There has been a lot of negative press about wheat lately, specifically the gluten it contains. Statistics suggest that up to 75 percent of the population is allergic to gluten, and a number of people have full-blown celiac disease, which is a severe reaction to gluten that causes stomach upset and immune problems.
A major proponent of gluten-free eating is William Davis, M.D., author of the best-selling Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health (Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press. 2011). In a recent interview with Better Nutrition (October ’12) he outlined some of the reasons that it’s more than just the carbs in wheat products that may be making us fat.
“Wheat today has been crossbred to multiply yield, and in the process there has been a major change in a protein called gliadin, which is a component of gluten. The gliadin in today’s wheat is a very powerful stimulant of appetite, so much so that the typical person who consumes wheat eats an average of between 440 and 800 more calories per day.”
The appetite stimulation doesn’t occur only in those who have obvious wheat allergies. “Gliadin acts as an opiate, and it stimulates appetite in people with normal digestion of gluten…. Nearly all people who say ‘I have a terrible sweet tooth,’ are really addicted to wheat that stimulates their desire for sweets. Almost always, people who eliminate wheat lose that desire, and their sense of sweetness is amplified. Things they used to think were tasty are now so sickeningly sweet, they can’t eat them.”