Last week I gave you 3 reasons to give up wheat: gluten, lectins, and phytates. This week, I’m giving you 5 very practical reasons to ditch the wheat. Are you ready? Here we go!
Are you looking for more tips for going gluten free? I’ve gathered them all together in this Everything Gluten Free page.
5 Surprising Reasons to Give Up Wheat
1. Wheat causes inflammation
Inflammation is the predecessor to disease.
The more refined the grain, the more inflammation will occur. White flour is more inflmmatory than whole grain flour, but whole grain flour is still highly inflammatory.
When you are consistently dining on inflammatory foods, you’re much more likely to succumb to degenerative diseases: asthma, cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. (Inflammation causes your body to circulate more cholesterol to combat the inflammation. It is for this reason that inflammatory foods like sugar and wheat should be looked at as the dietary villains in the battle against heart disease.)
Remember when we talked about gluten last week, and how when the gut is exposed to gluten it increases the protein zonulin. Zonulin breaks down the tight junctions in our intestinal walls and makes our guts more permeable.
When foreign proteins cross the intestinal wall, it’s called “leaky gut” (a.k.a. poop in your blood) and leaky gut will cause inflammation. This inflammation will spread like wild fire through your body.1
2. Wheat causes joint pain
The amino acid composition of grains is similar to that of the soft tissue in your joints. When you have a leaky gut and inflammation in your body, your immune cells will rev up for the attack.
In addition to attacking the grain cells, they’ll also attack the soft tissue of your joints because they’re so similar. Uh oh. Not good. Guess what this leads to? More inflammation. Autoimmune diseases. Pain.
If you have arthritis, this is why it’s particularly important for you to give up wheat.
3. You may be addicted to wheat
Yes. True story. You might actually be having a hard time giving up wheat because you may be addicted to it.
The same mechanism that causes individuals to become addicted to heroine and other opiodes could also be at play when you are eating wheat. In some people, gluten exorphines may be interacting with your opiod receptors in your brain.2 3
Wheat can be at play with a number of different mental problems including schizophrenia, autism, eating disorders, and more. In fact, many scientists are pointing the finger at wheat and blaming it for binge eating disorders. When binge eaters are given the drug naloxone (a drug that is used to block heroine or morphine) they eat 30% less food. Hmmm… interesting.4
4. Wheat is not good for mental health
After gluten has been broken down it can cross the blood-brain barrier. Wheat can cause the immune system to attack the nervous system. This probably explains why gluten can cause mental disorders.
Researchers began to note the gluten-schizophrenia correlation quite some time ago. During World War II, it was noted that as gluten rations decreased, so did prevalance of hospital admissions for schizophrenia (seen across countries).5
Then, in the 50’s researchers noted there was a much greater prevalence of schizophrenic and psychotic individuals in their celiac patients. Furthermore, when wheat was eliminated from the diet of schizophrenic patients a marked improvement was often seen. When wheat was re-added to the patients diet, they deteriorated once again.6 7
The research has continued to pile up in recent Current research linking wheat consumption to schizophrenia continues to pile up. 8 9 10 11 12
Autisum spectrum disorders and children with ADD often see improvement when eliminating wheat from the diet as well.13 14 15
Now, I doubt gluten is the sole reason for schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Obviously, not everyone who eats wheat ends up with schizophrenia. But, it is likely that it is one of the variables that has contributed to the rise mental disorders.
5. Wheat makes you fat
There are a number of different things at play here, but one of the big ones is the insulin spike that grains cause. When you eat wheat, it is broken down to sugar in your body. This causes pancreas to secrete insulin. When insulin levels are continually high (as they often are in a Western diet), you store fat instead of burning fat.
Two slices of whole wheat (or whole grain) bread will raise your blood sugar more than a snickers bar. One slice of white bread or one bagel will also raise your blood sugar levels more than a snickers bar.16 Don’t be fooled, just because it’s labeled “whole grain” it does not mean it is healthy.
One of the key take-away points in all of this is that grains are highly associated with leaky gut. When your gut isn’t healthy you can’t absorb nutrients so you become malnourished and more prone to disease.
Did you give up wheat? How have you seen your health improve as a result of this?
Why Go Wheat-Free?
When our family went wheat-free, we had many questions from friends and family. This is the heart behind our book, Weeding Out Wheat. In the book you’ll learn more about the harmful effects of wheat on the body based on current medical research. You’ll also learn about how, as Christians, we’ve reconciled our wheat-free lifestyles while reading a bread-filled Bible.
Weeding Out Wheat is available in our online store for $9.95. It is also available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon.
More Tips on Going Wheat-Free
- Yes, God is Okay with Your Gluten-Free Diet
- Gluten-Free Dining Guide
- Gluten-Free Guide for Beginners
- The Complete Guide to Gluten-Free Grains
- Everything Gluten Free: A Huge Resource of Materials
- Fasano A. “Physiological, pathological, and therapeutic implications of zonulin-mediated intestinal barrier modulation: living life on the edge of the wall.” Am J Pathol. 2008 Nov;173(5):1243-52.
- Detection of Gluten Exorphin B4 and B5 in Human Blood by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry
- Opioid peptides derived from food proteins. The exorphins.
- Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat
- Wheat “Consumption” and Hospital Admissions for Schizophrenia During World War II
- Haas, S. V. and Haas, M. P. Management of Celiac Disease. Philadelphia, 1951. J. B. Lippincott Co.
