Your Body’s Response to Eating Wheat

By Rusty Gregory, Alan Chasen

Probably the biggest obstacle to achieving success on a wheat-free lifestyle is wrapping your head around the fact that wheat isn’t good for you. If you’re in your 50s or younger, you’ve heard the “eat more grains and lower your fat intake” message for most of your life. Trying to delete that mindset from your brain’s hard drive can be difficult.

Everyone is motivated to change by identifying what’s most important to her. It can be a personal ailment or even a friend’s poor health. It may be reaching what you consider middle age and not wanting to suffer the same fate as many around you.

How many people do you know who suffer from arthritis, stomach issues, or neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s? These diseases are becoming more common despite a 50-year push that wheat is an essential part of a healthy diet. Something isn’t working.

Start the motivation process by learning about the negative health issues associated with wheat. Break down the process of digestion and then connect the dots to various disease states that are related to wheat consumption (even though they may not seem like it). Hopefully, a basic understanding of what is happening in your body after you eat the stuff will spur you to take control of your health.

Most people wake up every day and don’t think twice about the multitude of complex processes taking place inside their bodies. So many of these processes are interrelated that the domino effect that can occur when one of them isn’t working can be eye-opening.

It all starts with the food you put in your mouth. Think of your body as a car and food as the gasoline. No matter how tuned up the car is, it won’t run if you put in the wrong kind or wrong amount of gas.

So why does eating certain foods make people fat and lead to diabetes, heart disease, and obesity? Much of it has to do with metabolism, as explained here.

Storing fatty acids for later energy

When insulin asks cells to accept glucose and fatty acids for storage, it gets help from an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). As insulin levels rise, so does LPL. Fatty acids are moved about in the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides.

Triglycerides are too big to pass across the cell membrane, so LPL has the job of dismantling them into fatty acids and then reassembling them as triglycerides inside the cell, where they happily stay. Fat cells remain bloated until the triglycerides are called on for energy needs.

When insulin levels drop, so does LPL. Now the process is reversed, and an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase breaks down the triglycerides inside the cell so they can pass back through the cell membrane. This is a highly regulated process that functions to meet the body’s energy needs.

Seeing how calories affect blood sugar levels

For far too long now, the message has been that all calories are created equal. Take in fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight. And although that’s partially true to some degree, it’s not exactly the whole story.

After insulin does its job and clears the glucose from the bloodstream, the resultant drop in blood sugar causes fatigue, brain fog, and moodiness until you eat again to bring blood sugar levels back up.

The term for this drop is hypoglycemia, and it’s not a normal state for the body to be in. Most people who have hypoglycemia just accept it as part of who they are. However, hypoglycemia really indicates that the body isn’t utilizing fat for energy and is too reliant on carbohydrates for fuel.

Eating a high-carb diet full of whole wheat just feeds the roller coaster of blood sugar swings. Rather than address the cause — what they’re eating — people often opt to compensate by changing how often they’re eating, moving to five or six small meals a day. But if you look at the kind of calories you’re taking in, another solution becomes apparent.

Taking in a given number of calories in the form of wheat causes rapid blood sugar spikes and drives you to eat again two to three hours later. Taking in the same number of calories in the form of fat elicits a slower and steadier blood sugar response that allows insulin to do its thing normally and lets stored body fat provide energy for hours on end. Satiation is achieved.