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Posted: 4/26/2014 12:00:00 PM
Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2014-04-26
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index
of WB Blog articles.
After The Wheat Battle Is Won
Josie posted this comment that addresses the issue
of bowel health recovery post-grain removal.
“I have been wheat-free for almost a year
now and I no longer fall asleep during the day, and my mental fog has disappeared. My wheat-free life is great!
However, I am experiencing major digestion problems.
I went to see a dietitian and explained to her I do not eat wheat and
try not to eat grains. She emphasized that I need fiber in my diet and based
on my current food intake I was not receiving an adequate amount, which was
most likely the cause of my digestion problems.
She respects that I do not eat wheat, but is
encouraging me to eat rice, oats, oat bran and flax seeds. I am
extremely hesitant on eating these things because I value my health
and want to do what’s right based on what I know. I ate oatmeal
earlier and I felt so scared and was upset afterward because I know
they aren’t healthy.
What can I do to get my digestion back on track?
How can I get rid of these digestion problems without having to eat grains?
My mental health is suffering because of it and I feel torn between
needing the fiber and having a desire to be healthy.”
Remove modern wheat from your diet and
you have removed the great disrupter of gastrointestinal health. The
gastrointestinal disruptive effects of wheat include:
- Gliadin–The peptides that derive from gliadin digestion are
directly toxic to enterocytes (intestinal cells), whether or not you
have celiac disease. An interleukin-driven
inflammatory mechanism has been documented.
- Gliadin also induces autoimmunity. Wheat-induced autoimmune diseases of
the gastrointestinal tract most commonly involve stomach parietal cells
that produce stomach acid, the biliary tree and liver, the small
intestine (Crohn’s disease) or the colon (ulcerative colitis).
Vitamin B12 absorption is also impaired due to its complex
absorptive mechanism distorted by gliadin’s effects on the
stomach and small intestine.
- Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)–WGA is a direct bowel toxin,
causing “denuding” of intestinal villi responsible for
nutrient absorption. It is also a potent blocker of any glycoprotein
receptor lining the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the
cholecystokinin (CCK) receptor responsible for triggering bile
release from the gallbladder and enzyme release from the pancreas.
When WGA blocks the receptor for CCK, digestion is impaired, bile
stasis develops that leads to gallstones, dysbiosis results because
of incomplete digestion of foods. When dysbiosis develops (VERY
common), bowel health is further impaired, autoimmunity facilitated,
metabolic distortions magnified.
- Phytates–Phytates block iron, zinc, and
magnesium absorption. Absorption is impaired by as much as 90%.
This is a big part of the reason for grain product fortification.
Remove wheat and the damage recedes over time.
BUT you can still be left with residual inflammation, impaired stomach
acid production (hypochlorhydria), partial healing of small and large
intestines, dysbiosis, and nutrient deficiencies.
For this reason, just removing wheat is only
the start; all these other factors may need to be addressed. While many
people heal perfectly well over time, someone like Josie may not.
Among the most helpful and effective
strategies to consider in your wheat removal efforts are:
- Consider removing ALL other grains, especially rye
and barley that share similar gliadin structures; corn and oats that
also share somewhat similar gliadin-like proteins; rice due to a small
quantity of wheat germ agglutinin (i.e., a rice lectin with a
structure identical to that found in wheat).
- Take a high-potency probiotic for at least several
weeks, longer if an autoimmune condition is present.
30-50 billion CFUs per day has been working very well for
us, especially brands with a wide variety of Lactobacillus
and Bidifobacteria species, such as VSL3, Renew Life, and
Garden of Life brands.
- Bowel flora are like a garden: probiotics are the seeds,
prebiotics are the water and fertilizer. If all you
do is plant seeds, they may sprout but not flourish, and may even die.
So you must nourish your plants. Likewise, you must nourish the bowel
flora reinoculated by your probiotic. Lactobacillus and
Bifidobacteria love fibers that are indigestible, what I
call “leftovers,” what some call “resistant
starches.” Easy ways to obtain such fibers: one green unripe
banana per day in a smoothie, one peeled raw white potato in a smoothie,
4 teaspoons of inulin in anything, small servings
(¼-½ cup) of legumes, chickpeas, hummus. It is best
to start with smaller quantities, then build up over several weeks to
avoid abdominal pain and bloating. I believe this issue is
Josie’s #1 problem. Note that relief from symptoms
requires several weeks to develop, not after your first green banana.
- Consider hypochlorhydria — Because the
stomach’s parietal cells may not recover, you may be left with
inadequate stomach acid. The telltale sign of this is heartburn symptoms
unresponsive to acid-suppressing medication. This responds to
supplemental hydrochloric acid as betaine HCL or apple cider
vinegar, but is best managed under the watchful eye of someone with
experience with this situation.
- Consider pancreatic enzyme supplementation — Since,
for unclear reasons, full restoration of the CCK receptor sensitivity may
not occur. The lipases and proteases, in particular, are helpful here.
(We require less amylase and other carbohydrate-digesting enzymes since
we don’t eat grain amylopectin or sugars.)
Rarely does someone need to supplement
fibers with this lifestyle, as replacing the lost calories of grains with
foods such as nuts, seeds, mushrooms, avocados, and vegetables easily
matches or exceeds the fiber intake of a grain-based diet. If
you must, psyllium, chia, and flaxseed are fairly benign fiber sources.
My new book, Wheat Belly Total Health,
is my answer to questions such as Josie’s: the additional steps
to take to maximize health in the aftermath of wheat removal.
Total Health is
scheduled for release September, 2014. It will discuss how to tip
the scales in favor of full remission from autoimmune diseases,
ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, diabetes, hypertension,
“high cholesterol,” skin rashes, and other conditions.
Yes, national advice to consume more “healthy whole
grains” ruins health; you may need some help beyond their
removal to fully recover.