Ancient Wheat Was Superfood?

      201 Comments on Ancient Wheat Was Superfood?

Duck Dodgers (who posts comments here now and then) wrote a long post on the Free the Animal blog titled How Wheat Went From Superfood To Liability.

Don’t worry; he’s not encouraging you to toddle down to the Olive Garden for a bowl of pasta and stop for some (ahem) “whole-wheat” bread on the way home. His point, as briefly as I can state it, is that ancient wheat was a nourishing food — which we turned into garbage through modern milling and refining.

I enjoy Duck’s Free the Animal guest posts because he fires arrows at the sacred cows of paleo and low-carb.

What?! You enjoy that?!

Yes, I do. We don’t learn in an echo chamber. We learn by being challenged, and by being willing to change our minds. At one time, I believed all the horsehocky about saturated fat clogging our arteries, red meat causing cancer, etc. I changed my mind because people challenged my beliefs. Thank goodness they did.

I encourage you to read the entire post. Go ahead, I’ll wait …

Okay, with that out of the way (and in case you didn’t read the post), I’ll pluck some quotes and add my own comments. As you’ll see, I think Duck makes some excellent points, but I’m still not persuaded ancient wheat was a superfood.

So, how did cultures regard wheat and whole grains before the industrial revolution? According to the historical literature, wheat was not some kind of sub-par caloric filler or cheap energy. Every culture had its superfood and wheat was, hands down, the superfood of Western civilization. Whole wheat is not just calories and nutrients. It contains of all sorts of phenolics, carotenoids, sterols, β-glucan, resistant starch, inulin, oligosaccharides, lignans, and other phytonutrients. Much of the health benefits of wheat are believed to come from these phytonutrients.

Economist Thomas Sowell once said that when his students declared this or that to be good or bad, his next question was: compared to what?

Duck makes a convincing case that ancient wheat was far better than the refined garbage people eat today. But was a wheat-based diet healthy compared to a hunter-gatherer diet?

Anthropologist Jared Diamond famously called the switch to agriculture the worst mistake in the history of the human race, based largely on observations of human remains.  Some quotes from his article in Discover:

In some lucky situations, the paleopathologist has almost as much material to study as a pathologist today. For example, archaeologists in the Chilean deserts found well preserved mummies whose medical conditions at time of death could be determined by autopsy. And feces of long-dead Indians who lived in dry caves in Nevada remain sufficiently well preserved to be examined for hookworm and other parasites.

Usually the only human remains available for study are skeletons, but they permit a surprising number of deductions. To begin with, a skeleton reveals its owner’s sex, weight, and approximate age. In the few cases where there are many skeletons, one can construct mortality tables like the ones life insurance companies use to calculate expected life span and risk of death at any given age. Paleopathologists can also calculate growth rates by measuring bones of people of different ages, examine teeth for enamel defects (signs of childhood malnutrition), and recognize scars left on bones by anemia, tuberculosis, leprosy, and other diseases.

One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5′ 9” for men, 5′ 5” for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5′ 3” for men, 5′ for women.

At Dickson Mounds, located near the confluence of the Spoon and Illinois rivers, archaeologists have excavated some 800 skeletons that paint a picture of the health changes that occurred when a hunter-gatherer culture gave way to intensive maize farming around A. D. 1150. Studies by George Armelagos and his colleagues then at the University of Massachusetts show these early farmers paid a price for their new-found livelihood. Compared to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them, the farmers had a nearly 50 per cent increase in enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in iron-deficiency anemia (evidenced by a bone condition called porotic hyperostosis), a threefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably reflecting a lot of hard physical labor.

A six-inch crash in height, with a rise in dental defects and infectious diseases (bearing in mind that the Dickson Mounds natives were growing maize, not wheat).  Other anthropologists have made similar observations.  When we took up farming, our health declined.

To be clear, Diamond doesn’t argue that grains induced those problems directly. He writes that perhaps when humans became farmers, the crops squeezed out a more varied and nutrient-dense hunter-gatherer diet, leading to malnutrition.  But it’s clear that switching from a hunter-gatherer diet to a grain-based agricultural diet didn’t make us taller or healthier. Quite the opposite.

