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It’s a new year and with it comes renewed motivation for change and resolutions. One of the most prevalent goals for the new 365 day cycle is to shed those pounds that may have been accumulating for sometime now.
With all of the quick fixes and abundance of conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know which way to go. Well, a simple, free way to get the ball rolling is by eliminating all wheat from your diet. Now this may sound way too simple, but there is a physiologic explanation for this and here it is:
The first concept that needs to be understood is that for the most part it is not dietary fat, but rather the carbohydrate that is mostly responsible for increased deposition of body fat. This includes everything from bread, sugar, pasta, and even too much fruit.
This is due to the fact that these foods break down to glucose in the body, which then prompts the release of insulin. Insulin delivers what glucose is needed to fill stores in tissue like the liver and muscles, with the rest being stored as fat.
You see this mechanism came in handy for our Paleolithic hunter and gatherer ancestors who encountered real periods of feast and famine due to the unavailability of food supply. It was at these times that the fat stores would be utilized to survive. For the most part this is not the case today as we live in an age of availability and relative abundance.
The issue arises when, due to high carb meals, insulin is constantly triggered by elevated blood glucose levels. When no more is needed for fuel, the storage of fat begins. The difference being, most people do not fast or skip meals at this point, but rather eat another carb heavy meal when hungry or even out of habit. The fat storage continues, the pounds pile on and the waist circumference balloons.
The higher the carb content of the meal, the higher the blood sugar rises, the more drastic spike in insulin, and the more fat being deposited; mainly around the waist and abdominal region.
This creates a vicious cycle as a high carb meal will lead to a high insulin response from the pancreas. This aggressive clearing of glucose from the blood can then leave you tired and hungry for another ride on the blood sugar roller coaster.
This is also the mechanism behind type II diabetes, as repeated spikes of blood sugar from high carb meals and subsequent surges in insulin in response to the blood sugar spikes leads your tissues to become insulin resistant, not wanting to accept any more glucose. At this point the only place for your body to dump the glucose load is around your waist as body fat.
So why is wheat public enemy #1 if you are diabetic, trying to lose weight or simply interested in overall health? Well if we comprehend the physiologic process laid out above, we understand that the higher the carb load, the more insulin is secreted and the more fat is stored for a rainy day; or better yet a beach day when it’s really appreciated.
Wheat is special due to the fact that it breaks down into a complex carbohydrate (a string of glucose molecules) in the body called amylopectin A. This particular carb has the distinguished honor of spiking the blood sugar more than actual table sugar.
If you are familiar with the glycemic index, you know it is basically a scale or measurement showing how readily absorbed a food is and the effects it will have on the blood sugar levels. Wheat ranks higher on the glycemic index than actual table sugar.
If we combine that knowledge with the knowledge of the carbohydrate digestive process that leads to fat deposition and the road to diabetes that we described above, we know that this is a big, bad deal. It also is essential, empowering knowledge of you are looking to drop the weight.
In addition to leading to weight gain and the metabolic dysfunction described above, wheat packs one more diabolical punch in that it is actually chemically addictive. You may hear people joke about their addiction to bread, but chemically it breaks down and serves as an exorphin to your brain that stimulates the same pleasure generating opioid receptors as heroin or morphine. There is a reason for the overeating of this mind altering, comfort food, and now you hopefully have another reason to kick it to the curb.
Two points in closing:
Many people resist the notion that wheat, or any food they were raised on can have such a negative impact. What needs to be fully understood is that the food, and wheat in particular, of today is not the food of the past. Cross breeding, hybridization and genetic modification has created a new product not in line with our genome, of which the long term effects are not known.
What is known is the basic human physiology and systemic impacts of elevated blood sugar (which wheat is king at causing), as far as weight gain and the path to diabetes. The fact that a diet consisting of heart healthy grains is still suggested to anyone, but especially those with the aforementioned two conditions is outright shameful.
The second point is that while kicking wheat (and all wheat, not just the obvious bread; read your labels) can have a strong impact on weight and blood sugar control, it needs to be accompanied with an intelligent diet. It seems obvious, but if you avoid wheat, but continue to drink soda, eat a high sugar diet (excess fruit included), and high carb/sugar gluten free alternatives, results will in all likelihood be hindered or outright negated.
