Kay shared her Wheat Belly experience over her initial 4 weeks:
“After over 30 years of battling food addiction and morbid obesity, I had just about given up. You name it, I have tried it, even lap-band surgery which worked temporarily but, of course, did not solve the problem.
“Now, for the first time in my life, I am not struggling with food: I am not craving, obsessing, or even really thinking about food. I’ve been doing Wheat Belly about a month and am down about 20 pounds, but the most striking thing is that my desire to eat compulsively is GONE. I am utterly stunned by this.
“I can’t begin to express how huge it is for me and what a profound effect this way of eating is already having on my life. In addition, I’ve never done a food regimen that is so easy and manageable that I could see doing it for the rest of my life. Dr. Davis, thank you for your incredible, life-saving work.”
Kay understands just how powerful an appetite-stimulant wheat and grains can be for some people, creating obsessive, 24-hours-a-day cravings, always struggling to hold back the floodgates of excessive food consumption. These people—as well as their doctors—blame themselves for lack of willpower or weakness of character. But it’s really nothing more than an effect of consuming wheat and grains.
Kay’s experience reveals a basic truth about wheat and related grains: They act as opiates. (From here on, when I say “wheat” I really mean wheat and closely related grains, especially rye, barley, and corn, those that have overlapping protein sequences in their gliadin, or “prolamin,” proteins.)
I don’t mean that wheat is an opiate in the sense that you like it so much that you just feel you are addicted. Wheat is truly addictive.
Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors. If you don’t have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another “hit” of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if it’s the few stale 3-month old crackers at the bottom of the box. Wheat is addictive in the sense that there is a distinct withdrawal syndrome characterized by fatigue, nausea, headache, mental “fog,” inability to exercise, even depression that lasts several days, occasionally several weeks, all the features of an opiate-withdrawal syndrome. Wheat is addictive in the sense that the withdrawal process can be provoked by administering an opiate-blocking drug such as naloxone or naltrexone.
But the “high” of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesn’t make us high. It makes us hungry.
This is the effect exerted by gliadin, the protein in wheat that was inadvertently altered by geneticists in the 1970s during efforts to increase yield. Just a few shifts in amino acids and gliadin from modern high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat became a more potent appetite stimulant.
Wheat stimulates appetite. Wheat increases calorie consumption: 400-800 more calories per day for most people, 365 days per year, for every man, woman, and child. We experience this, then try to compensate by pushing the plate away, settling for smaller portions, increasing exercise . . . yet continue to gain, and gain, and gain. Ask your friends and neighbors who try to include more “healthy whole grains” in their diet. They exercise, eat a “well-balanced diet” . . . yet gained 10, 20, 30, 70 pounds over the past several years. Accuse your friends of drinking too much Coca Cola by the liter bottle, or being gluttonous at the all-you-can-eat buffet and you will likely receive a black eye. Many of these people, like Kay before Wheat Belly, are actually trying quite hard to control impulse, appetite, portion control, and weight, but are losing the battle with this appetite-stimulating opiate in wheat.
Ignorance of the effects of wheat is responsible for silly comments like this from Dr. Peter Green of Columbia University who declared:
“We tell people we don’t think a gluten-free diet is a very healthy diet . . . Gluten-free substitutes for food with gluten have added fat and sugar. Celiac patients often gain weight and their cholesterol levels go up. The bulk of the world is eating wheat. The bulk of people who are eating this are doing perfectly well unless they have celiac disease.”
Wow. In the simple-minded thinking of the gastroenterology and celiac world, if you don’t have celiac disease, you can eat all the wheat you want . . . and never mind about the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin, not to mention the intestinal disruption and leakiness generated by gliadin, or the high blood sugars of amylopectin A of wheat, or the iron deficiency caused by phytates. And because gastroenterologists don’t know any better, they advise people with celiac disease to consume gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice flour, potato flour, and tapioca starch—horrible substitutes that, no surprise, cause type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
If you are following the Wheat Belly lifestyle, you have been freed from the imprecise thinking of gastroenterologists, finger-pointing by primary care physicians, as well as the stimulation of appetite by gliadin-derived opiates.