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A Brief History: What’s Wrong with Wheat?

The scientific information is mounting about the detrimental effects of wheat and other grains. Wheat does seem to cause the most sensitivity for most people, for many reasons. With that said, you might try eliminating all grains because of the similarity in their structures. Other grains may not have quite the effect that wheat has, but they still can elicit a response that's not conducive to good health.

Why would you want to eliminate wheat on a trial or permanent basis? It would help to look at the history of wheat in the human diet.

Imagine a world where diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's are confined to a fairly small segment of the population. In this scenario, you know maybe one distant family member who suffers from or has died from one of these diseases. Being overweight or obese makes a person an outlier — definitely not the norm.

As fictitious as this world may sound, it was real. Those who grew up prior to the 1960s can usually confirm it. Ask someone from that generation whether he knew anyone back in the day who was overweight, and he can probably name one specific individual. That's how uncommon the condition was.

Unfortunately, the generations that grew up from the 1960s through the present day can be considered guinea pigs in a grand high-carbohydrate, low-fat experiment. Through the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, some misguided science and the resulting governmental guidelines recommended increasing consumption of wheat and grains of all kinds.

Fat-free foods loaded with sugar became acceptable for a time, and vegetable oils were encouraged to replace animal fat. All in the name of eliminating fat, especially saturated fat.

To see how those recommendations have turned out, all you have to do is look around you. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's are out of control with no end in sight. These diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Currently, 45 percent of the U.S. population has at least one chronic disease, and 26 percent has multiple chronic conditions. Chronic diseases account for over 80 percent of hospital admissions, over 90 percent of all prescriptions filled, and over 75 percent of all physician visits.

You can take control of your health and your future, regardless of what current conventional wisdom has to say. Eliminating wheat and other grains, sugar, and vegetable oils will give you the foundation needed to reduce your risk for diseases normally associated with “getting older.” From there, you can tweak and modify your diet to fit your lifestyle and needs.

Here's a quick quiz for you: what do George Washington, Ancel Keys, and George McGovern have in common? The answer is wheat.

Each of these men left a lasting legacy with regards to growing, eating, and recommending wheat. George Washington actually perfected growing wheat to take advantage of a shortage in Europe. U.S. exports of wheat totaled in the millions as far back as 1860, setting the stage over the next 150 years for the development of denser wheat plants and denser fields of wheat.

Ancel Keys was an American scientist known early in his career for inventing K-rations, the prepared boxes of food the military used in World War II. Ultimately, however, he became better known as the man who started the United States on a path to lowfat eating.

His highly controversial beliefs in the 1960s and ’70s gained traction thanks to his political connections and convinced many to throw out the butter for a tiny bit of margarine and to up carbohydrate intake (including grains).

The last piece of the wheat puzzle involved the government, specifically Senator George McGovern. In 1977, he released “Dietary Goals for the United States,” which encouraged a high-carbohydrate diet (grains and sugar) and a decrease in dietary fat. The recommendations have been tweaked since then, but they essentially remain the same.

The ramifications for telling an entire country how to eat can be enormous, especially if the recommendations are wrong. The United States has seen a steady decline in the health of its population since McGovern's guidelines as the prevalence of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer's has increased.

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