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Published on January 26th, 2014 | by Jill Ettinger

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In Defense of Gluten: Turns Out Wheat Isn’t as Bad as You Think

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We see the gluten-free label everywhere, leading us to believe that there must be something inherently wrong with wheat. But is gluten really all that bad for us?

Wheat isn’t as bad for your health as you probably think it is

Recent books like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain suggest grains, particularly wheat, can lead to serious cognitive impairment and health issues. They certainly can, especially if you have a sensitivity to wheat or suffer from celiac disease, or an allergy to gluten, the protein in wheat. But for most of us, this is not an issue–even if we think it is. In fact, whole grains have been a healthy part of the human diet for thousands of years.

Health expert Marion Nestle notes that foods containing whole-wheat, “which have been prepared in customary ways (such as baked or extruded), and eaten in recommended amounts, have been associated with significant reductions in risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a more favourable long term weight management.” We’re not talking Wonder Bread here. This is whole grain wheat, rye, barley, or spelt that can all be part of a healthy diet.

Gluten allergies have only been diagnosed on a large scale in recent years, and those individuals afflicted can experience a higher than usual occurrence of gas, bloating and other common allergy symptoms. But according to research published in the recent issue of the Journal of Cereal Science, people who aren’t allergic to wheat or gluten will not have those symptoms. The researchers concluded that “no data justifies a negative opinion about whole-wheat products in a healthy population,” reports Food Navigator.

According to the study authors, books like “Wheat Belly and “Grain Brain” didn’t take into consideration overall dietary habits, over-consumption and the activity level of individuals, all of which are important considerations. “These discussion fail to take into account that obesity has a multifactorial causation,” they wrote. “Whole-wheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the general population.”

Wheat is one of the only major grains that is not genetically modified. It’s mostly U.S.-grown and is an excellent source of protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

And as Nestle points out, there are myths about wheat’s impact on our health:

  • Proliferation of wheat products parallels obesity and is causally related.  No, it does not.

  • Wheat starch differs from starches in other foods in especially undesirable ways.  No, it does not.

  • Whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than sugar.  No, it does not.

  • Wheat contains opioids that make people addictive. No, they do not.

Eat wheat sensibly, just as you would add any grain to a healthy diet. Avoid the white, refined wheat products. Adhere to Michael Pollan’s rule about junk foods–eat as much you want, as long as you make them yourself. That’s a sure fire way to cut down the number of cupcakes and Cinnabons that give wheat a bad name.

Image: bcymet


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About the Author

Jill Ettinger is a freelance writer and editor. A focus on food, herbs, wellness and world cultural expressions, Jill explores what our shifting food, healing systems and creative landscapes will look, sound and taste like in the future. Stay in touch on Twitter @jillettinger and .