Back to Duck’s post:

Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, not only recommended bread as a health-promoting staple, but he was keenly interested in experimenting with different preparations of wheat.

If wheat was so deleterious, you’d think that Hippocrates would have noticed it and warned against its consumption instead of recommending it for the prevention of disease.

Hippocrates was not alone. Avicenna recommended bread as a key staple of the diet. Paracelsus believed that wheat had mystical properties, and Aristotle thought foods made from wheat suits our bodies best. And, what we see over and over again in the historical literature is that wheat was once considered to be the most nutritious and most important edible plant in the entire vegetable kingdom. Bread was known as the Staff of life—it was the de facto superfood for agriculturalists.

Setting aside the appeal to authority, I’d ask the Sowell question again: compared to what? If Hippocrates was getting good results with his patients by having them substitute wheat for pork and green vegetables, then I’d say he was onto something. But we don’t seem to have that information. Maybe the wheat replaced swill.

Much of Duck’s post quotes doctors from previous centuries who recommended wheat as a health food. Okay, fair enough. That’s interesting at the very least.  But given how often established medical opinion has turned out to be wrong over the centuries, I wouldn’t consider it solid evidence that ancient wheat was a superfood and didn’t cause health problems.

In both of his Wheat Belly books, Dr. William Davis blames the gliadin portion of gluten for causing many, if not most, of what he considers to be wheat’s deleterious effects. The ability of gliadin to increase gut permeability has been well established in recent years and is not, as far as I know, controversial. (If you Google “gliadin intestinal permeability,” you can read from now until you retire.)

Duck’s main point in his post is that milling and refining wheat turned it into health-sapping garbage. I agree wholeheartedly. But unless ancient wheat didn’t contain gliadin or we were somehow protected against the effects on gut permeability, I suspect wheat has always had the ability to induce auto-immune reactions. Perhaps those reactions weren’t linked to wheat because everyone ate the stuff.

I’m reminded of something I read in The Emperor of All Maladies, a hefty book about the history of cancer: when a doctor first floated the idea that smoking causes lung cancer, the vast majority of other doctors and researchers scoffed. They continued scoffing for years.  As the author (an oncologist) explains, it’s been historically difficult for doctors to accept that something causes a disease if 1) nearly everyone is exposed to it, and 2) most of them never develop the disease.

At one time, nearly everyone smoked. Doctors smoked. The banker smoked.  Your neighbor smoked.  Your in-laws smoked.  It was considered normal behavior. Heck, everyone does it, and few of them develop cancer, so it can’t be the smoking. Move along, let’s find the real cause.

When reading that passage, I thought, Hmm, just like with wheat. Everyone eats wheat, so it can’t be bad for us.

At a dinner some years ago, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages asked why I was skipping the bread and pasta. When I told him, he was incredulous. What?! How can wheat possibly be bad for us? Almost everyone eats wheat! People have been eating wheat since biblical times!

Well, yes. But from what I remember of the Bible, healing the sick was one of the real crowd-pleasing portions of the Jesus show.

True, we’ve been eating wheat for as long as we’ve been civilized. We’ve also had diabetes, cancer, heart disease, psoriasis, asthma, arthritis and schizophrenia for as long as we’ve been civilized. Wheat may have caused or contributed to all of them – even if, as with smoking and lung cancer, no single one of those diseases afflicted most people.

Back to Duck:

In his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, Dr. William Davis claimed that modern hybrids of wheat are to blame for all modern health issues. However, this is not supported by the scientific literature—nor is it supported by France’s lower levels of chronic diseases despite considerably higher wheat intakes.

Ahh, those wacky French. Truth is, I’m not sure what to make of them. They’re twice as likely to smoke as Americans, but have lower rates of heart disease … yet I wouldn’t cite them as proof that smoking doesn’t cause heart disease. I suspect that the American diet of HFCS, refined flour and industrial seed oils creates a perfect storm for inducing disease, which the French avoid by shunning the HFCS and seed oils and embracing natural animal fats.  They might still be better off without the wheat.

Or perhaps someday we’ll learn that the French are healthier than us because spending an hour with your mistress before heading home for dinner with the wife and kids prevents nearly all chronic diseases. Chareva disagrees with that hypothesis and offered evidence that anyone who tests it will end up sleeping in a chicken coop.

