What are the health benefits of wheat

Does wheat really make you sick? What does without the grain bring us

Leaving out the wheat - more and more people are following this advice and banning the grain. But how useful is it? Everything you need to know about wheat.

Many are better off without wheat. Because more and more people are having their stomachs pinching after baguette, pizza or bread. Often without a wheat allergy or celiac disease. Researchers around the world are dealing with this new intolerance. And some of them come to the realization that wheat makes you sick and fat - and we should perhaps all better do without wheat.

"Wheat makes you sick and fat." (Dr. med. William Davis)

The grain is no longer on everyone's lips, at least since the bestseller by US author Dr. William Davis, who claims that wheat not only makes the intestines sick, but the whole body. The message is getting through and more and more people are voluntarily giving up the grain. “Gluten-free” has also become a real nutritional trend. But how dangerous is wheat really and who does it harm? There are some new discoveries in grain that can rumble in the stomach and intestines. Because gluten, as was long thought, is less of the problem.

5 wheat questions in the fact check

1. Whom does wheat harm?

There are definitely diseases that are related to wheat. The consumption of wheat is downright dangerous for patients with Celiac disease or wheat allergy. About 0.1 percent of all people in this country suffer from an allergy to wheat with symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal complaints to shortness of breath. About one in 1,000 people also suffers from celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that is based on a lifelong intolerance to the adhesive protein gluten. The protein causes severe inflammation of the intestinal lining.

But what if people cannot tolerate wheat but do not suffer from celiac disease or allergies? In these cases it could be a wheat sensitivity. However, gluten (a protein found in wheat) is not always the cause of the complaints. The current focus of research: certain substances in the grain, the amylase trypsin inhibitors - ATIs for short - irritate the intestinal mucosa. Wheat sensitivity is not fully understood, but it appears that some people are more sensitive to ATIs. This can lead to a worsening of diseases inside the intestine, but also outside the intestine (possibly rheumatism, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes). It is not yet known why the body reacts defensively to the ATIs, but people with wheat sensitivity are better off without the grain. Certain FODMAPS or lectins in wheat - the wheat germ agglutinins - could also play a role in wheat sensitivity. The number of those affected is estimated at 5 to 15 percent. An already irritated bowel seems to increase sensitivity: 30 to 50 percent of irritable bowel patients can be affected by wheat sensitivity.

Wheat diseases at a glance:

  • Wheat sensitivity: This is an intolerance to ingredients in wheat such as amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATI). After eating wheat, those affected suffer from abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea, but headaches, fatigue or muscle pain are also possible. There is still no test for a clear diagnosis. It is carried out through an elimination process if celiac disease and wheat allergy can be ruled out.
  • Celiac Disease: It is a congenital disease. Severe diarrhea and pain develop after eating gluten. Without a consistently gluten-free diet, the intestinal villi will regress over time - the absorption of nutrients and vitamins will decrease. Serious deficiency symptoms are the result, which is why those affected must strictly avoid gluten. Diagnosis is made through a small intestine biopsy.
  • Wheat allergy: In this allergic reaction, our immune system reacts to the components albumin and gluten, which are found in the wheat grain. Gastrointestinal complaints arise after consumption. Even inhaling flour dust can cause problems, causing rashes and asthma. Wheat and other cereals containing gluten must be avoided. The diagnosis is made using a skin allergy test.
  • WDEIA: Wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction to omega-5 gliadin that occurs only in connection with physical activity. About two hours after eating, exercise or cycling can lead to intestinal or respiratory problems and / or a rash. Wheat and spelled must be avoided, sometimes rye and barley as well. Diagnosis: By keeping a food diary and an allergy test.

2. Does wheat make you fat?

It depends on the quality and quantity of the wheat. If we eat a lot of white bread, pizza dough, pasta and baked goods, it puts a strain on the body and metabolism. If you want to do yourself something good, you should eat carbohydrates in moderation and in as full a form as possible. Legumes such as lentils and beans, wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta are - provided they are well tolerated - part of a balanced diet and provide vitamins and trace elements and the fiber in them is food for our good intestinal bacteria.

The weight loss by omitting wheat usually has a simple reason: light-colored baked goods, white flour and thus many finished products and confectionery are omitted. Losing weight is easier and often leads to an improvement in the symptoms of rheumatism, insulin resistance and high blood lipids.

3. I don't get along well with bread - what could be the reason?

Unfortunately, there is hardly any natural fermentation in dough production today. Fast industrial bread is processed in record time - artificial additives accelerate the “rising” of the dough. But only if the dough is allowed to "rise" long enough will the ingredients in the grain become more digestible. Scientists from the University of Hohenheim found out: the longer, the easier it is to digest. After just five hours of walking, the bread was significantly more digestible, but walking times of 12 to even 18 hours are also possible.

Slow baking - why "slow" bread is healthier and easier to digest

4. Are gluten-free products healthier?

Gluten is a protein in the grain that makes dough elastic. For a long time, medical professionals thought that it was this ingredient in wheat that so many did not tolerate well.

The suspicion led to a real boom in gluten-free products. But you have to differentiate: For all those who suffer from a wheat allergy or celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is actually vital. When it comes to wheat sensitivity, gluten is not necessarily the trigger. Often it is other substances in the grain (including the ATIs, see above) that trigger the symptoms.

If you don't necessarily have to go without gluten, you shouldn't either. Researchers found that if you omit wheat, rye and spelled unnecessarily in order to avoid the gluten they contain, you can put your heart and health at risk. The reason: Those who avoid whole grains often consume less healthy fiber and fewer B vitamins, the researchers suspect. Source: Lebwohl et al., BMJ, 2017).

And even if you have to avoid gluten for health reasons, special gluten-free products are not always the best choice. Specialty foods are not only expensive, they are often stretched with all kinds of artificial aids, starch, sugar and salt. Better: As often as possible, use natural gluten-free alternatives such as buckwheat or millet, which also provide plenty of fiber.

5. Better than wheat - what alternatives are there?

Whole grain cereals contain all the components of the grain and many nutrients, such as proteins, B vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. When buying grain, give preference to the full form, if possible from organic farming. Whether because of an intolerance or to bring more variety to the menu: There are some good alternatives to wheat grain. Here is a selection - with and without gluten.

Cereals containing gluten:

  • Spelt: The relative of wheat is one of our oldest cereals. Spelled is considered to be even healthier than wheat. Because the nutty grains not only contain more, but also higher-quality protein. It can be used for baking in the same way as with wheat and spelled and provides plenty of B vitamins as well as a lot of magnesium and zinc.
  • Einkorn: Its golden yellow color indicates its high carotenoid content. Einkorn is one of the ancient grain varieties.
  • Emmer: Emmer is also an ancient grain that is well suited for organic cultivation because of its firm shell. In addition to healthy fiber, it also contains a lot of magnesium, zinc and iron.

Gluten free cereals:

  • Buckwheat: Also available as bulgur and pasta as well as ground z. B. for pancakes. The knotweed is a good source of protein and magnesium.
  • Pure oats: Is also well tolerated by celiac disease and is labeled as "gluten-free". Undeclared products can contain a small amount of wheat, rye or spelled. This “pollution” begins in the field. Gluten-free oats are grown and processed separately.
  • Millet: Contains around 11 percent healthy protein, is gluten-free and also provides vitamins and iron.
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