So how--and when--did this ancient grain become such a serious health threat? Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, says it's when big agriculture stepped in decades ago to develop a higher-yielding crop. Today's "wheat," he says, isn't even wheat, thanks to some of the most intense crossbreeding efforts ever seen. "The wheat products sold to you today are nothing like the wheat products of our grandmother's age, very different from the wheat of the early 20th Century, and completely transformed from the wheat of the Bible and earlier," he says.
Plant breeders changed wheat in dramatic ways. Once more than four feet tall, modern wheat--the type grown in 99 percent of wheat fields around the world--is now a stocky two-foot-tall plant with an unusually large seed head. Dr. Davis says accomplishing this involved crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes, using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.
Australian researchers have now revealed serious issues over a new kind of genetically engineered wheat that could induce major health threats for people that consume it. University of Canterbury Professor Jack Heinemann announced the outcomes of his genetic study into the wheat, a kind engineered by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Additional claims came from researchers in Australia to have developed a form of salt-tolerant wheat that would allow farmers to grow crops in soil with high salinity.
"In 2004, a coalition of Japanese consumer and food industry groups delivered a petition to the Governments of Canada and the U.S. urging them not to introduce GM wheat. Today, consumer rejection of GM wheat in Japan is just as strong as ever. 80 organizations in Japan have already signed the rejection statement," said Keisuke Amagasa of the Tokyo-based No! GMO Campaign. "A large majority of consumers here in Japan are voicing their strong opposition to the cultivation of GM wheat. We see strong opposition from all sectors of society."
Japan's flour companies are also rejecting GM wheat, echoing consumer opposition. In a statement released today, the Flour Miller's Association of Japan wrote to the No! GMO Campaign indicating its opposition.
"Under the present circumstances, with all the doubts about safety and the environment that the consumers in Japan have, including the effect on the human body from GM foods, GM wheat is included among the items that are not acceptable for the Japanese market," Kadota Masaaki, senior managing director of the Flour Miller's Association wrote to the No! GMO Campaign.
The Nutrional Value of Wheat is Practically Non-Existent
In Its Current Form
So-called health experts in nutrition who continue to promote the health benefits of wheat are extremely uninformed about the nature of modern wheat and its evolution from growth to consumption. It is shocking how many professionals in public health still recommend wheat products without an assessment of their individual requirements, especially considering the amount of evidence regarding its lack of nutrition and health risks for proportionally large segments of the population.
The majority of wheat is processed into 60% extraction, bleached white flour. 60% extraction--the standard for most wheat products means that 40% of the original wheat grain is removed. So not only do we have an unhealthier, modified, and hybridized strain of wheat, we also remove and further degrade its nutritional value by processing it. Unfortunately, the 40% that gets removed includes the bran and the germ of the wheat grain--its most nutrient-rich parts. In the process of making 60% extraction flour, over half of the vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber are lost. Any processed foods with wheat are akin to poison for the body since they cause more health risks than benefits. The body does not recognize processed wheat as food. Nutrient absorption from processed wheat products is thus consequential with almost no nutritional value.
Some experts claim if you select 100% whole wheat products, the bran and the germ of the wheat will remain in your meals, and the health benefits will be impressive. This is again a falsity promoted by the wheat industry since even 100% whole wheat products are based on modern wheat strains created by irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations. Whether you consume 10% or 100% of wheat is irrelevant since you're still consuming a health damaging grain that will not benefit, advance or even maintain your health in any way.
Dr. Marcia Alvarez who specializes in nutritional programs for obese patients says that when it comes to nutrition, wheat may be considered as an evil grain. "Modern wheat grains could certainly be considered as the root of all evil in the world of nutrition since they cause so many documented health problems across so many populations in the world." Dr. Alvarez asserted that wheat is now responsible for more intolerances than almost any other food in the world. "In my practice of over two decades, we have documented that for every ten people with digestive problems, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, arthritis and even heart disease, eight out of ten have a problem with wheat. Once we remove wheat from their diets, most of their symptoms disappear within three to six months," she added. Dr. Alvarez estimates that between the coming influx of genetically modified (GM) strains of wheat and the current tendency of wheat elimination in societies, that a trend is emerging in the next 20 years that will likely see 80% of people cease their consumption of wheat from any form.
A powerful little chemical in wheat known as 'wheat germ agglutinin' (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat's pervasive, and difficult to diagnose, ill effects. Researchers are now discovering that WGA in modern wheat is very different from ancient strains. Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, but due to the fact that WGA is found in highest concentrations in "whole wheat," including its supposedly superior sprouted form, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry's favorite poster children.
Evidence is mounting that a significant percentage of the population is sensitive to gluten.
When we eat bread that contains gluten (wheat, spelt, rye and barley), the immune system in our digestive tract “attacks” the gluten proteins.
Gluten sensitivity is also associated with some cases of schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia - both serious disorders of the brain.
Gluten is probably harmful for most people, not just those with diagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
The only way to really know if you’re gluten sensitive is to remove gluten from your diet for 30 days and then reintroduce it and see whether it affects you.
Each grain of wheat contains about one microgram of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA). Even in small quantities, WGA can have profoundly adverse effects. It may be pro-inflammatory, immunotoxic, cardiotoxic ... and neurotoxic.
