Dangerous triggers lurking
One of the main health-harming culprits is found with wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a category of lectins. Regardless if the wheat is soaked, sprouted or cooked, these compounds remain intact. Tiny and hard to digest, lectins can accumulate within the body and wreak havoc on physical and mental well-being. WGA is neurotoxic, crossing the blood brain barrier and attaching to the myelin sheath, consequentially inhibiting nerve growth - a serious consideration for those suffering from degenerative neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's. Lectins also destroy the villi in the intestinal tract, creating an inflamed, leaky gut. Since there is a strong connection between the gut and brain via the vagus nerve, intestinal ill-health strongly affects the mind, mood and behavior. The gut is also considered a 'second brain', pumping out its own source of feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin. If normal functioning of the intestinal tract is hindered, production of serotonin dips along with stable mental states.
As troublesome as lectins are found to be, gliadin in wheat is a worse offender for sensitive individuals. As reported by GreenMed Info, a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research makes the connection between gliadin and states of mania:
"The relationship of the antibodies to the clinical course of mania was analyzed by the use of regression models. Individuals with mania had significantly increased levels of IgG antibodies to gliadin, but not other markers of celiac disease, at baseline compared with controls in multivariate analyses ... Among the individuals with mania, elevated levels at follow-up were significantly associated with re-hospitalization in the six month follow-up period."
Likewise, a study at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland had similar findings:
"Individuals with recent-onset psychosis and with multi-episode schizophrenia who have increased antibodies to gliadin may share some immunologic features of celiac disease, but their immune response to gliadin differs from that of celiac disease."
And let's not forget about gluten, the poster child for celiac disease - and now increasingly, for neurological disorders. Sayer Ji of GreenMed Info believes the ramifications of gluten far surpass the celiac, autistic or schizophrenic individual:
"In the same way that the celiac iceberg illustrated the illusion that intolerance to wheat is rare, it is possible, even probable, that wheat exerts pharmacological influences on everyone. What distinguishes the schizophrenic or autistic individual from the functional wheat consumer is the degree to which they are affected."
Even when not suffering from overt mental illness or gluten intolerance, it would be wise to pause and consider the unseen consequences of consuming wheat. And decide if it's worth the possible risk to future mental and physical health.
Photo Credit: Karen Arnold