Where the Wild Wheat Went

A variety of foods made from wheat.

A variety of foods made from wheat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, so I was just shocked so hard I feel as if I grabbed a high voltage wire in the middle of a thunderstorm while being struck by lightning and putting my hand into a tank of water with an electric eel.


Yeah, fine, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But seriously, my jaw was on the floor.


Here’s what happened:


Today, during a discussion with my aunt and uncle about what the next month is going to look like for us, my aunt Kate told my uncle Richard and I that she wanted us all to listen to an interview with a doctor that she had heard of who talks about the reasons why wheat is bad for you. It came up because we have all been eating a gluten-free diet since I moved in 28 days ago. At this point, we were all considering adding just a little bit of gluten back into our diets to see how it would affect us. But Kate said she wanted us to listen to this thing before we changed. My uncle said, “why don’t we listen to it this evening after dinner?” So we all agreed to do so.


And we did. The interview is with Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has worked for years to help his patients who suffer from heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and many other conditions. He has recently written a book called Wheat Belly. It is about the enormous health benefits of removing wheat from your diet. According to Dr. Davis, his patients routinely lose significant amounts of weight, reduce blood sugar levels to the point of actually “curing” their diabetes and significantly lower their blood pressure and are able to stop taking prescription drugs to manage it, among many other things.


Now, all that makes sense to me. Wheat, because of its carbohydrate structure and some of its other chemical compounds, pumps up your blood sugar more than pretty much any other grain or carbohydrate source. Dr. Davis explained that this is partly due to the genetic modification wheat has undergone since the 1970’s when a high-yeild, dwarf strain of wheat was produced that was supposed to be hardier, yielded ten times the amount of its earlier siblings per acre, and had a shorter stalk which shorted growth time, reduced need for nutrients, and allowed the wheat to withstand heavy winds and rains. BUT….What the scientists who produced it were unaware of was that it also contained a special compound called amylopectin A– which is more efficiently converted to blood sugar than nearly any other carbohydrate including straight table sugar! It also contained an altered form of gliadin – a protein that was accidentally modified in geneticists quest for higher yield.


Dr. Davis explains that the further back you go in history, the better the wheat is for humans. Anything pre-1970 is better. But going back to Emmer and Einkorn (two of the earliest forms of wheat every discovered) is the best. Hence my title.


Now, here’s the shocker. This altered form of gliadin contains a compound called gliadorphin. It comes from gluten. It is called alternately both gliadorphin and gluteomorphin. Recognize those suffixes? Yeah, they mean that those compounds are Opiates! If you want to know more about what an opiate is, take a look at my Info page under the section “What is an Opiate?”.   


Short form: opiates are any substance that stimulates the opiate receptors in your brain. The most commonly known opiates are morphine, heroin, oxycodone (aka Oxycontin/Percocet), and hydrocodone (aka Vicodin). These substances relieve pain, slow digestion, suppress the cough, cause intense drowsiness, and can also cause feelings of euphoria (a feeling of well-being unrelated to actual circumstances). They are also some of the most addictive substances known to man.


The belief is that the opiates in wheat, lets choose the name gluteomorphin (cause it is easiest to spell, being a combination of gluten and morphine), act as a very potent appetite stimulator. They can also cause some of the effects of other opiates, usually drowsiness, poor intestinal motility, and even some mild euphoria.


They can also be blocked by opiate blocking drugs like Naltrexone and Naloxone.


You may not be able to appreciate how incredibly shocking this was to me. But suffice it to say that I forgot to breathe for about 15 seconds after I heard that, and it took all my self-control to not shout, “WHAT THE F@%&!” at the top of my voice.


My aunt, uncle and I discussed this for a bit, stopping the audio track for a minute. I realized while we were talking that I have always craved heavy carbohydrate foods and often foods with gluten when I was going through withdrawl from the drugs I had been taking (which are of course, also opiates). Now, oddly enough, I also craved dairy products. I thought about that while we listened to the rest of the interview. And I looked it up on google. Sure enough, there is a protein in dairy products called casein which also acts as an opiate!


Holy SH%$! That was the first thing that came to my mind.


Second, was why on earth do I not already know this?


Anyone who knows me knows that I am essentially an amateur pharmacist. I know quite a lot about drugs and about pharmacology and how certain foods affect certain drugs, etc. But I had never, and I mean never heard about this. Not in any of my research had I found a single inkling suggesting that there were opiate compounds in the food I ate every day.


Dr. Davis’s belief is that this information is suppressed by the giant agribusiness interests that spend billions of dollars a year just lobbying congress to support their ability to keep the public misinformed. Now, I’m no conspiracy nut, but I know that a lot of large corporations spend billions on advertising and PR to keep their message in the limelight and to keep other information out of the public’s eye. It would be verrry bad press for all the food producers that are growing tons of this heavily modified “new” wheat and processing it into all kinds of things we eat every day if all of a sudden it became known that wheat not only is tied to diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory conditions, and obesity, but that it also contained an addictive drug !


So yeah, I have to say I buy the story. It explains a lot, frankly. It explains the amazing rise of obesity and heart disease and diabetes since the 1970’s when this “new” genetically modified wheat first appeared on the scene. It explains the difficulty people have giving up wheat products. It explains why I used to have to bring an average of 3 pieces of bread per person to every table when I worked in a restaurant. And that was before their meal!


And it also explains why every time I was going through opiate withdrawl, wheat and dairy based foods made me feel a little bit better.


And now, thanks to my aunt Kate who has a lot of passion for this way of eating (she has a blog called The Joyful Eater which is all about plant-based eating and why it can truly make food a joyful experience)…I am off of wheat and dairy. And after learning about gluten and casein and the opiates they contain, I don’t ever want to go back on them. I am literally cringing just thinking about it.


I mean seriously, maybe these substances are part of the reason why there is such a high rate of relapse among opiate addicts. Perhaps gluteomorphin and casomorphin (as the substance in casein is called) stimulate the receptors in an addicts mind just enough to potentially trigger cravings and eventually relapse. That seems plausible as a scenario. And if it is, then people should know about it. Yet, not a single one of any of the treatment facilities, rehabs, or hospitals I have been to have ever mentioned anything along these lines.


And that, reader, pisses me off!


I hope this post made you want to learn more. I sure do. Check out Dr. William Davis’s website, the Wheat Belly Blog. Maybe even buy his book. I sure am planning on it. I want to finish with this question to you:


Suppose someone gave you…say…a milkshake. They told you it was delicious and, also, healthier than a normal milkshake. So you drank it. In fact, it was so good, you drank one every day, sometimes twice a day for the next year. Then, at the end of that year, the person who gave it to you told you, “oops, yeah, I forgot to tell you…those milkshakes contain a drug that is addicting and is associated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, as well as inflammatory conditions like arthritis and cataracts! Sorry! No harm done. I just didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you would stop drinking the milkshakes and I get paid a hundred dollars for every one you drink!”


Suppose that happened. Would you say, “oh, no worries. no big deal. also, can I have another milkshake?”


Or would you pummel that guy until he screamed for his mommy?


Yeah. Me too.




Do your own research. Decide what is true. And act on it.









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