Below the radar of conventional serological testing for antibodies against the various gluten proteins and genetic testing for disease susceptibility, the WGA “lectin problem” remains almost entirely obscured. Lectins, though found in all grains, seeds, legumes, dairy and our beloved nightshades: the tomato and potato, are rarely discussed in connection with health or illness, even when their presence in our diet may greatly reduce both the quality and length of our lives. Yet health experts dismiss the links between disease and wheat despite all the evidence.
Dr William Davis has documented several hundred clinical studies on the adverse effects of wheat. These are studies that document the neurologic impairments unique to wheat, including cerebellar ataxia and dementia; heart disease; visceral fat accumulation and all its attendant health consequences; the process of glycation via amylopectin A of wheat that leads to cataracts, diabetes, and arthritis; among others. There are, in fact, a wealth of studies documenting the adverse, often crippling, effects of wheat consumption in humans.
The other claim is that wheat elimination ‘means missing out on a wealth of essential nutrients. Another falsity. Dr. Davis states that if you replace wheat with healthy foods like vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, meats, eggs, cheese, avocados, and olives, then there is no nutrient deficiency that develops with elimination of wheat. Dr Davis also states that people with celiac disease may require long-term supplementation due to extensive gastrointenstinal damage caused by wheat.
People with celiac disease do indeed experience deficiencies of multiple vitamins and minerals after they eliminate all wheat and gluten from the diet. But this is not due to a diet lacking valuable nutrients, but from the incomplete healing of the gastrointestinal tract (such as the lining of the duodenum and proximal jejunum). In these people, the destructive effects of wheat are so overpowering that, unfortunately, some people never heal completely. These people do indeed require vitamin and mineral supplementation, as well as probiotics and pancreatic enzyme supplementation.
Due to the unique properties of amylopectin A, two slices of whole wheat bread increase blood sugar higher than many candy bars. High blood glucose leads to the process of glycation that, in turn, causes arthritis (cartilage glycation), cataracts (lens protein glycation), diabetes (glycotoxicity of pancreatic beta cells), hepatic de novo lipogenesis that increases triglycerides and, thereby, increases expression of atherogenic (heart disease-causing) small LDL particles, leading to heart attacks. Repetitive high blood sugars that develop from a grain-rich diet are, in my view, very destructive and lead to weight gain (specifically visceral fat), insulin resistance, leptin resistance (leading to obesity), and many of the health struggles that many now experience.
Andrew L. Rubman, ND, is medical director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut, said wheat consumption (specifically gluten found in wheat, rye and barley) could play a role in turning the genetic diabetes switch to "on" for those who carry the risk gene. Dr. Rubman says that gluten avoidance might prove useful for people who already havediabetes because it may reduce the impact of the disease. He suggests to try a gluten-free diet for four to six months to see if symptom severity and blood sugar control improve. If the answer is yes, Dr. Rubman advises staying gluten-free for life.
Wheat gliadin has been associated with cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, gluten encephalopathy (dementia), behavioral outbursts in children with ADHD and autism, and paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations in people with schizophrenia, severe and incapacitating effects for people suffering from these conditions.
Changes in genetic code and, thereby, antigenic profile, of the high-yield semi-dwarf wheat cultivars now on the market account for the marked increase in celiac potential nationwide. "Hybridization” techniques, including chemical mutagenesis to induce selective mutations, leads to development of unique strains that are not subject to animal or human safety testing--they are just brought to market and sold.
Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, wheat's new biochemical code causes hormone disruption that is linked to diabetes and obesity. "It is not my contention that it is in everyone's best interest to cut back on wheat; it is my belief that complete elimination is in everyone's best health interests," says Dr. Davis, "In my view, that's how bad this thing called 'wheat' has become."
Chemical mutagenesis using the toxic mutagen, sodium azide, of course, is the method used to generate BASF’s Clearfield herbicide-resistant wheat strain. These methods are being used on a wide scale to generate unique genetic strains that are, without question from the FDA or USDA, assumed to be safe for human consumption.
* Note that many of the wheat-free options still contain gluten.
1. Cereal Grains: Barley, millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, tef and wild rice are all in the same cereal grain family as is wheat. All flours ground from cereal grains may be used as a wheat substitute. Commonly available are barley, buckwheat, rice and rye flour. The less utilized flours may be purchased online or from natural food stores. Note: people with a gluten allergy must also avoid barley, oats and rye.
2. Non-Cereal Grains: Amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are three grain-like seeds unrelated to cereal grains. (Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat-relative.) It is rare for anyone to develop a sensitivity to these non-cereal grains. Amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are gluten-free and therefore not suitable for making leavened bread; however, they make excellent quick breads and cookies.
3. Nut Meal: Ground nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts make the richest flour substitute for cookies and cakes. Because their fragile fatty acid content gives them a brief shelf life, it’s preferable to grind your own nuts in a food processor just prior to use. Nut meal requires a binding agent such as eggs. Because chestnuts are lower in fat than other nuts, chestnut flour has a longer shelf life. It is available online.
4. Bean Flour: Dried beans, such as navy, pinto and chickpeas may be milled and used, in combination with other flours, as a wheat alternative. Bean flour is, however, not always recommended. It tastes like beans and makes baked goods dense and hard to digest.
5. Other Flour Substitutes: Potato starch, arrowroot powder, and tapioca are thickening agents that substitute for wheat in sauces and gravy. In baked goods these starchy ingredients serve as a binding agent.
Due to the irresponsible high frequency hybridization, processing and inevitable genetic modification of modern wheat, there is only one solution for the health and wellness of future generations. Stop eating wheat and educate as many people as you can on the coming strains of this grain which will be much more deadly than they already are today.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.