Most people believe that grains are a wholesome part of a healthy diet, particularly whole grains, such as whole wheat. Whole grains are also one of the relatively few foods that are allowed to make health claims on their labels, relating whole grains with a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Unfortunately, there’s a large body of evidence indicating that whole grains, and whole wheat in particular (yes even organic), can contribute to significant health problems—both physical and mental. This evidence, however, has not registered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—the first two of which developed the dietary guideline to consume three or more ounces of whole grain products per day.
When you begin to review the evidence stacked up against whole grains, it becomes rather self-evident that our reliance on wheat and other grains may be one of the primary culprits for the poor health of so many.
Here, my primary focus will be on the mental health impacts of wheat, but for even more information about why wheat isn’t the health food you’ve been lead to believe, please review these two articles, and the long list of related studies.
The Side Effects of Wheat Consumption—It’s Not Just about Celiac Disease
Many of you may be familiar with celiac disease (CD), a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by intolerance to wheat gluten. According to statistics from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, an average of one out of every 133 otherwise healthy people in the United States suffers from CD. However, an estimated 20-30 percent of the world’s population may carry the genetic susceptibility to celiac disease—and the way to avoid turning these genes ‘on’ is by avoiding gluten.
When you consider that undiagnosed CD is associated with a nearly four-fold increased risk of premature death, the seriousness of this food sensitivity becomes quite evident. The primary disease mechanism at play is chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are endemic to grain-consuming populations.
However, other rampant health afflictions include depression, ADD/ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few. As it turns out, excessive wheat consumption may play a significant role here as well. In fact, there’s evidence suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of many neurological and psychiatric conditions.
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