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.
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