Jodi's Reviews > The Dark Side of Wheat

The Dark Side of Wheat by Sayer Ji
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it was amazing
bookshelves: health-books

This book provides evidence that the idea of celiac disease as an unhealthy reaction to a healthy food may be all wrong. The opposite may in fact be true.

The problem is not with the body’s intelligence but with the popular concept that wheat is a healthy food. The body is acting intelligently and not just being ‘deviant’ when reactions such as diarrhea occur after wheat consumption. Those who have more obvious reactions to wheat may in fact have an advantage over those whose wheat-related symptoms are more silent or are not attributed to wheat at all.

Celiac disease is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the harm caused by wheat, Sayer Ji explains.

Wheat contains gliadin, lectins (WGA), the exorphin gliadomorphin and may have excitotoxin potential. There are also antinutrients such as phytates and enzyme inhibitors. Wheat causes damage to the intestines, intestinal permeability, affects many organs in the body, induces molecular mimicry (e.g. with insulin) and has pharmacological effects (as a narcotic). The harm caused by wheat is magnified when a person has a leaky gut and eating wheat can be addictive. The list goes on.

Despite all the hype about wheat being a health food and whole-grain wheat the healthiest choice, in fact wheat is far from a healthy food for any of us and whole-grain wheat is actually more harmful than wheat that has had the bran removed. Removing grains from the diet does not remove an ‘essential’ food group nor leave us nutritionally worse off as grains are actually quite low in nutrients. Replacing grains with good quality meats, fruits, vegetables and seeds makes our diet more nutritionally dense, not less.

Eating soy and dairy foods can also have a harmful excitiotoxin effect and these foods can also be addictive.

The book provides a good introduction to the topic of epigenetics. This is the concept that it is not our genes that cause disease the vast majority of the time, but what we expose them to.

A quote or two from the book: ‘What all of this means for celiac disease is that the genetic susceptibility locus, HLA DQ, does not determine the exact clinical outcome of the disease. Instead of being the cause, if the HLA genes are activated, they are a consequence of the disease process. Thus, we may need to shift our epidemiological focus from viewing this as a classical “disease” involving a passive subject controlled by aberrant genes, to viewing it as an expression of a natural, protective response to the ingestion of something that the human body was not designed to consume.7

If we view celiac disease not as an unhealthy response to a healthy food, but as a healthy response to an unhealthy food, classical CD symptoms like diarrhea may make more sense. Diarrhea can be the body’s way to reduce the duration of exposure to a toxin or pathogen, and villous atrophy can be the body’s way of preventing the absorption and hence, the systemic effects of chronic exposure to wheat.

I believe we would be better served by viewing the symptoms of CD as expressions of bodily intelligence rather than deviance. We must shift the focus back to the disease trigger, which is
wheat itself.’

‘The Roman appreciation for wheat, like our own, may have had less to do with its nutritional value as “health food” than its ability to generate a unique narcotic reaction. It may fulfill our hunger while generating a repetitive, ceaseless cycle of craving more of the same, and by doing so, enabling the surreptitious control of human behavior. Other researchers have come to similar conclusions.’

The book is very easy to read and you can get all the main points of the book just by reading the first 13 pages. The information is broken down into lots of small chunks and so it is very easy to take in. (It isn’t a good looking book to read, however, what with the random font and text size changes throughout the text. It needs an edit, with respect to the author.)

Cereal grasses include wheat, rice, spelt and rye and they are all are high in lectins and soaking or sprouting them is not enough to negate their ill effects on the body. Pseudo-grains which are probably okay to consume include quinoa and amaranth.

Another thing to keep in mind is that indirect sources of wheat consumption include eating animal products. Eating grass-fed beef is a must for this reason and healthier not just for you but for the cow as well; cows are made ill by eating wheat. It gets trickier when you look at finding non-wheat-fed poultry though, as far as I am aware. Organic and free range choices don't at all guarantee the animals haven't just been fed organic soy or wheat etc. I hope we can get some way of buying wheat and soy-free meats in the future. For our own health and also for the benefit of the animals.

I have some reading on the problems with gluten, gliadin and anti-nutrients in grains in the past and been significantly benefitting from a gluten-free (and nightshade, legume and dairy-free) diet for a while now. Having read ‘Dangerous Grains’ not long ago I wasn’t expecting to learn much new from this book, but I did.

The book ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind’ makes many of the same points and also talks more about problems with dairy and legumes, toxins in our environment, and what the real important traditional super-foods are (organ meats such as liver, bone broths, green leafy vegetables, and cultured foods etc.) I highly recommend it to anyone facing illness and that wants to learn more about how to eat and to live to suit our genes. It is just brilliant.

If you have any sort of neurological disease, autoimmune thyroid disease, a leaky gut or other gut issues, insulin resistance, or kidney disease or cancer and you’re still eating wheat or other cereal grains I highly recommend this book. Wheat has been linked to over 120 diseases. Not all diseases may be initially caused by wheat, wheat is not the only factor in changing gene expression but it does seem very capable of making many illnesses worse, at the very least.

The main text can be read free online in webpage format and free copies of the ebook may be available from the author’s website from time to time as well. (Which is how I got my copy.)

I agree with the author that at least trying a cereal-grass-free diet makes a lot of sense and especially so if you are facing significant illness. Wheat is not a health food for anyone.

Many excellent health and disease-recovery books such as those by Dr Terry Wahls, Natasha Campbell-McBride and Nora Gedgaudes also recommend that those that are seriously ill strictly avoid soy (and other legumes) and dairy products as well and make a very strong case for this in their books and references. These foods cause many of the same problems as cereal grasses such as wheat. Eating them makes it impossible for the gut to heal and healing the gut is the first part of healing many different neurological and other diseases.

Bread (especially my dad’s home-made sourdough fresh out of the oven...torture!) and dairy products taste really nice but living life fully, happily and well and being as healthy as you can be is pretty ‘delicious’ too, I think.

Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds’ Foundation for M.E. (HFME) and Health, Healing & Hummingbirds (HHH)
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Reading Progress

October 8, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
October 9, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Dianne (new) - added it

Dianne This interest me Jodi.


Jodi Can't go wrong going wheat free. Is no health downside:)


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