One Major Way that the Wheat of Yesterday is Different From The Wheat of Today

Everywhere you turn, whether it’s the magazines at the store checkout or on the news, it seems that people are going gluten-free. Is this just some sort of fad, or is there a better reason why people are eliminating gluten from their diets?

First of all, it helps to know what gluten is. It is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley, and sometimes also in oats that have come in contact with these other grains. Gluten is what gives dough its sticky, elastic texture that helps it keep its shape. Gluten, however, is not only found in dough; it is also found in cereals, salad dressing, crackers, pasta, and even some cosmetics, medications, and vitamin supplements.

Some people, like those with Celiac Disease, must eliminate all gluten in their diets, because it can damage the walls of their small intestines, which can result in poor nutrient absorption.

Celiac Disease is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks itself. However, even people who do not have Celiac Disease, are choosing to eliminate gluten from their diets, claiming recovery from illnesses and ailments after doing so.

It can be difficult to know what to do, because you have some nutritional professionals saying that wheat products make up a healthy diet, while others are saying that it is making people sick.

But wheat has been around for generations, and there didn’t seem to be any negative effects before. So what could be the problem? Well, it appears that today’s wheat crops are not as healthy as those from generations before. Why is this, and could this be why more people are reacting to gluten in their diets? One major reason is that that the wheat of today is processed differently from that of the past! What follows is an explanation of what has happened.

Refined breads and other simple, refined carbohydrates (pasta, some crackers) are a norm in our daily, fast-paced lives. Years ago, everything was made from scratch, and people didn’t have access to the refined foods found in abundance at the supermarket today.

A whole grain of a wheat kernel consists of three parts – the endosperm, the bran (the kernel’s outer layer) and the germ (the embryo of the grain). Unfortunately, refined grains are composed only of the endosperm. When the grain is milled, the bran and some of the germ are removed, as well as most of the vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and the fiber. As a result, the resulting wheat is not as nutritious, and blood sugar levels spike rapidly when it’s consumed. Refined flours are used by manufacturers, because they increase the shelf life and the product has a more desirable texture.

When you go shopping, you want to look for “100% whole grain” labels, so that you get both the fiber and all the natural vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from the grain. You do not want to be eating items with bleached white flour. In addition, be careful of the term, “Enriched,” which means the replacement of some of the vitamins and minerals that got removed during the milling or processing of the grain. An “enriched” food product does not contain the same level of healthy ingredients as that found in whole grains.

As you can see, the wheat and grains that people eat today are much less nutritious than generations before. The milling of wheat has resulted in a less nutritious product, which may be why less people are not tolerating its consumption.