I discussed a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK, in my Wheat Belly books. CCK is a major player in the regulation of human hunger and eating behavior, as well as digestion. CCK is released when food, swallowed, reaches the duodenum, stimulating release of CCK from the cells lining the duodenal wall.
Also recall that CCK is blocked by wheat germ agglutinin, the lectin of wheat and related grains that has been enriched in modern strains of wheat for its pest-resistant properties. In other words, farmers and agribusiness scientists selected strains of wheat over the years for increased wheat germ agglutinin content, as it helps resist molds and insects, advantages in farming. But the increased CCK content of modern wheat also means that there is exaggerated potential for effects on humans who consume grain products.
When CCK is blocked, a variety of abnormal phenomena develop, including:
- Bile stasis—Because CCK is responsible for activating contraction of the gallbladder to expel bile into the duodenum that emulsifies fats, bile stasis can develop when CCK is blocked, i.e., bile is retained in the gallbladder and is thereby subject to crystallization, the process that leads to gallstones. Any food such as bread, bagels, or pancakes that contains wheat germ agglutinin therefore contributes to bile stasis. The process is made even worse if you combine wheat and grain consumption with reducing fat and/or calories that further contributes to gallbladder inactivity and bile stasis. In other words, conventional dietary advice to eat plenty of grains and limit fat and calories stacks the odds in favor of developing gallstones.
- Inadequate release of pancreatic enzymes—Along with bile, pancreatic enzymes help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Because wheat germ agglutinin is a blocker of pancreatic release of enzymes, this triggers symptoms of heartburn, impaired ability for complete digestion, and likely contributes to dysbiosis/SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
- Increased meal size—When CCK is stimulated by food in the duodenum, it discourages continued consumption of food, a normal feedback mechanism to tell you when you have had enough to eat. When CCK is blocked, appetite inhibition is disabled, encouraging increased food intake, increasing appetite. This is another reason why wheat and grain consumption increases food consumption, adding to gliadin-derived opioid peptides that also stimulate appetite.
I hope that you appreciate how conventional dietary advice derails normal physiology, how far off-course it sends you and leads you down the path of gallstones, dysbiosis/SIBO, and unrelenting appetite. Have you noticed how much more in control over appetite once you became wheat/grain-free?