Two recent publications implicate modern wheat varieties in a wide range of human diseases: Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight by cardiologist Dr. William Davis (2011) and The Dark Side of Wheat by researcher Sayer Ji. Dr Mark Hyman summarizes their theories in an article in The Huffington Post called Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat.
Gluten intolerance is well established as a problem for a small but growing population who react to a certain protein in wheat, barley and to a lesser extent oats. I wrote about it 2 years ago in column #60 Celiac Disease (26 April 2010).
The above publications argue that several factors in modern varieties of wheat, not just gluten, affect the health of everyone, contributing to our current high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, depression and many other modern diseases. Modern dwarf wheat varieties, with double the chromosomes of the ancient wheat species, have been bred for high yields and high levels of a special starch called amylopectin A. This starch makes beautiful bread and pastries but wreaks havoc with our blood sugar. According to Hyman this starch has a very high glycemic index (quickly converts to sugar) which contributes to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver and inflammation (and whole wheat is no better in this regard).
Modern wheat also contains a larger variety of proteins including the glutens most likely to cause celiac disease. This “super gluten” as Hyman calls it “…triggers severe inflammation throughout the body and has been linked to autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, autism, schizophrenia, dementia, digestive disorders, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, cancer and more.” Another compound in whole wheat is a glyco-protein called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) which also increases inflammation.
Finally the proteins in wheat convert during digestion to exorphins, polypeptides which act on our brain like endorphins and morphine causing food cravings and addiction. As Hyman puts it “no one binges on broccoli”. So … there appears to be a lot more problems with wheat than simple gluten intolerance.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.