69 Responses to In Defense of Gluten: Turns Out Wheat Isn’t as Bad as You Think

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  3. Dr John Briffa, Prof Dwight Lundell, Dr William Davis, and researcher/statistician Denise Minger – together with a number of other nutritionists (such as Zoe Harcombe) and doctors (Dr Mark Hyman) have carried out the studies you say do not exist, and produced the evidence that is very much in the light of what you are denying.
    There is ample evidence to suggest that the inflammatory qualities of modern grains, such as humans have been growing and eating over the last 100 years or so, are injurious to the health of many people. Certainly the obesity “epidemic”, which no one has been able to either slow or stop, is due partly to the high consumption of wheat. The food pyramid is to blame for obesity in young people and children, and the seemingly unstoppable escalation in adult-onset diabetes is partly due to this misguided diagram which says one must consume lots of carbs and little or no fats, which has infiltrated not only nutrionists’ advice, but also that of doctors, and is what is largely taught in health classes in schools. And it is demonstrably wrong. WRONG. The evidence is visible in all the streets and schools of the Western world. “Healthy eating” and “Energy in must equal energy out” are both misunderstood by the majority.
    Exercise is good for you, but only for three things – and they have little to do with weight loss. They are to do with stamina, strength, and the combination of flexibility, mobility and agility.
    That wheat causes inflammation is abundantly clear from the number of cardiac experts (eg Dr D Lundell) who are now admitting the errors in the findings of “cholesterol” being the culprit of nearly everything in the 80s and 90s.
    When people give up wheat, their “cholesterol” readings (which do not measure cholesterol at all, but lipids and triglycerides) go down, even when their consumption of saturated fats goes up. Their triglycerides level off because there is no wheat (which is very high in fructans) to KEEP IT IN THE BODY. So the “saturated fats” business is also a blind alley up which many food specialists have gotten lost in. Not only are saturated fats not bad when taken in the absence of wheat – but they are blissfully free of the manufacturing additives and processes that actually help people get fat and sick.
    When corn oil margarine was introduced to Europe in the late 70s, and people came off butter, there was an escalation in heart disease and diabetes. People actually died (including some of my relatives, which is why I’m so interested in this).
    Research has shown that the culprits of salt, natural animal fats such as butter, and high protein foods such as eggs are not the monsters we once were taught they were by people with vested interests. The rise of obesity and diabetes in the population dates EXACTLY to this false information about these foods – people avoided them and went on artifical margarines and whole-grain breads and cereals … and look what happened. So they were told to exercise … which made the world even hungrier. And look what happened.
    Visceral fat in humans (that’s fat around the vital internal organs) is caused by over-consumption of carbohydrates IN CONJUNCTION with fats, over-consumption of fruits and fruit-juices (whose fructose tells the body to pump out the insulin) and the mistaken notion that “bread is the staff of life”. Not if it’s baked with vegetable oils, sugar, and highly refined flour, it isn’t!! The “bread” many people eat is more like cake.
    When one wants to fatten cattle, poultry, and pigs for market, what does one give them … steak? Sausages? A leg of lamb or ham? Chops? Eggs? One gives them grains and corn … which is what turns to a nice layer of fat in the body.
    People only get fat on “junk food” if it contains carbohydrates – of the highly refined kind, especially. When people leave off grains, they do not automatically turn to salads and raw food – they turn to steaks and chops and meats and fish and eggs. That’s what makes them lose weight.
    This, of course, is extremely expensive, but it works. And therein lies the REASON for the world’s obesity problem … cost. Refined carbs are extremely cheap (phenomenal demand has made them so). Refined sugars and grains are poured into EVERYTHING in a packet or a can because it brings down the price very drastically. Putting a ton of sugar in canned soup or canned vegetables is a darned sight cheaper than a ton of chicken or a ton of pumpkin or more peas and carrot.
    Everything has added wheat flour or sugar (sometimes in the form of corn syrup). THAT’s what’s made the world fat. If they ate steak and butter (both expensive) and did nothing else but sit at a computer, they’d be skinny as.
    We have tried this in this extremely sedentary family – and let me tell you, we have lost the equivalent of a whole person between us (70 kg or 154 lbs). One of us stayed on a low-fat diet and gained 6 kg or 13 lbs in the same time.
    Humans have the teeth and digestive system that demands a look at what we eat – the physical truth looks us in the face every time we look in the mirror – those teeth and gums are made to eat a diet higher in meats than grains. That stomach is made to digest fats and protein, not food that’s better suited to ruminants. We should be EATING the ruminants, not eating like they do.
    http://www.sott.net/article/242516-Heart-surgeon-speaks-out-on-what-really-causes-heart-disease

    • Scott says:

      Awesome post!

    • HeatherTwist says:

      Nice post!

      One quibble though. “refined carbohydrates” don’t generally cause obesity. Around the world, MOST people eat a diet high in starch and low in fat, low in meat. And stay slim. There is “something” about the American/Mexican/Aussie version of starch that sets off the fat-storage routine. But the traditional Japanese diet was mostly white rice, and in much of the rest of Asia, and it just didn’t have the same effect.

      I think there are multiple factors here. One is fructose and fructans, yes. Those trigger high levels of uric acid, for starters, which cause fat storage. Another is probably iron … iron triggers insulin production too, and also uric acid production. American starches mostly have added iron, and are consumed with beef, which promotes iron storage.

      As for fat mammals … hippos get fat without being fed grain. Grain normally kills a cow or horse. To make the cows stay alive long enough to get fat, they have to be fed a lot of antibiotics. But if you keep them out in the field for several years, eating just grass, they do fatten up.

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  5. Marco says:

    This article contains so many falsehoods that it’s really laughable. The author — a “freelance writer and editor” — writes a short, superficial piece, and she’s supposed to be credible? And one of her references is “Cereal Science”? Please. This is a joke,right?

  6. Jan C says:

    If this is an example of how thoroughly your “reporting” is done, it is seriously lacking. If you read “Grain Brain” or “Wheat Belly” at all, you would find it peppered with accredited research done by a variety of sources. A study done for the “Journal of Cereal Science” is your single source? Really? You state that wheat is “one of the only grains not genetically modified”. Have you done any research at all? Anything? Your article is pathetically lacking in any scientific evidence whatsoever and totally misleading in its content.

