Should you go wheat-free? Well, if the hype is to be believed, wheat is one of weight loss’s biggest adversaries - not to mention a cause of various health issues.
Blamed for causing bloating , lack of energy and fatigue , is it truly as bad as people make it out to be or just simply misunderstood thanks to a combination of over-processing and manipulated engineering? We asked nutritional therapist and Get The Gloss Expert Eve Kalinik for her insight on the topic to finally separate the fact from the fiction and find out if going wheat free is just another food fad, or a nutritional debate that's worth listening to.
GTG: What is the difference between going wheat-free and going gluten-free?
EK: Gluten is a protein present in all wheat products so to be gluten free you have to exclude both wheat and gluten containing products.
To go wheat free you need to take out grains that contain wheat which include flour, wheat germ, bulgur, couscous, spelt and kamut just to name a few (buckwheat doesn’t contain wheat by the way!). To go gluten free you also need to exclude things like rye and barley as well as things like beer. You also need to check the ingredients list to make sure that sauces don’t have thickeners or the like that can often contain wheat or gluten.
GTG: What are the positives of having wheat in our diets?
EK: Whole grains (not the processed kind) do have some nutritional benefits in that they are a good source of fibre and minerals such as magnesium, selenium and phosphorus. The ancient grains like spelt and kamut can be even more nutritious. This is because these grains are generally less manipulated or processed.
Generally speaking though I would not advise clients, even if they can tolerate wheat, to be having too much of this in their day to day diets. There are over 23,000 proteins that are present in wheat-containing products which gives a whole lot of scope for immunoreactive reactions.
GTG: What are the negatives of too much wheat in our diets?
EK: The problem is that there is wheat in everything which means that we are generally overexposed and this is where we start to see intolerances, sensitivities and allergies develop in a lot of people. Wheat and gluten are two of the most common food intolerances we tend to see as nutritional therapists.
GTG: Who should go wheat-free?
EK: We should all be mindful of the amount of wheat and gluten products included in our diets and definitely should not be having these every day. If you are experiencing digestive symptoms then it’s worth excluding wheat from your diet for at least six weeks and then slowly reintroducing it to see if you have reactions. You may find that you are more sensitive to some wheat products but not others.
Another way of assessing this is to make a food diary, noting what you have eaten and then symptoms when they occur and see if you can find patterns.
GTG: What is the difference between a wheat allergy vs a wheat intolerance?
EK: Like any allergic reaction, this involves immunoglobulin E and mast cell reaction which can result in severe cases with an anaphylactic immune response. Less extreme reactions can include rashes, digestive symptoms and things like hives.
Wheat intolerance is basically a sensitivity to wheat that can be due to overexposure since it’s in so many of our foods. It can also be a sensitivity to the proteins contained in wheat products. Intolerances typically present with digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhoea and cramping or they can also manifest as skin conditions such as eczema, acne or rashes.
GTG: What is the difference between a wheat intolerance and coeliac disease?
EK: Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine and is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein that causes symptoms such as diarrhoea and fatigue not to mention damage to the gut lining itself.
Wheat intolerance is a reaction to wheat containing products. That being said if you leave any intolerance, wheat or otherwise unchecked, you can also experience a host of health-related issues even beyond the digestive system.
GTG: Which wheat-free bread brands would you recommend?
EK: Biona do a nice range of organic breads including rye. I also like Artisan Breads . Also, don’t be fooled by all the wheat and gluten free products out there on the market that make up for taking out these offenders by replacing them with sugar and other nasty additives.
Did you go wheat-free and reap the rewards? Let us know below!