- Bossak, E.T., Wang, C.I. and Adlersberg, D.I. Clinical aspects of malabsorption syndrome (idiopathic sprue). In: The Malabsorption Syndrome, New York, 1957. Grune & Stratton, Inc.
- Nicola G Cascella, Debra Kryszak, Bushra Bhatti, Patricia Gregory, Deanna L Kelly, Joseph P Mc Evoy, Alessio Fasano, William W Eaton. Prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the United States clinical antipsychotic trials of intervention effectiveness study population. Schizophr Bull. 2011 Jan;37(1):94-100. Epub 2009 Jun 3.
- Diana Samaroo, Faith Dickerson, Donald D Kasarda, Peter H R Green, Chiara Briani, Robert H Yolken, Armin Alaedini. Novel immune response to gluten in individuals with schizophrenia.Schizophr Res. 2010 May;118(1-3):248-55. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
- A E Kalaydjian, W Eaton, N Cascella, A Fasano. The gluten connection: the association between schizophrenia and celiac disease. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 Feb;113(2):82-90.
- F C Dohan, E H Harper, M H Clark, R B Rodrigue, V Zigas. Is schizophrenia rare if grain is rare? Biol Psychiatry. 1984 Mar;19(3):385-99.
- Is schizophrenia rare if grain is rare?
- A gluten-free, casein-free diet has therapeutic value in some children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
- A Gluten and casein-free diet may have a therapeutic effect in autism spectrum and attention deficit disorders.
- There is evidence supporting the beneficial effect of a gluten- and casein-free diet for autistic spectrum disorder.
- International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 20021,2
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents
Thanks for hosting again! I think you’re 100% right about being addicted to wheat. I know I was..and I know my mama still is.
It’s hard to give up! I know I slipped up every now and then when I first ditched the wheat. They got more infrequent, but sometimes I just had terrible cravings. Now, if I get it by mistake, I know within a few hours because my body lets me know (in no uncertain terms) that it does NOT like it.
I have recently given up wheat mainly because I was getting a huge fat bloated stomach area while the rest of me was thin. I know the risks involved with carrying fat around the middle so decided to take action. already my stomach is slowly shrinking but even more amazing is the change in myself mentally. I am much calmer, my blood pressure is lower and I am sleeping really well. I am happy to link these changes to giving up wheat.
Thank you for sharing! I love hearing how people are able to change their health by making dietary changes.
I think wheat is harder to give up than sugar. Must be that addiction you speak of. Very interesting read. Thanks for the link up :).
Glad you found it interesting! More on wheat next week 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
I have a question. Are you speaking of the run of the mill breads that we find in the grocery stores, or would this include breads made from heirloom wheat? I know that today’s wheat is more hearty in the field, but “yesterday’s” wheat was more nutritious. Just wondering.
This question is touching on some of what I’ll be talking about in a couple of weeks, but I’ll give you the short answer. This is talking about the wheat that you find most everywhere now. It’s very difficult to get ahold of Einkorn wheat (which is the ancient variety of wheat), so few people use it. There are obviously aspects of the ancient species of wheat has in common with the modern species of wheat and could still damage our body especially if we were to eat it excessively, though the older wheat is probably not near as damaging to the bodies system as what we eat today.
Thanks! I will be looking forward to the coming posts.
I am still wheat free and enjoying my improved health. I have so much energy that I feel like the person I was 10 years ago. My huge belly is shrinking every day. I love the fact that when I look down at my feet my stomach is no longer in the way. I seem to be able to string a sentence together without forgetting what I wanted to say. My brain seems sharper. I have the energy to exercise three times a week! Everything seemed like a huge effort before but not now. Life seems to be falling into place. I was in a strange place before, unhappy, angry and very unsettled. Could this be wheat intolerance that caused all this?
You go girl. I feel the same way. Giving up wheat has been life changing in the very best of ways!
Isn’t it crazy the difference giving up something like wheat can make? I love hearing these stories of improved health. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Wheat is definitely hard to give up. I knew it was going to be hard to do I started a food recipe board on Pinterest and started making bomb paleo dishes like siracha chicken wings and bacon rolled asparagus, egg muffins and all kinds of veggie smoothies. I also keep nuts and fruit at work at all time. To replace wheat, I add a lot of veggies to a meal. I had to learn how to cook veggies better because before this, I ate very few. Now I have a lot of recipes under my belt. I also had to up my food budget about $20 each week which meant spending less on fun items like clothes and nail polish but it has been so worth it. The change in mood, my skin, my weight and my happiness level feels better than any item of clothing or cinammon roll ever could. Believe me!
Linda Marie Finn
I just snagged your ebook on wheat off amazon. I keep saying we need to ditch the carbs and this is a good reason why. After reading several of your articles I am going to try so much harder to not eat breads and such. I had alot of inflammation and edema, pain and Im not sure what I changed that mattered but I lost 11 lbs and the edema went away. I know I was eating less breads and such.Thank you for writing what you did . And Luke, thank you for writing for covenant eyes. Hubby pointed me to an article you wrote there about porn and mens additions. Pray for us ok, were fighting the good fight and we know Jesus has it already but we are dealing with worldly attacks from the evil one and so covet your prayers.
Mamma to our 3 blessings, 7 total for me.
Thank you for the comment Linda. I hope that the book is helpful. I’d really encourage you to commit to being exclusively gluten-free for at least 3 months. I know that sounds like a lot, but even a little bit of gluten can derail your progress.
We will also pray for you! Keep fighting the good fight. Blessings!