Sales of gluten-free foods now exceed $6 BILLION a year.
Wheat was once celebrated as the “king of grains.” In its whole-grain form it was even a poster-child of the health food movement. Wheat germ may have been the first “health food” I ever tried.
Now millions of people believe wheat is the cause of their bad health.
The incidence of the most severe reaction to wheat — celiac disease — is skyrocketing, confirmed by comparing older blood samples to more recent ones.
But most of us don’t have celiac disease. And plenty of cynics are saying “gluten-free” is just a fad. Are they right? Keep reading. . .
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Dr. Alessio Fasano’s work at Harvard has shown that everyone likely has a negative reaction of some sort to gluten.1
Gluten sensitivity could more accurately be called gluten toxicity. That word points the finger at the real aggressor instead of at you, the victim. It’s not that you’re a genetic mutant who’s allergic to the world’s most popular food. No, the stuff really is a poison.
Some experts believe that as many as one in 20 Americans suffer from gluten toxicity, though that number could explode as we learn more in the coming years.
Yet if you do cut gluten from your diet and feel better, many doctors just brush it off as a placebo effect… You felt different only because you expected to. Keep insisting you feel better in the absence of a confirming lab test, and you just might be referred to a psychiatrist.
Secrets from Pandora’s bread box, revealed
So what actually happens to your body when you consume gluten or wheat?
The best-known negative reaction is celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.
But in reality, wheat consumption can lead to 205 documented conditions, including all cancers, depression, osteoporosis, and irritable bowel syndrome.
I know a man who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, irreversible. He completely recovered his mind and memory when he gave up gluten.
From the perspective of the medical establishment, the evidence can be found on the National Library of Medicine’s biomedical database known as Medline, which currently lists 9,776 references to gluten.
Symptoms of those who are non-celiac (but) gluten intolerant (NCGI) include…
- Abdominal pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Weight gain or loss
Unfortunately, many who are NCGI are never diagnosed. All the conditions above can have many, many other causes. But NCGI is finally being recognized, albeit reluctantly, as a major cause of bad health. By the way, I should add that gluten is present in barley and rye, as well as wheat.
If you suffer from just about ANY mystery ailment that doctors can’t solve (and I’ve been there myself), it’s worth getting these grains out of your diet just to see what happens. You might get a pleasant surprise. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t see that it did me much good.)
Despite all the evidence for widespread gluten toxicity, some doctors still believe that you either have all-out celiac disease or you’re fine. They don’t acknowledge any other wheat reaction.
Research shows that about four out of five people in the Western world react to gluten by producing IgM and IgG antibodies, meaning their immune systems treat it as a foreign substance that has to be fought.
But since there’s no actual dangerous invader to fight against, these antibodies merely damage your body instead. As most of us consume so much wheat, our immune systems are in full fight-mode against gluten, all the time.
This leaves you more vulnerable to many diseases, since your immune system can only handle so many “enemies” at once.
Those with celiac disease experience serious reactions, eventually leading to death, but that’s not to say the rest of us get off scot-free.
What’s more, gluten is not the only reason to avoid wheat products. As I’ve said in this newsletter many times, the best course of action is to avoid ALL carbs as much as you can. And for most of us, wheat is the #1 carb.
For example, eating two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than consuming two tablespoons of table sugar does.2 That’s your lunchtime sandwich, or your breakfast bagel. If you’re wheat-free, you’re well on your way to being carb-free.
But among carbs, wheat is in a class all by itself. According to studies, eating gluten can cause or exacerbate inflammation throughout your body.3 And as you know, inflammation is linked to nearly every chronic disease.
Grains containing gluten aren’t the only ones that cause problems either. ALL grains that contain gut-irritating lectins and mineral binding phytates may generate illness.
Wheat contains a lectin called WGA, which is largely responsible for wheat’s widespread, hard-to-diagnose ill effects. Lectin is also present in wheat’s supposedly superior sprouted form. Wheatgrass is not a problem; gluten is found only in the grain.
