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Being gluten-free is en vogue these days, but your waistline may benefit from the fad.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, in his recent Huffington Post article entitled: Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat:

“Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar.”

Most of the patients that I see believe that whole grain breads are actually good for them–adding fiber, vitamins and nutrients to their diet and improving their overall health.  Dr. Hyman disagrees, saying that whole grain breads are still processed and contain significant amounts of added sugar.

“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.”

Hyman reports that both white and whole grain breads raise blood sugar levels 70 to 120 mg/dl over starting levels for people with diabetes.  High glycemic index foods make people store belly fat.  Increased sugar levels in the body triggers inflammation, causes fatty liver disease, and eventually leads to the whole cascade of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes. These three health conditions now affect 50 percent of Americans and they are considered the cause of most of our health care costs.

Gluten Associated Health Problems

Gluten is that sticky protein in wheat that holds bread together and makes it rise.  Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and contaminated oats.  Celiac disease is a condition where gluten triggers severe inflammation in the digestive tract.  Gluten sensitivity has been linked to insulin sensitivity, weight gain, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, autism, schizophrenia, dementia, digestive disorders, nutritional deficiencies and cancer.  According to Hyman’s article, celiac disease and gluten-related problems now affect at least 21 million Americans.

How Does Gluten Cause Inflammation?

If you are sensitive to gluten or you have celiac disease, eating gluten is likely going to cause some digestive upset.  This is because the gluten protein triggers inflammation both in the digestive tract and throughout the whole body.  Dr. Hyman explains,

“It damages the gut lining. Then all the bugs and partially-digested food particles inside your intestine get across the gut barrier and are exposed your immune system, 60 percent of which lies right under the surface of the one cell thick layer of cells lining your gut or small intestine. If you spread out the lining of your gut, it would equal the surface area of a tennis court. Your immune system starts attacking these foreign proteins, leading to systemic inflammation that then causes heart disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes and more.”

Why Is Gluten Sensitivity So Common Now?

According to Dr. Hyman, it is because the type of wheat grown in this country has changed. The wheat that we consume is genetically modified.

“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.”

What Makes Wheat Addictive and Fattening

Dwarf wheat contains very high levels of a super starch called amylopectin A, which makes bread fluffy which increases the starch content and contributes to added weight gain. In addition, wheat also contains proteins called  “exorphins.” They are like the endorphins you get from a runner’s high.  They bind to the opioid receptors in the brain creating a mild morphine-like effect.  The wheat polypeptides are absorbed into the bloodstream and cross the blood brain barrier. They are called “gluteomorphins,” after “gluten” and “morphine.”  This high encourages the body to want to binge on breads, pastas, cookies, cakes and pastries.

How To Find Out If You Have Celiac or Gluten Sensitivity

Testing for celiac disease can be done through a blood test assessing for elevated antibodies to gluten (anti-gliadin, AGA, or tissue transglutaminase antibodies), as well as an intestinal biopsy.  If you do not have celiac disease, then you might have gluten sensitivity.  The gold standard for diagnosis of food allergies and food sensitivities is an elimination / rechallenge diet, where you avoid the food for 4 – 6 weeks and then rechallenge the food to see if you get reactions.  You can also do a food allergy test panel assessing IgE and IgG antibodies to 96 foods.

Source: Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, Huffpost Healthy Living

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