Benefits of Not Eating Wheat
With more than 600 million tons of wheat produced every year, wheat is the third most produced cereal in the world after maize and rice. It is also the leading source of plant-based protein in human diet globally. Unrefined wheat as well as wheat germ and wheat bran are packed with micronutrients that can offer a wide array of health benefits. Processed wheat products and products made with refined wheat flour, in contrast, are stripped of beneficial nutrients. What's more, refined wheat flour ranks very high on the Glycemic Index (GI), which is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. High GI foods break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream. This in turn triggers the pancreas to rapidly produce high amounts of insulin. Constantly high insulin levels have been associated with diabetes type 2, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, cancer and gall bladder disease.
Wheat Allergy vs. Celiac Disease vs. Wheat Intolerance
Apart from the health problems associated with refined wheat, consumption of wheat may cause health problems in individuals who are sensitive to one or more proteins contained in wheat. The type and the severity of problems depend on whether the person suffers from a wheat allergy, wheat intolerance or celiac disease.
True wheat allergy, defined as an immunological (allergic) response to one or more proteins found in wheat, is relatively rare (less than 0.5% of people). It is usually detected early in life and symptoms may include hives, breathing difficulties, coughing, asthma and nausea. In some people, allergic reactions are triggered by wheat only when these people exercise within a few hours after consuming wheat proteins. Exercise-induced wheat allergy often results in anaphylaxis which is the most severe form of allergic reaction and which is potentially life threatening. As such, it requires immediate medical attention and urgent treatment.Celiac Disease
Similar to wheat allergy, celiac (coeliac) disease is an immunological response to wheat. Unlike wheat allergy, however, celiac disease is caused by an allergic reaction to one specific protein contained in wheat and related grains: the gliadin, a gluten protein. Classic symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Repeated exposure to gliadin can cause eventually damage to the intestinal tract, and therefore celiacs are advised to avoid products containing gluten. Celiac disease, which affects one person in every thousand, is sometimes referred to as gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, gluten enteropathy or celiac sprue. Most people suffering from the disease are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 45.Wheat Intolerance / Sensitivity
Many people who speak of celiac disease are in fact talking about wheat intolerance, a non-allergic adverse reaction to eating wheat. Wheat intolerance and wheat sensitivity are usually not as violent as wheat allergy. The symptoms often occur several hours – or even days – after the consumption of wheat, which makes this condition hard to diagnose.