defeat the wheat
Defeat the wheat?

Defeat the wheat?

Wheat is known to be a great source of vitamins and minerals. It has high amounts of vitamin B, Niacin, Thiamine and Folate; and minerals such as Zinc, Iron and Magnesium. However, wheat also places the body as risk.

It is a refined grain, which means it is high in carbohydrates, and absorbed and digested quickly. This spikes insulin levels, and leads to hunger, as well as an increased appetite. Many people also find wheat to irritate their digestive system, causing bloating, gas and discomfort.

So refined

Although wheat is believed to be high in fibre and good for digestion, it is a refined grain. Refined grains are not “whole”, as they are missing one of their key parts of their kernel – bran, germ or endosperm – and therefore lack important nutrients. For example, white flour specifically has had the germ and bran removed, with only the endosperm remaining. Refined grains are lower in fibre and convert to sugar faster than other grains or carbohydrates. As a result, our insulin levels spike to high levels.

Our insulin levels assist with regulating our blood sugar, and promotes fat storage, assisting with the breakdown of fats and proteins in the body. Too much insulin can cause the body to store calories as fat. Therefore, by avoiding wheat we can keep our insulin levels down, which will assist with reducing our risk of developing type-2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, obesity, acne and heart disease.

Meet Gliadin

Wheat contains a unique protein – Gliadin. Gliadin is a key component of gluten, and gluten is inflammatory for the gut. Many people often feel gassy, bloated or uncomfortable after eating wheat. People with Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohns disease are particularly sensitive to Gliadin. Gliadin is also a protein that stimulates our appetite. It’s “opiate-like” properties make it more “addictive” – so when we eat wheat, our body craves more wheat.

Wheat is a major source of Gliadin, and it is not only found in bread, pasta and baked goods. Many sauces, soups, spices and processed foods use wheat as a binding agent and thickener. Therefore it is best to read the labels when deciding what to put into our bodies, to ensure that we are aware of the ingredients in our food.

What about whole wheat?

Although whole wheat grain products are higher in fibre, many of them still induce an insulin spike to our insulin levels. Whole wheat does contain slightly less carbohydrates than refined wheat products, which may slightly reduce the impact on our insulin levels. However, whole wheat is also a source of Gliadin, and contains gluten.

Many perceive whole wheat to be a healthier option for its high levels of nutrients and fibre, as well as its low glycaemic index (GI). However, the GI of whole wheat bread has been argued to actually have a high GI – ranging between 68 and 85 – similar to that of white bread.

What are the alternatives?

Whole grain foods – such as quinoa, gluten-free oats and brown rice – are low GI and great alternatives to wheat. Non-starchy vegetables – such as sweet potato – and fruits – such as berries, kiwi and peaches – are low GI, and help us maintain low insulin levels. Furthermore, high fibre foods slow down the digestive process, which assists with keeping the release of glucose into the bloodstream in check. Fresh fruit and vegetables – especially with the skin on -, as well as whole grain foods, and beans and legumes, are also high in fibre and low GI.

Be careful of high-sugar fruit products – fruit juice, smoothies and dried fruit often have a higher concentration of sugar content than that of fresh fruit. Another one to look out for is adding jams and syrups to our food, as this impacts how quickly turns to glucose in the blood.

Balance, moderation and variety

Carbohydrates and grains are an essential part of our food intake. You will come across many diets – low-carb, paleo etc. – that debate the body needing grains and carbohydrates. The most important thing to consider here is that each and every one of us is unique and different. We all come from different backgrounds, have our own history, and live in different environments. Therefore, each of our bodies will respond differently to the food we choose to consume.

In order to know what works for you – and your body – you need to develop an awareness, understanding and connection with your body and the food you are eating. You will notice when you feel uncomfortable or ill, and you can then eliminate accordingly.

Food is our source of energy, it fuels the mind and body, and it is also just so delicious! Our body requires a variety of fruit, vegetables, protein and fats to function to its full capacity, and to be healthy and well. So, play – explore different foods and recipes, read about the various minerals and vitamins that food contain, and eat consciously to reap these benefits and feed your body with what it needs.

If you are following the 9 Weeks 9 Rules challenge cut out all wheat-based products completely. Enjoy other healthy starches, such as sweet potato, brown rice and butternut. You will definitely see, and feel, the results!

This article is written by Bianca Aimée Kramer.

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