x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Wheat-free alternatives could benefit everyone

Even if you aren't sensitive to wheat or gluten, there may still be good reasons to be "wheat aware".

The modern wheat production process might be affecting our health negatively. Boris Grdanoski / AP Photo
The modern wheat production process might be affecting our health negatively. Boris Grdanoski / AP Photo

Wheat and gluten can be a dieter's nightmare - they seem to sneak into even the most innocent-looking foods. The dilemma is made even more tricky by the confusion that surrounds the meaning of the terms "wheat-free" and "gluten-free". If a person can't have wheat, does this mean they need to avoid gluten, too?

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat as well as other grains such as barley, oats and rye. If you need to avoid gluten then this will mean all gluten grains, including wheat. However, if your sensitivity is specific to wheat, then this would usually mean that the other glutenous grains are fine to eat.

Even if you aren't sensitive to wheat - and can avoid studying every food label with a microscope in an attempt to avoid very unpleasant digestive consequences - there may still be a good reason to be "wheat aware".

As our understanding of the types of gluten that are in wheat develops, it is becoming apparent that it would be healthy for everyone to reduce their consumption. According to a report in Natural News: "Wheat gluten literally represents a conglomerate of tens of thousands of potentially deadly proteins that are capable of wreaking havoc in the body."

The problem seems to come from the modern process of wheat production, which is often a by-product of three different ancestral wheat varieties combined into one. Sayer Ji, a nutrition educator, founder of greenmedinfo.com and advisory board member of the National Health Federation in the US, says that today's flour, used for baking breads and found in most processed foods, comes from a hybrid form of wheat that "seems to be responsible for causing an increasing number of people to experience serious health problems". Irritable bowel syndrome, brain fog and hyperactivity disorders are among the most common.

A 2005 study published in the journal of Plant Physiology found the wheat we are eating today to be capable of producing at least 23,788 different protein varieties that could all potentially mix and match to form immune-triggering poisons in the body.

This could all be too much for our bodies to handle, especially given the frequency with which many of us consume wheat products. Switching to wheat-free alternatives may be good for all of us and relieve our body of many digestive complaints in the process. Choosing wheat-free cereals and bread may be an excellent step in the direction of a healthier diet.

Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.beutifulyou.co.uk

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