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The Wheat Rap Sheet

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Bob Niland

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Posted: 6/28/2016 3:19:21 PM
Edited: 4/11/2018 9:00:55 AM (4)
 
The Wheat Rap Sheet

The Wheat Rap Sheet

Edition: 2016-09-12

Introduction

This is my list, and not an official Wheat Belly or Cureality list, although it relies heavily on the work of Dr. Davis. Perhaps the most recent official analog to this list is found on pages 8 through 11 of the 2015 book Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox.

This article was created to reference in replies on the Wheat Belly Blog and elsewhere on the internet - typically questions of the
“can I eat [ organic | heirloom | sprouted | juiced ] wheat” sort.
I actually don’t expect people to completely read this article. The main point of it is that if you just fix one or two problems with wheat (and geneticists are beavering away on that), you still end up with an all-purpose human toxin, and an ecological nightmare that is unlikely to have a happy ending.

The List of Charges

This is not necessarily a prioritized list.

  1. Sky High Glycemic
  2. Multiple Gliadin Hazards:
    2a. Leaky Gut
    2b. Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier
    2c. Addiction and Appetite Stimulation
    2d. Direct Inflammation by Gliadin-Derived Peptides (on WB Blog)
  3. Lectin: Wheat Germ Agglutinin
  4. Microbiome Effects
  5. Toxins and Treatments:
    5a. Toxic Grain Diseases
    5b. Anti-Fungal Agents
    5c. Insecticides
    5d. Herbicides
  6. Anti-Nutrient
  7. Allergens
  8. Fiber and Fructan
  9. Fortifications: Benefit or Hazard?
    9a. Folic Acid
    9b. Iron
    9c. Bleaches & Miscellanea
  10. Modern Wheat Genetics
  11. Non-Traditional Dough Preparation
  12. Wheat Has Fat? Yes; Avoid It
  13. Wheat In Food-Like Substances

Further Detail

Modern wheat, heirloom wheat, and grains generally have a number of serious problems, and anyone contemplating the consumption of these seeds or germs, their flours or meals, their sprouts or grasses, however prepared, needs to decide if the hazards are worth it.

Some of these problems are inherent to all grains, some to all wheats, some just to modern wheat, some to field practices, some to later processing, and the sheer scope of the problem is is due in large part to wheat being an inexpensive subsidized commodity that is very shelf-stable.

You’ll notice perhaps that gluten isn’t on the list of charges, per se. The things gluten contains and does are on the list. Also absent is GMO, again, per se. Using the deceptively strict industry definition of GM (explicit gene insertion), there is no GMO wheat on the market [yet].

1. Sky High Glycemic

The carbohydrate in grain seeds, amylopectin A, is 60% glucose (in a rapidly digestible branched polymer form) a process that begins before we even take the first swallow (with significant implications for dental health).

Wheat raises blood sugar (BG: blood glucose), gram for gram, higher than table sugar does (sucrose is “only” 50% glucose). (Wheat Belly Total Health, p21). People who would never consume a whole bowl of sugar will often consume the metabolic equivalent of that in a single dish, and more, as wheat products.

Postprandial blood glucose spikes, leading to postprandial TG (triglyceride) spikes, leading to a flood of small LDL particles, and chronically elevated HbA1c are a health disaster.

Fermented dough (such as sourdough) raises blood sugar (and insulin) only slightly less than modern yeast dough. The Wheat Belly goal is no rise in postprandial BG.

Heirloom wheats and other grains vary in net carbohydrate content. Some non-gluten-bearing grains may be BG-safe and low fructose in small portion sizes. The Nutrition Facts panel tells the tale (Total Carbs minus Fiber Carbs). Watch for other hazards. Dose accordingly. Zero might be ideal. [Return to List of Charges]

2. Multiple Gliadin Hazards

The gliadin protein of wheat is a multiple-threat toxin.