However, beginning to phase the wheat and gluten out of your regular regimen can have benefits well beyond those covered in this brief post, but is essential if you are looking to drop some weight or regain control of your blood sugar.
If you have questions, need help getting started, figuring it out or devising an implementable and practical plan, please do not hesitate to contact us. (321-848-0987)
Make a move.
In keeping with the theme of our last post, we will delve into the puzzling and agonizing world of autoimmunity and how it relates to functional medicine. The first couple of eye opening paragraphs below were scribed by Dr. Datis Kharrazian and could make a substantial difference in quality of life.
“Autoimmunity has become a growing epidemic and many individuals seeking care in the healthcare system are suffering from autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is basically the loss of self tolerance, or the inability for the immune system to recognize self-tissue from foreign or pathogenic organisms, leading to an attack upon oneself.”
(I’d be remiss here if I didn’t briefly touch on one of the reasons why our trusty immune system may turn on us and it comes down to what we knowingly put in our bodies. When the food we eat leads to issues within our gut, lending to leaky gut or intestinal permeability, one of our main barrier systems of our bodies becomes compromised and foreign and undigested particles are allowed entry.
Our immune system sees this and does it’s job and attacks. Problem solved.
The issue arises when the presence of unwanted invaders persists and the immune system must continually attack. This puts the immune system on hyperactive defense mode and eventually, due to the similarity in structure between certain tissues and certain foods, the up regulated immune system begins to also attack our own tissues.
This can lead to the start of rheumatoid osteoarthritis as the immune system attacks the joints and breaks down cartilage, or diabetes 1 as the pancreas is attacked (studies now illustrating the similarity in structure of the beta cells of the pancreas and the casein proteins found in milk), MS as the protective covering of our central nervous system, myelin is broken down, or hypothyroidism (Hashimotto’s) as the thyroid is attacked (similar protein structure between thyroid tissue and gluten).
While diet is a major player in the development or facilitation of an autoimmune reaction, the list of catalysts goes well beyond that including many other environmental toxins.)
“The loss of self-tolerance and the development of autoimmunity is a major reason why many individuals notice a rapid decline in their health and seek consultation with a healthcare professional. Unfortunately, autoimmunity leads to a destructive process to various tissues over several years, and early autoimmunity may be easily overlooked in the current healthcare model.
In the current system, autoimmune disease is not diagnosed until the tissue has already been destroyed. In other words, an individual may have cartilage antibodies for several years and suffer significant pain, but they will probably not be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis until they have severe joint deformity.
Another person may have subtle autoimmunity to myelin and present with diverse neurological symptoms, but they will not be diagnosed because their MRI does not show enough destruction to be sensitive to MRI findings. It is now clear that the antibodies to tissues appear years before total destruction is obvious, and during these years, individuals suffer from symptoms associated with the destructive process.”
In the all too common scenario like the one above, a person suffering from the early stages of autoimmunity seeks consultation and since they do not have total tissue destruction, they are not diagnosed with any conditions. At this point many individuals end up seeking alternative medicine, as conventional models offer them very little support in the early stages.
Functional medicine looks at autoimmunity through a different lens, classifying it into three stages.
1) Silent Autoimmunity: antibodies present, but no symptoms.
2) Autoimmune Reaction: antibodies AND symptoms present, BUT not enough tissue destroyed to be diagnosed as an autoimmune disease.
3) Autoimmune Disease: antibodies present, symptoms may or may not be present, enough tissue destruction to diagnose.
So what can you do with all this empowering information? Well, speak with a healthcare professional who goes beyond the black and white and looks at things from a functional perspective. A review of history and symptoms will be done along with an exam. Appropriate blood work can be ordered and analyzed and if need be tests looking for specific antibodies can also be obtained.
With this information the appropriate nutritional, dietary and lifestyle modifications can be made in order to potentially delay progression or keep symptoms quiet by lessening inflammation, controlling the immune system and addressing any other systems specific to the individual.
Want to know more?
Have some specific questions?
Call us anytime (321-848-0987) to explore the liberating possibilities.
It seems that one of the trendiest topics being thrown around the health food arena today is a gluten free diet. However, unlike other diet fads, the reason to eliminate gluten from your diet is backed by a sound scientific explanation and significant positive changes have been seen when the gluten is kicked to the curb. This should be reassuring news to anyone who has heard the negative spin on gluten, but wondered whether or not it is just another excuse for food manufactures and restaurants to up-charge that gluten-free item.
