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Is eating a small amount of wheat hormetic or is it just a bad idea?

by (115)
Updated about 7 hours ago
Created February 10, 2012 at 4:04 PM

I found a couple years ago that I am seemingly gluten intolerant. For example during the holidays when I ate alot of wheat containing foods I was a mess for a week or two. I am generally gluten free but maybe once every other month I might have one or two slices of pizza at work when we order pizza. It is usually a crapshoot how I will feel after that. The same applies to when I was on vacation visiting parents and I might have had a small amount of olive bread, for example. I felt generally fine this time.

Is this just a bad idea to do that or would it be considered hormetic to have a small amount every so often?

Medium avatar
1536 · February 10, 2012 at 9:26 PM

I was gluten intolerant to where it would take a couple slices of bread to show symptoms. After being completely gluten free for months, just a bite will send me over the edge.

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37187 · February 10, 2012 at 8:40 PM

@Kevin W, I don't disagree with your comment about sauces, etc., which is why I only eat sauce/gravy I make myself at home. Whole foods only.

Medium avatar
5629 · February 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I always expect gluten in meatballs. It's an integral part of the recipe...that's why I don't eat Italian food.

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115 · February 10, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I agree, I am mainly concerned about celiac disease or otherwise damaging the microvilli in my g.i. tract and risking malabsorption of nutrients, etc.

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115 · February 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I remember on a Robb Wolf podcast awhile back he suggested that soldiers in the field keep some crackers or some other wheat food to eat so that they could tolerate having to eat wheat when there is nothing else available. I'm not sure why this is a good idea. I don't think it is necessary for me to have a tolerance, but I think it can be difficult to be 100% gluten free since it can be hiding in sauces, meatballs, and other places you wouldn't expect.

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37187 · February 10, 2012 at 4:11 PM

I've been reading about gluten sensitivity a lot and I haven't seen anything to the effect that small doses might be hormetic. In any amount it's obviously poison for me and please note it has been a progressive thing so you could be risking more/worse problems in future.

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12677 · February 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Kurt Harris has a post directly answering that question: Stress Does Not Imply Hormesis.

Some things, like wheat, probably don't have "mechanisms which where the body's responses leaves you physically 'better off' than before". If wheat is a problem for you, the damaging effects we know about won't be hormetic. Not the cytotoxic T-cell mediated gut response, the cytokines released, the thyroid issues and numerous other inducible auto-immune diseases (especially when intestinal permeability is present), and so on. These are bodily processes produced in an apparent emergency, and they don't appear to make us stronger.

Still, wheat may not be "just a bad idea" either; that depends on the person. Some people probably don't suffer from any of the ill effects of wheat consumption, though this could be the minority and that immunity could be temporary.

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4703 · February 10, 2012 at 4:18 PM

It may have been at one point in history, but with present day wheat I would doubt it.

Would be interesting to know if you could build a tolerance by starting with extremely small doses like you can with other toxic substances (e.g. snake venom).

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37187 · February 10, 2012 at 8:40 PM

@Kevin W, I don't disagree with your comment about sauces, etc., which is why I only eat sauce/gravy I make myself at home. Whole foods only.

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115 · February 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I remember on a Robb Wolf podcast awhile back he suggested that soldiers in the field keep some crackers or some other wheat food to eat so that they could tolerate having to eat wheat when there is nothing else available. I'm not sure why this is a good idea. I don't think it is necessary for me to have a tolerance, but I think it can be difficult to be 100% gluten free since it can be hiding in sauces, meatballs, and other places you wouldn't expect.

Medium avatar
5629 · February 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I always expect gluten in meatballs. It's an integral part of the recipe...that's why I don't eat Italian food.

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