What Wheat Does to the Body?

Reviewed on 11/23/2020

Wheat
Wheat is a food with a high glycemic index and, hence, unsuitable for people with diabetes.

Wheat is one of the cereals with multiple health benefits. Nutrients found in wheat include:

  • Carbohydrates: Cereals such as wheat are a rich source of carbohydrates—a high-energy dense nutrient.
  • Fiber: Fiber is the constituent found in the bran (the outer layer) of whole wheat. It makes the waste products move easily through the bowels and adds bulk to the stool. Fiber helps in maintaining a steady blood sugar level and lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Wheatgerm (inner part of wheat) contains B-complex vitamins that play an important role in various functions of the body such as maintaining health, preventing oral ulcers, and preserving nerve functions. Essential minerals such as magnesium and selenium present in wheat germ help prevent some forms of cancer.

What is the difference between refined wheat flour and whole wheat flour?

Whole wheat is made up of three parts from outside to inside, namely, the bran, germ, and endosperm.

Refined wheat is the processed form of wheat that has been stripped of the bran and germ layer sparing only the endosperm. Whole wheat flour is prepared from the raw form of wheat or whole wheat that has not undergone processing.

Refined wheat flour is used primarily to increase the shelf life of the baking products and make them tasty. The products can be used as a substitute for foods that are high in sugar content. 

What are the bad effects of refined wheat?

As per the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, half of the grains that people eat should be whole grains, so it is recommended to prefer whole wheat instead of refined wheat.

The food items made from refined grains include bread, cereals, desserts, crackers, and pastries. These products made with refined flour fail to maintain your sugar levels for long, do not satisfy your hunger cravings and tend to make you binge. 

Refined wheat flour is also a bad choice when it comes to keeping weight and cholesterol under check. They are known to even trigger migraines and skin problems.

How to find whole wheat products?

Colors may be misleading—brown flour does not mean it is whole wheat, and white flour does not mean it is completely refined. The brown color may be due to the added flavor. You need to read the labels and product nutrient information to ensure if the product is made from 100% wheat flour. If the food product is made from whole wheat, it will be mentioned first in the ingredient list.

Can whole wheat cause health problems?

The high glycemic index of wheat:

Consumption of whole wheat might increase the sugar levels in people with diabetes. This is because of its high glycemic index. The glycemic index is a value that indicates a food item’s effect on your blood sugar levels. Wheat is a food with a high glycemic index and, hence, unsuitable for people with diabetes.

Gluten:

Gluten is a protein found in wheat that acts as the binding agent and makes the wheat flour sticky when mixed with water. It is known to cause allergies in people who are sensitive to gluten.

Gluten sensitivity can also result in severe side effects. Gluten triggers an immune reaction in some people giving rise to celiac disease. The signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:

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References
How to Add Whole Grains to Your Diet. Available at: https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/how-to-add-whole-grains-to-your-diet

White Whole-Wheat Flour is Tasty and Nutritious. Available at: https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/white-whole-wheat-flour-tasty-and-nutritious

The Nutrition Source. Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/whole-grains/

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