The average American consumes about 132 pounds of wheat per year. Gluten is the main protein in wheat and in most of the grains Americans eat. The problem is, our bodies do not have the proper enzymes to completely break down the gluten protein. That can potentially lead to problems. In some people this can lead wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. People complain of stomach pain, bloating and gas. Others feel that the gluten makes them experience pain and fatigue.
Observational studies have shown that whole grain diets seem to improve people’s health. These studies are largely observational surveys instead of experiments.
Modern wheat has been crossbred dramatically to improve bread making, to help with higher yields and to prevent plant disease. Modern wheat is therefore very different from the ancient forms of wheat. These genetic differences may make ancient wheat safer to consume than modern wheat.
Avoiding gluten has become a billion dollar industry. It has been recommended for a number of chronic conditions and also for weight loss. With that said, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that avoiding gluten can lead to weight loss. A 2013 study on mice showed that when mice were fed the equivalent of 20 slices of whole wheat bread daily, it increased fat gain. This also had negative affects on insulin sensitivity, energy and lead to higher levels of inflammation. This evidence may play out differently when studied in humans.
One could argue that a diet without wheat and other gluten containing grains could be beneficial. Certainly future human studies will help clear this up.