In recent times, concerns have been raised about the nature of wheat as a grain and its compatibility with human health. This article aims to explore the reasons why wheat is often considered an unnatural grain and the implications it may have for our well-being.
One of the primary reasons wheat is viewed as unnatural is due to extensive genetic manipulation over centuries of cultivation. The original wild wheat varieties have undergone selective breeding to increase their yield, disease resistance, and other traits. This selective breeding has significantly altered the genetic makeup of modern wheat, leading to varieties that differ significantly from their natural ancestors.
Hybridisation is another aspect of wheat cultivation that raises concerns about its natural status. Crossbreeding different wheat varieties to create hybrids with ‘desired’ traits has become a common practice. While hybridisation can enhance crop characteristics, it can also result in genetic combinations that would not naturally occur in the wild.
Wheat contains gluten, a mixture of ‘proteins’ that gives dough its elasticity and contributes to the texture of baked goods. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, have become more prevalent in recent years. Some argue that the increased gluten content in modern wheat varieties may be a contributing factor, as these varieties have been bred for higher gluten content to ‘improve’ baking properties. This higher gluten concentration is considered unnatural and potentially problematic for individuals with gluten-related disorders.
Modern wheat production often involves the use of synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides to maximise yields and guard against so-called pests and diseases. The heavy reliance on chemical inputs in wheat farming raises concerns about the impact on human health and the environment. The accumulation of pesticides in wheat and the potential residues left on the final product have become subjects of scrutiny.
The processing of wheat into refined flour further removes natural elements, such as bran and germ, which are rich in essential nutrients and fibre. The resulting refined wheat flour has a longer shelf life but lacks the nutritional benefits present in whole grains. This extensive processing is unnatural and has been linked to various health issues, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
While wheat has been a staple grain, the extensive genetic manipulation, hybridisation, increased gluten content, chemical inputs, and refining processes have led many to consider it an unnatural grain. These factors have raised concerns about its compatibility with human health and its impact on the environment. Understanding these concerns can help individuals make informed choices about their dietary preferences and consider alternative grains that may align better with their health needs.
– Davis, W. (2012). Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. Rodale Books.
– Perlmutter, D. (2013). Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Little, Brown Spark.
– Cordain, L. (1999). Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics, 84, 19-73.
– Fasano, A. (2012). Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology, 42(1), 71-78.
– Shewry, P. R. (2009). Wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany, 60(6), 1537-1553.
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