“Gluten” is basically a buzzword at this point, but even if you’re avoiding it, do you really know what it is?And did you know that there’s other stuff in wheat that’s also worth avoiding: wheat is bad news for reasons that have nothing to do with gluten. Here’s a look at 11 reasons why.
First of all, a refresher: wheat is a grain. The calories in wheat come mostly from carbohydrates, but wheat also contains a few problem proteins.
- Wheat Germ Agglutinin
- Amylase Trypsin Inhibitors
Problems caused by these proteins are not the same thing as blood sugar problems caused by the carbohydrates in wheat. It’s true that getting a majority of calories from wheat (especially refined wheat) can cause metabolic problems like blood sugar swings. But these problems would be caused by any high-carb diet, and they’re only relevant for people eating a large amount of wheat: something like a spoonful of soy sauce wouldn’t be a problem.
This post is not about metabolic issues like blood sugar and carbohydrates. It’s about a totally different list of problems caused specifically by wheat and the proteins it contains. These problems are relevant even for people eating a small amount of wheat, and even for people who do fine eating carbs.
So what’s so bad about wheat?
1. Wheat Problems Aren’t Restricted to People with Celiac Disease
The most famous problem with wheat is celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction provoked by gluten and treatable with a gluten-free diet. 30-40% of people have the genetic background to potentially develop celiac disease, but only about 1-3% of people actually do – it’s not clear why but it may have something to do with the gut microbiome.
Most people know that celiac disease requires absolutely strict avoidance of all gluten. But a lot of people also think that if you don’t have celiac disease, you’re completely in the clear.
That’s not true. Recently there’s been an increased amount of interest in non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Plenty of people have documented sensitivities to gluten that aren’t actually celiac disease (as you’ll read below, there’s a different immune reaction involved). There’s also the overlapping problem of other proteins in wheat – wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors are not the same thing as gluten and you can be sensitive to them regardless of how your body handles gluten.
Wheat isn’t just a problem for people with celiac disease, and there’s more to wheat than gluten.