Get real results by eliminating wheat from your diet

For several years, I suffered from various symptoms for which my doctor could find no solution.  Although my low ferritin or iron stores level explained my chronic fatigue and low energy, the supplements prescribed did not help boost the level, but it did make me constipated.  I was beginning to feel like a hypochondriac since none of my symptoms could be reasonably explained or alleviated.

This chart summarizes the blood work and various tests before and after eliminating wheat from my diet…

 

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The primary change, at least for me since I first went to the doctor because I was tired all of the time, is the ferritin or iron stores results.  The normal range is between 80 and 300.  In 2007 my ferritin level was 9, extremely low.  By adding more iron to my diet I was able to get it up to a whopping 18.  I then discovered a wheat allergy that was preventing my body from absorbing iron from my diet or supplements.  Two months after eliminating wheat from my diet, my ferritin or iron stores result was up to 42, one year later up to 63 and four years later to a normal level of 100.

A second  major change was the disappearance of my asthma symptoms.  At my last visit to my respirologist he was amazed at how my pulmonary function tests were completely normal.  I didn’t tell him about the wheat-free diet until after he expressed his surprise at my results.  He was skeptical of the fact that a naturopath figured out my problem, but agreed I should continue avoid wheat.

Another healthy change is the difference between my before and after cholesterol results that went from slightly high at 545 to a mid normal range of 315.  My weight had also been creeping up over the years hitting 140 pounds before the wheat elimination.  I dropped 5 pounds within 6 weeks of eliminating the wheat and currently weigh in at 130 pounds four years later.  At five feet and five inches in height, I am satisfied with my current weight.  The biggest bonus to the weight loss has been the loss of flab and excess fat around my middle.

I have experienced similar positive results with arthritis symptoms which were getting worse every year until I eliminated wheat.  I currently suffer from very minimal arthritis symptoms. Although I have not have repeat ultrasounds or chest x-rays to see if the ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and lung hyperventilation are no longer present, the symptoms associated with those three conditions have disappeared.

My white blood cell and platelet counts still remain low, results I have been aware of for many years.  Having worked in the field of laboratory medicine for thirty years, I had many opportunities to test my blood.  I have always suspected some form of autoimmune action within my body; someday I may investigate this suspicion.

 

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Lose the Wheat and more…

As promised in my last post called Lose the Wheat,

if you want to lose more than a few pounds and/or are concerned about your blood glucose levels, you will have to eliminate more than just wheat from your diet. There are many other foods that stimulate your appetite, and distort your insulin levels. These items all fall into the high glycemic index category, meaning they increase your blood sugar levels the most, which in turn causes more fat to be stored in your body. This theory is the basis of Dr William Davis’ book “Wheat Belly”. It is also the theory the “Zone” diet, popular a few years ago, is based on. I am sure there are many other “diets” based on these ideas, but these two are the ones I found made the most sense and worked the best…

Avoid: cornstarch and cornmeal (tacos, tortillas, corn chips), snack foods (potato chips, rice cakes, popcorn), desserts (pie, cake, ice cream), gluten-free foods (cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch), fruit juices and soft drinks (sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, colorings, carbonic acid), dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, figs, dates, apricots), some fats (hyrdrogenated/trans, fried oils, cured meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, salami)

Eat in moderation (less than 1/2 cup serving): rice (brown, white, wild), potatoes (white, red, sweet, yams), legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils), other non-wheat grains (quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, millet, oats)

I know you’re thinking “WHAT CAN I EAT?”   Think back to the hunters and gatherers; vegetables should be the main component of your diet. Eat as many vegetables as you want!

Fruit, on the other hand, should be limited to small servings because modern, hybridized fruits contain too much sugar. The best (highest nutrient content and the least sugars) fruits are blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries and cherries. Bananas, pineapple, mango and papaya are the worst due to their high sugar content.

Raw (not roasted, or processed) nuts are full of good (monounsaturated) fats, protein and fiber, and are filling. Eat as many as you want of these too, they can reduce your cholesterol level and blood pressure. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, and cashews are great. Peanuts (legumes, not nuts) cannot be eaten raw, be sure they are boiled or dry roasted without any additions.

Healthy oils are good too: extra-virgin olive, coconut, avocado oils and cocoa butter. Avoid polyunsaturated oils like sunflower, safflower, corn, vegetable oil. To avoid oxidizing the oil, avoid frying and keep cooking temperatures low.