What is Gluten Anyway?
Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat, rye oats, millet and barely. Gluten, or wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), is a type of protein called a lectin. (Keep in mind as you read that ALL grains [whole grains, corn, rice, etc.] contain these lectins, so all can wreak the same havoc I am about to describe.) Due to the structure of these lectins, they are not able to be broken down during the digestive process as other more friendly foods would. That leaves large protein structures intact and imbedded in your intestinal lining. Eventually, they make their way through your intestinal lining and this is where the problems begin.
Now that these lectins have entered the blood stream, they have access to your entire body. I’m talking everywhere from your reproductive organs, to your pancreas, to your brain. Once this unfamiliar protein structure is detected by the immune system, anti-bodies are created in order to get rid of the inappropriate foreign invader as it would a bacteria or virus. To understand what happens next, it needs to be understood that everything in your body is made up of a sequence of amino acids strung together to form a protein. Unfortunately these lectins have a remarkably similar amino acid sequence as many of the tissues in your body. So, now as your immune system works properly to destroy the unwanted foreign structure, it also begins to attack your own tissues due to something referred to as micro or molecular mimicry, and thus you have the start of an autoimmune disease. The situation is even further amplified due to the fact that when the large, awkward lectin (in this case WGA) makes its way through the intestinal lining, it also damaged it. This is what is commonly referred to as your “leaky gut.” The cascade continues, and now other proteins pass through the intestinal wall before being adequately broken down by the intestinal digestive enzymes. Immune responses are now generated to otherwise harmless foods. Food allergies and the start of other autoimmune diseases now have the green light to commence.
But Wait, There’s More?
Grains must be looked at as living things. They are a simple people with their objective being to survive long enough to reproduce. To do this, they must receive nourishment and have some sort of defense mechanism. Grains contain these things called phytates (or anti-nutrients) which tightly bind to minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium in order to nourish the grain and enable germination. All good for the grain, but not so good if that sucker is making a home inside of you. The phytate property of the grain enables it to powerfully bind the above listed essential minerals. This leaves you deficient and the door wide open for osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, reduced immune function and wound healing, and fatigue and heart problems, respectively. For survival, the lectin also comes equipped with protease inhibitors, meaning it actually inhibits some of the enzymes from breaking it down. This means that all food being digested is now subject to your digestive tracts reduction in breakdown capability. Translation: less absorption of the nutrients you need to survive.
Many people suffer from and are diagnosed with celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease, able to be directly correlated with gluten as the cause. Many people suffer from various conditions and symptoms to which the medical community remains baffled as far as a cause. Often times, people feel completely fine or have minor issues and therefore dismiss their diet as having any effect on their health. Even if there are no external signs and symptoms present, some potentially hazardous, internal destruction could still be taking place. Gluten sensitivity is a lesser version of an outright allergy and is much more common. Conditions such as RA, MS, fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, Parkinson’s, autism, and hypothyroidism (to name a few) have all benefited from cutting gluten (and other grains) out of the diet.
Do You Have an Issue With Gluten?
Well, if any of the above conditions or mechanisms of internal destruction described above doesn’t sound that pleasant to you, it may be worthwhile to find out. A simple way to do this is to eliminate the grains from your diet for 30-60 days. I know this may seem crazy, especially since another devious characteristic of gluten is that it comes fully loaded with molecules that fit into opiate receptors in your brain. Translation: It is actually addictive. But a simple period of trial and error may actually result in some of those seemingly minor issues disappearing. Upon completion of the gluten free period, you may even notice an instant headache or stomach issue when you attempt to reintroduce the beloved grains. This is your body politely asking you to knock it off before it gets worse. You now have evidence of an otherwise undetectable food sensitivity, and are empowered to make a change before things potentially get worse. Seems like this would be a better solution than taking side-effect carrying medications, or worse, winding up with some debilitating disease in the golden years, all because those cookies were calling your name.
A great read providing further explanation behind the mechanisms and possible destruction that can occur, along with meal plans and recipes to attempt a gluten-free lifestyle is: The Paleo Solution, The Original Human Diet, by Rob Wolf. Much of the above information was referenced from there.