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Need to Know

Should You Give Up Wheat?

By: Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

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A few months ago, a friend of mine mentioned that he was giving up wheat for good. As a person who loves her bread, I couldn’t believe it. Why in the world would you give up a delicious slice of rye bread with salty butter? How could you say goodbye to pasta?

After a few heated debates about the pros and cons of American wheat, I was intrigued and looked into the issue. Suddenly, I started hearing about all these people I know who had celiac disease -- a good friend of mine, a husband of a friend, a daughter of a fellow writer.

But what exactly is celiac disease, and why does it suddenly seem as if a lot of people have it?

Could Wheat Be a Culprit?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that’s triggered when you eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. When people with celiac disease eat foods with gluten, the immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine. When the small intestine is damaged, it can’t absorb certain nutrients from food, which can make you sick.

Anna Price, a health coach for entrepreneurs, thinks the spike in celiac disease has to do with the type of wheat we eat. “The wheat we are eating today is different than the wheat we ate in the past. It’s been crossbred to create a new strain that has more starch, gluten, and protein -- and they have inflammatory and addictive properties,” she says.

She also thinks how our bodies absorb and process wheat can be an issue. “This new strain of wheat can also increase our insulin and blood sugar levels -- even more than sugar,” she says.

Sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it?

The Key to Healthy Eating
Knowing all this, what can we eat without the fear of causing our body so much harm?

Kathy Smart, a chef and author of a gluten-free cookbook thinks we need to get back to basics: “Fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh organic meats, and nuts and seeds are the key to healthy eating,” she says. And if you simply cannot live without a bowl of pasta, there are a whole slew of gluten-free products lining the shelves of the supermarkets.

It all comes down to listening to our bodies. The more closely we tune in to how we feel after eating certain foods, the better we’ll be able to navigate the right choice of food for ourselves.


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Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is Completely You’s Need to Know blogger. An anorexia survivor and body image expert, she also blogs at aMindmedia, The Change Blog and Positively Positive.

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