn't mention that eating gluten was required, telling me if it was negative we would consider it a false negative, but if it was even a little positive, we'd know for sure.

    I still eat potatoes or rice daily, but in lesser amounts than before, mostly eating non-starch vegetables and leaner meats. I was originally concerned about the glycemic load of GF flour substitutes, but it turns out that GF flour substitutes are SO expensive that I only make them occasionally. I am able to go a LOT longer without hypoglycemic symptoms like the shakes, and light-headedness.


  • Anne

    5/22/2008 12:41:00 AM |

    I am gluten intolerant and have been on a gluten free diet for the past 5 years.  When I went GF my health improved ways too numerous to list here. My shortness of breath disappeared as did the pitting edema in my legs. I also discovered very quickly that I feel my best if I avoid all of the processed GF goodies.

    Recently I learned that rice, potatoes and other starchy foods cause my blood glucose to jump to 200. With the use of a glucometer and the help of Blood Sugar 101, I have been able to keep my blood sugar under 120 most of the time and my last A1C was 5.5 Easy? No. But my CRP is the lowest it has ever been and my lipids are looking better.

    I tell people that a gluten free lifestyle can be as healthy or as unhealthy as one wants to make it. I try to choose healthy.

  • Anonymous

    5/24/2008 1:39:00 AM |

    A good read is THE GI REVOLUTION.


  • jpatti

    6/4/2008 4:28:00 PM |

    The "gluten-free" label is just as indicative of health benefits as "low-carb", "low-fat", "whole grains", "heart healthy" and all the other food labels.

    These labels are all about conning people into believing processed foods are healthy.

    Foods that are *truly* healthy have no labels, e.g., a cucumber.

  • chandrey

    6/24/2008 2:58:00 PM |

    I recently eliminated most wheat from my diet in favor of rice based breads and bpastas and felt much better in the GI department.  However, last week I thought I'd branch out to the gluten-free stuff and bought a pack of gluten-free biscuits to go with dinner . . .I've never felt so sick.  Seems wheat anything, gluten or not does me in.
    Oh well, back to quioa and rice again.

  • Sharon

    9/16/2008 5:47:00 PM |

    I am allergic to wheat, not gluten. So much of what is written or marketed is related to gluten and I find that frustrating. Anyway, prior to eliminating wheat from my diet I was concerned about eating healthy and using whole grains, unprocessed foods, etc. I am not interested in finding substitutes for foods I have eliminated that had wheat in them (pizza, cookies, pasta, etc.) but in doing what I can to be healthy. As I read the labels on many of the gluten or wheat-free products, or look at the recipes for such food I get concerned that the 'cure' is worse than the disease. It's confusing and frustrating. If you or anyone can point me to clear, HEALTHY, recipes, information, and products for wheat-free, not gluten-free, living, I would be most grateful.

  • Tricia

    10/15/2008 3:14:00 PM |

    I turned to low carb some yeas ago and it solved or helped a lot of my health problems. The problem now is trying to get foods that are low carb - we do eat meat and veg, and a cooked breakfast, but it seems like the supermarkets and almost every other food store have totally sold out to the low-fat/high-sugar/high-salt agenda that is killing us. Things that used to be normal in fats are now "lite", meat is so lean that it's like chewing cardboard, you can't get meat with the fat left on, and where once there was a tiny selection of low-carb products, they were removed and it's all "gluten-free" now; the thing I most object to is placing a whole rack of Slimfast sugarwater "slimming" products in the pharmacy aisle next to the vitamins, as if it's a good natural product! We used to buy Jersey or Guernsey milk but guess what "we don't sell that any more madam"...It's getting so very hard to stay on track!

  • buy jeans

    11/3/2010 9:04:02 PM |

    Remove wheat from your diet, but discover the world of gluten-free products made for people with celiac disease, or gluten enteropathy, and you can regain the weight and recreate many of the phenomena associated with wheat. I've talked about this in past, but it trips up so many people that it's worth talking about again.

  • gluten free diet

    4/6/2011 4:41:05 AM |

    I didn't know that there many advantages if we remove wheat from our diet..Thanks for the nutrition facts.