Wheat is one of the most commonly consumed foods in the western world. Yet we do not have a collective grasp on how it affects our bodies.
Are whole grains really that healthy?
The health benefits of whole grains come from the nutrients delivered as well as the fiber. The problem comes from some very allergenic components, exorphins, and the overload in carbohydrates when people consume large amount of wheat flour products.
Exorphins are peptides (small proteins) that bind to opioid receptors and come from outside the body. Wheat has exorphins that bind to opioid receptors in our brain giving the morphine like effect of feeling good when we eat wheat but enhancing the addiction to wheat. To read a great article on food cravings and exorphins read this. http://www.healingmountainpublishing.com/articles/exorphins.html
When we consume wheat it is digested rapidly into sugar and creates an instant surge in our blood sugars. We feel an immediate decrease in our hunger as well as an instant rush of energy and satiation. This is due to the exaggerated blood sugar levels as well as exorphins. This spike in blood sugar and enhanced sensation of satiation is quickly wiped out by a blood sugar crash and a desire for more. This enhances the addictive cycle we experience with wheat as well as leads to increased fat production in certain individuals.
Medical research has shown that decreasing simple carbohydrates (soda, candy, sugars) helps in preventing the top killing diseases in North America plus many others; cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to name the top. Aside from some fiber and a small amount of nutrients, bread has a very similar effect on blood sugar as a can of soda according to Dr. Williams, author of Wheat Belly and a cardiologist.
Wheat has been linked to numerous health conditions
1. Celiac Disease
2. Neurological Disorders
4. Heart Disease
My Grandparents lived off wheat why can’t I?
In 1985 the National Heart, Lung, and blood Institute Program advised to eat “healthy whole grains”. This is not a bad idea if you were consuming wheat that was high in fiber and rich in nutrients. In 1985 the obesity charts in America also started to skyrocket, which may have some connection as we understand what was done to wheat in the late 1970’s. This jump at the same time may also be due to other issues as well.
In the 1970’s, agricultural scientists genetically hybridized wheat strains. Wheat was hybridized, crossbred, and introgressed with the hopes of building resistance to drought or pathogens and to increase yield or crops.
The changes to wheat were done in such a way that they increased the simple carbohydrate part of the grain. From a calories perspective in the 70’s when world hunger was a big scare it made sense. Yet now we know that this increase in the simple carbs is leading to serious health problems. We now see the following trends with wheat consumption:
1. Appetite stimulation – consume more per sitting and more frequently
2. Exposure to brain – active exorphins = addictive
3. Exaggerated blood sugar surges – trigger cycles of satiety alternating w/ heightened appetite = unhealthy cycle. Hard to maintain.
4. Inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone
5. Activation of disordered immune responses –increased celiac disease and a host of other inflammatory conditions with association to wheat sensitivities
6. Hormonal disruption – increase in abdominal or deep visceral fat.
7. Growth in visceral organs
8. Process of glycation – this is an oxidative breakdown that leads to serious health problems- See our article on Advanced Glycosilated End Products.
Another issue with wheat products, that our forefathers did differently, is the yeast added in making them. There is an Italian study done that shows the yeast used in breads can change the amount of inflammation in celiac disease caused by wheat (1). This points to the idea that there may be more than just a problem with wheat. The yeast mixed with the wheat in this study broke down the gluten in a different way than our modern baker’s yeast. There is still so much more to be learned.
What to do?
Some people have chosen to completely avoid wheat and others have decided to minimize. If you are sensitive to wheat then you may be able to just minimize. If you have celiac disease, which you may not know until you get tested, you will need to completely avoid wheat.
Talk to us if you are not sure if you have a wheat sensitivity or if you think you have gluten intolerance (celiac disease). We can help direct you in the appropriate testing and treatments.
The benefits of decreasing or avoiding wheat are the following:
1. Decrease in trigger of blood sugar rises
2. No exorphins to drive impulse to consume more, no initiation of the glucose-insulin cycle of appetite
3. Little drive for appetite (except genuine needs)
4. Calorie intake decreases
5. Visceral fat is reduced/disappears
6. Insulin resistance improves
7. Blood sugar decreases – reversal of diabetes in some cases
8. Slows down aging
(1) Safety for Patients with Celiac Disease of Baked Goods Made of Wheat Flour Hydrolyzed During Food Processing was published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.