I hate to admit it, but there actually is something good in wheat and grains but it’s not B vitamins, cellulose fiber, or the approving looks of your doctor or dietitian. It’s arabinoxylan, as well as amylose, the prebiotic fibers of wheat/grains that nourish microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. It’s ironic that all the fuss about fiber intake that was the big push for bran cereals is not the form of fiber that yields genuine benefits, at least anything beyond bulking up bowel movements. It’s the neglected prebiotic fibers like arabinoxylan that were the source of any health benefits.
The average wheat/grain-consuming American obtains around 5-8 grams prebiotic fibers per day, of which around half are from wheat and grains, the remainder from vegetables and fruit (and reflecting the low intake of vegetables and fruit among average people who prefer foods like Coca Cola, French fries, and Cheetos). Eliminate wheat, rye, barley, corn, oats, millet, rice and other grains and prebiotic fiber intake drops to about 3-5 grams per day.
We know with confidence that the ideal intake of prebiotic fibers for humans is 20 grams or more per day, preferably obtained from a variety of sources, as variety helps cultivate bacterial species diversity, i.e., a greater number of bacterial species that has been associated with better health. Non-diabetics, for instance, have greater species diversity than diabetics; slender people have greater species diversity than obese people; people without cancer have greater species diversity than people without cancer. (Yes: the data are observational, but tough or impossible to prove prospectively.)
This is the one genuine downside of being wheat/grain-free: a drop in prebiotic fiber intake. Of course, there are enormous health benefits of being wheat/grain-free that start with reversal of the gliadin-derived opioids that stimulate appetite, loss of visceral fat, reduction of insulin resistance with removal of grain amylopectin A, reversal of intestinal toxicity and disrupted digestion from wheat germ agglutinin, increase in absorption of minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron with removal of grain phytates, etc. But any reduction in prebiotic fiber intake from the already inadequate intake for most people presents problems.
For this reason, in the Wheat Belly lifestyle we not only make up for the loss of the few grams of arabinoxylan and amylose fibers, but amp up our prebiotic fiber intake to the ideal range of 20 or more grams per day from non-wheat, non-grain sources such as legumes, raw white potatoes, and root vegetables. It is all part of our return to the magnificent health we achieve without wheat and without grains while ignoring conventional advice to consume them and have them dominate diet.