Lose Wheat, Lose Weight
When you lose wheat, you may lose:
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Acid reflux
- Mental fog
- Poor quality sleep
- Food obsessions
- Some asthmatic symptoms
- Leg swelling
- A few points of fasting blood sugar
- A few pounds
Wheat has strayed far from its natural state, especially since the 1950’s. Einkorn wheat, the grandmother of all the wheat today, was harvested by hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago. It was wild and had 14 chromosomes.
By Bible times, the wheat that grew wild was called emmer wheat, and it had 28 chromosomes. From the Middle Ages through the 20th century, wheat was cultivated and it had 42 chromosomes. Year after year, farmers would select seed for hardiness and ability to survive a cold spell.
With the advent of agricultural genetic engineering, wheat still has 42 chromosomes, but it is wildly different. The transformation included crossing different strains and creating mutants which happened to have the qualities they were looking for, high yield and semi-dwarf. The result produced ten times the yield per acre and was short, with a thick stem and large seeds.
By 1985, virtually all wheat grown in the United States was this genetic mutation, and today nearly all the wheat in the world is this variety. This is great for the farmers and bakers, but not exactly suited for human consumption.
Wheat has some properties which makes it nutritionally questionable even before the genetic tinkering. The hunter-gatherers who first harvested einkorn wheat experienced a deleterious effect on their health. Archeological evidence compares them to modern hunter-gatherers who do not consume wheat. They found more:
- dental disease
- bone diseases
- possibly atherosclerosis
- possibly cancer.
Another health consequence of wheat, celiac disease, was described as early as 100 AD by Greek physicians, and many others over the centuries. The occurance then was much less than today, but the earlier einkorn and emmer wheats still tore up the digestive tract of susceptible people.
“Eat More Whole Grains”
In the 1960’s the medical establishment started this movement. With skewed evidence, they linked heart disease with fat in the diet. And since, in the 1980’s on, studies have shown that when foods made from processed white flour are replaced with foods made from whole grain, there is a resulting reduction in colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Is that the fiber? (And is there any other place to get good fiber?)
The processed food industry has benefitted greatly from the low-fat, more-grain message. Packaged foods do not spoil as fast when you take out the fat, giving a longer shelf life and reducing losses. As a result, the number of processed food products have exploded. There’s profit in it. Most require just a few pennies worth of basic materials. Look at the rows and rows of packages in the grocery aisles which are simply variations on wheat, cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and food coloring.
We as a nation eating these processed food products have grown fatter and fatter. Obesity in the United States grew gradually from 1960, and really accelerated in the mid-1980’s. Remember, 1985 was when nearly all the wheat grown in the United States was the “frankengrain” variety.
Wheat triggers a cycle of cravings which is best satisfied with more carbohydrates, usually in the form of products with more wheat, which perpetuates the cycle over and over again. It is driven by the hormone insulin. This is paralleled by the ups and downs of euphoria and withdrawal due to the addictive qualities of certain constituents of wheat. All this leads to fat deposition, and the end result is obesity.
One thing is clear: There is no nutritional deficiency that develops when you stop consuming wheat and other processed foods. Furthermore, you will simultaneously experience reduced exposure to sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial food colorings and flavors, cornstarch, and the list of unpronounceables on the product label.
Why is Wheat so bad for Weight?
The answer for that includes the glucose-insulin effects, the gluten exorphen addictive effects and the gluten triggering destructive immune effects. I will explain each separately. The good news is that we have a powerful means of weight control by simply losing the wheat from our diet.
The carbohydrate in wheat is a unique form of amylopectin, way different from the amylopectin in bananas and beans, for example. The amylopectin A in wheat is readily digested by an enzyme we all have, amylase. That fast digestion yields glucose molecules quickly, and the body’s response is to secrete insulin to take it into the cells. That quick response creates an insulin spike.
The peaks of blood sugar and insulin leads to the growth of fat. When all the blood glucose cannot be burned for fuel immediately, the body puts some away for a rainy day in the form of fat storage. The favorite storage place in among the organs like heart, liver, kidneys, and is called visceral fat.
