Wheat Resiliency

I wanted to respond to a comment on my post Peanuts and Resiliency from Terance.

Do you think that the resiliency/fragility argument can be applied to wheat products as well? I seem to be much less tolerant to gluten since I’ve mostly avoided it for a few years. I am not suggesting that wheat be a staple in anyone’s diet, but it’s not very practical for most people to avoid wheat products 100% of the time in social settings (unless you really do have celiac disease).

Yes. I do think we can address wheat intolerance and that should be our goal.

When it comes to food, I have no love for wheat. I removed it and my health improved a lot. However, I had episodes where I would get accidental exposure and come down with a headache. Neither case was ideal. I don’t want the food that makes me feel bad, but I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering about every ingredient in every meal I consume outside my house.

One of the great disappointments to me in the last two years has been watching normally smart people in nutrition write articles dismissing that a gluten/wheat problem even exists. They confuse a lack of evidence as a lack of risk. That is why I ripped into Kamal Patel’s 10 Myths article.

So assuming we aren’t Celiac, our goal should be to address and hopefully overcome – even partially – our wheat intolerance. But we aren’t getting the help of the dismissive and we shouldn’t follow the “avoid everything 100%” from the alarmists. I don’t know the answer, but the theory that holds the most weight to me is the hygiene hypothesis, which I talk about in Was I Wrong About Gluten?

My wheat intolerance began after a period where I took a bunch of antibiotics. I stopped consuming wheat 100% for over 3 years. During that time I consumed a bunch of fermented foods including kimchi and dairy kefir.

I wanted to test the hygiene hypotheses for myself, so I started making effort to expose myself to trace wheat sources such as soy sauce and gochujang. Then I started adding small amounts of beer. My theory on the beer is that the grains are fermented and because fermentation is a form of predigestion, my body should have an easier time with it than most forms of wheat.


And everything has worked out for me. I have not had any issues. I even accidentally consumed two tacos a few months ago that I thought were corn tortillas that turned out to be wheat. No problem. But to me, that is not an “all clear” sign to resume eating wheat, as I do not know for sure what caused my issue in the first place. To me, it is just a sign that I built resiliency.

I want to add that this is my story. For me to say everyone with a wheat intolerance will be able to do what I’ve done would be as foolish as the idiots that are denying wheat intolerance even exists. My experience is that I was able to build wheat resiliency by first abstaining, then building both my gut flora and metabolism, and then finally introducing trace amounts of wheat. Your experience could vary. We still have a lot to learn about wheat issues.


Add yours

  1. My wife has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If she eats gluten, even a trace, her thyroid antibodies go through the roof. She feels nothing, however, and she never has when eating wheat in the past. So this argument of “I eat wheat and it doesn’t bother me” isn’t helpful, as many people can eat wheat, feel no ill effects at all, yet have a profound immune reaction to gluten.

  2. @Dan – Great point. I added an additional paragraph to the post to make it clear this was my experience and not to apply to all cases.

  3. Wheat bread is listed as a “high oxalate” food. Calcium plus oxalate makes up a complex that causes the highest incidence of kidney stones, of which I am well experienced from the resultant pain. Of course, as a younger lad, I was convinced by the current knowledge that wheat bread was better than “white” bread. So, I never ate the white loaf bread mother purchased from the local market. Mother even converted to the more healthy “wheat” bread at a later date. Mind you, white bread has less oxalates than wheat bread.

    A necessary conversion back to white bread left me with many an uneasy feelings of the efficacy of white bread’s nutritional content, but I set out to buy only bakery white sourdough bread. I even made my own sourdough bread. Then I read about Jack Bezian. Too bad we don’t have a definitive recipe of Jack’s white sourdough bread. I love the taste, aroma, and texture of homemade bread. I am experimenting with homemade sourdough white bread recipes.


  4. When I was eating a paleo diet I saw wheat as an evil toxic neolithic food. I ate gluten free for almost 2 years. After reintroducing it, I had some gas and bloating from it, but it subsided after a short period. I’d rather live a life where I can eat whatever I want without issue, then to eat some restrictive diet that some guru came up with. To me, health is resiliency.

