Following a wheat free diet poses several challenges. However, if you suffer from a wheat allergy or have a wheat intolerance caused by gluten, also known as celiac disease, then you know the importance of keeping wheat out of your diet. Wheat allergies are very rare, but many suffer from gluten intolerance and need to carefully assess their diets. However, wheat is a source of carbohydrate, a vital component in our diet. Is it healthy to eat a diet free of wheat?
Wheat as a Health Food
Wheat in its natural unrefined state hosts a load of nutrients. However, most sources of wheat are processed and refined, changing the composition of those nutrients. Thus, the benefits of wheat greatly vary depending upon the level of processing. If eating wheat products, select 100% whole wheat, where the germ and bran of the wheat remain in your food.
Health Risks Posed by Wheat
Though wheat allergies are rare, wheat intolerance is highly common. Studies suggest that one out of every three people suffer from some level of gluten sensitivity. Gluten is an insoluble protein found in grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley. Thus, those who suffer from wheat sensitivity actually have trouble with gluten and should avoid all grain products.
Suffering from wheat intolerance may lead to other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis. Gluten intolerance occurs when your body lacks the digestive enzyme needed to digest gluten products. Your body responds by producing more histamines, serotonin, kinins, and iterleukins, which trigger autoimmune conditions.
Determining Wheat Intolerance
If you suspect that you may suffer from celiac disease, then you should do a simple and effective elimination diet to rule out food sensitivities. Symptoms of wheat sensitivity include:
- Skin rash
Once you determine whether you do have wheat intolerance, you can begin making healthy changes to your diet. Slowly eliminate wheat and gluten products and see if symptoms improve. Keep a journal to track your dietary changes and note health changes as well.
Wheat Free Diet and Health
Even if you don’t suffer from gluten or wheat intolerance, you can eat a diet that is rich in fiber without eating wheat or grains. Many fibrous vegetables, yams, and fruits offer you plenty of wholesome fiber and are a great source of carbohydrate. Many who stop eating wheat feel somewhat euphoric as though their body has been cleansed.
If you feel that you would benefit from a wheat free diet, then make sure you test your ability to live without wheat through an elimination diet. It is important to substitute wheat for other products such as vegetables, rice, and other carbohydrate sources. Carbohydrates are essential for your body’s energy system and should not be excluded from your diet.
The Bottom Line
Going wheat free is a healthy and often rewarding method of dieting. Remember that it is a lifestyle change more than a diet. You can find many great wheat free and gluten free cookbooks, recipes, and snack foods to supplement your dietary needs.