I write a lot about limiting processed foods and you'll notice that my recipes are wheat free. Why has wheat suddenly become such a problem to our health?
There's a couple of important things we need to remember about wheat when deciding what foods to feed our family:
1) Humans have only been eating wheat since the agricultural revolution. In terms of evolution, that's a really short amount of time and many health experts argue that the human body hasn't adapted fully to be able to consume wheat.
2) Even when our ancestors did eat grains (whether wheat or other grains), they prepared them completely differently to how we prepare them today. They used to ferment their bread (sourdough) which broke down many of the enzymes that are difficult for us to digest.
3) In the last 10 years there have been significant changes to the wheat crop to make it more pest and drought resistant and higher yielding. It is also harvested much faster not allowing the rain and sun time to break down the anti-nutrients in wheat. This has made it difficult for us to digest.
4) Wheat crops are grown in fields that are over-farmed, depleted of nutrients in the soil and are over sprayed with pesticide compromising our immune system and our ability to deal with the anti-nutrients in wheat.
5) We eat way too much wheat - it is in breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits for morning tea, sandwiches for lunch, pasta, noodles or bread for dinner. It's just too much for our body to cope with!
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 I am on the topic of wheat, I am 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.
Personally when I remove wheat from my diet I notice a drop in my anxiety levels. This is because of the link between the gut and the brain. If we eat wheat when our body doesn't react well and we are damaging our gut, our mental health suffers.
Wheat is also a great item to drop if you are trying to lose weight.
As always, I'd love to hear your comments, feedback and experiences. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.