Is Wheat Good or Bad?

The cereal wheat is the world’s most favored staple food. The history of cultivation of wheat traces back to 7300 BC. Wheat has found its way to India through “Yavanas” in 7th century (Yavana refers to people from Greece and Arab). Wheat is referred as “Mleccha bhojana” (Mleccha means non Aryan or non vedic), i.e the food or meal used by non Aryans or non vedic food. Wheat is nowhere mentioned in Rigveda. But Acharya Charaka explains the medicinal properties of this cereal in his books. In Bhava Prakasha the nutritional properties of wheat is further explained in detail.

When wheat is analyzed based on ayurvedic principles the following facts are noted. It is heavy to digest and exhibits stickiness. This cereal is sweet to taste (madhura rasa) and cold in potency. Hence acts as a body coolant. It nourishes body and provides energy. Wheat strengthens the body and helps to gain healthy weight. It acts as aphrodisiac (vrishya). With these properties wheat can be successfully used to tackle many health conditions.

Constipation: Wheat contains insoluble fiber in the form of bran and hence it is heavy to digest. When whole wheat is consumed, the insoluble fibers in bran help in formation of bulk of fecal matter. Increased stool bulk helps to relieve constipation. A few table spoons of wheat bran can be added to regular wheat flour to make it high in fiber content.

Body Coolant: According to texts of ayurveda wheat has cold potency. Even the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) supports this. It says wheat increases the YIN (cold energy). Soups made from puffed wheat flour and wheat grass juice help to relieve thirst and reduce burning sensation of skin.

Healthy weight gain: People who want to build up stamina and gain good body weight can use wheat liberally. The protein and carbohydrates present in wheat help to increase body bulk.

Wheat as aphrodisiac: Acharya charaka mentions wheat as vrishya. The broken wheat pudding is used as diet in Vajikarana Therapy. Studies show that wheat germ is a sexual energy booster. Wheat germ is rich in L-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid which acts as a vasodilator. Wheat germ is known as “Athletes Viagra”. It increases oxygen delivery to body tissues and helps in erectile dysfunction. Wheat germ also contains Vitamin E. Vitamin E boosts blood circulation, strengthens sexual organs and increases sperm count. Herbalists say that wheat grass juice increases libido.

Who are not benefited by wheat: Wheat contains a protein called Gluten. Gluten imparts stickiness to wheat flour. Some people are unable to digest gluten. Their body reacts badly to the presence of gluten in digestive system and antibodies so produced attack walls of digestive tract. This leads celiac disease. People who feel discomfort after consuming wheat products should stop eating this cereal.

Dos and Don’t’s for wheat consumption:

  1. Generally everybody should avoid eating refined wheat flour (maida) and its products. Almost all fast foods contain refined wheat flour. It increases body weight and may become a cause for constipation.
  2. Puffed wheat is very healthy and easy to digest.
  3. If you feel discomfort after consuming wheat stop using it.
  4. Wherever possible use soaked wheat and sprouted wheat.