Duck’s hypothesis is more interesting, despite not involving mistresses:

By 1953, Newfoundland had enacted mandatory fortification of white flour. By 1954, Canada and a number of US states had enacted the Newfoundland Law. Southern states in particular were eager to enact the law, to reduce pellagra, that had become prevalent during the Great Depression. These states typically mandated fortification of flour, bread, pasta, rice and corn grits.

In 1983, the FDA significantly increased the mandated fortification levels—coinciding with the beginning of the obesity epidemic. 1994 was the first year that obesity and diabetes statistics were available for all 50 states. Notice a pattern?

Fortifying flour may have ended the deficiencies of the Great Depression, but it appears to have significantly worsened chronic diseases.

Furthermore, wheat flour fortification may explain the popularity of non-celiac gluten sensitivity we see today in fortified countries (it was extremely rare prior to fortification). As it turns out, iron fortificants have been shown to promote significant gastric distress, even at low doses and pathogenic gut profiles in developing countries. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is virtually unheard of in unfortified countries, like France, which consume 40% more wheat than Americans.

That’s the most eye-opening section of the post as far as I’m concerned. Before reading the brief history that Duck cites here, it never occurred me to that fortifying grain could make it worse. If gliadin didn’t cause gut permeability back in the day (still a big IF in my book), that could be the explanation.

As far as modern wheat goes, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Norman Borlaug, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his part in developing semi-dwarf wheat, was a good man.  He set out to prevent mass starvation, and he succeeded. Given a choice between semi-dwarf wheat or watching my kids die of starvation, I’ll take the wheat every damned time.

That being said, I still believe semi-dwarf wheat is something those of us who aren’t starving should avoid. Duck makes a good case that milling, refining and fortifying wheat turned it into a health hazard. But the changes in semi-dwarf likely threw gasoline on that fire. Here’s a quote from Wheat Belly Total Health:

One important change that has emerged over the past 50 years, for example, is increased expression of a gene called Glia-α9, which yields a gliadin protein that is the most potent trigger for celiac disease. While the Glia-α9 gene was absent from most strains of wheat from the early 20th century, it is now present in nearly all modern varieties.

Now let’s mill it, refine it, and fortify it. Awesome.

Dr. Davis believes the change in the gliadin gene is the reason celiac disease has increased by 400% in the past 50 years — and that’s a genuine increase, by the way, not a case of better diagnosis.  Researchers realized as much when they compared blood samples from 50 years ago to recent blood samples.  The modern samples were four times as likely to contain antibodies triggered by celiac disease.

Duck, on the other hand, believes fortification is the likely culprit.  It’s an interesting possibility.

Back to Duck:

Nor does Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers, explain how humanity enjoyed its highest levels of intellectual achievement while largely eating wheat and other grains as staple foods—enjoying unprecedented population growth and longevity as well.

I can explain that one. In a previous post, I mentioned Conquests and Cultures, by Thomas Sowell. One of the book’s main points is that economic specialization is required for cultures to advance. If pretty much everyone has to hunt and gather food, there will be no pianos, printing presses, telescopes or steam engines. There’s no doubt that agriculture led to economic specialization, and thus civilization and intellectual achievement.

But that doesn’t prove eating grains had a positive or even a neutral effect on our brains. It simply means that in a civilization where farming allows most people to do something else, Mozart becomes a composer and Voltaire becomes a writer. In a paleo society, Mozart is the hunter who sings those amazing songs around the campfire, and Voltaire is the hunter whose clever stories amuse his pals during the long walks home from a hunt. They may have had genius IQs, but we’ll never know. We do know that human brains have, in fact, been shrinking since their peak size roughly 20,000 years ago.

Another point Sowell makes in Conquests and Cultures is that civilizations advance through cross-pollination of ideas, technologies and resources. Throughout history, cross-pollination was often the result of large-scale conquest. (Sowell doesn’t ignore or excuse the brutality of conquest, by the way.)  Conquering an inhabited territory requires a large army (another example of economic specialization), which requires a large population, which requires agriculture.