Eat meat, but try to buy meats from grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free sources, and cook  the meat at lower temperatures for shorter times. Avoid processed and cured meats altogether.

Eggs and real (fermented)cheese are also great for you to eat. A chunk of cheese and a handful of raw nuts is a great snack!  Other dairy products, such as yogurt, (unsweetened, unflavored) milk, cottage cheese and butter should be restricted to two servings a day since the dairy protein in them increases your pancreatic release of insulin. Cheese is unlimited because of its fermentation process that reduces the effect of insulin release.

Other items, such as flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, avocados, olives, coconut, spices, unsweetened cocoa, unsweetened condiments (mustard, horseradish, salsa, vinegar etc) are all unlimited.

Water is your best choice in a beverage. Avoid fruit drinks and soft drinks; 100% fruit juice is acceptable in very small quantities. Tea and coffee (unsweetened, with or without milk) are fine since they are plant derived. Red wine is your best choice in alcoholic beverages; beer is wheat brewed and off-limits!

I am anxious to try the recipes listed in the back of “Wheat Belly”, especially the bread and muffin ones.    I will be sure to let you know what I think of them. Are you ready to lose the wheat?

Lose the Wheat, Lose the Fatigue, Brain Fog and Weight

For years we have been told to eat more complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and less of the simple carbohydrates found in candy or soft drinks.  Studies now show that modern wheat is no longer advisable,  in fact it is making us fat and unhealthy!  If you lose the wheat, chances are you will lose the fatigue, brain fog and weight.

This is because amylopectin, the glucose units found in wheat, is easily digested and quickly absorbed into our bloodstreams, increasing blood sugar levels. Gram for gram, wheat increases blood sugar faster than all other simple and complex carbohydrate foods. The insulin we produce naturally in our bodies converts the glucose to fat. The higher the blood glucose level after a meal or snack, the greater the insulin level, the more fat deposited. The fat is deposited in our abdomens, encasing our livers, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and stomachs. This is called visceral fat and is uniquely capable of causing many inflammatory processes and health conditions.

For the past 50 years, wheat has been genetically altered to increase farmers’ yield by making the grain heat and drought tolerant, as well as disease resistant. Changes have also been made to modify its properties making the wheat more suitable for the baking industry. These changes have made wheat very popular in our lives, but have also had tremendous consequences on humans ingesting the wheat: increased blood sugar levels, inflammatory processes, pH changes, activated immune responses, neurological disorders, heart disease, cancer, skin rashes, and obesity.  It is no wonder many people have developed a wheat allergy or sensitivity.

Wheat consumption can affect almost every organ of your body; the liver, lungs, pancreas, skin, heart, brain, stomach and intestine, thyroid gland etc. Wheat converts quickly to blood sugar, not only causing us to gain weight but also leading to many debilitating conditions not just associated with excess weight. Wheat has also been proven to worsen the symptoms of schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, autism, and ADHD.

In patients diagnosed with celiac disease, the most common wheat related illness, gluten protein causes an immune response.  This response inflames the small intestine resulting in stomach cramps and diarrhea. Gluten is the component of wheat that makes baked products doughy and able to rise in the baking process. Wheat is the main source of gluten in our diet. Other less common sources of gluten include Kamut, tricale, rye, bulgur, and barley. Gluten, however, is not the only villain in wheat flour, there are also thousands of other strains of proteins, enzymes, and starches. These ingredients cause allergic reactions triggering rashes, asthma and even anaphylaxis.

Unfortunately wheat is not so easy to remove from your diet. Wheat products are convenient, readily available and satisfying to eat. To avoid wheat, be sure to read the ingredients list on food labels keeping in mind that wheat is in many items other than just bread. Fill the gap in your diet left by wheat with meats (not processed), vegetables, fruit,  nuts, eggs, avocados, olives, and cheese. You can actually eat larger portions of these items.

Whether or not you have a wheat allergy or sensitivity, eliminating wheat can be beneficial. Your body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as B6, B12, folic acid, iron, zinc, magnesium, and thiamine will improve. Your fiber intake will also increase.

Eliminating wheat from your diet may be inconvenient, but I guarantee you will notice a difference in as little as one week! You will have more energy, sleep better, feel more alert and look trimmer.