  7. Michael Duran says:

    Look, the science is there because it has been published all over the place. Look it up. Quoting someone with a contrary opinion possessing the ironic name of Nestle, does not change scientific fact. Lots of people love bread and pasta, and would love to just state that “no it does not,” but that doesn’t negate the facts. Frankly as a physician myself, I almost wish sometimes that wheat were a banned substance so we could do away with the obesity, diabetes, addiction and rationalization that comes with the diet. Oh and by the way, those “vitamins, minerals and protein,” that wheat contains? Is utterly dwarfed by a small plate of non-inflammatory vegetables.

    - Michael Duran, MD

    • HeatherTwist says:

      Kudos to you, and your patients are fortunate. When I went gluten-free I felt SO MUCH better I didn’t really care what anyone else thought. But my doc’s answer was, “What? But that means you can’t eat pizza!”. Um. Right. Like lack of pizza is my biggest problem in life.

      (FWIW I make an awesome pizza these days, mostly just to prove the point, esp. to visitors).

      Anyone with a basic nutritional-count program these days can figure out basic nutrients. But “white flour” and even “whole wheat flour” just aren’t very nutritious by any standard.

  8. Joe says:

    I can only comment how I feel since eliminating wheat from my diet. More energy, less stomach problems, 40 lb lost with not increased activity, never feeling like I’m going to explode because I feel like I ate too much. The compliments about how great I look don’t hurt either. I’ll take my chances and just keep avoiding wheat.

  9. Melissa says:

    Sorry Tonya, if you actually read Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, you would see the scientific data. The science absolutely is there. And wheat is simply not what it was thousands if years ago. Our bodies create an immune response to it, because? As with so many frankenfoods that we have on today’s food chain, it has essentially been created in a laboratory. You would actually do yourself a great favor if you read the research of the two fine Docs who wrote the books.

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      Melissa, I’m going on the advice of an R.D. who has reviewed all existing peer reviewed data extensively, and has no pro-wheat books to sell, and has no ulterior motive that I can spot. With all respect…what are your nutritional credentials, that you reject her conclusions? Those authors made tons of money by cherry picking data in order to sell you those books; that’s how it looks to me. If you want to avoid wheat, you know, there’s a lot of food in the world not made of it! But demonizing it for everyone is just hype, imo. Like you, I can only say how it looks to me; but I’m taking into account all the data I can find, not just some of it that supports one narrow hypothesis if I disregard everything else. (shrug) People should do what makes them happy, I suppose… I feel fine and dandy without cutting it, all my health markers are that of a person 10 years my junior… so you know, whatever. Cheers!

      • SCOTT says:

        You might feel great. But I’d propose you’d feel even better off of grain. What’s 30-60 days? Try it!

        • Tanya Sitton says:

          I assume you’re vegan, right?! Because *I* felt so much better when I went vegan, YOU should go vegan too!!! What’s 30-60 days? Try it!

          … the difference, of course, is that there’s really overwhelming peer-reviewed research — embraced by the AHA, the American Diabetes Association, and health giants like Kaiser Permanente — that *that* actually does have huge effects on risk for diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease, etc. … but the logic I used up there would be weak, if that was my actual argument in favor of veganism.

          Do you see how that’s not a falsifiable hypothesis? Anyone who has experiences different than yours — who is perfectly healthy and happy and well on a diet containing gluten — you can just say, ‘well your NOT REALLY, and you’d be EVEN BETTER if you ate like me!!!!!’ … that just looks like sloppy logic to me, more like a belief system than a well-reasoned argument.

          • Scott says:

            I have tried veganism. Have you tried grain-free?

            • I have tried grain free. It seemed to have its pluses and minuses. My grain free period was during the second half of my pregnancy – about 4 months. I did feel like I had more energy some of the time, but I also finished most meals still feeling hungry. I basically was eating all the time, because I never felt full which wasn’t the case during the first half of my pregnancy. I know a lot of folks ditch grains because they want to lose weight, and I can’t really speak to that since I was pregnant, and weight gain is kind of the idea when you’re growing a baby. :) I’m back on the grain train now, though, and feel great! Chasing an almost-toddler around is a workout, and really I feel the healthiest when I’m staying active, regardless of whether I have toast for breakfast or a banana and peanut butter.

            • Tanya Sitton says:

              Yes, as I said in a prior comment. Not particularly hard, but no positive anything to report.

      • Teresa says:

        I am so grateful some people are standing up to defend “wheat”. I am rather sick of hearing about how it is robbing our health. If you eat the refined garbage that is sold all over this world no wonder you have health problems. These dr that have books to sell – have books to sell! That’s it!

  10. stephen ottridge says:

    I stopped eating wheat in November 2012. I had a bad case of type 2 Diabetes that was diagnosed in September. I was injecting 26 units a day of NPH Insulin. Since then I have dropped 45 lbs in weight and I no longer have Diabetes. No need to take Metformin tablets even. It was only wheat that I dropped , I still eat rice, oats, 100% rye bread, lentils and beans. I did drop fruit juice too and now I eat one piece of fruit a day.

