Doped

I’ll bet you pride yourself on living a pretty clean life.

It’s doubtful that I’d stumble on you in some alley, track marks up your arms, lying in a puddle of your own urine, unconscious from a night of shooting up heroin, snorting coke, or smoking crack. And you probably have all or most of your teeth, unlike the toothless addicts on methamphetamine.

Perhaps you even avoid or minimize your use of the softer recreational drugs in cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. You likely adhere to healthy practices and keep such indulgences to a minimum.

The truth is that you’ve been doping it up for most of your life. You’ve been doping it up with an opiate, not unlike heroin, Oxycontin, or morphine. You’ve been doping it up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. No tracks, no toothlessness, no pee stains on your trousers, no cardboard sign reading “I’m homeless and need help” . . . but you’ve still been doping it up.

You’ve been cleverly disguising your opiate of choice as muffins, bagels, breakfast cereals, and sandwiches. As with many of the dark and fascinating hidden issues surrounding modern wheat, this is the effect of the gliadin protein of wheat.

Gliadin is digested via stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes to a collection of polypeptides (small proteins) called exorphins, or exogenously-derived morphine-like compounds. The message to take from the research is quite clear: Wheat-derived exorphins bind to the opiate receptors of the brain (the delta class of opiate receptors, for you neuroscience people). Different wheat exorphins, such as the A5 fraction, differ in their binding potency, but as a whole, the wheat exorphins exert an opiate-like effect.

For unclear reasons, wheat exorphins do not provide relief from pain, nor the “high” of other opiates. They “only” cause addictive behavior and appetite stimulation. People who consume wheat increase calorie consumption by around 440 calories per day, every day.

Just as the tobacco industry doped their cigarettes for years with added nicotine to increase addictive potential, so Big Food has likewise been doping their foods by adding wheat to every conceivable processed food. Wheat is in nearly all breakfast cereals, granola bars, canned tomato soup, powdered instant soups, taco seasoning, and licorice. Show me a processed food product and I’ll show you something that contains wheat.

Just as the sleazy drug dealer selling you your next hit of crack or heroin profits from your continued addiction, so Big Food acts as your opiate dealer in the wheat exorphin world of addiction. And, just as the drug dealer knows you will be back, else you will suffer withdrawal, sweating, hallucinating, finally begging for your next hit, so Big Food knows you will be back within hours as you begin the exorphin withdrawal process—tremulous, cranky, and foggy . . . until you get your next hit of a bite of pretzel or bread.

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