In Europe and the Middle East, the “crop of conquest” was wheat. In the Western Hemisphere, it was maize that enabled the Aztecs and Mayans to build cities and raise armies large enough to establish empires. But again, that doesn’t prove the conquerors were healthier or smarter than the tribes they subjugated. It only proves that farming enabled them to raise and feed large armies.

Okay, time to wrap up. This is already a long post about a long post. To summarize:

Duck believes ancient wheat was a nutritious food, not a health hazard. Maybe, but I remain skeptical. Maybe ancient wheat was good, maybe it was neutral, maybe it was bad but not nearly as bad as the stuff sold today.  I still think it’s likely wheat has been provoking auto-immune reactions in susceptible people since the dawn of civilization.

But whether wheat was good or bad back in ancient times, the refined and fortified garbage sold today is a health hazard. On that we totally agree.  So unless you want to go out and find some ancient wheat (which Duck explains how to do in his post) and give it a try, my advice remains the same:

Don’t Eat Wheat.

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201 thoughts on “Ancient Wheat Was Superfood?

  1. Michael

    “Dr. William Davis claimed that modern hybrids of wheat are to blame for all modern health issues. However, this is not supported by the scientific literature”

    That’s perhaps because the researchers who contribute to the scientific literature have only begun to look at the difference between modern wheat and ancient wheat. They didn’t start their research back when modern wheat was created. And their research is not going to be funded by powerful corporations either so it won’t move forward at a fast pace.

    For example last year there was a wave of stupid news articles claiming that the australian scientists who had first proven the existence of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity later proved they were wrong that in fact it did not exist. Complete BS typical bad media reporting. What they concluded was that gluten is not the part of wheat that’s causing IBS symptoms in their participants but they found that gluten caused depression:

    http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/freeing-the-gluten-free

    I think I recall Dr.Davis linking wheat to depression mostly because of what he saw in his office. Was his assertion supported by the scientific literature at the time when he said it? Maybe not but maybe some specific experiments had yet to be done to get to the bottom of it. Just like the italian study in which they compared kamut to modern wheat.

    There has been a few articles recently about the reproducibility crisis in science. Instead of encouraging scientists around the world to try to reproduce other teams’ results it looks like the institution of Science prefers the model of claiming This or That Study Proves or Disproves X and that’s it it’s over case closed no need to repeat the experiment! And there’s a bunch of people on the internet who run around abusing the term ‘Science-based’ because they think published science is all there is to it even though next year’s published science may invalidate the conclusions of the previous year’s science. But if the relevant scientific experiments have not been done yet then it means that we should wait until the results are in, not scoff and reject the claim and brag about how ‘Science-based’ you are.

    Anyway there’s still a lot of reasearch to be done on amylase trypsin inhibitors, wheat germ agglutinin, etc. and still no valid nutritional reason to eat wheat, modern or ancient. Not even the taste if there’s no butter or something like that on the bread it just tastes like cardboard.

    I don’t get the nerds’ obsession about having the exact perfect explanation/justification. Life is short and you don’t have to have the perfect explanation before you make a good decision based on risks and rewards.

    Reply
    1. Duck Dodgers

      I’ll give you that more research is needed on ATIs, however wheat germ agglutinin is inactivated by heat and seems to be beneficial when cooked. Obviously nobody should eat raw wheat.

      Health effects of wheat lectins: A review (2014)

      Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins present in most plants. They play a role in protecting plants against external pathogens, like fungi, and other organisms. Some common dietary staples, such as cereal grains and legumes, have relatively high concentrations of a variety of lectins. A part of the proteins present in wheat germ is characterized as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), in this respect. Authors of popular nutritional plans propose adverse health effects of this wheat lectin. With the use of different arguments, the consumption of foods high in lectins is discouraged. In this context, we discuss the effects of lectins from wheat on human health. Up-to-date research findings on mechanisms that wheat lectins have effects on health factors, such as obesity, autoimmune disease, and celiac disease, are critically reviewed. We conclude that there are many unsubstantiated assumptions made. Current data about health effects of dietary lectins, as consumed in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support negative health effects in humans. In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management. Research is recommended to define actual active lectin contents in wheat-based foods after heat preparation for human consumption.

      Michael said: “still no valid nutritional reason to eat wheat, modern or ancient”

      Actually, the unique phytonutrients are believed to be the main promoter of health in whole grains.

