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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

What’s Wrong with Wheat?

by Amy Maus

One of the first food items many functional nutritionists and health coaches ask their clients to eliminate is modern wheat. To some this means going “gluten free,” but this approach creates a loss of beneficial fiber and vitamins, which is why another recommendation is incorporating ancient grains into the modern diet.

Ancient grains have nourished mankind for millennia. Why is it that in the last 50 to100 years, wheat has become such a toxic food? Interestingly enough, it’s not gluten that is the issue but rather the way wheat has been modified over the years.

First, when ancient wheat was milled into flour, the bran and germ remained. Even sifted flour could only remove the largest bran and germ chunks so most of it remained in the flour.  The bran and the germ contain most of the nutrition in wheat. However, because the germ contains natural oils, the freshly milled wheat would go rancid after a time. To combat this problem, the steel roller mill was created in the 19th century.  This mill was able to separate the bran and germ completely which resulted in pure white flour with an extremely long shelf life. Thus, the processed food industry was born. 

The next change to wheat occurred in the 1950s and 1960s when Nobel Peace Prize winner, Norman Borlaug, pioneered a new and improved species of semi-dwarf wheat. This was also the post war age of industrial, agricultural chemicals.  These complimenting fertilizers and pesticides increased yield spectacularly.  Unfortunately, nobody checked to see if this new wheat, with its chemical additions, would be digestible by humans. 

In fact, this new wheat’s gluten content was significantly increased over ancient wheats.  In addition, this new wheat relied on increasingly higher amounts of chemical inputs each year—one of which is the villain, glyphosate. This toxic chemical has been known to cause leaky gut, among other health issues. According to MIT researcher, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, “Glyphosate affects a multitude of bodily functions… it is extremely damaging to the mitochondria, located inside our cells, where our body makes ATP energy.”

So, in light of the problems with modern wheat, people naturally assume it’s better to go gluten-free. However, that is not necessarily the healthiest choice. Ancient grains contain much needed fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and minerals. Interestingly, Bob Quinn, the farmer who brought the ancient grain, kamut, to the United States, has done several, double-blind, cross-over research studies that has shown ancient grains actually heal some chronic illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes. 

Ancient wheat is an important part of a healthy diet and products made with it can be readily found in many grocery stores and specialty bakeries. Beneficial ancient grains include einkorn, emmer, spelt, kamut, rye or other heritage landraces. There’s no better time than now to try some of these ancient grains. Your body will thank you!

Amy Maus, HHP, MH, CHC, is a functional nutritionist and owner of Functional Family Nutrition and Autumn Creek Bakery, which specializes in making ancient grain breads. Maus helps individuals and families with chronic illness, digestion issues, hormone imbalances, skin problems, autoimmunity, detoxification and more. For more information, or to learn more about her ancient grains bakery, visit FunctionalFamilyNutrition.com.
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