How Bad is Wheat for Your Health?

Whether it's celiac disease or gluten intolerance, wheat has become a public enemy number one. But how bad is it really?

Credit: Flickr / Ano Lobb

While there are plenty of wheat detractors, not everyone is convinced it’s bad for you

Just how bad is wheat in your diet? The answer remains unclear

There’s much talk about wheat following the 2011 launch of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health, by Dr. William Davis.

Is wheat really the problem or is it eating habits overall? Rosie Schwartz, a well-known Canadian dietitian and author of The Enlightened Eater, gets right to the point.

“While the book looks like a critique of modern day wheat and its impact on health, it’s simply another book bashing carbs. It’s dressed up in science claiming that wheat causes all ills – from obesity and diabetes to schizophrenia. But it’s all about carbs.”

Are Carbs Truly Evil?

Davis quotes ample research in the book, although much is not specifically related to wheat consumption.

“His observations about the so-called dangers of wheat followed his college years during which he ‘gorged on waffles and pancakes, fettuccini Alfredo for lunch, pasta with bread for dinner. Poppy seed muffins or angel cake followed for dessert.’ His subsequent spare tire, feeling exhausted and inability to shake off the stupor persisted no matter how much he slept,” says Schwartz.

The Importance of A Balanced Diet

That meal pattern really doesn’t resemble anything healthy. In a wise pattern, fruits and vegetables cover half the plate, and for appetite, digestion and good blood sugar control, lean protein and fibre-rich, whole grains are also included.

One serving is considered approximately the size of a tennis ball. Daily totals should come in around seven or more for vegetables and fruits, three to four for protein and four for whole grains – more for a person who is highly active given the beneficial carbohydrate energy, B vitamins and iron.

Schwartz continues, “For those with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing foods is key to good health. But to promote the evils of wheat, in any amount, for the average person, even one who is overweight, simply goes against the scientific evidence.”

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.