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton

        “In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management.”

        I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) that statement is based on the many crappy studies that compare people who eat whole grains to people who eat white flour, conclude that people eating whole grains have better outcomes, therefore whole grains are health food. People who smoke filtered cigarettes have better outcomes than people who smoke unfiltered cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean filtered cigarettes are good for us.

        Reply
        1. Duck Dodgers

          Well, there are no health benefits of WGA because A) it’s toxic in large quantities (maybe hormetic in low doses), and B) nobody eats WGA if they cook their food.

          I’ll quote from the review paper:

          In a kitchen setting, it was shown that cooking pasta results in the inactivation of WGA. Moreover, another analysis followed by western blotting and ELISA assays with heat-treated WGA demonstrated that WGA activity was progressively reduced with increasing temperatures. At temperature values used around technological processing of pasta (65 °C), the reduction of WGA activity shows an apparent inflection point (after heat treatment of 10 min). Consequently, broad differences in WGA content are expected in uncooked pastas due to their minimal variation in the thermal treatment to which these wheat-derived products are subjected. In their study (Matucci et al., 2004), using a method to measure WGA-activity well validated earlier by Vincenzi et al. (2002), the authors concluded that WGA activity was undetectable in some uncooked wholemeal pasta, and that that was an indication that these products were subjected to more intense thermal treatments. Importantly, the authors concluded that traditional cooking practices of consumers will eliminate all WGA activity in pastas, if not already inactivated by technological processing (Matucci et al., 2004).

          As to the health benefits, the review says exactly what I said above… “The health benefits of whole-wheat have been attributed largely to the fibre (β-glucan and arabinoxylan) and phytochemicals (phenolics, sterols, tocols and vitamins) that are concentrated in the aleurone layer of the bran (Brouns et al., 2012), as well as present in the wheat germ fraction.”

          In other words, it’s not the nutrition. If it were that simple, you’d just pop a pill and be done with it. Rather, it’s the unique phytochemicals that are believed to offer the actual health benefits. And many of those phytochemicals have been individually studied.

          Anyway, the point being that people don’t eat grains for nutrient density—they eat them for energy and a unique array of phytochemicals.

          Reply
  2. Michael

    “Dr. William Davis claimed that modern hybrids of wheat are to blame for all modern health issues. However, this is not supported by the scientific literature”

    That’s perhaps because the researchers who contribute to the scientific literature have only begun to look at the difference between modern wheat and ancient wheat. They didn’t start their research back when modern wheat was created. And their research is not going to be funded by powerful corporations either so it won’t move forward at a fast pace.

    For example last year there was a wave of stupid news articles claiming that the australian scientists who had first proven the existence of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity later proved they were wrong that in fact it did not exist. Complete BS typical bad media reporting. What they concluded was that gluten is not the part of wheat that’s causing IBS symptoms in their participants but they found that gluten caused depression:

    http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/freeing-the-gluten-free

    I think I recall Dr.Davis linking wheat to depression mostly because of what he saw in his office. Was his assertion supported by the scientific literature at the time when he said it? Maybe not but maybe some specific experiments had yet to be done to get to the bottom of it. Just like the italian study in which they compared kamut to modern wheat.

    There has been a few articles recently about the reproducibility crisis in science. Instead of encouraging scientists around the world to try to reproduce other teams’ results it looks like the institution of Science prefers the model of claiming This or That Study Proves or Disproves X and that’s it it’s over case closed no need to repeat the experiment! And there’s a bunch of people on the internet who run around abusing the term ‘Science-based’ because they think published science is all there is to it even though next year’s published science may invalidate the conclusions of the previous year’s science. But if the relevant scientific experiments have not been done yet then it means that we should wait until the results are in, not scoff and reject the claim and brag about how ‘Science-based’ you are.

    Anyway there’s still a lot of reasearch to be done on amylase trypsin inhibitors, wheat germ agglutinin, etc. and still no valid nutritional reason to eat wheat, modern or ancient. Not even the taste if there’s no butter or something like that on the bread it just tastes like cardboard.

    I don’t get the nerds’ obsession about having the exact perfect explanation/justification. Life is short and you don’t have to have the perfect explanation before you make a good decision based on risks and rewards.

