We live in a world in which endocrine disruption–the disruption of endocrine gland function–is a growing health threat.
Endocrine disruption can take many forms. It can take the form of thyroid disease provoked by industrial chemicals, such as perchlorates, the residues of synthetic fertilizers in produce. Or it could be provoked by the polybrominated dipheyl ethers flame retardants in your carpeting. Or it could be the triclosan in your antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer. It can also take the form of causing young girls to experience menstrual cycles and breast growth prematurely due to exposure to estrogens in commercial dairy products, herbicides, and plastics. It could involve disruption of pituitary gland function from the head trauma of a car accident.
Wheat and, to a lesser extent, other grains exert their own form of glandular disruption. Among the ways that the muffin you had for breakfast or the pizza and beer you had last Friday can disrupt your endocrine gland function are:
- Gliadin-induced autoimmunity–When gliadin remains undigested in the human gastrointestinal tract (as it often does), it increases intestinal permeability via a cholera toxin-like mechanism worked out by Dr. Alessio Fasano and colleagues. This is a first step in triggering autoimmunity, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis that impairs thyroid function, or autoimmune adrenal cortical destruction leading to impaired cortisol release, or the destruction of pancreatic beta cells that leads to type 1 diabetes.
- Grains disrupt bowel flora–Gliadin, gliadin-derived peptides, wheat germ agglutinin, and the various allergenic proteins in grains, especially wheat, disrupt bowel health, part of which are changes in the composition of bowel flora. Should healthy Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species suffer and allow unhealthy strains, such as E. coli, Campylobacter, and C. difficile to emerge, intestinal leak develops and adds to potential for inflammation and autoimmune destruction of glandular tissue.
- Wheat germ agglutinin and insulin mimicry–Wheat germ agglutinin, or WGA, the protective lectin protein of wheat, rye, barley, and rice, mimics insulin, thereby adding to the effects of high insulin that include blocking fatty acid mobilization for weight loss.
- Wheat germ agglutinin and blocked cholecystokinin function–WGA blocks cholecystokinin, or CCK, responsible for stimulating the gallbladder to release bile and the pancreas to release pancreatic enzymes. This results in bile stasis and gallstones, impaired digestion with resultant indigestion, bowel urgency, and dysbiosis.
- Wheat germ agglutinin and blocked leptin–WGA blocks the hormone of satiety, leptin, in effect not providing the “stop eating” signal after a meal.
Should the visceral fat of a “wheat belly” be part of the grain-consuming picture, then even other endocrine gland disruptive effects develop, including enhanced aromatase enzyme conversion of testosterone to estrogen that impair fertility, reduce libido, and grow man breasts in males, increase breast cancer risk in females; increased inflammation that blocks cortisol action at various organs, so-called “glucocorticoid resistance”; disrupted hypothalamic and pituitary hormone signaling at various organs that has potential to disrupt every hormonal pathway in the body.
These are far from uncommon effects. In total, they affect, to various degrees, the majority of people who were persuaded that humans could include the seeds of grasses, AKA “grains,” in their diet and remain healthy. Eat more “healthy whole grains” and you risk disruption of the endocrine gland system and all its peculiar health consequences.