  11. Mister Shawn says:

    Sorry…. I don’t care what your “science” proves or what your “nutritional experts” have to say. I have always eaten a well-balanced diet, heavy on whole foods and “healthy grains”, and continually struggled with weight and other health issues. I stopped eating wheat products almost 1 year ago. Since then, I have lost an estimated 45-50 pounds (I don’t own a scale), but I HAVE taken over 5 inches off my waistline. I used to have stucco keratosis on my feet, legs and arms – it is now almost completely cleared up. I spent my entire life waking up at one point or another during the night – I now sleep straight through til the alarm goes off. For years, I was experiencing severe cramping and pain in my feet, ankles, lower legs and hips – doctors could not explain it; it’s all but GONE now. I have higher energy levels, better moods, and no longer experience “hunger”. How can I say these changes are due to eliminating consumption of wheat? SIMPLE. It is the ONLY dietary change I have made – I still eat wild/brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc. So I don’t need to hear what “scientists” and “experts” have to say on the matter. Today’s wheat – in any form – is POISON . My laboratory is my life and my proof is my experience – case closed.

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  13. rick says:

    I would like to see more evidence other than “No it Does Not!” This is a joke!

  14. Joanie says:

    Wheat lobby propaganda. That’s all this is. Most wheat IS genetically modified, IS connected to obesity & diabetes, DOES affect the addiction-prone part of the brain, and IS toxic to many, not just an ordinary allergen, as the article states.

    Sorry – the truth is the truth.

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      Riiiiight… the truth is the truth. So all your assertions are falsifiable, right? If there’s evidence refuting your anti-wheat beliefs? What would that look like?

      If there’s nothing that could disprove your position, it’s belief and not reason.

      Also, what’s your evidence that ‘most wheat IS genetically modified?’ You know there’s never been a commercially approved GMO wheat crop in the US, right? Some was test-planted in 2012 and turned up in an Oregon field earlier this year… but please let’s don’t hyperbolize. It weakens the nonGMO movement if members of it just make stuff up. Thanks! :)

  15. danielle says:

    just because you believe that wheat is fine for you, that doesnt make it so. this is a painfully small and pathetic article that doesnt touch on the mere fact that we arent eating our grandparents wheat. It is modified and lacking in the nutrients it once had. And maybe you and many can eat wheat without issue. After reading the china study and having numerous health problems I thought of giving up dairy and then gluten due to the many studied affects it had on the body. I lost weight without trying, lost all of the pain and inflammation in my joints. My stomach stopped hurting everytime I ate. I didnt have a gluten intolerance or allergy. Our body changes carbohydrates to sugars in the body which is where the glycemic index is affected. Keep eating wheat. But writing about the lack of knowledge and basis these well studied individuals have is silly when your article states little to no actual facts and ignores the science behind the food. These are books that have dignity and merit whether you like them or not.

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      Danielle, it’s not about belief. The existing data just doesn’t support your position. It’s a media craze, and an advertising fetish. But surely some people do have sensitivities to wheat gluten — just like some people have sensitivities to strawberries or tree nuts. My dad has severe anaphylactic reactions to sunflower seeds; it doesn’t mean humans aren’t meant to eat sunflower seeds, it means my dad shouldn’t eat sunflower seeds. Asserting any other position as truth just doesn’t represent a science- or reason-based position. If you have adverse reactions to gluten, by all means don’t eat it! … But demonizing it for everyone represents a belief, not a data-driven nutritional assessment.

      • Jerald Blackstock says:

        the last I checked, the 2 main proponents of ditching grains had extensive credentials as doctors trained in evidence based care. That does not translate as as a ‘craze’ or a ‘fetish’. I think you are misusing those words. It makes me wonder about the rest of your article, which is long on emotion and short on substance. The good doctors post their studies and the research, I see nothing from you but your opinion, based on no medical training whatsoever. I remain unconvinced by your ‘argument’.
        I did repost your article, however, with the following comments. I wonder how much you were paid to inflict harm on others. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

        “more victim blaming horse shit from the wheat lobby (According to the study authors, books like “Wheat Belly and “Grain Brain” didn’t take into consideration overall dietary habits, over-consumption and the activity level of individuals, all of which are important considerations. “These discussion fail to take into account that obesity has a multifactorial causation,” they wrote. “Whole-wheat consumption cannot be linked to increased prevalence of obesity in the general population.”) First you lose the wheat, then the cravings go away, then the weight goes down, then activity levels go up. All on it’s own, the body heals when the poison is taken away, the opiate reaction is gone, then the body wants to move because the joints no longer are inflamed, it feels great to move again.”

