The Problem with Wheat
In my job as the “coach” in Trail Runner Magazine I have the great pleasure to communicate with top scientists, sports royalty, and the authors of the books I read. Some very famous and more importantly smart people actually talk to me, mostly because I write for a national magazine.
Cardiologist, and New York Times best selling author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” Dr William Davis was an expert for a question in my column about wheat. His full response was worth sharing here… so here it is.
“It’s not just every runner who has a problem with wheat, but every human has problems. And it is not just about gluten. Let me explain.
In the 1960s and 1970s, efforts to increase the yield of wheat via a variety of genetic techniques resulted in the creation of an 18-inch tall high-yield, “semi-dwarf” strain that boosted yields by up to 10-fold. But the changes introduced for increased yield resulted in changes in many other genetic and biochemical characteristics of the plant.
One protein that has undergone extensive change is gliadin. In addition to causing mind “fog,” addictive relationships with food, and appetite-stimulation, it is a highly inflammatory protein. Research at the University of Maryland, for instance, demonstrates that gliadin opens the normal intestinal barriers to foreign substances in the intestinal tract and thereby leads to inflammation of many organs, including joints. This is at least part of the explanation for why wheat consumption is associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditism.
There’s also wheat germ agglutinin. In addition to causing direct bowel toxicity that can be experienced as acid reflux or bowel urgency, it also gains access to the bloodstream and inflames joints, causing joint stiffness and pain.
Then there’s amylopectin A, the “complex” carbohydrate unique to wheat that acts more like a simple sugar like sucrose, sending blood sugar sky-high after just 2 slices of whole wheat bread. High blood sugars cause an irreversible change to the proteins of the body called “glycation.” The proteins of the cartilage of your joints, such as knees, hips, and back, undergo glycation, making cartilage stiff and brittle, leading to cartilage erosion and, eventually, arthritis.
That’s just a sample of what modern semi-dwarf wheat, the creation of genetics research, can do to humans, runners included. So it is no surprise that, by eliminating wheat, you felt better in a number of ways. The key: No human should be consuming this product of genetics research, else you pay a substantial health price. Because runners are among the healthiest of people, given their devotion to exercise and health, elimination of wheat is among the most powerful strategies to adopt for overall health and performance.
An interview on CBS with Dr. Davis.