Gluten Free - Is Wheat Bad for you? Should you avoid Gluten?

11 Things You may not know about Wheat and your health...

It's been stated numerous times in general that grains are a poor choice for your health, but why? And which ones are worse for us or are they all just as bad as the next?

All grains are rough on your system, but gluten containing grains like wheat, barley and rye require special attention because they can be particularly damaging to your health. All grains, including other non-gluten containing grains like oats and corn, are bad because they contain gut irritating lectins and mineral binding phytates. Here we are going to learn why gluten-containing grains--and wheat especially--can not only cause the same problems as other grains, but also cause much more trouble down the road and ultimately cost you your health or lifestyle.

Three components are of interest and concern here:
  • Gluten
  • WGA (wheat germ agglutinin)
  • Opioid peptides found in wheat

Gluten is a building block protein that composes about 80% of the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. WGA is a lectin found in wheat that can be particularly damaging. Opioid peptides are psychoactive chemical chains and those found in wheat are similar to those found in other known psychoactive drugs like opium or morphine.

Unlike what many would have you believe, wheat is not the healthy alternative that it has been marketed to be and should not only be avoided by those who suffer from Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disease caused by the reaction of the immune system against Gliadin, a basically insoluble protein found in gluten), but the general public as a whole as well. Sufferers of Celiac Disease often have a more pronounced reaction than those without the condition as their bodies are less acclimated to processing this harmful substance, but most people have a reaction which may be manifested in less obtrusive ways and are therefore harder to diagnose and pinpoint, in turn costing large sums of money for testing and visits to your healthcare provider when they do manifest.

Now let's go over some of the reasons why consuming wheat or any of the other gluten containing grains would be detrimental to your health and the positive outcomes that you are actively seeking in your lifestyle:

Reasons to Avoid Wheat and Other Gluten Containing Grains or Substances

Gluten causes an irritation of the stomach lining which leads to inflammation in at least 80% of the population, while another 20% of the population will develop antibodies or some other form of defense against gluten-based proteins that are ingested. Almost 99% of the world's population has the potential to develop natural defenses and antibodies against gluten. These natural defenses and antibodies being developed and released/employed can actually be good news. The reason for this being that when the body doesn't react against gluten right away, gluten proteins can enter the blood stream more easily, therefore causing more harm and triggering immune system responses and reactions elsewhere throughout the body and leading to those costly medical visits as mentioned earlier.

Gliadin, the major problem component found in gluten proteins, can be similar in structure to other proteins found in bodily tissues of certain organs such as the thyroid and/or the pancreas. Antibodies produced by our immune systems in an effort to defend against Gliadin can actually end up attacking those organs and ultimately cause autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes if not caught early on and corrected.

The body's first natural response of irritation and inflammation within the stomach and surrounding intestines causes intestinal cells to die prematurely, which in turn leads to oxidation and decomposition of those cells. This effect creates a "leaky gut". Leaky Gut Syndrome (Hyper permeable Intestines) is a medical condition in which the intestinal lining has become more porous due to the previously mentioned inflammation and destruction of cells. With more holes developing that are larger in size, the body's natural screening process is no longer functioning properly.  This in turn results in larger, undigested food molecules and other "bad stuff" (gluten, yeast, toxins, and all other forms of waste) that your body normally doesn't allow through to flow freely into your bloodstream. This also means that food as not digested properly and nutrients are not absorbed fully, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Antibodies against gluten have also been shown to attack heart tissues and cause heart disease.
Along with the known dangers of Gluten, research on the long term effects of Gluten ingestion are being associated with certain forms of cancer. It is potentially cancer-causing, but at the very least it is being determined to be cancer promoting.

WGA (Wheat Germ Agglutinin)
WGA, like gluten, irritates and causes premature cell death in the stomach and intestines which in turn again leads to a leaky gut condition and all of the associated issues as discussed.

WGA also disrupts the mucous membrane in the stomach and intestines, which can cause bacterial overgrowth and lead to a host of digestive issues like GERD, IBS and ulcers.

The lectin often ends up circulating throughout the body and eventually into the brain, where it can cause "leptin resistance" and have negative effects similar to insulin. Those two factors could be a cause or promoter of obesity, as leptin and insulin are the two most important hormones to properly regulate body weight and certain metabolic functions of the body in order to maintain a normal weight and energy balance.

WGA and other components of wheat cause vitamin D stores to metabolize abnormally and then block pores in such a way that the depleted vitamin D can't be replenished and therefore leads to vitamin D deficiency, with all its accompanying issues such as osteoporosis, depression and a weakened immune system with an increased vulnerability to illness and disease.

Opioid Peptides
An addiction to wheat in some people has been proven to be a direct result of the opioid peptides contained in wheat, followed by withdrawal symptoms upon the removal of wheat from the diet.

Certain opioid peptides have also been associated with Schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness as a possible cause or at least as a promoter of the diseases due to the impact they have on the mental and nervous systems. It has been shown that Schizophrenics often see their symptoms reduce by a measurable amount when removing wheat from their diet.

We as humans are not adapted to ingest the amount of harmful grains and wheat products that are ever so present in our diets and pushed upon us by not only the food manufacturers but our own government in terms of the FDA and their highly harmful food pyramid that advocates for wheat and grains to be the foundation of our diet. It's no wonder that we are seeing more children with early onset symptoms of diseases usually reserved for adults, while also seeing an astronomical rise in diseases thought to be rare and becoming more commonplace, that are more and more often diagnosed and linked to the grains and wheat we were taught to make a staple of our daily lives.

Positive changes are often noticed immediately after removing wheat and other gluten containing grains from ones diet.
While most people are capable of indulging in "cheat days" and less healthy choices on occasion from time to time without any negative consequences, it is of known opinion in not only the Paleo community but also the medical professions that wheat and other gluten containing grains should be completely cut from the diet; especially for those with known health issues associated with wheat and/or gluten or other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. If it is not a feasible option to completely remove these things from the diet, then a strong effort should be made to severely limit the intake of them, with a goal to eventually eliminate them.

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