The Gliadin Effect

Gliadin is a protein found within wheat gluten. It is, from a cold scientific viewpoint, a fascinating issue, a protean protein capable of incredibly varied biologic effects in humans. Among the things we know about gliadin:

–Gliadin is the most abundant protein in wheat, contained within gluten polymers.
–Gliadin of 2012 is different from the gliadin of, say, 1960, by several amino acids, part of the genetic transformation of wheat introduced to increase yield-per-acre.
–Gliadin is degraded to a collection of polypeptides called exorphins in the gastrointestinal tract. Exorphins cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to opiate-receptors to induce appetite, as well as behavioral changes, such as behavioral outbursts and inattention in children with ADHD and autism, hearing voices and social detachment in schizophrenics, and the mania of bipolar illness.
–People who consume gliadin consume 400 calories more per day; people who remove gliadin reduce calorie intake by 400 calories per day.

Incidentally, antibodies to gliadin are capable of binding to nervous system tissue and may contribute to immune-mediate neurological impairment, such as cerebellar ataxia and gluten encephalopathy. Gliadin, particular the omega fraction, is also responsible for allergic responses, including Bakers’ asthma and the odd wheat-dependent, exercise-induced analyphylaxis (WDEIA).)

The high-yield, semi-dwarf strains of wheat, invented in the 1960s and 1970s, was introduced to North American farmers in the late 1970s, who adopted it over the next decade. By 1985, virtually all wheat farmers were growing this high-yield strain. (Can you blame them? Per-acre yield increased about 10-fold, provided sufficient nitrate fertilizer was applied.)

What was the effect of the new wheat with its new gliadin protein? Take a look at the CDC’s chart of calorie intake in U.S. women:

It would be an oversimplification to attribute the rise in calories strictly to the new gliadin, as high-fructose corn syrup from soft drinks also contributed, especially in young males.

But the pattern is quite intriguing. Introduce the new gliadin with potential for stimulate appetite 400 calories per day, followed by gradual weight gain, followed later, after a lag of a few years to allow 30,40, 50 or more pounds of weight gain, by diabetes.

Of course, the “official” response is that the increased calorie consumption, overweight/obesity, and diabetes are your fault because you are a glutton and you’re lazy, eating chips, cookies, and other junk snacks along with sweetened soft drinks while you watch The Biggest Loser.

But, you know, I look around at the people I come across and I know hardly anybody over age 20 who fits this bill.

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