So gluten, that spiral shaped protein found in wheat, has been demonized by many experts in the field of nutrition and everyone else that thinks they know anything about nutrition. Is there a middle ground or is gluten the devil in disguise? Yes there is kind of a middle ground, like most cases, it is not so black and white.
Wheat in itself might be harmless, it at least supposedly use to be. Throw in a little genetic alteration, chemically laced crops and everyone having a gluten allergy and all of a sudden consuming wheat is a death sentence. Everyone put down their pasta immediately or a cruel death is sure to follow! On the other hand there are many out there that still say having a diet full of whole grains such as wheat is crucial for good health. There are carbohydrates for energy, fiber for digestion, vitamins, and minerals and there is even protein!
So what are you to do with all these conflicting arguments?
There are many things to discuss concerning this topic. The gluten free craze is a nice place to start. Gluten free products are either products that would not have gluten in them in the first place for the most part or the gluten is replaced with something that just as unhealthy for you such as tapioca starch or the like. Yes there is an extremely small percentage of the population that has celiac disease, which is quite serious and would need to have a substitute for gluten, but they should probably just avoid gluten free products all together.
Take away point being that gluten free does not equal healthy!
So what about the people that do not have celiac disease or any other gluten allergy issue. Should they eat wheat? There are a few ways wheat can have a negative impact on our health, one being over consumption of wheat. Most of us have a very large amount of wheat in our diet from cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pizza for dinner which leads to an increase in the caloric storage hormone insulin. With decreased activity in many Americans this is a huge problem.
There is also that concern you might have heard about over GMOs (genetically modified organisms). It seems that every other government allows their citizens to know what is in their food, but ours. From the GMO debate, to the chemically laced wheat, we are eating wheat that might cause you to raise an eyebrow. Are these GMOs and chemicals what are actually causing the harm? That would be my guess, but research is yet to have a definitive answer.
Take away point being that the wheat you are eating might be a GMO and it is probably laced in chemicals. I’m guessing that is no good for your health.
So do I eat wheat? Yes, on occasion I do. I would prefer it to be GMO free and organic if I am going to indulge at my favorite pizza shop or bakery. For those that cannot tolerant wheat you can get the same nutrients found in wheat in other foods. You do not need to eat wheat to live, contradictory to what you might have heard.
Bottom line, if your body handles wheat find keep it to a minimum and make sure it is GMO free and organic. If it turns your body upside down, avoid it and avoid all the gluten free garbage out there.
The debate surrounding wheat is not likely to go away anytime soon with supporters on both side of the debate drawing a hard line in the sand.
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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