For many decades in my practice one of the first dietary changes I had recommended to patients was the elimination of wheat from their diets so they may observe any changes in their complaints . Initially this was done mainly for digestive problems and sinus congestion because early studies had shown evidence that it increased the immune responses within the body. But as more and more patients got off wheat it became obvious that other conditions improved: chronic joint and muscle pain, depression, skin problems, headaches, even blood sugar problems. Most patients noticed improvements in their health within a few weeks of quitting it, though there were some who didn’t notice a change.

Fast forward to today and there maybe another reason to avoid wheat, even if you don’t feel better right away. In the recent book “Grain Brain,” neurologist and nutritionist David Perlmutter talks about how eating wheat can contribute to brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia and even ALS. These diseases may not show up until after decades of eating wheat, when the damage has already been done. Wheat causes problems for the brain primarily through inflammation. The gluten molecule — there are actually several, not just one — first inflames the lining of the bowel, which enables it to enter the bloodstream. Once there, it sets off alarms throughout the immune system. The body’s attempts to attack it causing “collateral damage” to the tissues, including the brain. It appears genetics may also play a role in who is sensitive and in determining which tissues are affected.

We consume so much of it. We eat wheat products at almost every meal, either in the form of bread, snacks, crackers, pasta, cereal and pizza (there is actually extra gluten in pizza dough, used to thicken it, which allows the chef to twirl the pizza dough in the air to spread it out). And this does not include what is in other processed foods-soups, condiments, etc.

Gluten sensitivity is not just a fad. More and more evidence is accumulating about the downside of this extremely common protein and the fact that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are on the increase. The reason for this increase is not clear, and the debate continues about its cause. So be honest with yourself, take inventory of your daily and weekly eating habits….you maybe surprised!!!


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