        • Tanya Sitton says:

          Speaking of long on emotion and short on substance… this thread! It’s like we’re talking about religion, here; everyone be cool, be cool. Some people — I would say the evidence supports saying ‘most people’ — do fine on wheat. That shouldn’t threaten your world view. It’s gonna be ok!

          • SCOTT says:

            Yes yes good point Tanya. “Most people” do fine on wheat in America – the healthiest damn country around. All those obese folks are just the living dream of health on all that wheat! Let me ask you this: Have you ever tried to cut wheat? No? Then you have no hat in this argument. Try it. Get back to us. That’s where you can pretend to be unbiased until you’re blue in the face, but it will not work. We have been on grain. We have been off grain. We feel better off grain, and you can’t take that away from us no matter how much you try. Try it. Get back to us.

  16. Wheat is very problematic, and affects most of its consumers, leaving only a very few untouched. It causes inflammation. This is not a spurious claim, but one proven over and over by those who abandon wheat for a month then look in the mirror at their FACEs. Not their waist, but their face. It’s true there are various nutritional “types” in the population, of which some are more susceptible to the ravages of wheat and other grains.
    Agriculture, the storage qualities of grains, and their nutritional properties, are probably what saved the human race and got it over various climate changes and effects of war … but few take into consideration that what saves you (what does not actually kill you) can also make you fat. And obesity has been a global problem that dates almost exactly from the invention of the food pyramid (and we all know who made that!)

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      Rosanne, I have to disagree… You’re asserting facts not in evidence. Usually when people cut out gluten — if they’ve been eating a SAD — what happens? They eat less processed food; they eat more fresh food; they eat more food cooked at home; and they eat more fruit & veg instead of crackers and donuts. Well YES: that makes a difference in their faces! … and overall health as well. But it’s nothing to do with wheat, it’s that they’re eating real food instead of a SAD. Peer reviewed research simply doesn’t support the position you’re arguing here.

      • HeatherTwist says:

        Interestingly enough, there is no evidence that wheat is a safe food. Like, if you just now invented this new grain and wanted to get it approved by the FDA, you’d have to have it tested against some other food, on a bunch of lab rats or people or dogs. But you’d probably never get it approved: when they HAVE done tests on wheat vs. non-wheat diets, the wheat loses.

        Going wheat-free is HARD. The reason people do it is because it makes them feel better. Telling them they are just imagining that they feel better isn’t a very compelling argument.

        • SCOTT says:

          EXACTLY! Why doesn’t everyone go wheat-free? For the same reasons people major in anthropology instead of physics. For the same reason more people play tambourine and not the violin. Because IT’S HARD. But you’re exactly right. Doctors can try to tell me and my friends how good wheat is for me until the cows come home – but the fact remains – I feel better off of wheat. Now come at me!

          • Tanya Sitton says:

            Wheat free isn’t hard — raw vegans do it a’plenty, I’ve done it during raw phases just because I was doing all fruit-nuts-veg-etc — it’s just unnecessary. For me, anyway. You’re arguing opinion as fact, here — you can say ‘I feel better when I don’t eat gluten’ and I’ll respect that all day long! But if you’re trying to argue that EVERYONE does better when they don’t eat gluten, and disregard input from those people who are telling you ‘um no actually I don’t, thankyouverymuch’… well, you’ve lost your credibility in the debate at that point, imo. Your experience is valuable to you, and true for you; but it doesn’t negate the experience of others. Sorry about that! But that’s how it goes.

    • David Gregg says:

      “It’s true there are various nutritional “types” in the population, of which some are more susceptible to the ravages of wheat and other grains.”

      Would you say the same about peanuts then? Eggs? Anything people can be allergic to, or become fat from eating? The problem here is people don’t seem fully understand genetic factors and how they play a role in personal diet. It’s your responsibility to find out whether you PERSONALLY have these dietary vulnerabilities. Just because you can, and you’ve seen cases of it being bad for some people, doesn’t make the food itself any better or worse. It’s a case-by-case issue. End of story, so stop trying to attribute all this negative valance to the food itself. It’s just ignorant.

  17. Dan says:

    Sorry, but this article is utterly and completely WRONG. The science is there, and denying it doesn’t change it. This is a writer who, sadly, has taken the cereal grain industry’s propaganda and just recycled it here. Millions of us who’ve found the truth and removed these dangerous allegedly ” healthy-wholegrains” from our diets are living proof.

    • Tanya Sitton says:

      With all respect, the science is not there. And asserting that it IS doesn’t change it either.

      • Warner says:

        Tanya I suggest you google wheat and inflammation before you say that the science is not there. In fact google wheat is NOT an inflammatory and see what scientific support there is for that supposition.