2a. Causes Leaky Gut

Perhaps the top gliadin hazard is that, although indigestible, it releases zonulin, which opens the tight junctions of the gut. This problem affects everyone, and not just celiacs. A “leaky gut” allows all sorts of things into the blood that ought not be there, including undigested bits of various foods, multiple wheat toxins, and zonulin itself. Wheat has accomplices on this. The “secalin of rye, the hordein of barley, and the zein protein of corn apparently do the same thing.

Leaky gut sets the stage for auto-immune provocation, inflammation, and even more hazards behind the Blood-Brain Barrier (below).

It doesn’t take much exposure to re-open the junctions, resulting in re-exposure reactions lasting hours or days, or re-trigger immune responses, resulting in reactions lasting months. A once-a-month cheat can easily suffice to prevent relief from an utterly needless AI ailment. [Return to List of Charges]

2b. Causes Leaky Blood-Brain Barrier

Wheat opens the BBB, which has tight junctions similar to those in the gut. Dr. David Perlmutter reported this on page 55 of his book Brain Maker. This lets random toxins into the brain, which means that in addition to wheat’s own psychoactive properties, any risks from whatever else is eaten may be fully realized. [Return to List of Charges]

2c. Addiction and Appetite Stimulation

Gliadin is incompletely digested, but does result in peptides that enter the blood, cross the BBB, and bind with opiate receptors. This provides no obvious euphoria, but does result in addiction and appetite stimulation.

The appetite stimulation is estimated to amount to an extra 440 calories per day. [Return to List of Charges]

3. Lectin: Wheat Germ Agglutinin

WGA is an adverse lectin. Although first isolated in wheat (hence the name), it is also found in barley, rye and rice. It is indigestible, and has a destructive effect on the gut wall, and further effects when a leaky gut allows it to pass into the blood stream, and across the BBB.

It mimics insulin and blocks leptin, thus promoting weight gain and maintenance. It also blocks vasoactive intestinal peptide, making it a disruptor of multiple body functions.

WGA has a pretty linear dose-response. There is no lower limit below which it is harmless. Wheat Belly Total Health (p22) goes into some detail on the hazards.

WGA is present in wheat grass and sprouts. No method of food preparation neutralizes it. WGA may be slightly less adverse in heirloom wheats, but the way to manage it in diet is to set the dial to zero. [Return to List of Charges]

4. Microbiome Effects

Wheat alters oral biome, upper GI biome and lower GI biome. That makes it a direct gut antagonist, with secondary effects resulting from the recasting of the populations in the microbiome. Whether this is due to the combined effect of the other hazards, or some component not yet isolated, is not clear. But eat wheat, and you can expect acid reflux, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, etc.

The Kamut Institute commissioned a trial a few years ago to test kamut vs. modern wheat in IBS. They neglected to test a no-wheat cohort, of course. Kamut won by a little. So eating an heirloom wheat might turn the gut catastrophe dial from 100 to 95 or so. A later trial did include a no-wheat (but rice) cohort, and the rice beat both. [Return to List of Charges]

5. Toxins and Treatments

Although modern grain crops have been mutated to be hardy and high-yield, they still face threats both afield, and in storage and transport. Wiki’s List of wheat diseases is impressive (and mostly fungal). Insects must be controlled. Weeds have to be minimized.

An untreated crop could be expected to have exacerbated pest hazards. A treated crop raises questions about treatment residues. Being a commodity, there’s no way to know what’s been used on the product once it reaches retail. For non-organics, there are hundreds of fungicides alone.

For Organic grains, various solutions exist. Some of them appear to be safe, such as inert gas or atmospheric temperature and pressure control in storage. For others, such as Bt, safety is less certain, due to the primitive status of our knowledge of human microbiome, not to mention continued genetic tinkering with Bt itself to try to outpace the predictably emerging resistance in pests.

Grain growing is a pointless struggle against natural forces, with devastating downside risks for the hapless humans who consume the resulting food-like substances. The simple solution is to put the fields back in native grass, and rotate suitable critters through them. Then consume the pastured critters or their products (e.g. eggs, dairy).

