Can including wheat in your diet create hell on earth?
Was The Inferno nothing more than Danté’s prediction for the state of the U.S. diet circa 2009?
I’m kidding on The Inferno allusion, but the American diet nonetheless sure does create an inferno of unhealthy phenomena.
If we define hell on earth as constant, nagging pain and discomfort; energy depleted sufficient to impair daily function; chronic bloating and diarrhea; leg swelling, peculiar rashes; progression of a multitude of diseases ranging from annoying all the way to fatal . . . well, that’s a pretty bleak picture.
I have indeed witnessed it all. Inclusion of wheat products in the human diet in many (not all–I’d estimate 70% of people) yields devastating health effects. In a few, it shortens life. In the majority, it leads to a slow, miserable hell of inflammatory diseases like arthritis, coronary disease, and cancer.
I have also witnessed dramatic reversal of these phenomena with complete removal of wheat from the diet.
(For clarity, I am not only referring to gluten sensitivity, the immune reaction gone haywire that plagues people with celiac disease. Celiac disease is indeed another variety of wheat-induced hell on earth, but there’s far more to it than that.)
Among the effects I’ve seen with wheat removal:
–Increased clarity of thought—I can vouch for this effect personally. Focus, concentration, the capacity for prolonged application of effort is restored with elimination of wheat.
–ADHD—Marked improvement in attention deficit disorder can occur in children and adults with this focus-depriving condition. Elimination of sugars and cornstarch may be necessary for full effect. While it doesn’t seem to work in everybody, the effect is powerful enough?and the implications so profound?that it is worthy of consideration in any child with this condition.
–Improved bowel health?Many people plagued by chronic bloating, diarrhea, and urgency experience complete relief. In its most extreme form, it is expressed as celiac disease. But there are a larger number of people who do not have celiac who are plagued by this lesser form of intestinal intolerance.
–Weight loss?Patients have told me that they were actually frightened when they eliminated wheat, meaning weight dropped so rapidly that they thought something was wrong. Nothing is wrong. The weight loss simply represents the removal of this bizarre, unphysiologic trigger of appetite, blood sugar, insulin, and weight gain.
Relevant to heart health, wheat elimination effects include:
–LDL cholesterol reduction?Yes, I know that it’s not what the “official” agencies say. “Reduce fat, reduce saturated fat and cholesterol will drop.” That’s barely true; reductions of saturated fat reduce LDL cholesterol, but rarely more than 20 mg/dl. In contrast, elimination of wheat yields LDL reductions of 40, 50, even 100 mg/dl. And the type of LDL reduced is the small particle variety, the kind mostly likely to lead to heart disease. (Cutting fat generally reduces large LDL, the more benign form.)
–Triglyceride reduction?Triglyceride reductions of 50, 100, even 1000 mg/dl can be achieved with elimination of wheat (though elimination of cornstarch, sugars, and other processed carbohydrates may be necessary for full benefit).
–HDL increase?A variable response, but increase of 5-10 mg/dl are common.
–Reduced inflammation?This phenomenon expresses itself in a number of ways, including dramatic reductions of the common inflammatory marker, c-reactive protein. While the media focuses on the JUPITER trial of rosuvastatin’s (Crestor) ability to reduce CRP 50-60%, wheat elimination can easily match this?without drugs.
What’s more, you just feel better. Less commonly, I’ve seen arthritis (both common osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), skin rashes, and sleep disorders improve. I’ve had pre-diabetics become non-pre-diabetics, diabetics become non-diabetics.
It’s not so much whether that food is carbohydrate-rich or protein-rich. It really comes down to calories, a very simple message.’
— Dr. Frank Sacks
While some advocate the notion that only calories count and diet composition makes no difference, I offer this possibility: Whether or not weight is lost by diet, there can be enormous health effects independent of weight based on the composition of diet. Inclusion or exclusion of wheat is one such crucial factor.
Image courtesy Wikipedia, The Eighth Circle of Hell.
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