by Lori Wuellner
There’s a good chance that you know someone who has banned wheat from their diet or even declared that they have gone gluten-free. What’ up with this evolving craze? A number of books and television programs have popularized this diet by claiming that wheat is responsible for belly fat, gastrointestinal issues and mental health conditions. However, there isn’t enough science to back up the authors’ claim. So, if you are thinking about eating gluten or wheat-free, here are the facts:
Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy and Wheat Sensitivity/Gluten Intolerance
Wheat isn’t for everyone. Just less than 1 percent of people in the U.S. suffer from an autoimmune condition called celiac disease. In addition, an estimated one-half of one percent of people in the U.S. are allergic to wheat, and unknown number of Americans have a less well-defined condition often characterized as wheat sensitivity or gluten intolerance. The key here is that you should be diagnosed with one of these conditions by your health care provider before eliminating these foods from your diet. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance should avoid eating foods that contain any type of wheat, and may have to avoid barley and rye which also contain gluten.
True celiac disease is wicked, and the diet is not fun to follow. People with it wish they could occasionally eat just one slice of bread but that one slice of bread will ravage their gut. People without the disease may feel better eating gluten free but most likely they are experiencing the “halo” or placebo effect.
Eating too many calories and not exercising contributes to belly fat, and it’s easy to eat too many refined grains found in pastries, snacks and other processed foods. So, instead of eliminating all wheat, choose more whole grains. A recent study found that people who at least 3 servings of whole grains each day including wheat had 10 percent lower belly fat compared to people eating no whole grains.
Your brain on wheat
The claims about what effect wheat may have on the brain don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny either. The brain needs carbohydrates for energy, and grain foods are an excellent source. When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you will feed tired, unable to focus, irritable and may have headaches, and memory and learning problems.
Followers of these popular diets may say that they feel better when they give up wheat and as mentioned they may be experiencing a “halo” or placebo effect. However, when you eliminate grains from your diet, it’s difficult to get the fiber you need to maintain a healthy gut, immune system and overall health. Fiber helps with maintaining good blood sugar control and good blood cholesterol and avoiding constipation. Fiber also serves as food for the friendly bacteria that keep your gut healthy.
If you still want to try a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, look for other whole grains that you can include instead like brown rice, quinoa, or popcorn. Visit the Whole Grains Council for more ideas and recipes and for gluten-free recipes you might want to check out www.celiac.com.
(Source: Lisa Martin, MPH, RD, LD, County Extension Agent, Shawnee County)
Lori Wuellner is a Wyandotte County Extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, K-State Research and Extension, 1216 N. 79th St., Kansas City, Kan. Telephone 913-299-9300, email email@example.com.
“Brandeen, In the Shadow of Captain Moonlight,” a new book by Helen Walsh Folsom, is now available.
Folsom is from Kansas City, Kan., and has written other books, including “St. Patrick’s Secrets,” “Fianna,” and “Ah, Those Irish Colleens.” Drawing on her Scots Irish heritage, she decided that in her retirement she would write books with Irish settings.
This new book is the story of Brandeen, who lived with her tender-hearted mother, Peig, in the town of Cullymor, Ireland. Her life was not at all pleasant. She was considered illegitimate and treated horribly by the town folk. When she learns of her father’s return, she burns with anger and resentment.
Brandeen resents this estranged father who forces her away from her secure little cottage home into an uncomfortable house and dangerous circumstances that repeatedly threaten her life.
Although she grows to enjoy her training to become a shipping company magnate, she still resents her father until slowly and surely she realizes the man she hates is the man she would risk anything to defend, even to revealing the identity of Captain Moonlight.
The book is available for purchase by Kindle on www.amazon.com.
by Murrel Bland
I learned a long time ago that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That is particularly true when it comes to government agencies—or organizations that are quasi-governmental such as the U.S. Postal Service.
The most recent “squeaky wheel” was really long line at the Wyandotte West Postal Station. The “grease” was applied the first week in May after about two months of severe inconvenience.
Here was the root of the most recent problem. A motorist had a medical problem and crashed into the leased postal station in Edwardsville. The station closed down, forcing those relying on post office boxes to come to the Wyandotte West Station.
The West Station, which already was overloaded, was not equipped to handle an additional 500 customers. Randy McHenry, the manager of the Wyandotte West Station, said he suggested early on that the solution was to place cluster boxes in Edwardsville to serve the 500 customers living in an Edwardsville mobile home park.
I talked to Mayor John (Tiny) McTaggart, the mayor of Edwardsville, about the problem. He said the Postal Service had been looking for an excuse to shut down the Edwardsville station. Hours at the station were cut last fall; the building is more than 100 years old and once housed what was the Edwardsville State Bank.
Mayor McTaggart and his city manager Mike Webb lodged complaints with the Postal Service and the offices of U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder. Although our federal elected officials were sympathetic, there isn’t much they can really do, as the Postal Service became an “independent” agency in 1971. However that “independent” status hasn’t stopped the Postal Service from coming to Congress asking to be financially bailed out. People that I know who follow postal matters say that it is unlikely that Congress will help the agency.
I can remember when the Kansas City, Kan., postmaster was truly a community leader. If you had a problem, you only had to make one telephone call—and in most all cases, the problem was solved. Postmasters such as Bob Roberts, Walt Raynes, Geroge Moody and, more recently Chuck Pennewell, were a very visible part of this community. Today, if you want results you must communicate with a postal bureaucrat over town. Very few people here know who the Kansas City, Kan., Postmaster is.
It took two months for the postal bureaucracy over town to make a decision that was quite obvious. All of this comes at a time when the Postal Service continues to lose record amounts of money. The price of a first class stamp went up earlier this year. Pay more and get less—that seems to be the motto of the Postal Service.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.