5a. Toxic Grain Diseases

An affected crop can be directly unsafe to consume, or unsafe due to by-products of the infestation. This page cannot even begin to cover all the possible hazards. We also cannot assume that the food chain is being monitored for all hazards. In the case of Ochratoxin A (below), for example, there is no U.S. standard for it (ditto for arsenic in rice). No one is necessarily looking.

As I was originally composing this, Egypt was rejecting US wheat shipments due to ergot. Impolite question: so what becomes of these rejected shipments?

Also in mid-2016, it was reported that U.S. grain crops are high in Ochratoxin A. Oats are the most affected (70% of production), but wheat is also a big problem, at 32%. The industry response to this may be to use even more anti-fungal agents.

If there’s any good news here, it appears that for the few bacterial wheat pests, control methods (if any) don’t appear to include antibiotics. The same can’t be said for everything else. [Return to List of Charges]

5b. Anti-Fungal Agents

For non-organic crops, the agents used commonly include materials that are directly toxic to humans. The Safety Data Sheets are often frightening. Non-native halogen compounds abound.

Threats from the residues might be expected to include endocrine disruption, microbiome distortion or even extinctions, and hypothyroid (due to bromine, chlorine and fluorine competition with iodine at the thyroid, plus the typical iodine deficiency today, perhaps contributing to rampant mis-tested, mis-diagnosed and mis-treated hypothyroidism). Consensus medicine is today largely useless at dealing with any of the resulting ailments.

Bromine compounds are gradually being withdrawn from the food chain. In the case of things like Bromo-Seltzer, it was due to overt toxicity. Our gut biomes also include fungi in their populations, whose benefits are not yet tallied. Hitting them with needless fungicides might not be a super idea. [Return to List of Charges]

5c. Insecticides

These agents have considerable overlap with the anti-fungals, but are intended to disrupt physically larger lifeforms. That the human microbiome usually lacks beneficial insects does not protect us from these agents.

The questions that must be asked might include:
• How persistent is the agent afield?
• What are the breakdown products?
• What amounts of what end up in the food?
• What are the direct and indirect human consequences?
• What are the environmental consequences?
If someone insists on eating wheat, seeking organic might provide some protection here. [Return to List of Charges]

5d. Herbicides

This is much the same story as fungicides and insecticides, but with a twist that often surprises people about wheat. The hazards are similar: direct toxicity at high doses, endocrine disruption at lower, and microbiome disruption at low doses.

Clearfield® wheat was mutated twice by chemo-mutagenesis to have resistance to imidazolinone. This is promoted as a non-GMO crop, but is it? In any event, you can count on this herbicide being applied to the crop. How much ends up on your plate?

It’s easy to find sources critical of the major herbicides: 2,4,-D, triazines (such as atrazine) and glyphosate. Some of these agents, by the way, persist for much longer than 7 years after application, so they may still be present on ground supposedly certified organic, in addition to how they’ve altered the soil microbiome. Glyphosate is perhaps more widely known in its proprietary formulation, Roundup®, which has additional troubling ingredients.

It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that glyphosate was used, pre-planting, to eliminate weeds on a wheat field. But many people, aware that there is no GMO wheat yet, and thus no glyphosate-resistant or Roundup-Ready® wheat yet, are surprised to learn that glyphosate is also applied to the mature crop just before harvest.

This “staging” process is innocently named “dessication”, and is done to conveniently and simultaneously ready an entire field for harvest. The agent gets into the wheat, because it kills it. Although not [yet] considered a direct human toxin, the consequences for the human microbiome are more pressing, have not been usefully studied, and really, can’t be with our current level of understanding. The MDR for this stuff is zero. Dose accordingly. [Return to List of Charges]

6. Anti-Nutrients

Grains contain phytates and trypsin inhibitors that actively and non-trivially impair nutrient absorption. Modern grains, bred for pest resistance, may have more phytates than heirlooms, but even the heirlooms are a sour deal on this factor, as they offer no real benefits to balance against the hazard.