        • Tanya Sitton says:

          Gluten and dairy are common triggers for inflammation, in people with food-sensitive inflammatory disorders. That’s not the same thing as saying gluten is evil and not fit for consumption, for all of humanity. Extrapolating one assertion from the other is not sound logic, imo.

          • SCOTT says:

            But you see, we have been on grains. We have also been off grains. And we feel better off grains. My life is my laboratory and my experience is my proof.

  18. Sammmer says:

    I would like to see a citation for your claim that Whole Wheat bread does not have a higher glycemix Index than Sugar. A quick search found that the average Whole Wheat bread has a glycemix index of 71 while sugar has one of 68.

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

    http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index

  19. Diana VP says:

    Weak article. Yes wheat has been around for thousands of years, but the wheat we buy today has not. This wheat is highly glutenous and has been bred for the past 50 years to be pest-resistant, and it has 4 times as many chromosomes as did the wheat of 50 years ago.
    Yet another attempt to distract from the solid information provided in Grain Brain and Wheat Belly. Read those books, not just this article.

  20. Sparky the Wonder Girl says:

    I see some declarative statements there from Marion Nestle, all those “No it is nots”, but I don’t see any supporting evidence.

    Doesn’t matter though — I don’t go by what anyone tells me, except my gut. And when I eat wheat, my gut tells me “poop of fire”. I am a smart enough monkey to figure out what causes pain, and avoid it.

    Plus having gone off grains (but not low-carb) my triglycerides have been cut in half like magic.

  21. Warner says:

    Just saying “No it does not” does not convince me. For example whole wheat bread is listed on the glycemic index at 71 and table sugar at 68. Obesity rates do parallel the introduction of modern semi-dwarf wheat in the 1960′s and 70′s. Make your own chart and check it out. More facts please.

  22. carly says:

    In addition to HeatherTwist’s comments, which I agree with, there is another incorrect fact stated in this article that I keep seeing pop-up in stories on gluten. Celiac Disease is in no way an allergy. It is an auto-immune disease. The symptoms of untreated celiacs and a gluten allergy may be similar but what they are doing to the body is extremely different. People need to do their research before making sweeping claims that can damage those that follow diets for very specific reasons.

  23. Matthew says:

    I have to agree with Heather. I see a lot of quilting here. Also, just looking at the name of the journal you cite, Journal of Cereal Science, stinks of conflict of interest.

    I think you make a valid argument, but there isn’t a lot of objective data to support your claim.

  24. Sam Levin says:

    It is clear this author does not have all the facts! Since when is celiac disease an allergy to gluten? I suggest she do a bit more research for making bold statements.

  25. HeatherTwist says:

    Seriously lacking in references. Marion Nestle is comparing whole wheat vs. white bread … not comparing whole wheat to a diet based on white rice. The white rice diet would win. Just look at Asia. Loads of white high glycemic rice … but skinny and long-lived.

    One instance:

    Wheat starch differs from starches in other foods in especially undesirable ways. No, it does not.

    Says who exactly? Wheat is full of fructans which break down to fructose, which cause IBS in a nice chunk of the population. Most grain starches break down to glucose, which act very differently. FODMAPS is a big deal now in IBS, and wheat is a bad actor.

    Wheat protein also contains peptides that are simply non-digestible … rice doesn’t have that problem.

    For obesity, I’d tend to agree that wheat isn’t a simple cause. In the US we ate loads of wheat for a long time without getting fat. It is likely that the iron added to most wheat products causes obesity (iron messes with glucose handling).

    I could go on. There are likely people who can eat wheat without problems, but it’s a problematic food on a number of levels, and ignoring the problems doesn’t make them go away.

    • Daniel says:

      No it does not? That’s the best she’s got? Good Lord. That’s like a child screaming “I know you are so what am I?” Listen, I’ve seen Dr. Perlmutter speak at several medical conferences across this country. He’s not pulling this out of his arse. He actually backs his statements and lectures up with with this thing called research, something this author falls way short of producing.. at all.

    • Again- those are Nestle’s opinions and observations that we’re just reporting on. She is far more of a nutrition authority than I am…

      • HeatherTwist says:

        Fine, maybe Marion Nestle is awesome. But again, no real references. There have been a good 25 years of research into the problematic nature of wheat. Celiac is ONE issue, but there are maybe a dozen others (including stuff like WGA, FODMAPS, non-digestible portions of gliadin, opioids, zonulin production) … all of which are quite well documented by real science done by real scientists and published in real journals. Read them sometime.

