We’ve often been told that whole wheat and other “whole grains” are healthy – in fact, it’spractically everywhere you look. Many people eat wheat or other gluten-filled foods at every meal. Perhaps starting their day with a breakfast cereal, following it up with a sandwich for lunch and pasta with bread at dinner. Not to mention all those in-between snacks like cookies and crackers.
The most famous problem with gluten is celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction provoked by gluten but treated simply by following a gluten-free diet. Most people know that celiac disease requires a total avoidance of all gluten. But a lot of people also think that if you don’t have celiac disease, you have nothing to worry about.
That’s actually not the reality, with much research conducted in recent years in regard to non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Many people have documented sensitivities to gluten that aren’t actually celiac disease.
You’ve probably read many articles or listened to experts who tout the benefits of eating wheat and other whole grains, so why would something that’s supposed to be so good actually is a bad thing? Dr. William Davis, who has long-researched wheat and called it the “perfect chronic poison,” explained to CBS This Morning that our modern wheat was created by genetic research in the 1960s and ‘70s,” noting that it has many new features that ancient wheat does not, including a new protein known as gliadin.
Even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance or full-blown celiac disease, there is still good reason to avoid gluten due to its harmful and addictive properties.
While eliminating gluten may seem impossible to do, with a little effort it can be accomplished, and before you know it you’ll start to feel much better. It won’t be long before it becomes an old habit. While the thought of a gluten-free diet may make you feel uncomfortable if your energy levels go up and symptoms of any chronic illness decrease or are even eliminated, odds are, you won’t even want to eat foods with gluten again.
But of course, you don’t want to fill your diet with processed, gluten-free foods, rather an abundance of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as along with lean meats like grass-fed beef, free-range organic poultry and wild-caught salmon, along with things like healthy oils such as olive oil and coconut oil, nuts and seeds.
If you continue to eat gluten anyway, there are many ways it could be sabotaging your health, including the following.
Inflammation is the natural response of the immune system to an injury. You can see it firsthand when you accidentally cut yourself or get a splinter as the surrounded area quickly begins to turn red, and gets tender and swollen. That’s because the proteins in wheat and other gluten grains irritate the gut, kind of like a splinter, but digging into the lining of your gut rather than your skin, causing an inflammatory response.
One of the reasons that gluten is believed to lead to putting on the pounds is that it contains amylopectin A, which is converted to blood sugar and can increase blood sugar levels even higher than your typical candy bar. The cycle of eating it often causes dramatic highs and lows with blood sugar levels. Blood sugars are reduced, causing more hunger, than yet another wheat-based, gluten-filled product is eaten that subsequently results in increased blood sugar levels. When that gluten is removed, the appetite stimulant is gone – and the result is not being constantly hungry.
Gluten is also addictive. When it’s eaten, one feels a mild euphoria as it’s broken down into a collection of gluten-derived polypeptides that are released into the bloodstream. Eventually, they get into the brain and bind to its opiate receptors. By removing gluten foods from your diet, you’re likely to snack less and experience fewer cravings. A study from the University of Navarra in Spain found that consuming just three slices of white bread a day raised the risk of becoming overweight or obese by nearly 50%.
Gluten may have a key role in multiple chronic illnesses. Some of the most common include digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, and Celiac disease but it can also significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes, contribute to deteriorating mental health and even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. The odds of developing an autoimmune disease, including everything from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to Hashimoto’s, are higher simply by consuming wheat, or gluten.
Compromising the digestive system
The proteins that are in gluten, found in wheat and many other whole grains, gliadin and glutenin, are broken down and sent through the intestines. The gut identified gliadin as a harmful substance, so it produces antibodies that attack it, which erode and destroy the microvilli in the large intestine that are tasked with absorbing nutrients. The microvilli that survive are covered in acidic wastes and the intestines become impact with bacteria, candida, yeast and undigested particles that compact the microvilli that remain and prevent further absorption of nutrients.
After repeated exposure to gluten-filled foods like wheat, eventually, holes start to emerge in the intestinal walls, otherwise known as “leaky gut,” which allows bacteria and undigested matter to enter the bloodstream. The gut has an essential role in overall health, and consuming gluten destroys it, which is likely why multiple studies have associated eating gluten directly with IBS and other digestive issues.
Lack of energy
When the body has to digest foods with gluten, what happens is that during digestion, it is exposed to an enzyme in the stomach known as pepsin, and a stomach acid called hydrochloric acid, which degrades the gluten to a mix of polypeptides. The polypeptides can cross the blood-brain barrier that separates the bloodstream from the brain. When these wheat polypeptides enter the brain, they bind to the morphine receptor – the very receptor that opiate drugs bind to. That is what’s responsible for the “high” from eating, followed by the energy slump afterward.
Not only does a lack of energy often come with eating gluten foods, it immediately causes foggy thinking, mental and physical fatigue, and, it can even lead to a serious imbalance in the brain that can dramatically increase the risk of depression.
Rashes and other skin irritation
Multiple different skin conditions have been associated to consuming gluten, including dermatitis herpetiformis, which causes extremely itchy bumps or blisters that can appear on the knees, buttocks, along with the hairline or forearms near the elbows. Keratosis pilaris, a condition that results in white or red bumps, usually on the arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks, can also occur. Eczema has also been linked to a gluten intolerance.
Adrenal glands play a key role in sleep. They are responsible for relieving the different stresses your body encounters by releasing stress hormones. If you are gluten intolerant and eat foods containing gluten, the adrenal glands release hormones to relieve your inflamed intestine. Over time, adrenal glands can become fatigued and unable to produce enough stress hormones to manage your body’s stress. When your adrenal glands unable to control stress, your body is not able to remain in a steady comfortable state for sleep.
Going gluten-free when you have a sensitivity can certainly lower cholesterol as the body makes cholesterol to deal with inflammation. Eating gluten increases inflammation, hence, eating gluten equals high cholesterol.