Oh man! Anyone else surprised at the stuff in ch 4-6. This is definitely eye-opening. Let’s dive in…
I want to reiterate that I will be taking quotes directly from the book and won’t always use quotes when I do it. I’ve thrown in my thoughts but the majority of the material below is directly from the book.
CHAPTER 4 – Hey, Man, Wanna Buy Some Exorphins? The Addictive Properties of Wheat
I like that the author talks about the psychological aspect of cutting wheat from your diet. I would argue that this is the toughest part of making changes to your diet. He mentions, ‘It’s not just a matter of inadequate resolve, inconvenience, or breaking well-worn habits; it’s about severing a relationship with something that gains hold of your psyche and emotions, not unlike the hold heroin has over the desperate addict.’ He goes on to mention that you consume coffee and alcohol for specific mind effects but with wheat, you consume it for ‘nutrition’. That makes it even more difficult to remove it from your diet.
He mentioned it before but he says again that removing wheat from your diet typically results in:
- Improved mood
- Fewer mood swings
- Improved ability to concentrate
- Deeper sleep
And all this can happen days after removal.
Dr. Davis continues with explaining exorphins. An abbreviation for exogenous morphine-like compounds, they’re a polypeptide. They have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier that separates the bloodstream from the brain. The barrier is there to protect our brain as it’s highly sensitive to substances in the blood. They bind to the brain’s morphine receptor. These exorphins are derived from wheat. And that’s why we get a high from eating wheat. Do you know how to reverse that? Get a dose of naloxone. It’s the same thing given to people high on opiates to reverse the affects. Yes, ‘the very same drug that turns off the heroin in a drug-abusing addict also blocks the effects of wheat exorphins.’
Wheat is one of the few foods with potent central nervous system effects. It can:
- Alter behavior
- Induce pleasurable effects
- Generate withdrawal symptoms upon it’s removal
To recap, ‘understanding that wheat, specifically exorphins from gluten have the potential to generate euphoria, addictive behavior and appetite stimulation means that we have a potential means of weight control: Lose the wheat, lose the weight.’
CHAPTER 5 – Your Wheat Belly Is Showing: The Wheat/Obesity Connection
Wheat makes us fat. That’s what the author claims. His findings with patients is that they lose weight when they cut wheat. Even when they have healthy diets. It’s intriguing. I don’t usually agree with blanket statements and I’m not so sure the author is trying to do that. I believe there are lots of factors to the weight gain America has seen. I’m sure wheat plays a huge role.
He mentions that a study in the 80’s and later show that when we replace white flour with whole grain flour, there is a reduction in colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It’s true but he also mentions that it’s a flawed rationale to think that it’s okay when you replace something that’s bad for you with something that’s less bad for you.
And now on to visceral fat…
‘Wheat triggers a cycle of insulin-driven satiety and hunger, paralleled by the ups and downs of euphoria and withdrawal, distortions of neurological function, and addictive effects, all leading to fat deposition.’ So this up and down cycle with our blood sugar leads to fat growth around our organs which we can see in the form of a belly.
How is visceral fat worse than other fat on our body?
It is ‘uniquely capable of triggering a universe of inflammatory phenomena. Visceral fat filling and encircling the abdomen of the wheat belly sort is a unique, twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week metabolic factory. And what it produces is inflammatory signals and abnormal cytokines, or cell-to-cell hormone signal molecules… The more visceral fat present, the greater the quantities of abnormal signals released into the bloodstream.’
Body fat can produce molecules that reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. As visceral fat increases though, it’s ability to produce these helpful molecules diminishes.
In summation, visceral fat can lead to:
- Abnormal insulin responses
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Colon cancer
Dr. Davis hits on something that I find to be empowering and at the heart of all healthy eating. If you can switch your perspective to align with this, you’ve conquered the hardest part of eating healthy.