This fat is different from the fat in your thighs, this visceral fat becomes an organ producing inflammatory mediators. In fact, the more the visceral fat, the more inflammation produced.
In addition to inflammatory mediators, visceral and all other fat produces a protective mediator called adiponectin. As visceral fat increases, its capacity to produce this adiponectin is decreased. The low levels of adiponectin produced is no longer protective, and increases risk for
- heart disease,
- diabetes, and
- hypertension as well as
- rheumatoid arthritis, and
- colon cancer.
A second effect of the highs of blood sugar is that equally high amounts of insulin must be made by the pancreas. Wheat has the capacity to spike blood sugar even more than sugar itself. This high blood sugar leads to fat deposition, as discussed above. But it also leads to wearing out the pancreas. When it can no longer produce enough insulin, diabetes develops.
A third effect of high insulin triggered by eating wheat is that the liver is triggered to create more triglycerides. Depending on your genetic susceptibility, triglycerides measured on a blood test can soar to the hundreds or thousands of milligrams per deciliter of blood. If wheat eating is constant, the liver can produce these high levels of triglycerides all day, all week, on and on.
If the production of fat is extreme from constant wheat eating, then even the liver ends up storing the fat. This is a disease state called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. Unfortunately, this leads to cirrhosis of the liver, a state in which the liver cannot function up to capacity and is irreversible.
Gluten effects: exorphins and immune-destroying
Certain constituents of wheat, specifically exorphins from gluten, have the potential to generate euphoria, addictive behavior, and appetite stimulation. That’s right – eating wheat leads to more of an appetite for both wheat and other foods, usually the ones high in sugar or fat.
On top of that, wheat produces a drug-like effect in some people. In these people, there is an addiction to wheat beyond from the appetite and blood sugar stimulation. This drug-like effect comes from a breakdown product of the gluten. It truly is a drug effect because symptoms such as euphoria and impulsiveness is totally reversed when a drug to block the effects of narcotics is given.
With another insidious mechanism, wheat invites itself directly into the bloodstream. A part of gluten called gliadin has the unique ability to make the gut leaky. Now, this gliadin is not only in whole wheat, but also in white bread and pastries. The wheat gliadin triggers the intestinal lining to release a mediator called zonulin, which opens up the spaces between cells in the digestive tract lining.
When the gliadin and other proteins from the wheat enters the bloodstream, the immune system is activated. Unfortunately, it is an auto-immune reaction meaning the immune cells attack the body itself, not a foreign invader. The resulting auto-immune conditions triggered include celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases and asthma.
All of these things can be going on at once in your body!
Now, are you ready to consider losing the wheat?
Pitfalls when Losing the Wheat
Total and complete elimination of wheat may trigger withdrawal. But cutting back gradually may produce incredible cravings for wheat in cycles, sabotaging the effort to eliminate wheat. Withdrawal symptoms may not be that bad, after all.
Dr. William Davis says that the closest parallel to wheat withdrawal is the nicotine withdrawal that results from quitting cigarettes. It can be intense. Like nicotine withdrawal, wheat withdrawal can cause fatigue, mental fogginess, and irritability. It can also be accompanied by a vague feeling of low mood and sadness.
The good news is that this all passes within a week in most people. People quitting smoking can take three to four weeks to get through the withdrawal.
A unique characteristic of withdrawal from wheat can be the diminished capacity to exercise that usually lasts from two to five days. But keep at it – it helps move the toxins out.
If your diet which included wheat tended to generally be high-carbohydrate, your metabolism was driven by a constant supply of readily absorbed sugars. Wheat and other carbs became sugar which became fuel quite easily.
Eliminating wheat and other high carbohydrate foods shifts the metabolism to one of mobilizing and burning fats. This can take several days to kick in. What you might feel is a tired achy feeling while this is happening. Stick with it, because this step is a necessary part of switching from fat deposition to fat mobilization. This is the first step in shrinking visceral fat and losing weight.
