Dr Jess says:Wheat is a complex topic in natural health. While people with coeliac disease are unable to tolerate any gluten (a protein that is found in grains including wheat, barley and rye and hidden in a lot of processed foods), there are a large number of other people who experience health symptoms when eating wheat, ranging from stomach problems like diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, through to eczema and brain fog. We call this non-coeliac wheat sensitivity. Symptoms worsen when people consume more wheat and they can have similar digestive and inflammatory changes to those with coeliac disease.

I do wonder how much of the symptoms are down to wheat alone, or if it is instead one or a combination of the factors we discuss in this article. Some patients can tolerate spelt, rye and ancient grain wheat, in the form of sourdough. My suspicion is that there are many different reactions occurring as a result of wheat, gluten, the processing and additives used and also the high amount of pesticides and the ways that wheat has been modified. 

If your gut is inflamed, wheat can act as an irritant, while on other days, there is no reaction. I was surprised to find out how much better I felt when keeping wheat out of my diet (yet I can eat occasional organic sourdough spelt and rye bread – both of which contain gluten – without a reaction).

 There are useful tests like the one from DNA Health that can show if you have a genetic tendency towards gluten intolerance, as a result of carrying the DQ2 or DQ8 genes. If you carry either of these genes you may wish to do a gluten-free trial for 30 days. You could also consider IgG blood testing for wheat or gluten sensitivity, or do a full coeliac testing panel if you want to rule out coeliac disease, or you could even try your own exclusion diet at home, to see what changes.”

Wheat and white flour in particular is highly processed and is inflammatory for our digestive systems. The way that wheat is produced has changed dramatically over the last 100 years, making it a grain that you may now wish to avoid, to improve overall health and wellbeing. 

today’s wheat milling process removes the nutritious outer hull and wheatgerm

In the past, wheat was milled using stones to crush the wheat grain and separate it, which would inevitably leave some of the outer hull (bran) and the inner layer of the wheatgerm. In the 1870s, steel roller mills were invented and although they were much more efficient and were able to produce much larger quantities, they also produced a much more refined type of flour. 

Modern wheat milling removes all of the nutritious bran, which is naturally high in fibre. It also removes the wheatgerm which contains…