THE HEALTH AND FITNESS BLOG
June 07, 2022 – By Dr. Haider Khalid
Wheat is one of the most traditional sources of flour used to make bread globally. However, wheat flour contains a protein, gluten, that may cause serious health effects in susceptible people.
During the last decade, an uprising related to obliterating the wheat from the diet occurred. However, there has remained confusion among experts about whether wheat is problematic for everyone or not.
Some believe that everyone should follow a gluten-free diet. However, some only restrict wheat intake in intolerant individuals such as those with celiac disease.
After a complete review of the scientific literature, I’ll tell you the problems associated with using wheat. This article will also guide you through why you should avoid eating wheat?
Who Can be Intolerant to Wheat Intake?
Intolerance to wheat is because of gluten, a particular protein also found in other flours such as barley and rye (1). The high elastic nature of gluten protein makes wheat flour effective for making bread.
People with the following three conditions are intolerant to gluten protein (2).
Celiac disease is the classical presentation of intolerance to wheat and related flours. It is a condition that affects 1% of the whole world population. Moreover, it is an autoimmune disease that runs in families. As far as its pathology is concerned, celiac disease involves an inflammatory response of the gut lining to wheat proteins.
It is a chronic disease that restricts wheat intake throughout your entire life. Ingestion of wheat is such individuals can damage the cells of the small intestine. The patients then present with a mal-absorption syndrome manifested by severe pain, diarrhea, and weight loss (3).
The treatment of such patients is the complete avoidance of wheat and wheat products (4).
First of all, you should never confuse wheat allergy with celiac disease. Both are different conditions. But it’s possible to have both conditions simultaneously that present with more deteriorating symptoms.
Allergic responses against wheat or wheat products can range from mild nausea to severe shock-like symptoms such as difficulty breathing (2). Allergic reaction to wheat is more common in children, but they can occur in adults.
Some present with symptoms after ingestion of wheat even though they don’t have celiac disease or wheat allergy. They are thought to be suffering from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (5).
Similar to the above two conditions, the only to prevent symptoms is to avoid wheat and wheat products in your diet.
What are the Benefits of a Wheat-free Diet?
We have discussed conditions in which eating wheat foods can result in health threats. Now, I will tell you about some benefits of limiting your wheat intake.
According to research conducted in 2015, a wheat-free diet is beneficial in reducing the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (6). However, the exact mechanism of this benefit is not understood correctly. But according to one research, a wheat-free diet helps alter gut flora and motility in favor of healthier intestines (7).
Other Chronic Diseases
According to credible information, people who consume large amounts of wheat and wheat products are also prone to other chronic diseases. Some of the important chronic diseases whose incidence become higher after long-term use of wheat products are as follow,
- Diabetes mellitus
- Inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis
- Thyroid disease, either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
According to research, the antibodies formed in celiac disease also damage other tissues such as the thyroid, pancreas, and joints. This is how people with celiac disease are at risk for other chronic diseases (8).
Therefore, it is better to eat a wheat-free diet to avoid the above-mentioned chronic diseases.
Should Everyone Avoid Wheat Containing Diet?
One thing is well-understood that people with celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity are particularly susceptible to wheat and wheat products. Therefore, you should avoid wheat if you suffer from those diseases.
The main question arises whether everyone should avoid wheat or wheat products. Unfortunately, most of the research is silent about this issue. But a gluten-free diet offers many benefits. Experts usually suggest avoiding wheat as an active meal ingredient.
What are the Alternatives to Wheat?
Most of the flours that are under general use contain gluten. So here I am mentioning some alternatives that you can use to get proper nutrition and avoid symptoms of gluten sensitivity.
Quinoa flour has gained popularity due to its anti-oxidant properties (9). However, its most striking feature is that it is one of those plant products that serves as a complete protein source.
Gluten Free Oats
Gluten Free Oats are also an important food component with good nutritional value. It contains a particular protein, beta-glucan, which helps lower blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes (10).
During its harvesting, oats can be polluted with gluten components. Therefore, you should buy an oat product that is certified gluten-free.
Corn offers a high amount of fiber and compounds with anti-oxidative properties. You can use corn in various forms. Corn flour is also helpful in making different delicious recipes, such as corn soup.
Therefore, if you are looking for a wheat alternative, corn can be a good option.
Brown rice is not similar to white rice, having more fibers and other minerals. Therefore, it offers more excellent nutritional value than white rice. Moreover, brown rice is one of the healthiest gluten-free grains present on the market.
In addition to providing a gluten-free diet, brown rice also offers an effective way to prevent diabetes, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
- Biesiekierski JR. What is gluten? Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2017 Feb 28;32(S1):78–81.
- Balakireva A, Zamyatnin A. Properties of Gluten Intolerance: Gluten Structure, Evolution, Pathogenicity and Detoxification Capabilities. Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 Oct 18 [cited 2022 Jun 7];8(10):644. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084031/
- Posner EB, Haseeb M. Celiac Disease [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 7]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441900/
- Lewis D, Haridy J, Newnham ED. Diagnostic tests: Testing for coeliac disease. Australian Prescriber [Internet]. 2017 Jun 1 [cited 2022 Jun 7];40(3):105–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5478399/
- Mansueto P, Seidita A, D’Alcamo A, Carroccio A. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Literature Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2014 Feb;33(1):39–54.
- Aziz I, Branchi F, Pearson K, Priest J, Sanders DS. A Study Evaluating the Bidirectional Relationship Between Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Self-reported Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. 2015 Apr;21(4):847–53.
- Vanuytsel T, Vermeire S, Cleynen I. The role of Haptoglobin and its related protein, Zonulin, in inflammatory bowel disease. Tissue Barriers [Internet]. 2013 Dec 1 [cited 2022 Jun 7];1(5). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3943850/
- Cusick MF, Libbey JE, Fujinami RS. Molecular Mimicry as a Mechanism of Autoimmune Disease. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology [Internet]. 2011 Nov 19 [cited 2022 Jun 7];42(1):102–11. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3266166/
- Ranilla LG, Apostolidis E, Genovese MI, Lajolo FM, Shetty K. Evaluation of Indigenous Grains from the Peruvian Andean Region for Antidiabetes and Antihypertension Potential UsingIn VitroMethods. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):704–13.
- Braaten JT, Scott FW, Wood PJ, Riedel KD, Wolynetz MS, Brulé D, et al. High β-Glucan Oat Bran and Oat Gum Reduce Postprandial Blood Glucose and Insulin in Subjects With and Without Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetic Medicine. 1994 Apr;11(3):312–8.
- Sun Q. White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Archives of Internal Medicine [Internet]. 2010 Jun 14 [cited 2022 Jun 7];170(11):961. Available from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/416025