    Do paleo dieters really think they are making themselves healthy by making themselves temporarily intolerant of grains, dairy, and legumes? Furthermore, the whole anti-nutrient issue paleo gurus tout is completely overblown. Unless your diet is 90% beans, you’re not going to end up with differences from consuming legumes. I digress..

    I now see wheat (especially refined wheat) as a clean food, although it is quite dense in calories. I prefer to consume my wheat as sour dough, pizza, or a good beer.

    I also had the similar issues after reintroducing carbs after low carb dieting. I’d imagine this happens with any new type of food. Your body requires time to adapt to its new food environment.

  5. @Andy – Thanks for bringing up legumes.
    See #3 –> https://criticalmas.org/2014/09/5-issues-personal-paleo-code/

    I’ve been eating a lot more legumes. The combination of soaking and a pressure cooker has made them very digestible.

  6. Pressure cooking beans is a must…..as is soaking.

    Eat these beans on Tuesday….and your glucose goes up on Wednesday

  7. I would imagine that modern mass-produced beer has some disadvantages, besides a weak and watered down taste.

    Traditional beer and “small beer”—which is a diluted beer that 18th and 19th century people (even children) drank constantly before there were reliable sources of clean water—were excellent sources of beneficial yeasts that are necessary for good digestion.

    For instance, “Spontaneous Fermentation Beer” is beer that is exposed to the surrounding open air to allow natural/wild yeast and bacteria to literally infect the beer. One of the typical yeasts is the Brettanomyces Lambicus strain, believed to offer probiotic health benefits. Beers produced in this fashion are sour, non-filtered and are inspired by the traditional lambics of the Zenne-region.

    It’s believed that all beers were once spontaneously fermented:

    “It is likely that all beer was once spontaneously fermented, like lambic, with wild yeasts only. A brew called sikaru, for instance, was produced 5,000 years ago by Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Instead of hops, of which they had no knowledge, Sumerians flavored their brew with spices such as cinnamon. Over the centuries, most of the world’s brewers began using techniques that minimized and eventually eliminated the effects of wild yeasts, culminating in the 19th century with the use of scientifically isolated yeast cultures. Fermentation became more efficient and predictable. Through all this, lambic has endured, a throwback to brewing’s splendidly eccentric roots” [Source]

    Since prohibition, modern beer has been fermented with commercially picked strains of yeast and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Then the beer is often pasteurized and filtered. That’s not real beer.

    In traditional beer making, the fermentation would talk place in oak barrels, which imparted flavor and other microorganisms into the brew—particularly if they used old barrels from other ferments (bourbon barrel-conditioned beers are the best). Nothing was filtered or pasteurized back then and it was a better and healthier product.

    You can find traditionally fermented bottled beers now in many craft brew stores. These craft blends are re-fermented in the bottle (you can literally see the yeast sediments in the bottle!), but they need careful handling and storage in a cool, dark cellar for at least a year before drinking. Many of these beers are produced in limited batches as the barrel acquisition and filling can be time consuming and expensive. Yet, many microbreweries have become dedicated to the old world process thanks to the dedicated consumers who crave those craft beers.

    Once you taste a real cask-conditioned beer with a proper fermentation process and without the modern pasteurizing or filtering, you’ll never want a modern beer again.


    PS – Few people know that raw honey is also a good source of beneficial yeast spores (and some bacterial spores too) and these wild probiotic properties may in fact be responsible for many of honey’s well-documented health-promoting effects. All too often yeasts get a bad rap in health circles, but yeast is only a problem when certain pathogenic strains of yeast become overgrown and other microbial diversity is diminished—which obviously tends to happen when taking antibiotics. Whereas improving bacteria/yeast diversity appears to be necessary for promoting health.

  8. @Duck – Years ago I had a few bottle conditioned beers. And I’ve had cask conditioned, but I’m certain if pasteurization or filtering was done. Great info. I will be on the lookout for them.

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