Phytic acid is present in most grains. It doesn’t take much of it (perhaps 50 mg) to turn off absorption of some key nutrients, particularly iron and zinc. Modern wheat will give you that dose in a mere 7 grams of flour. Wheat eaters never consume that little.

Dough fermentation can modestly reduce wheat phytates, but does not eliminate them.

Phytates are also present in varying amounts in other foods, including in small amounts in nuts. This is not considered to be a significant issue, to the extent that soaking nuts to reduce phytates is considered optional. Anyone concerned about it can use use meal timing - consume the nuts at a different meal from the minerals.

Heirloom grains have less phytate, and phytate can be reduced by soaking and fermentation, but given the other problems with grains, it’s not really worth the time and effort. [Return to List of Charges]

7. Allergens

“Baker’s asthma” is a problem even with heirloom wheats traditionally prepared. WDEIA (Wheat-Derived Exercise-Induced Anaphlaxis) may or may not be child of modern wheat. Wiki has list of wheat allergies, which is probably not exhaustive. Wheat Belly Total Health has further information on page 9. [Return to List of Charges]

8. Fiber and Fructan

Grains do provide some prebiotic fiber, such as arabinoxylan and amylose, but the benefit is dwarfed by the hazards. Nonetheless, when quitting grains, it’s important to obtain adequate daily intake of prebiotic fiber.

Wheat is also high in fructan (and is the main dietary source, for those on conventional diets). Fructans are normally useful prebiotic fiber (fructooligosaccharide, or FOS, is one). But anyone who is presently obese needs to be wary of fructans, as the obese commonly harbor a bacterium that converts fructans to fructose (rather than to fatty acids). Fructose causes and perpetuates obesity. [Return to List of Charges]

9. Fortifications: Benefit or Hazard

This is one of two issues that do need some attention whether you are doing something, or nothing, about grains. In most countries, grain flour producers are strongly encouraged if not required to fortify with whatever unrelated micronutrients are trendy with your National Nutrition Nannies. In the US, the requirement may only extend to flours marketed as “enriched”, but these tend to also end up in most processed foods that use flours.

This commonly includes folic acid, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Of these the synthetic folic acid (fake folate) and iron are the most troubling.

9a. Folic Acid

Humans do indeed need folates (esp. pregnant women), and are often deficient in them. If flours were fortified with 5-methylfolate, that actually might be widely beneficial. But a non-trivial fraction of the population has MTHFR polymorphisms incompatible with the folic acid form used, a synthetic folate precursor which didn’t even exist before 1947. In many people, folic acid can have a variety of adverse health effects, or may be merely useless but otherwise asymptomatic (and interfere with metabolism of actual natural folates). Those puzzling on the Autism problem further speculate that the fortification policy is biasing natural selection.

When you stop eating grains, make sure you get your folates, and don’t assume folic acid is the easy answer. Due to the high prevalence of MTHFR mutations, it’s a good idea to get your MTHFR status checked (which by itself is not dispositive), and also get your homocysteine level checked, regardless of how you eat. [Return to List of Charges]

9b. Iron

Iron deficiency is indeed a problem, particularly for those who have fallen for red meat scares, and are getting less heme iron, but as with folic acid, iron fortification is not a universal panacea, and a different at-risk population is being ignored.

People with phenylketonuria constitute less than 0.01% of the U.S. population, and yet they get a warning on any product that contains aspartame. People with haemochromatosis (dangerously poor iron uptake regulation) are up to 1% of some populations, yet they get no warnings on fortified flour or products that contain it. [Return to List of Charges]

9c. Bleaches and Miscellanea

The FDA also allows many flours to include various bleaching agents, including chlorine, nitrosyl chloride, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, acetone peroxides, azodicarbonamide, plus plus bromates and monocalcium phosphate.