        The sad fact is that most consumers don’t read those articles, nor are their doctors up to speed in the latest research. So yeah, people say “I’ll try not eating wheat” and then they feel better and say “I can’t eat gluten!” when they feel better. I sure wish there were better tests and that the docs could help more. Meanwhile, why eat something that makes you feel sick?

        Marion Nestle strikes me as being fully involved in the 1980′s view of nutrition. My prediction: within the next 10 years she has an epiphany and suddenly decides wheat is evil. See you in 10 years!

        • Miss Easteregg says:

          This article is a load of rubbish. William Davies cites his evidence. You have none and let’s be honest who would believe anything from nestle! Their reputation is a bad one. Far too much evidence proving wheat is bad and all these thousands of people who no longer have arthritis, auto immune diseases, weight issues, diabetes, cholesterol probems and many more issues gone can’t all be wrong. Totally uneducated article.

          • Tanya Sitton says:

            Marion Nestle is a she, not a they… she’s pretty savvy, actually.

            ‘Marion Nestle, Ph.D., M.P.H., is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, in the department that she chaired from 1988 through 2003. Her degrees include a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition, both from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University…’

            That’s the corporation you’re thinking of…not the same thing. If anyone waxing frantic about the evil properties of wheat, on this thread, has more credentials to speak assertively about food, health, and nutrition than Ms. Nestle, I’d be curious to hear what they are. :)

            • Warner says:

              Apparently Ms. Nestle is quite adamant that a glycemic index of 68 (table sugar) is higher than 71 (whole wheat bread). I think it makes sense to question everything that she says.

            • SCOTT says:

              Ok, so she’s a doctor who stopped learning years ago. I’m impressed. Now, those of us willing to experiment with ourselves have tried life on wheat and off of wheat. I feel 100% better off of wheat. I don’t give a damn is f$%king Albert Einstein comes out in support of wheat. I’ve seen and felt the difference and there’s no turning back.

    • SCOTT says:

      How can you explain the fact – this is real experiment done by GASP me, to myself and over 300 people who are members at my gym. We all cut wheat, we all felt better. We lost weight. We slept better. We thought better. We. Got. Better. You cannot take away the proof of real life with experience and replace it with a white coat’s opinion she learned 30 years ago in school.

      • HeatherTwist says:

        Nice experiment! Actually there have been a few other experiments like that, both official and unofficial. In all the cases I’ve read, both people and animals did better on a GF diet. No cases of major damage from going GF, except possibly from imbibing too much GF junk food. I imagine some sections of the food industry are panicking though:

        http://www.celiac.com/articles/23499/1/Many-US-Wheat-based-Products-Gluten-free-or-Gone-in-3-5-Years/Page1.html

        According to Hughes, 5-10% of all wheat-based product categories will be gluten-free in the next three to five years, or else they will disappear from the market.

        “Feeling better” is a really good reason to change a person’s diet.

        http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/Conditions/a/Gluten-Free-Vegan-Diet-Rheumatoid-Arthritis.htm

        • Tanya Sitton says:

          Do you see how that’s not a falsifiable hypothesis? Anyone who has experiences different than yours — who is perfectly healthy and happy and well on a diet containing gluten — you can just say, ‘well your NOT REALLY, and you’d be EVEN BETTER if you ate like me!!!!!’ … that just looks like sloppy logic to me, more like a belief system than a well-reasoned argument.

          • HeatherTwist says:

            OK, so look at some actual studies. Like: the Nurses Study. What is this “Study”? It’s a bunch of questionnaires asking “how do you feel” about this and that. You ask about drug studies, Gerd studies, pain studies. What do they ask? “How do you feel” on a list of 1-10. About pain, nausea, you name it. Point is, it IS about “opinion”. They take all the numbers and crunch them. If the people on Advil feel better than the people on Tylenol … for sure they publish that!

            But if you or I, get together a group and do the same thing … we all try some protocol and see how it works … that isn’t a “real study”. Mostly because it isn’t double blind, but then, the Nurses’ Study isn’t double-blind either. It’s just not “real science” unless it’s done by “real scientists” … and all us normal people don’t count.

            Real life is: a lot of people talk to each other, and they try something. If that something works, they tell all their other friends, and they all start doing it. If it WORKS, then eventually some scientist does an official “real” study. If it doesn’t work, it gets dropped, because people really don’t follow fads very long. Which is why they are called “fads”.

            I appreciate both sides. I know “real scientists” and I appreciate their hard (and detailed) work. And I also am one of those who experiment a lot on myself and my family, not wanting to wait 10 years for the official results. Don’t disrespect the non-official experimenters! Most of the great scientific breakthroughs happened by non-official scientists.

