Sourced from: Infinite Health Blog, by Dr. Davis,
originally posted on the Wheat Belly Blog: 2013-01-07
Say “no” to drugs!
Tobechi posted this question about emotional
and physical struggles just 2 days into his/her wheat-free experience:
It’s only the end of my second day of
not eating wheat, and I have has this constant headache since I’ve
stopped eating wheat products. My headache seems to be constantly getting
worse, but I’m eating fruit, veggies and fish, so I’m not
sure if there are any essential vitamins/nutrients I’m lacking?
I’ve been having crazy cravings for cereal, bread, crackers, cake,
anything with wheat! Will the cravings ever go away?
Tobechi is experiencing headache, along with
cravings for wheat-containing foods. Others experience marked fatigue,
nausea, and depression. A bit later in the process, constipation or,
less commonly, diarrhea, can result. Could this be due to some
nutritional deficiency? Is what the nutritionists say true, i.e.,
grains are necessary for complete nutrition and a wheat-free or
grain-free diet will lead to deficiencies of B vitamins, fiber,
and other nutrients?
No. Unless desperately malnourished to begin with,
no nutritional deficiency will result within a day or two. Recall that,
in addition to eliminating wheat, we replace the lost calories (fewer,
given the removal of the appetite-stimulant, gliadin) with real,
single-ingredient foods like eggs, olives, avocados, vegetables, nuts,
and seeds–not candy and soft drinks. By doing so,
nutrient intake is at least on a par with that of a wheat-containing diet.
Fiber, likewise, is the same or increases. Interestingly,
nutrient absorption is also improved minus the intestinal distorting
effects of wheat (gliadin/gluten, wheat germ agglutinin, changes in
bowel flora) with increased absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium,
folate and several others.
So, no, Tobechi: Headaches, wheat cravings, and
other phenomena most definitely do NOT represent a nutritional deficiency.
They represent wheat withdrawal, the collection of symptoms that
result from stopping the flow of the gliadin protein in wheat.
Recall that, upon digestion, gliadin from wheat is
broken down into a collection of mostly 4- and 5- amino acid
polypeptides that cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to the opiate
receptors of the human brain, often called “exorphins,” or
endogenous morphine-like compounds. In most people, wheat exorphins
generate mind “fog”; in children with ADHD and autistic
spectrum disorder they cause behavioral outbursts and difficulty with
learning and attention span; in people with schizophrenia they cause
paranoia and auditory hallucinations; in people with bipolar illness
they can trigger mania; in people with bulimia and binge eating disorder
they trigger obsessive food thoughts. And when the flow of wheat-derived
opiate exorphins ceases, there is opiate withdrawal.
Gastrointestinal phenomena such as constipation or
diarrhea is, I believe, due to the changes in bowel flora that develop
minus the destructive effects of wheat. A shift towards a healthier
collection of bowel flora is required but is not immediate. Most people
respond to a brief course of a high-potency probiotic for these issues.
The whole wheat withdrawal package is something
experienced by 35-40% of people who stop consuming it. It generally lasts
3-5 days, though occasionally much longer. Aside from common sense
efforts such as hydrating well, pampering yourself, not subjecting
yourself to stressful situations, etc., I know of no way to avoid
the withdrawal phenomena . . . except to grin and bear it.
The good news: You emerge on the other side of
your wheat withdrawal feeling wonderful: energized, optimistic, and well
on your way to beginning to experience relief from the collection of
wheat-induced aches and pains like joint pain, asthma, and
Wheat is a mind-active drug. Eating it distorts
mentation and health. Stopping it, at least at first, disrupts mentation
and health, complete with its very own withdrawal syndrome. But, like
an alcoholic needs to stop drinking, the wheat-addicted individual
needs to stop consuming wheat.