Today I started eliminating wheat from my diet.
I am so inspired by Dr. William Davis’ book Wheat Belly, by the advice of my OBGYN Dr. Christine Collins, and by Amanda Palmer who’s following SCD (a wheat free diet) that I’m really truly going to try to stick to it for the next 7-days. I’ve tried this before, after my last pre-surgery appointment with Dr. Collins, but I wasn’t strict. Interestingly, Dr. Collins and I discussed a possible connect between endometriosis and wheat and soy consumption. I explained that when I cut out processed soy products (veggie sausage lunch + veggie burger dinner = body poison) I experienced less pain during my period and less PMS before. She further theorized that wheat’s insulin spikes and inflammatory properties cause inflammation in the body, like the endometriomas she found inside me. She then pointed me to the current bestseller Wheat Belly.
I’m only halfway through the book, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Modern wheat is Bad!
The wheat we eat today is markedly different from the wheat our grandparent’s used fifty years ago. Beginning in 1943 a man named Dr. Norman Bourlaug developed an exceptionally high-yielding dwarf wheat. This new wheat was easier to grow and harvest and by the 1980s this dwarf wheat, along with the information gained in producing it, lead to thousands of new strains of wheat, “the most high yielding of which have been adopted worldwide.”
As a result of bringing more food to the world, Dr. Bourlaug received the Novel Peace Prize in 1970. While he did help the globe respond to spikes in population in places like China, none of this new wheat was examined for safety or for long-term effects on humans. After all, it wasn’t nature’s carefully orchestrated natural selection process that gave birth to this new breed, but a sped up, scientific hybridization approach. Finally, around 1999, the FDA imposed restrictions on genetically modified foods, requiring tests and studies before these foods can be introduced for human consumption.
With that said, there are things in modern wheat (strains developed long before the FDA stepped in), that we just don’t understand. While “95 percent of the proteins expressed are the same,” there are compounds found in hybrid wheat that can not be traced back to either parent. Some differences include “fourteen new gluten proteins” and ” a higher quantity…that are associated with celiac disease.” Great. Modern wheat is just bursting with irritating proteins and mysterious molecules.
And all that is just the tip of the wheat kernel. Dr. Williams provides all sorts of interesting, peer reviewed research, on why genetically modified and/or hybrid strains of wheat (among other things) may be wreaking havoc on our country’s weight loss efforts.
A piece of wheat bread has a higher Glycemic Index than a tablespoon of sugar!
Thought you made the smart choice when you reached for that extra fiber extra whole grain bread, didn’t you? I sure did. Dr. Williams explains that various studies demonstrate that bread is a belly fat fighter’s nightmare.
“The GI [Glycemic Index] of white bread was 69, while the GI of whole grain bread was 72 and Shredded Wheat cereal was 67, while that of [table sugar] was 56. Yes, the GI of whole grain bread is higher than that of [sugar]. Incidentally, the GI of a Mars bar – nougat, chocolate, sugar, caramel, and all – is 68. That’s better than whole grain bread. The GI of a Snickers bar is 41 – far better than whole grain bread.”
So why does the Glycemic Index matter? It represents the ability of a food, relative to that of glucose, to increase the level of glucose in the blood. The Whole Foods website explains that, “An awareness of foods’ Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.” So, in other words, it’s important to pay attention to how much glucose the food you eat creates in your body.
Wheat will get you high!
According to Dr. Williams extensive research on the subject:
“Common wheat, upon digestion, yields polypeptides that possess the ability to cross into the brain and bind to opiate receptors.”
He further explains that the same opiate-blocking drugs given to heroin addicts to make them “come down” can be used in normal people who consume wheat. The effects of these drugs reduce appetite, cravings, and calorie intake because they are blocking the effects of wheat.What does this reveal? Wheat lights up the same regions of the brain as do some narcotics, therefore creating a “high.” This can potentially makes us behave similar to an addict, thereby consuming more calories while seeking those calories in insulin spiking foods. Holy loaf of bread! No wonder I’m still starving after that piece of whole wheat toast in the morning! I’m like an addict that’s craving MORE insulin.
My week without wheat starts TODAY!
While I have the rest of Wheat Belly to finish, I’ve already skipped ahead to some of the delicious wheat free recipes. Think egg and pesto flaxseed wrap and coconut berry-smoothy. Mmmmmmm! I’ll also be pulling from Amanda’s SCD journey for inspiration and other meal ideas since her diet follows similar guidelines.
Next week I’ll report on my progress, but in the meantime I highly recommend you check out Wheat Belly yourself. Dr. Williams manages to make science easy and even pleasant to read and understand. As a cardiologist who’s treated 2,000 patients with diabetes, obesity, and heart problems, he provides insight you might not want to miss.