The halide (chlorine & bromine) compounds raise questions about thyroid hazards, which would be underestimated due to the thyroid screening, diagnosis and treatment scandal. I haven’t researched the other chemistry set items. [Return to List of Charges]

10. Wheat Genetics

No actual GMO wheat has reached the market yet, on the narrow industry of GMO as explicit gene insertion, aka gene splicing. Modern runt mutant goat grass (sold to you as semi-dwarf hybrid wheat) has a chromosome count that is 150% of emmer, and 300% of einkorn. So how did that extra material get in there, and what does it do?

Modern wheat is the result of not just crossing with non-food crops like goat grass, and not just by seasonal selective breeding, but also by accelerated seasons, embryo rescue, chemo-mutagensis and radio-mutagenesis (aka recklessly random gene insertion, basically everything except explicit gene insertion). The only long-term food safety testing ever done was on an unsuspecting public (that would be you). How much of today’s accelerating healthcare expense is due to wheat genetics? I doubt we’ll know precisely for many years. Place your bets, please.

Any hazards associated with this specific issue can be avoided by seeking credible heirloom wheats. For other grains, you’ll need to separately investigate any non-GMO genetic tinkering. [Return to List of Charges]

11. Non-Traditional Dough Preparation

In addition to the additives in modern breads, in many places (most of North America), commercial bread is rarely made by a traditional kneading and slow-raising process, but instead by rapid-rising yeasts. What traditionally took over 12 hours now takes just minutes in a bread factory. Rapid raising results in nil fermentation of the dough, which might make a modest difference in toxicity.

12. Wheat Has Fat? Yes; Avoid It

Wheat is only 2% fat, so this topic is negligible except for wheat germ oil (WGO). Wheat germ oil is 55% Omega 6 linoleic acid (ω6LA). Although WGO has nil carbs and wheat proteins, ω6LA is in my view an underappreciated hazard in modern diet. There are ample safer oils. [Return to List of Charges]

13. Wheat In Food-Like Substances

Wheat is by far not the only hazard in modern diet, although I agree that it’s #1. The next three might be:
2. added sugars and non-wheat high-glycemic carbs.
3. low fat mania, and resulting adverse fats.
4. microbiome disruption (antagonists & lack of substrate)

Perhaps 80% of processed food-like substances contain wheat. Anyone eating processed foods containing wheat is not just getting wheat exposure. They are also usually getting exposure to added sugars, adverse fats (inflammatory ω6LA, if not trans-fats), thickeners, emulsifiers and preservatives that are microbiome antagonists, pesticide uptake, food colorants, and an endless list of other non-ancestral ingredients that have never been properly assessed for long-term health implications.

By avoiding anything containing wheat, you are also avoiding a long list of known and suspected health-wrecking ingredients. And yes, this is a bit of a confounder when trying to precisely identify what turned your health around. [Return to List of Charges]

___________
Bob Niland [disclosures] [topics]

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Jim156

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Posted: 6/28/2016 8:17:57 PM
 
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Posted: 6/28/2016 9:41:02 PM
 
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Posted: 6/28/2016 10:00:49 PM
 
Very impressive synopsis.


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Posted: 6/29/2016 12:50:31 AM
 
Thanks Bob for your excellent contribution on this issue 
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Posted: 6/29/2016 8:38:52 AM
 
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Posted: 6/30/2016 7:32:08 PM
 
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Posted: 6/30/2016 8:15:20 PM
Edited: 7/2/2016 8:16:41 AM (1)
 
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Posted: 7/1/2016 2:31:24 PM
 
Bob - why do you bother???  Jim doesn't contribute he just picks on those who do. 

Jim - why don't you share some of your wisdom rather than knocking others'?

-S-
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Posted: 7/2/2016 2:16:03 AM
 
Bob, probably hard for you, but I would just ignore him.

Tom


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Posted: 7/2/2016 5:33:11 AM
 
Agree totally with Steve and Tom 
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Posted: 7/2/2016 6:11:41 AM
 
Agree totally with Steve and Tom 


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Posted: 7/2/2016 8:35:00 AM
 
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