BY ENDURANCE NEWS STAFF
Wheat: for many Americans, it's what's for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the snacks in-between. As an athlete, you probably gave up doughnuts long ago, but wheat-based pasta, cereal, and bread may still be on your menu. Regardless of USDA recommendations to eat lots of whole grains, wheat (whether refined, whole, or cracked) should not be a big chunk of your daily diet. Mounting research shows that wheat can wreak havoc on your body - sapping energy, causing joint pain, impairing your nervous system, and ultimately hurting race-day performance.
Here are six reasons why avoiding wheat could be one of the most beneficial changes you make to your daily diet:
1. Cut the gluten, ease the pain
Modern wheat contains more of the protein complex gluten than the wheat our ancestors ate. The trouble is, many people react very badly to it. The number of people suffering from celiac disease is on the rise. Some medical experts believe undiagnosed gluten sensitivity may be to blame for many cases of migraine headaches, joint pain, depression, and more.
2. Just say no to damaging acid
Wheat has been estimated to account for 38% of the average American's dietary acid load. Combine that with a diet high in acid-forming meat and dairy and you have a recipe for acidosis, the term for a body fluid pH that's below the normal range of 7.35- 7.45. (See the article Acidosis: a term you should know in issue 107 of Endurance News.)
3. Slow aging
A carbohydrate unique to wheat, amylopectin A, causes blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Sustained high blood sugar levels in turn trigger byproducts that accelerate aging. The effects can include skin damage, cataracts, kidney disease, arthritis, and hardening of the arteries.
4. Take care of your heart
The insulin-spiking sugars in wheat also trigger the formation of small LDL particles - the ones that cause plaque to build up in arteries, leading eventually to heart attack and stroke. Help keep your body's most important muscle going strong by eliminating wheat from your diet.
5. Keep firing on all cylinders
Wheat products take a toll on your brain and nervous system, too. An immune system response to gluten can cause antibodies to bind to brain cells in the cerebellum, resulting in progressive loss of balance and coordination, muscle twitching, and impaired memory.
6. Clear out wheat, clear up skin
Sometimes wheat damage shows itself externally, affecting your body's largest organ, the skin. Wheat gluten-related skin conditions include acne (triggered by increased blood sugar and insulin levels), many kinds of ulcers, psoriasis and other rashes, and some cases of hair loss.