Refined wheat is problematic for three reasons:
1. It’s a highly processed, high glycemic index-type food that promotes excess insulin production which blocks weight loss.
2. It stimulates hunger, appetite and cravings that exacerbate food regulation problems such as binge eating and food addiction.
3. It contains gluten, a substance that causes digestive and elimination problems for some peoople.
Refined Wheat Products Have a High Glycemic Index
The Glycemic Index or GI is a standardized measure of how quickly blood sugar rises after eating carbohydrates. The higher the GI score, the greater the impact on blood sugar. The lower the GI score, the lesser the impact on blood sugar. In general, most vegetables and fruits have a lower GI, whereas most processed foods like breads, cereals and baked goods have a higher GI.
A low GI score is 54 or less. A moderately high GI score is 55 to 59. A high GI score is 60 or higher. The table below compares the Glycemic Index of wheat products to other carboydrates so you can see what happens to blood sugar after these types of foods are eaten.
Type Carbohydrate, Glycemic Index
White Bread, 75
Whole Wheat Bread, 74
Sucrose (table sugar), 60
Snickers Bar, 68
Corn Flakes, 81
Bell Pepper, 14
Brussel Sprouts, 16
Green Beans, 14
As you can see, a piece of whole wheat or white bread does more to raise your blood sugar than eating a Snickers Bar and it’s 15 GI points worse than eating straight table sugar. Sucrose has a lower score than bread because it’s made with half fructose, which is not measured by the GI.
Refined Wheat Products Are Highly Processed
Most wheat products are highly processed foods. The word “processed” means that a food has been reduced to a smaller substance and no longer resembles the original food. Processing dramatically shortens the time it takes to digest a food and has a high impact on blood sugar. As it pertains to wheat, processing is done mechanically through smashing and pulverization. As it pertains to other foods, processing is also often done through heat, enzymes, chemicals or pressure.
It’s easy to recognize that wheat products have been processed because they don’t resemble wheat in a field. It’s not possible, for example, to go to a farm and pick a piece of bread off a tree or from a plant. Nor is it possible to go into a garden and pick spaghetti noodles, pizza dough or chips, either. Processing of wheat removes all or part of this fiber from the grain, and this automatically converts it into a food that’s quickly and easily digested and that spikes blood sugar levels.
Processed foods can all legally be called “natural.” Natural means that the food is derived from a plant or animal source. It has nothing to do with whether or not the food has been reduced or changed in some important way. Consequently, a “natural” label is not reliable. Use other indicators.
The trick with wheat is to root around and find products that are the least processed. Use your eyes and look to see if the product is textured and has large fiber particles. Some so-called whole wheat products look the same as a piece of white Wonder Bread, except they’re brown. This is not a good choice.
Another trick is to look for a high fiber count. Any food with 5 grams of fiber per serving is considered high. Sometimes food manufacturers inject extra cellulose into their recipes to raise the fiber count, but fiber is still an important measure.
Refined Wheat Products Can Be Addictive
There are three working theories about why wheat can be a trigger food for food addicts. One theory has to do with gluten; another has to do with insulin; and the third theory has to do with GMO’s.
Wheat contains gluten, a protein found in grasses that’s thought to stimulate appetite and which may also influence body weight. The underlying scientific idea is that gluten polypeptides bind to opiate receptors in the brain and may alter brain chemistry in the same way that opioids alter brain chemistry. Opiods increase the feeling of relaxation and decrease the sensation of pain, which is also the function of comfort food.
The School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin (click here to read it) conducted a study which concluded that rats gorge on carbohydrates when they’re stimulated with a synthetic version of an opiod peptide that’s normally produced in the brain. The experiment allowed the rats to choose from two types of foods: high fat or high carbohydrate. Scientists were surprised that the rats consistently chose the high carbohydrate foods, and in fact, they gorged on the high carbohydrate foods whether they were hungry or full.
Have you ever been to an Asian-style restaurant, eat tons of food, and then feel ravenously hungry a half-hour later? The experience of false, ravenous hunger is thought to be due to a high insulin response to a meal or to foods with a high glycemic index. Many Asian-style foods such as white rice, noodles, batter and syrupy sauces can easily raise blood sugar. The basic idea is that the over production of insulin removes too much sugar from the blood which then stimulates hunger.
The last theory is that the bread we eat has been so genetically altered, crossbred and hybridized that it results in dysfunctional metabolic responses.
The wheat that we eat in our breads, cakes and cookies is made with dramatically different wheat than the daily bread of Biblical times or even 60 years ago. Dr. Mehmet Oz calls it frankenwheat to draw attention to the fact we’re eating genetically engineered wheat.
Genetically engineered wheat yields the biggest harvest in the smallest space in the shortest time. It’s structired to be disease resistant and to respond to particular fertilizers and pesticides. And most importantly, genetically engineered wheat is much shorter than the famed amber waves of grain we sang about as children. As it turns out, the smaller dwarf size of the wheat may be a key feature because it results in a higher concentration and more potent dose of gluten than in the past.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter why wheat is a trigger food. What matters is recognizing wheat as a food that needs to be more carefully selected and consciously consumed.
Refined Wheat Products Contain Gluten
1 out of every 133 American adults is officially diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, but it’s estimated that 90% of the people with gluten sensitivity are still undiagnosed, and it may be as high as 15% of the population. The incidence of gluten sensitivity has been steadily and dramatically soaring since 1950, up about 400%. Why is this happening? Again, as stated above, it could be related to the introduction of GMO’s into our food supply. This theory was popularized by Dr. William Davis in his book, Wheat Belly.
Gluten is found in all grain-type plants like wheat, rye and barley. Wheat, however, is by far the predominant source of gluten for Americans. In terms of physical properties, gluten is the visco-elastic chewy substance that makes dough rise, stretch, roll, spread and twist, and it’s only found in grain-type plants. Gluten is where most plant protein is stored. People with gluten sensitivity do not fully digest the protein that’s stored in the gluten and this results in a wide range of symptoms including stomach pain, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea as well as changes in energy, mood and/or headaches.
The symptoms for gluten sensitivity are similar to the symptoms for celiac disease, but celiac disease is a serious condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a physician. It’s an autoimmune disease that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents absorption of food. Celiac disease is thought to be triggered by two factors: a genetic predisposition and the consumption of gluten.
Visit the following websites for more information about gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease: