In our last blog post we spoke about gut health and the importance of having great gut health for physical and mental health. The gut brain axis is so strong that you can’t have great physical and mental health without great gut health. There has been so much commentary about the impact of modern wheat on our diet. At Healthier Habits we are not into labelling foods as good or bad and we don’t believe in excluding foods from our diets. But we are pretty cranky with the changes that have been made to our wheat crops in the last 10 years that has made wheat so difficult to digest.
Since the agricultural revolution, humans have been eating wheat. And there is anthropological evidence that grains were consumed by earlier civilisations. Our ancestors however not only knew how to properly prepare grains so that they were more easily digestible (such as soaking and fermenting them) but they also cooked with grains in their original and real form. The wheat we have today has been made pest resistant, drought resistant and higher yielding. It is grown in fields that are over farmed and are depleted of nutrients, are exposed to excessive spraying that compromises our immune system. In addition to that we do not take the time to prepare the grains to ensure we can consume them safely and we eat way too many of them.
The impact of this on our gut is that our intestinal wall has become compromised. Even if you are not a diagnosed Coeliac, modern wheat can put stress on your intestinal system. In terms of the quantity, we consume too much of it. The modern diet sees us eating wheat for breakfast (often laden with processed sugar in the form of breakfast cereals), wheat for lunch in a roll or sandwich, wheat for dinner with pasta, noodles or bread and wheat for snacks in biscuits and cakes. Hmmm, that’s a lot of wheat!
Whether you want to eliminate wheat from your diet or minimize its impact, there are some easy changes we can make to help reduce the amount of wheat we eat every day. If we want to consume wheat, we can choose ancient varieties that have not been altered such as spelt and emmer wheat. Fermented wheat is best in the form of sourdough because the anti-nutrients that our body finds hard to digest are broken down. There are some fantastic bakeries and breads out there and your children won’t know the difference between their current wholemeal sandwich and one made with organic spelt sourdough.
We can also chose a wheat alternative such as buckwheat, coconut flour, tapioca (arrowroot), almond meal, banana flour, quinoa flour, rice flour and a whole host of other options. And we can make some quick and easy swaps such as mashed sweet potato instead of a side serve of pasta. Zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti has been a (surprisingly!) big hit at many dinner tables. When you start to remove processed grains from your diet, you will also get the bonus of increasing your vegetable intake. If you children like dip and crackers, swap the crackers for either seed and nut crackers or serve with carrot and celery sticks.
While we are on the topic of wheat, we are not a fan of gluten free products. Check out the ingredient labels, soy is a problem for our hormones, corn (unless it is GM free) is genetically modified and there are a raft of chemicals used in an attempt to give those products the same softness that gluten provides. The path we recommend is to either bake those goods with real foods in your own kitchen so that you know exactly what has gone into them, buy great quality organic sourdough products or eat whole foods instead.
A personal message from Louise: When I removed wheat from my diet, I noticed a considerable decrease in my levels of anxiety. This has brought big changes to my day to day life and when I do consume wheat, I notice the detrimental impact it has on my mental health.
As always, we'd love to hear your comments, feedback and experiences. Email us at email@example.com. Until next time, enjoy your new healthier habits!