Wheat- is it the staff of life or a weed of disease?




The public is becoming more aware of the negative effects of wheat and other grains on their health. Many of these effects present as chronic problems unresponsive to conventional treatments.

Over the past decade, there has been an increased recognition in the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance can result in chronic gut inflammation and damage to intestinal villi, which are essential for nutrient absorption.

The relationship to gluten containing grains to obesity and diabetes has also become clearer.

The gluten reactions occur mostly from the peptides known as gliadin. Gliadin damages the intestinal tract.

Lectins lead to “Leaky Gut”

Lectins, are sticky proteins in plants used for protection. They are a prominent feature of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA).

Lectins flatten out intestinal villi making the gut lining more permeable. This results in a condition known as “leaky gut”. As proteins leak out of the intestines and into the general circulation, an immune reaction occurs. This reaction can lead to a number of health conditions (see list at end of blog).

Lectin and Leptin

Once lectins get into the blood stream, they can bind to leptin receptors, blocking the leptin sensitivity. Leptins are hormones that let you know you’ve had enough to eat.

This interaction disrupts insulin balance, which can lead to obesity and diabetes (Kind of makes you wonder why diabetics are told to increase their consumption of whole grains).

This hybrid is not good on gas

Wheat is not the same today as it was 50 years ago. It has been hybrid over time to resist fungus, grow more quickly, and be more pliable for industrial bread baking. 50 years or so ago, wheat contained only five percent gluten. Today, it is 50 percent gluten.

The food industry’s concern for production efficiency has focused on the bottom line with the usual disregard to the negative health consequences.

Breads and other baked goods are hastily produced with additives and short cuts that are toxic.

Even whole wheat, whole grain, sprouted and other terms used to infer that the product is “healthier” are not.



Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Not all of us are prepared to go strictly Paleo, excluding all grains and legumes and some of us prefer not to eat animals.

Grains such as rice and dried legumes while gluten free, contain phytates or phytic acid, which can block minerals from being absorbed in our bodies.

Overnight soaking, as well as cooking can help to minimize phytates, or phytic acid.

So if you don’t eat wheat or other grains, what should you eat?

I like Michael Pollan’s Three Simple Rules for Eating:  “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Eat food- food that is unprocessed and doesn’t come from a factory, i.e.  Closest to the way you might encounter them at their source.

Not too much- When we eat too many simple carbohydrates, our blood sugar and insulin spike, and then crash. The result is that we get hungry again, even though we just ate. Many processed foods kick-start this reaction, making moderation and portion control goals seem insurmountable.

By eating some protein with every meal and snack, you can help slow the blood sugar roller coaster. Add nuts, or a little bit of meat to your snacks.

Mostly plants (Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds) – Plant foods are the richest sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They contain hundreds of thousands of phytochemicals having disease-fighting properties that a laboratory can’t duplicate. Add a fruit to breakfast and  a colorful assortment of vegetable to lunch and dinner.

Some diseases that may be affected or caused by gluten

Celiac Disease,  Autoimmune Diseases, Schizophrenia, Psoriasis, Down Syndrome, Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Dermatitis,  Epilepsy, Liver Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Migraines, Atopic Dermatitis,  Gastroesophageal Reflux, Hyperthyroidism, Gastrointestinal Inflammation,                Diarrhea, Hypothyroidism, Infertility, Polyarthritis, Psychoses, Atherosclerosis          Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Meniere’s Disease           Peripheral Neuropathies, Restless Legs Syndrome,  Intestinal Permeability, Asthma,  Ataxia, , Psychiatric Disorders, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Children: Impaired Growth, Chronic Constipation, Colitis, Constipation,  Depression, , Seizures, Low Immune Function, Malabsorption, Elevated insulin, Male Hormone Imbalances, Facial Palsy, Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis.

Are you on this list?      


Join Steph (Stephanie Lecovin, MS RD) and Geoff,  at Fitness Forward in Bellevue Washington on  Thursday October 25th, 2012, at 7 PM,   for a discussion on-  The Effects of Gluten Containing Grains on your Health. (Bagels will not be served)!


About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin