Wheat Germ Agglutinin is not a term most of us are familiar with, it is not signposted in the supermarket for you to easily find…. and I have not seen it advertised as being on special lately. It is there though in most processed foods and you never even knew it did you? It’s in lots of other stuff too…. most of them not considered edible.
With all the talk about grains being not good for you (thinking books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly and Dangerous Grains etc) and the ‘other camp’ promoting the necessity of consuming several servings of whole grains per day (thinking NGO’s like Diabetes Organisations and The Heart Foundation and even some of the TV self professed Health Guru’s), I thought a little refresher as to what grains can and do to the human body might be of benefit.
CELIAC DISEASE (Coeliac) is generally well known and understood to mean a person cannot consume grains containing GLUTEN without seriously damaging their gut lining and becoming very sick in the process. Yes I do know this is an oversimplification, but a useful one for the tone of this blog. What I want to explain now is that it is NOT only people suffering from celiac disease who need to consider their grain consumption patterns.
This paragraph I recently read is startling:
It was not until the end of the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago that our human ancestors would have slowly transitioned to a cereal grass based diet coterminous with emergence of civilization, which is to say grain-based cultures formed around cities. 20,000 years is probably not enough time to fully adapt to the consumption of grains. Even animals like cows with a head start of thousands of years, having evolved to graze on monocotyledons and equipped as ruminants with the four-chambered fore-stomach enabling the breakdown of cellulose and anti-nutrient rich plants, are not designed to consume grains. Cows are designed to consume the sprouted mature form of the grasses and not their desiccated seed storage form. Grains are so acidic/toxic in reaction that exclusively grain-fed cattle are prone to developing severe acidosis and subsequent liver abscesses and infections, etc. Feeding wheat to cattle provides an even greater challenge:
“Beef: Feeding wheat to ruminants requires some caution as it tends to be more apt than other cereal grains to cause acute indigestion in animals which are unadapted to it. The primary problem appears to be the high gluten content of which wheat in the rumen can result in a “pasty” consistency to the rumen contents and reduced rumen motility.” (Source: Ontario ministry of Agriculture food & Rural affairs)
Seeds, after all, are the “babies” of these plants, and are invested with not only the entire hope for continuance of its species, but a vast armory of anti-nutrients and related plant defences to help it accomplish this task: toxic lectins, phytates and oxalates, alpha-amalyase and trypsin inhibitors, and endocrine disrupters. These not so appetizing phytochemicals enable plants to resist predation of their seeds, or at least preventing them from “going out without a punch.”
OK OK I know it can get technical but what I understand from the above statements is that we did not actually begin to eat grains as a regular part of the human diet until around 20,000 years ago – which is a mere drop in the ocean – on the timescale of humanity. Secondly grains are not really suited to our digestion process. Thirdly the nice little seeds we grind up and make things out of are full of ANTI – NUTRIENTS, produced by the plant to protect their cute little offspring’s from attack. Not exactly something our human body would welcome with open arms as part of what we require for life, health and happiness.
Before I go any further – have you ever considered that word GLUTEN? Think of what it actually does in the baking process….. and if you have ever tried baking using a gluten free substitute grain/flour you will understand perfectly what I am getting at here……. GLUE, is what holds your baking together….. gluten is the glue in your baking. And Glue is made from gluten too…. Celiacs need to be aware that postage stamps and envelopes that need wetting down, probably also contain gluten which needs to be avoided!
Mmmm…. now let me see, how will I cook tonight’s serving of glue? roasted, boiled, barbequed, steamed? Does not sound quite so appetising does it. OK back to my blog.
I’m certain readers will be aware that most modern grains have been selectively bred to produce greater yields for the farmers. The ancient grains which our ancestors picked at, and then decided to farm are very dissimilar to the ones you find being used today.
Wheat presents a special case insofar as wild and selective breeding has produced variations which include up to 6 sets of chromosomes (3x the human genome worth!) capable of generating a massive number of proteins, each with a distinct potentiality for antigenicity. Common bread wheat (Triticum aestivum), for instance, has over 23,788 proteins cataloged thus far. xiii In fact, the genome for common bread wheat is actually 6.5 times larger than that of the human genome!
With up to a 50% increase in gluten content as compared to some more ancient varieties of wheat, it is amazing that we continue to consider “glue-eating” a normal behavior, whereas wheat-avoidance is left to the “celiac” who is still perceived by the majority of health care practitioners as mounting a “freak” reaction to the consumption of something intrinsically wholesome.
So is wheat really a wholesome healthy grain? Some still believe so, whereas I tend to side with the author who says:
Thankfully, we don’t need to rely solely on our intuition, or even (not so) common sense to draw conclusions about the inherently unhealthy nature of wheat. A wide range of investigation has occurred over the past decade revealing the problem with the alcohol soluble protein component of wheat known as gliadin, the substance known as lectin (Wheat Germ Agglutinin), the exorphin known as gliadomorphin, and the excitotoxic potentials of high levels of aspartic and glutamic acid also found in wheat. Add to these the anti-nutrients found in grains such as phytates, enzyme inhibitors, etc. and you have a substance which we may more rightly consider the farthest thing from wholesome. (LINK)
So what are some of the things which can occur by virtue of consuming these ‘delightful little Lectins’ aka WGA’s? Would it surprise you to learn that in the book Dangerous Grains (Braly & Hoggan) there are sixteen pages (16) listed of gluten associated medical conditions. I kid you not and here is but a sampling.
I Bet your doctor never mentioned Alopecia (yes that horrid hair loss problem) could be caused through eating gluten grains? How about Asthma or Autism? Juvenile Arthritis? Hyperthyroidism? Calcium Deficiency? Epilepsy? Diabetes Mellitus? Chronic Fatigue? ADHD? Graves Disease? Kidney Disease? Lupus? Miscarriages? Paresthesia? Sperm Abnormalities? Vasculitis? Ulcerative Colitis? Zinc Deficiency?
We are so very fortunate that work is continuing at seemingly high speed to help us understand that we truly are What We Eat! That what goes in to our bodies can make us exceedingly ill or can heal us at the microscopic cellular and beyond level.
If, as is being proven time and again, grains are damaging to the human body, isn’t it to our own benefit for health and longevity to at least attempt a good spell without consuming them to see how our body responds? I don’t believe ONE WEEK is sufficient, a month would be an excellent start though, and we can take it from there.
It is NOT only bread and pasta and cakes and biscuits I am thinking of here – as necessary to abstain from. The soup mixes and gravy packets contain grains, the processed meats we see every time we visit the supermarket contain grains. The frozen chips we can bring home to deep fry or oven fry have been floured – did you realise that? Those frozen dinners – even the so called healthy choice type ones contain grains….. they are hidden in all processed foods – they have polluted the entire food chain – with the exception of fresh vegetables, fruits and good quality meats.
Meat that has been grain fed is another area we need to be very aware of – let them free range and eat grass!
Before I sign off today I ask you to not simply single out wheat as the baddie. All crops today have been selectively bred to produce high yields…. think money and follow the dollar! Grains are not what we as humans ate for millions of years, and yet because they can be grown, harvested and stored they are heavily subsidised and promoted as Your Necessary Food……. Who is this of benefit too – YOU or the Food producers and the Government? Do you want to regain or maintain your health? Good, then do some reading and research for yourselves, and do not simply be led by the nose via media hype, advertising and so called nutrition guidelines.
You are a most wonderful and amazing creation
and you deserve only the best!