‘The amazing thing about wheat elimination is that removing this food that triggers appetite and addictive behavior forges a brand-new relationship with food: You eat food because you need it to supply your physiological energy needs, not because you have some odd food ingredient pushing your appetite ‘buttons’, increasing appetite and the impulse to eat more and more.’
Healthy eating is about changing your perspective. Once you do that and see food in a new way, the rest becomes much easier.
‘It makes perfect sense: If you eliminate foods that trigger exaggerated blood sugar and insulin responses, you eliminate the cycle of hunger and momentary satiety, you eliminate the dietary source of addictive exorphins, you are more satisfied with less.’
Here’s another thing I found eye-opening: ‘Be gluten-free but don’t eat gluten-free’.
The author mentions that many gluten-free foods replace the gluten with blood sugar spiking ingredients. Things like cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch and tapioca starch are all foods that will cause an increase in blood sugar levels even more than wheat products. Even MORE THAN wheat products. That’s no good.
CHAPTER 6 – Hello Intestine. It’s Me, Wheat. Wheat and Celiac Disease
Celiac is something I became familiar with when my sister married. Her husband has celiac and it was years ago when he started seeing my sister. Our family had no idea what celiac was but over the years we’ve become very familiar. This chapter sheds even more light on celiac and the wide-reaching effects it has on the body.
Did you know that your small intestine is twenty-something feet and your large intestine is four feet? That’s a lot of length of the digestive system. It works non-stop so you can imagine if you’re putting something in your body that can potentially damage it, how detrimental it can be to your entire body.
Wheat entered the human diet during the past ten thousand years. This is a relatively short time and it was insufficient to allow all humans to make the adaptation to this unique plant. The most failed being celiac disease. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can’t be sure that other body systems aren’t being affected in a celiac-like way.
Celiac sufferers, when on a diet of gluten, have to deal with symptoms like cramping, diarrhea and yellow-colored stools (caused by undigested fats). Over the years this can progress into nutritional deficiencies of protein, fatty acids and vitamins B12, D, E, K, folate, iron and zinc.
Since the intestinal lining gets broken down, the various components of wheat gain entry to the bloodstream which results in the body breaking down it’s own lining. Bacteria gets through the lining as well which causes inflammatory and immune responses.
Over the past fifty years, celiac has increased 4 times, doubling in the past twenty years. This increase has paralleled an increase in type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease and allergies. This is because modern wheat contains more celiac-triggering gluten proteins than non-celiac-triggering proteins, based on studies.
The author explains that we now know, ‘You can be fat and constipated or thin and regular and still have the disease. And you are more likely to have it than you grandparents were.’
Back to the issue of substances mistakenly entering the bloodstream. This triggers an autoimmune response where the body attacks normal organs which can lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis. So, it’s super important to ensure your intestines are not permeable. Wheat gliadin (found in wheat) is a trigger for our body to release zonulin, a regulator of intestinal permeability. They disassemble tight junctions so releasing them causes the intestinal lining to become permeable. Another example of a trigger for zonulin include the infectious agents causing cholera and dysentery.
Next, Dr. Davis lines out what it’s like on a daily basis with someone dealing with celiac. I like this because it provides people that don’t suffer from symptoms with info that can help provide a different perspective. Instead of seeing them as overly cautious or fanatical, they can be viewed as someone trying to maneuver in this crazy, wheat-laden world in an effort to not feel sick all the time. It must be so frustrating working to avoid gluten in food as well as cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, prescription drugs and even gum. Everything that touches their body, topically or not, must be scrutinized.
I was surprised to learn that IBS and acid reflux could also represent lesser forms of celiac disease. This is huge. Who doesn’t know someone with one or even both of those issues?
He leaves us with a new perspective, ‘One of the essential but unappreciated phenomena accompanying wheat and gluten elimination, celiac or otherwise: You appreciate food more. You eat foods because you require sustenance and you enjoy their taste and texture. You are not driven by hidden uncontrollable impulses of the sort triggered by wheat.’
Sounds like a good place to land!