Gluten-free is hot these days. There are books and websites, restaurants with gluten free menus, and grocery stores with hundreds of new gluten-free food products on the shelf.
Is this a fad, or a reflection of response to a real problem?
Yes, gluten is a real problem. But the problem is not just gluten. In fact, there are three major hidden reasons that wheat products, not just gluten (along with sugar in all its forms) is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, depression and so many other modern ills.
This is why there are now 30 percent more obese than undernourished in the world, and why chronic lifestyle and dietary driven disease kills more than twice as many people as infectious disease globally. These non-communicable, chronic diseases will cost our global economy $47 trillion over the next 20 years.
Sadly, this tsunami of chronic illness is increasingly caused by eating our beloved diet staple, bread, the staff of life, and all the wheat products hidden in everything from soups to vodka to lipstick to envelope adhesive.
The biggest problem is wheat, the major source of gluten in our diet. But wheat weaves its misery through many mechanisms, not just the gluten! The history of wheat parallels the history of chronic disease and obesity across the world. Supermarkets today contain walls of wheat and corn disguised in literally hundreds of thousands of different food-like products, or FrankenFoods. Each American now consumes about 55 pounds of wheat flour every year.
It is not just the amount but also the hidden components of wheat that drive weight gain and disease. This is not the wheat your great-grandmother used to bake her bread. It is FrankenWheat — a scientifically engineered food product developed in the last 50 years.
How Wheat and Gluten Trigger Weight Gain, Prediabetes, Diabetes and More
This new modern wheat may look like wheat, but it is different in three important ways that all drive obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more.
- It contains a Super Starch — amylopectin A that is super fattening.
- It contains a form of Super Gluten that is super-inflammatory.
- It contains forms of a Super Drug that is super-addictive and makes you crave and eat more.
The Super Starch
The Bible says,
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Eating bread is nearly a religious commandment. But the Einkorn, heirloom, Biblical wheat of our ancestors is something modern humans never eat.
Instead, we eat dwarf wheat, the product of genetic manipulation and hybridization that created short, stubby, hardy, high-yielding wheat plants with much higher amounts of starch and gluten and many more chromosomes coding for all sorts of new odd proteins. The man who engineered this modern wheat won the Nobel Prize — it promised to feed millions of starving around the world. Well, it has, and it has made them fat and sick.
The first major difference of this dwarf wheat is that it contains very high levels of a super starch called amylopectin A. This is how we get big fluffy Wonder Bread and Cinnabons.
Here’s the downside. Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar.
There is no difference between whole wheat and white flour here. The biggest scam perpetrated on the unsuspecting public is the inclusion of “whole grains” in many processed foods full of sugar and wheat, giving the food a virtuous glow. The best way to avoid foods that are bad for you is to stay away from foods with health claims on the labels. They are usually hiding something bad.
In people with diabetes, both white and whole grain bread raises blood sugar levels 70 to 120 mg/dl over starting levels. We know that foods with a high glycemic index make people store belly fat, trigger hidden fires of inflammation in the body and give you a fatty liver, leading the whole cascade of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. This problem now affects every other American and is the major driver of nearly all chronic disease and most our health care costs. Diabetes now sucks up one in three Medicare dollars.
The Super Gluten
Not only does this dwarf, FrankenWheat, contain the super starch, but it also contains super gluten which is much more likely to create inflammation in the body. And in addition to a host of inflammatory and chronic diseases caused by gluten, it causes obesity and diabetes.
Gluten is that sticky protein in wheat that holds bread together and makes it rise. The old fourteen-chromosome-containing Einkorn wheat codes for the small number of gluten proteins, and those that it does produce are the least likely to trigger celiac disease and inflammation. The new dwarf wheat contains twenty-eight or twice as many chromosomes and produces a large variety of gluten proteins, including the ones most likely to cause celiac disease.
Five Ways Gluten Makes You Sick and Fat
Gluten can trigger inflammation, obesity and chronic disease in five major ways.
- Full-blown celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that triggers body-wide inflammation triggering insulin resistance, which causes weight gain and diabetes, as well as over 55 conditions including autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel, reflux, cancer, depression, osteoporosis and more.
- Low-level inflammation reactions to gluten trigger the same problems even if you don’t have full-blown celiac disease but just have elevated antibodies (7 percent of the population, or 21 million Americans).
- There is also striking new research showing that adverse immune reactions to gluten may result from problems in very different parts of the immune system than those implicated in celiac disease. Most doctors dismiss gluten sensitivity if you don’t have a diagnosis of celiac disease, but this new research proves them wrong. Celiac disease results when the body creates antibodies against the wheat (adaptive immunity), but another kind of gluten sensitivity results from a generalized activated immune system (innate immunity). This means that people can be gluten-sensitive without having celiac disease or gluten antibodies and still have inflammation and many other symptoms.
- A NON-gluten glycoprotein or lectin (combination of sugar and protein) in wheat called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) found in highest concentrations in whole wheat increases whole body inflammation as well. This is not an autoimmune reaction, but can be just as dangerous and cause heart attacks.
- Eating too much gluten-free food (what I call gluten-free junk food) like gluten-free cookies, cakes and processed food. Processed food has a high glycemic load. Just because it is gluten-free, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Gluten-free cakes and cookies are still cakes and cookies! Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds and lean animal protein are all gluten free — stick with those.
-By Dr. Mark Hymen & Reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Crandall