            And no, I’m not telling anyone else to “eat like me”. There ARE a lot of official scientists saying that wheat causes damage. But you are the one saying “Gluten isn’t as bad as we think”. Trust me, if you read the *studies* on it … gluten is plenty bad. If I told you to take a drug that would cause gut permeability for a little while, would you take it? Would you take a drug that caused brain changes in “only” 1% of the population? Oh, well, some scientists say 20%, but no one is sure yet … And maybe it causes diabetes … but we aren’t sure yet … And maybe it makes arthritis sure … be we aren’t sure yet …

            With all those “ifs” … would you recommend this drug? What we have currently is a lot of studies that appear to be saying “gluten causes a LOT of problems”. The situation is similar to tobacco in the 70′s … it LOOKS like it causes cancer, but the tobacco companies say no, and we are all arguing about it. Meanwhile a lot of home-experimenters are saying “Uh, forget the studies, this stuff is BAD!”.

            You want to defend gluten? Why? Have you read the studies that show very real problems? Do you listen to the people who really in fact get cured when they are off it? (or cure their animals?). You want to eat the stuff, go for it, but personally, I won’t feed it to anyone I care about. It’s totally non-important for either good food or good nutrition, and more and more, it looks like it’s really bad for human beings.

            • Tanya Sitton says:

              Devil’s advocate, here… do you apply the same criteria to meat and dairy? Just curious if there’s a consistency there… B/c there’s certainly at least as much (more actually, I’m being diplomatic here) evidence about negative impacts on health. Curious how that looks to you. Thanks. :)

              • HeatherTwist says:

                Yes, actually I DO have the same criteria, though I didn’t say anything since it’s not the current topic. I gave up dairy 10 years or so ago, since (using food logs) I noticed that it appears to cause the migraines I’d had for 30 years. Later I cut down on beef and fructose a lot, because they raise my uric acid levels … that change solved my joint problems.

                I also am leery of the neu5gc issue. The gc version of sialic acid is inflammatory, and it’s in almost all mammal foods (but not fish and poultry).

                Now, for fish: in the Nurse’s study, fish are not only “harmless” (even with all the mercury) but also associated with health and intelligence.

                Also, I am NOT grain-free. Just gluten-free. There are hundreds of grains around, and only wheat/barley/rye are the really problematic ones.

                As my diet has “evolved” it ends up looking more and more Asian. Loads of vegies, rice, fish, eggs, poultry, spices, tea. Very yummy and satiating. And the Asians appear to be the healthiest group on the planet right now (as long as they avoid “Western” foods).

                I’ve studied vegan diets some but it appears to be rather artificial … it only works long-term when supplements are added. Based largely on a belief system, not on science. There is no group of people that’s eaten that way long-term, and in theory it’s lacking some of the stuff you need to create a healthy baby. There is a gene mutation that allows some people to use plant Omega 3, but not everyone has it … seafood is still the best source.

                • Tanya Sitton says:

                  I know plenty of longtime vegans, some of them from birth, who are happy and healthy and well after decades of vegan eating; that’s anecdotal vs. scientific, but you don’t have scientific data supporting your point either (i.e. that lifelong veganism isn’t a healthy option). Do you mean the WP fetish for discounting things that not every individual in a given population has done for many generations? That’s not based on science either, you know. Supplementing b12 seems less ‘artificial’ to me than modern animal ag or commercial fishing. The ‘belief system’ is indeed important — the belief that optional violence is a net negative, to be avoided wherever possible… Like I’ve said before, I respect anyone’s opinion who speaks about their own diet — ‘I do better without gluten,’ I totally get, and I have good friends who are indeed gluten intolerant. Yes, gluten-free eating is important: to THEM! But I don’t understand or support the hyperbolic demonization of gluten for every human being on the planet, which is not backed or supported by the preponderance of evidence as we currently have it. I get the sense that you approach health and nutrition within a reductionist model — is that a fair assessment? — I recommend T. Colin Campbell’s book Whole, on why zeroing in on isolated molecules out of the context of the broader diet/ lifestyle guarantees skewed understanding of whatever we’re talking about, and can easily trip up decision-making in unhelpful ways… Thanks for your thoughtful response, though; interesting conversation. :)

      • Tanya Sitton says:

        When people go from a SAD to a GFD, they automatically cut out a lot of processed s**t: they cook more from scratch, they eat food made from food, they start PAYING ATTENTION to what they’re eating, they cut processed food with tons of sodium and MSG and random chemistry… then they feel better, ’cause they’re eating real food — and probably a lot more fruit/ veg/ legumes/ etc — and say ‘I’m all better ’cause I quit eating gluten!’ … what you eat matters, def’ly. But not necessarily for the reason you assert is The One Relevant Factor, here. That’s how it looks to me, anyway.

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