Here’s the Skinny…
Gluten sensitivity is a growing trend. In fact, some studies show that 1 in 20 Americans have a gluten sensitivity and 1 in 133 have celiac disease. Many of my patients express a newfound vitality when eliminating gluten. While it is the gluten in wheat and other grains like rye and barley that we associate with the ill effects, when it comes to wheat there are some other components that create inflammation and, yes, make us fat.
The wheat of 50 years ago is not the wheat of today. Through genetic manipulation and hybridization the wheat of today is a hardier and higher-yielding plant. It also has a higher number of chromosomes, more starch, and more gluten as well as other proteins not originally found in wheat. While plenty of other crops have been genetically modified, no other food (with the exception of corn) has worked its way into hundreds of thousands of food products – many times without our knowledge.
Besides water, starch is the most widely distributed molecule found in plants. Starch is made up of amylose and amylopectin. Amylopectin makes up the largest component of starch by weight. There are different forms of amylopectin: A, B, and C. Amylopectin A is found in wheat and is considered by some to be a “Super Starch”. Unlike the other forms of amylopectin, amylopectin A is readily digested an has profound effects on insulin. One slice of whole wheat bread, for example, raises blood sugar the same amount a tablespoon of table sugar does. It is no secret that eating foods high in sugar promote weight gain and decrease insulin sensitivity – a combo that is at the forefront of numerous chronic diseases.
There is another component of wheat that most people do not know about and may be the reason why some find it more difficult to eliminate from their diet than others. That is because this component makes wheat addictive. Through digestion, wheat is broken down into smaller proteins called peptides, or exorphins. These protein fragments can bind to opioid receptors in the body like morphine and heroin. Our body body makes a similar substance called endorphins and contribute to what is known as the “runner’s high”. Besides making it difficult to give up, this addiction leads us to overeat because it feels good. That feeling is short-lived and many crash soon after consumption.
If you are having difficulty losing weight, wheat may be at least partly to blame. Consider eliminating wheat for 4-6 weeks to see if you not only lose weight, but feel better.