    Reply
    1. Duck Dodgers

      I’ll give you that more research is needed on ATIs, however wheat germ agglutinin is inactivated by heat and seems to be beneficial when cooked. Obviously nobody should eat raw wheat.

      Health effects of wheat lectins: A review (2014)

      Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins present in most plants. They play a role in protecting plants against external pathogens, like fungi, and other organisms. Some common dietary staples, such as cereal grains and legumes, have relatively high concentrations of a variety of lectins. A part of the proteins present in wheat germ is characterized as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), in this respect. Authors of popular nutritional plans propose adverse health effects of this wheat lectin. With the use of different arguments, the consumption of foods high in lectins is discouraged. In this context, we discuss the effects of lectins from wheat on human health. Up-to-date research findings on mechanisms that wheat lectins have effects on health factors, such as obesity, autoimmune disease, and celiac disease, are critically reviewed. We conclude that there are many unsubstantiated assumptions made. Current data about health effects of dietary lectins, as consumed in cooked, baked, or extruded foods do not support negative health effects in humans. In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management. Research is recommended to define actual active lectin contents in wheat-based foods after heat preparation for human consumption.

      Michael said: “still no valid nutritional reason to eat wheat, modern or ancient”

      Actually, the unique phytonutrients are believed to be the main promoter of health in whole grains.

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        “In contrast, consumption of WGA containing foods, such as cereals and whole grain products, has been shown to be associated with significantly reduced risks of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, as well as a more favourable long-term weight management.”

        I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) that statement is based on the many crappy studies that compare people who eat whole grains to people who eat white flour, conclude that people eating whole grains have better outcomes, therefore whole grains are health food. People who smoke filtered cigarettes have better outcomes than people who smoke unfiltered cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean filtered cigarettes are good for us.

        Reply
        1. Duck Dodgers

          Well, there are no health benefits of WGA because A) it’s toxic in large quantities (maybe hormetic in low doses), and B) nobody eats WGA if they cook their food.

          I’ll quote from the review paper:

          In a kitchen setting, it was shown that cooking pasta results in the inactivation of WGA. Moreover, another analysis followed by western blotting and ELISA assays with heat-treated WGA demonstrated that WGA activity was progressively reduced with increasing temperatures. At temperature values used around technological processing of pasta (65 °C), the reduction of WGA activity shows an apparent inflection point (after heat treatment of 10 min). Consequently, broad differences in WGA content are expected in uncooked pastas due to their minimal variation in the thermal treatment to which these wheat-derived products are subjected. In their study (Matucci et al., 2004), using a method to measure WGA-activity well validated earlier by Vincenzi et al. (2002), the authors concluded that WGA activity was undetectable in some uncooked wholemeal pasta, and that that was an indication that these products were subjected to more intense thermal treatments. Importantly, the authors concluded that traditional cooking practices of consumers will eliminate all WGA activity in pastas, if not already inactivated by technological processing (Matucci et al., 2004).

          As to the health benefits, the review says exactly what I said above… “The health benefits of whole-wheat have been attributed largely to the fibre (β-glucan and arabinoxylan) and phytochemicals (phenolics, sterols, tocols and vitamins) that are concentrated in the aleurone layer of the bran (Brouns et al., 2012), as well as present in the wheat germ fraction.”

          In other words, it’s not the nutrition. If it were that simple, you’d just pop a pill and be done with it. Rather, it’s the unique phytochemicals that are believed to offer the actual health benefits. And many of those phytochemicals have been individually studied.

          Anyway, the point being that people don’t eat grains for nutrient density—they eat them for energy and a unique array of phytochemicals.

          Reply
  3. Nads

    I don’t think it helps to sort the wheat from the chaff, pun intended, that the anti wheat people like Dr Davis and Dr Perlmutter also say to give up sugar and all carbs.

    The most significant difference I found in my health and wellbeing was from when I gave up sugar. Although I have since given up wheat except for trace amounts, and many carbs, amd vegetable oils.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Dr. Davis doesn’t say to give up all carbs. He says to keep the carbs low enough to avoid blood sugar spikes, but also recommends green bananas, raw potato, etc. as sources of resistant starch in his latest book.

      Reply

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