We see this over and over again in the photos people provide on the Wheat Belly Facebook page: people look younger. It’s not uncommon for people to look like they’ve shed 10 or 20 years, such as the beautiful couple, Debi and Wayne, seen in the photos above.
But why does this happen?
As with many aspects of youth preservation or anti-aging, we suffer from lack of hard science. Given what we know about the health consequences of wheat and grains, however, along with the phenomena that recede with their removal, I can speculate on why people seem to look so much younger with this lifestyle. Among the likely factors are:
- Loss of facial edema–Yes, people are thinner, but you will also note that many people lose the swollen, bloated fluid retention when they say goodbye to wheat and grains, an effect that develops within the first few days.
- Loss of facial redness–Red cheeks and facial seborrhea also recede rapidly, generally during the first week. Obviously, “selfies” suffer from imperfect lighting, but I believe that you can make out this effect in Debi’s face. (Wayne’s glasses and facial hair make it tough to make out on his face.)
- Loss of puffy eyes–The aging effect of puffy, swollen eyelids are commonly lost rapidly, also.
- Sharper facial contours–Consequent to both loss of facial edema and weight lost, the cheeks and jawline appear sharper.
- Thicker hair–Though not seen in this couple and not the most consistent effect, some people grow thicker hair or have empty spots fill in, particularly if they have alopecia areata, an autoimmune form of hair loss.
People also report feeling 10 or 20 years younger, or even the best they’ve felt in their adult lives, so it is not just a matter of external appearance. Internal physiological health improves substantially, restoring vigor and energy of younger years. People feel less stiff, have less painful joints and muscle, less gastrointestinal distress, and gain flexibility. I have also frequently witnessed better maintenance of muscle mass, even with weight loss. Typically, about 1/3 of weight lost is in the form of muscle. This equation seems to be different when weight is lost with wheat- and grain-elimination with less marked muscle loss. Having more muscle is a marker of youth. (I wonder if this is another reason why facial appearance is changed without producing the look of emaciation that, for example, low-fat dieting or calorie counting can cause.)
You can also take the anti-aging, youth-preserving benefits of this lifestyle even further with some additional strategies:
Vitamin D–Among the most powerful strategies of all, even having been shown to slow the shortening of telomeres (a chromosomal time-counting mechanism), presumably slowing the aging process.
Limiting other carbohydrates and sugars–Thereby reducing glycation, or blood glucose-modification of proteins–an irreversible process. This means that the proteins in the lenses of your eyes will not opacify and cause cataracts as easily. It means that cartilage proteins will not glycate as quickly that would have otherwise led to brittle cartilage and arthritis. It means that proteins in the body’s arteries won’t glycate, causing stiffness and hypertension.
Cultivate healthy bowel flora–Though we start with a high-potency probiotic, we cultivate and nourish healthy species with prebiotic fibers/resistant starches, as discussed in this Wheat Belly Blog post and in Wheat Belly Total Health. This reduces body-wide inflammation, improves gastrointestinal health, adds to correction of metabolic distortions such as reducing insulin, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and deepens sleep–very youth-preserving.
Perhaps there’s more that I have not identified. But know that, regardless of why you undertook this Wheat Belly wheat/grain-free lifestyle, one of the nice side-benefits is looking and feeling younger than you are.