You Can’t Go Back
You are hereby forewarned. Once you have eliminated wheat for a few months, you may find that eating it again has disastrous consequences. And this can happen whether you went through withdrawal initially or not.
The theory as to why this happens is that the wheat had created a low-grade inflammation in various organs. When wheat is eliminated, the organs heal. When exposed to wheat again, the fire of inflammation is lit again. The exorphins of wheat again create the ups and downs of mood.
The most common symptoms on eating wheat again may last for six to forty-eight hours. You may have
You may think that you have gotten acute food poisoning, not unlike ingesting bad chicken or eaten something you shouldn’t have in a foreign country.
The next most common disastrous effect is joint aches, a dull arthritis-like pain that usually affects multiple joint such as elbows, shoulders, and knees, and that can last up to several days. Others experience acute worsening of asthma sufficient to require inhalers for several days.
Behavioral or mood effects are also common, ranging from low mood and fatigue to anxiety and rage (more often in males.)
Beware when Losing the Wheat
If you are dedicated to losing the wheat, you must start reading labels on packaged goods. There are many unexpected places you will find wheat and gluten. Here are some clues where to look carefully.
- Ales, beers, lagers
- Bloody Mary mix
- Coffees, flavored
- Herbal teas made with wheat, barley, or malt
- Malt liquor
- Teas, flavored
- Vodkas distilled from wheat (Absolut, Grey Goose, Stolichnaya)
- Wine coolers (containing barley malt)
- Whiskey distilled from wheat or barley
- Bran cereals
- Corn flakes
- Granola cereals
- “Healthy” cereals (Smart Start, Special K, Grape Nuts, Trail Mix Crunch)
- Muesli, Mueslix
- Oat cereals (Cheerios, Cracklin Oat Bran, Honey Bunches of Oats)
- Popped corn cereals (Corn Pops)
- Puffed rice cereals (Rice krispies)
- Blue cheese
- Cottage cheese (not all)
- Gorgonzola cheese
Coloring / Fillers / Texturizers / Thickeners
- Artificial colors
- Artificial flavors
- Caramel coloring
- Caramel flavoring
- Modified food starch
- Textured vegetable protein
Energy, Protein and Meal Replacement Bars
- Clif Bars
- Gagtorade Pre-Game Fuel Nutrition Bars
- GNC Pro Performance bars
- Kashi Go Lean bars
- Power Bars
- Slim-fast meal bars
Fast food – cross-contamination
- Breaded meats
- Canned meats
- Deli meats
- Hot dogs
- Imitation bacon
- Imitation crab meat
- Hamburger (if added breadcrumbs)
- Turkey, self-basting
- Envelopes (glue)
- Gloss and lip balm
- Prescription and OTC drugs (see www.glutenfreedrugs.com)
- Nutritional supplements
- Stamps (glue)
Sauces, Salad dressings, Condiments
- Gravies thickened with wheat flour
- Malt syrup
- Malt vinegar
- Mustards containing wheat
- Salad dressings
- Soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Curry powder
- Seasoning mixes
- Taco seasoning
Snacks and Desserts
- Cake frosting
- Candy bars
- Chewing gum (powdered coating)
- Chex mixes
- Corn chips
- Dried fruit (Coated with flour)
- Dry roasted peanuts
- Fruit fillings with thickeners
- Jelly beans (not Jelly Belly and Starburst)
- Granola bars
- Ice cream (cookies and cream, Oreo, cheesecake, chocolate malt)
- Ice cream cones
- Nut bars
- Potato chips (including pringles)
- Tortilla chips, flavored
- Trail mixes
Soy and Vegetarian Products
- Veggie burgers (Boca burger, gardenburger, morningstar farms)
- Vegetarian “chicken” strips
- Vegetarian chili
- Vegetarian hot dogs and sausages
- Vegetarian “scallops”
- Vegetarian “steaks”
Please comment below when you have tried this, and what you have noticed!
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