What's Going on with Wheat?

Genetic modification and hybridization of wheat in the past 50 years have changed the nature of wheat. This may help explain the rise in health issues relating to wheat consumption.


I just finished reading a book called "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, M.D. While I do not agree with everything Davis writes, I find the premise of his book interesting.  He argues that the current strains of wheat produced are the cause behind so many modern-day afflictions, not just celiac disease.  Specifically, he believes wheat causes obesity (thus the title "Wheat Belly"), diabetes, heart disease, skin disorders, promotes aging and affects the brain.

Davis believes that this is due to the fact that wheat has undergone so much rapid change over the past 50 years in order to increase yields.  As he notes, "Triticum wheat of today is the product of breeding to generate greater yield and characteristics such as disease, drought, and heat resistance. In fact, wheat has been modified by humans to such a degree that modern strains are unable to survive in the wild without human support such as nitrate fertilization and pest control."(p.22) As a result of hybridization and genetic modification, wheat today has fourteen new gluten proteins, and has more of the gluten proteins associated with celiac.  Thus the rise in celiac and food sensitivities related to the consumption of wheat.

Genetic modification is a process whereby the genes of one species of plant or animal are inserted into the genes of another in order to give that plant or animal certain positive traits. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) can be created with genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or humans.

The problem with genetic modification is that it cuts across species lines and, therefore, can have many unintended consequences on organisms. This is because no one knows what reaction the insertion of a foreign gene into an organism will cause.

Davis notes that, "With wheat, it was likewise assumed that variations in gluten content and structure, modifications of other enzymes and proteins, qualities that conger susceptibility or resistance to various plant diseases, would all make their way to humans without consequence." (p.25) As a matter of fact, there is evidence that genetically modified foods can cause severe illnesses, allergies, asthma, and cancer.

As I mentioned before, I am finding that it is best to consume wheat and other gluten-containing products in moderation, if at all. As far as other genetically modified foods go, I prefer to avoid those completely, because no one knows the effects these will have on the body.

Rachel Khanna is a Certified Health Counselor. She resides with her husband and four daughters in Greenwich. Visit her website at: http://www.healthytiffin.net

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cyra Borsy December 11, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Healthfare in New Canaan has a decent selection of items. I have found that Fairway has a great selection of items in the baking isle. You can check out bobsredmill.com for their great selection of products. King Arthur Flour has wonderful baking alternatives. Jovial makes a great pasta. I could go on and on. Having given up gluten about a year ago I can say I feel so much better. I sleep through the night (hadn't happened in a looong time), my husband no longer has heartburn, I no longer feel so bloated in my stomach (like I haven't digested my food).
Leslie Yager December 11, 2012 at 02:04 AM
thanks Cyra, I'll have to peruse Fairway aisles with this new goal in mind
Barbara Heins December 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
ShopRite on Commerce Road in Stamford has a quite a selection of gluten-free too.
Amelia Bonacorso December 11, 2012 at 01:36 PM
There are a lot of foods to choose from that are gluten-free that are healthy. Rice noodles, rice flour, chick pea flour, quinoa and just plain old "meat 'n potatoes" with green vegetables are all gluten-free. Udi Brand carries a large variety of quality good tasting options for bread, granola or pizza crusts. Many shy away from excessive amounts of carbs anyway so an occasional craving for a sandwich tastes just as good on Udi Gluten-Free Sandwich bread. If you like to make your own homemade bread as I do, an all-purpose gluten free flour gives you that option. This mix also works well for occasional cookies, quick breads and cakes.
Meg Mangan December 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I bought the book and while the proposition had a lot of merit, I found it lacking in concise alternatives. Dr. Davis very early on in the book was quick to distinguish between his hypothesis and "the gluten factor", yet I bought the book hoping to learn more about other grains such as some of the ones Amelia and Rachel mentioned in their posts above. I found the book lacking in this regard. Dr. Davis seemed to indicate that flax was the only really suitable choice, which I find hard to believe. I was interested to learn about his views on long grain rice,oats, buckwheat...etc, and the only info I could glean was on flax.


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