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Saturday, September 03, 2011

More on wheat and health

My friend Janet sent me this interesting commentary about wheat gluten:

Wheat contains the lectin Wheat Germ Agglutinin. At levels achieved during bread eating, WGA acts as an adjuvant for gut contents - targeting glycosilated food or bacterial products to the mucosal immune system, and stimulating those immune cells via toll-like receptors to produce inflammatory cytokines and antibodies against the antigen. If a bit of your body's proteins happen to look like that food / bacterial protein, you're risking autoimmunity. Wistar rats raised without wheat germ have white blood cells half as active at rest, and half as responsive to less-noxious stimuli, despite retaining the ability to respond fully to genuine infections. WGA is a recipe for autoimmunity and inflammation. If you have any autoimmune condition, from rheumatism to vitiligo, cutting wheat and other lectin-bearing plants out of your diet is one of the best steps you can take.

WGA also interacts with leptin and insulin receptors, and may play a role in the 20-30% hyperphagia (involuntary overeating) seen in diets that contain grains. Yup, if you eat grains, you're eating 20-30% more calories per day to feel full, than you would if you cut them out altogether. This is a robustly repeated finding of published Paleolithic diet trials, along with the restoration of insulin-sensitivity.

Wheat proteins are also broken down to peptide sequences that fit and activate mu and delta opioid receptors. Incredibly, it's been observed (by a cardiologist) that up to 30% of people stopping eating wheat abruptly go through a withdrawal syndrome that may last days.

Not forgetting the phytic acid that grains have in abundance, which binds many minerals in an insoluble form preventing their absorption. Non-grain eating societies (rare though they are now) are reported to lack the endemic anemia found in subsets of the western population.

None of these described effects are an "allergy" in the true sense of the word. It's just we should never have been eating this lectin-laden, inflammatory grass seed in the first place, but a lot of us can appear (appear) to be getting away with it for so many years that the alarm bells don't go off.


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