Book Review – Healthier without Wheat

Book Review – Healthier without Wheat

“Did nature ever intend for us to eat what we eat?,” Dr. Stephen Wangen. I love this question. This is how Dr. Wangen starts out his book, Healthier without Wheat. This is also how I start out when I’m coaching someone. I explain that I’m not advocating some “outlandish” eating style. I’m actually recommending to go back to the roots of our eating.

Many people comment to me about the GFCF diet and how hard it must be. Many call it a “fad” and wonder how I stay healthy on it. This is a common Thanksgiving dinner discussion with family. Can you relate? I tell people I’m actually eating more like my grandfather ate years ago – organic vegetables, minimal processed foods and some lean protein. They ate just “some protein” because they could barely afford meat. They ate a lot of home cooked beans and fish caught from a local pond or lake. My grandfather was very healthy. He died shortly after his 90th birthday. Below is a photo of him gardening. Wherever he lived, he managed to grow a garden even well into his 80’s.

My grandfather (referred to as Papaw) gardening. He was 80 something in this photo.

My grandfather (referred to as Papaw) gardening. He was 80 something in this photo.

 Dr. Stephen Wangen

Dr. Stephen Wangen

Dr. Wangen says, “We eat what we want to eat, or what we are told is good for us, without truly understanding how food and its components affect our bodies…You may be surprised to learn that what makes up our diet has more to do with economics than with health.” Isn’t that the truth. I’m glad somebody finally said it that simply. He goes on the say, “Until around 10,000 years ago, humans were hunters-gathers…depending on the environment and the time of year, this included foods such as fish, wild game, nuts, berries and other fruits, vegetables, leaves, roots, and grass seeds.” He claims that grass was not a major source of food. First, it was sparse and provided very little seed for re-germination compared to the wheat that we know today. In addition, he says the wheat back then, in its raw form, was toxic to the human system. It was when we learned to cook it (which is when it became edible) and when we realized how easily it was stored and transported that it became a staple in our diet. This was the birth of agricultural. Now here are some useful history facts. Why don’t they teach this in high school? Maybe I was asleep during that portion.

Wheat

He goes on to say that for two million years, humans survived on very little grain and virtually no wheat. We currently eat and produce more wheat than any other country. I wonder if IBS, Crohn’s Disease and other autoimmune disorders are prevalent in other countries where wheat consumption is less common.

He also provides streamlined tips on identifying gluten intolerance and transitioning to a gluten free diet. He offers guidelines for overall good health and facilitating healing of the gut lining. He also discusses dairy intolerance. It’s my “gut” feeling that most people who cannot tolerate gluten, also cannot tolerate dairy. I’ve read that the protein structure of each food is very similar. Dr. Wangen also describes how various intolerances can manifest so differently with each individual and the symptoms can change over time making it hard to clearly identify which foods are causing issues. Dr. Wangen lists in this book the top 15 allergens. I was surprised by some of the foods on the list.

1. dairy (including butter, cheese and yogurt)
2. eggs
3. bananas
4. gluten (wheat, spelt, barley, and rye)
5. cane sugar
6. peanuts
7. almonds
8. pineapple
9. garlic
10. goat’s milk
11. soy
12. baker’s yeast
13. brewer’s yeast
14. vanilla
15. nutmeg

Sugar, garlic, vanilla…nutmeg? I did not know these were considered top allergens. This truly makes one think harder about the foods they are consuming. I also think a sensitive person with an allergy or intolerance is very rarely allergic or intolerant to just one food. Usually, if they dig deeper, they may find that there is a whole list of allergies/intolerances. It requires being somewhat of a detective and being very aware of what’s happening with your body in relation to eating. Some symptoms can arise within 20-30 minutes but others can take 2-3 days to manifest. I always suggest journaling your food intake and taking notes of anything unusual that happens with your body or moods. I have found that gluten depresses both Sammy and me as well as causing gastrointestinal issues.

This is a great book to add to your collection. It reveals some surprising facts and is especially useful if you need to continue to build your argument for adhering to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle. This next family holiday, I’ll be fully prepared for my next GFCF diet debate.

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