Wheat Woes and Your Waistline
While the measure of a person’s worth is not measured by the size of their girth, it’s harder to feel good about oneself when we don’t measure up to our own standards. If you aren’t happy with your weight, you aren’t alone. According to our nation’s statistics, being overweight has become the norm. Approximately two thirds of the people in America are overweight and one third of those are obese, or 30-40 pounds heavier than their ideal weight; and this includes our children.
According to several experts there’s more involved in America’s obesity epidemic than lack of will power and our more sedentary lifestyles. If you watch Dr. Oz or browse through bestselling books, you’ll recognize “gluten” as a big buzzword these days. Gluten is the protein portion in wheat, rye, and barley grains. Even if you don’t eat bread, gluten is in the wheat which is an ingredient in almost all processed foods. Although whole grain wheat was once considered a staple food in a good diet, new research suggests that modern day wheat is the biggest culprit in our nation’s weight problem.
One of the reasons people have a problem with wheat is because it’s so readily available; and since the Standard American Diet (SAD) places whole grains at the base of the Food Pyramid, many people feel that they’re eating the way they should. However, this type of diet is completely opposite of the way our ancestors ate. The diet of our hunter/gatherer ancestors was based on fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat, and fish. Dairy was added as our ancestors gradually developed the enzymes necessary for digestion in the tips of the villa used to absorb nutrients from food. The only grains consumed were ones that grew naturally, not cultivated. However, when grains were found, they were put in a clay hole with some fruit and water, covered up, and consumed later as a fermented beverage.
Besides eating more wheat than our ancestors, the wheat of today isn’t the same as it was before it became tampered with. Approximately 50 years ago, wheat was genetically altered with the intention of developing a strain of higher-yielding wheat when world hunger was a concern. This new dwarf wheat could grow in drier, colder climates, and had a thicker, shorter stem about two feet tall to hold the bigger heads of wheat kernels. The original wheat, called einkorn wheat, had 14 chromosomes whereas the new dwarf wheat of today has 54 plus chromosomes.
Unintentionally, wheat was turned into a plant that produced proteins that human beings cannot digest. This is especially bad news for us since proteins that sit in the stomach for extended periods of time produce allergic reactions in the body. Eating this new indigestible wheat is what is responsible for the breakdown of our intestinal track, leading our body to make antibodies to our own tissues. This is what auto-immune diseases are all about.
For the technically inclined, let me explain further. Within our intestines, we have little fingers called villa that reach into the food slurry gliding over it, extracting nutrients. Most amazingly, these fingers also keep out all forms of bad bacteria, fungus, Candida and proteins with what are called tight junctions. The gliadin protein in wheat triggers the release of a protein called zonulin. Zonulins deregulate the tight junctions in the normally secure barrier between intestinal villa and your blood stream. This deregulation allows passage of unwanted wheat protein fractions, such as gliadin and other dangerous particles into our blood supply. This is what triggers the immune response, and thus the inflammatory response.
According to Dr. William Davis, MD, author of “Wheat Belly,” conditions associated with celiac disease include insulin-dependent diabetes, neurological impairment, nutritional deficiencies, liver disease, and all types of autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, lupus, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Another great book available in my office is “Life after Bread” by Dr. Eydi Bauer, DC. After years of suffering, she found the answers to her baffling health issues by eliminating wheat.
It has been hypothesized that wheat produces drug like chemicals called opiates. Since the brain has receptors for this type of chemicals, this can have a beneficial effect in calming a person when eating so they can digest their food better, bringing them out of the fight or flight stress mode. The problem is that these highly addictive polypeptides which are actually exogenous morphine-like compounds interfere with all of our emotions and also encourage overeating. Compare this to an alcoholic who drinks an entire bottle of wine rather than just enjoying one glass. Have you ever found yourself reaching for that second piece of pizza even though you were no longer hungry?
Modern wheat produces a starch known as amylopectin A, which releases high glucose. This wheat runs the insulin/glucose roller coaster, driving the appetite, and increasing blood sugar astronomically high, leading to the development of excess fat in the gut and around the organs. This excess fat produces estrogen which produces even more dangerous fat, leading to cancers and/or diabetes.
Throughout history, various authors have warned us about impending problems with wheat. As early as 1903, Dr. Wiley who was head of the Food Administration (later called the Food and Drug Administration) warned us that if refined, bleached wheat was allowed to be sold we would become a nation of diabetics. He was right on track with his prediction.
Join me on March 26th for a workshop on this fascinating subject. If you suffer from gluten intolerance or have been diagnosed with celiac disease, this information is essential. Whatever you decide about going gluten-free, this workshop will teach you the benefits of incorporating natural and organic foods into your diet so that you may begin to experience optimal health.
Dr. William H. Karl, D.C.
Wheat Woes and Your Waistline