What’s unique to WGA is that it can directly damage the majority of your body tissues without showing any symptoms you would notice – at first. It’s a silent killer.
Normal wheat pathology causes mucosal injury to your GI tract. Its tiny size allows it to pass to all your cell membranes with ease. And just one wheat kernel contains 16.7 trillion molecules of WGA. Hard to believe, but true.
Here’s why you may want to think twice about eating WGA:
- It’s an inflammatory at exceedingly small concentrations.
- Contributes to autoimmune disease.
- Passes through your blood-brain barrier and may be neurotoxic.
- Kills living cells
- May interfere with gene expression.
- Is an endocrine disruptor
- Implicated in weight gain, obesity, leptin and insulin resistance.
- Stimulates epidermal growth factor, a risk factor for cancer.
- Causes thyroid malfunctions.
- Attaches to sperm and ovary cells, adversely influencing fertility.
- Damages your heart and GI tract
- Gains easy access to your entire system through your intestines.
WGA feeds the cancer monster
There’s substantial evidence that wheat promotes cancer, and possibly even causes it.
Gluten becomes a dense thick paste that covers your intestines and impairs your ability to absorb nutrients. (The word “gluten” is related to “glue.”) This interference with nutrient absorption may be enough reason to skip gluten – especially when fighting cancer (when you should be avoiding carbs anyway).
Almost any expert on cancer alternatives will tell you that high nutrient intake is critical for treatment and recovery. Gluten stresses your immune system and undermines your ability to fight off a cancer invasion.
This will almost certainly hurt your chance of recovering from cancer… and could increase your risk of developing it as well.
Some studies explicitly link cancer and gluten. Researchers in Italy found that those who eat the most bread were 94% more likely to develop kidney cancer than those who eat the least.4 One study isn’t the final word, but it’s enough reason to be concerned.
Gluten has also been linked to increased risk of thyroid and breast cancers.
The link to brain disease…
Gluten and wheat also have a major link to Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Of particular concern is the link between gluten and brain function. Several brain disorders respond well to grain-free diets, suggesting a strong link between the two. At least some victims of Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy have responded to a gluten-free diet.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Dr. David Perlmutter stated:
“The biggest issue by far is that carbohydrates are absolutely at the cornerstone of all of our major degenerative conditions. That includes things like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and even cancers. What we know is that even mild elevations in blood sugar are strongly related to developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
Published August 8, 2013, in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Even mild elevations in blood sugar compromise brain structure and lead to shrinkage of the brain. That’s what our most well-respected, peer-reviewed journals are telling us.”5
The worst myth of all
The most dangerous myth is that gluten toxicity isn’t a widespread problem – that the gluten-free diet is just a fad. This is yet another case of conventional medicine holding on to old beliefs and ignoring the evidence.
Avoiding gluten can be a challenge. Sure, it’s in wheat, barley, and rye. But that means it’s in products you might not think about, like beer, or soy sauce that contains wheat.
Stick to fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, and seafood. Make your own dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs. It’s easy.
Should you go to “gluten-free” products? I recommend against it because they merely consist of other kinds of starches you need to avoid – and generally tons of sugar. Packaged gluten-free products and mixes have become a backdoor way to feed your sweet tooth while avoiding wheat.
Why not instead go on a “grain fast” for 30 days and see if you experience any improvement? After 30 days, you might realize the addiction has been broken, and you really don’t need wheat products.
In my personal experience, I didn’t see any obvious health benefits from giving up gluten. And when I do eat wheat products, I don’t experience any discernible bad reaction. So I’m willing to accept that a gluten-free regimen is not the magic cure-all for everyone. But I do see the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, so I continue to eat very little gluten.
Something worth noting is that in some gluten-sensitive individuals the bad symptoms may persist for weeks after just one helping of wheat. Some doctors believe this is because the antigens – the molecules your body creates to fight gluten – are the real problem. For this reason, if you want to give the gluten-free diet a thorough trial, do without gluten for several months. Then eat a small amount and see if you experience a reaction.