The Standard American Diet (aptly called the SAD) has us consuming carbohydrates at levels never seen before and it’s affecting the health of millions of Americans. I’d like to share with you an example of a client that I’m working with who is one of them, and then share with you some insight as to why our society is so carb-addicted.
A (Brief) Client Story
I’m currently working with a person whose A1C (3 month blood average of blood sugar) has landed them in the pre-diabetic range. This client has a family history of diabetes and would like to avoid going down the same path that they’ve seen diabetes take their family members down. In order to do so we’ve implemented some changes to their diet and lifestyle, and this client has been making great progress in their efforts!
About a week into making said changes, this client expressed to me frustration in regards to the fact that they were still craving carbs. They stated that they just LOVE pasta and bread… the things they’ve grown up on, and are convinced that this will never change. I hear this far too often. Someone stating their just not satiated without carbs, or that they can’t enjoy food without them. And no one should ever have to! But what I tried to help my client to understand is that this wasn’t all on them. Feeling addicted to carbohydrates is normal because physically we do actually become addicted to these foods, in part due to the protein structures of the foods themselves.
You see, both wheat and dairy are comprised of a few different proteins and the the actual shape of the proteins contained in our food can have varying and widereaching affects on our body and our brain.
The ones I’m going to share information about with you today are gliadin, which is found in wheat, and casein, which is found in dairy.
Gluten + Dairy + Leaky Gut
Let’s take a step back. Most American’s, due to following the SAD most of their life, have some level of leaky gut or intestinal permeability. When our the lining of our intestines becomes permeable, larger molecules of the proteins we consume are able to pass through the gut lining and enter into the blood stream undigested. This is leaky gut, and this can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders.
Gliadin and casein are special, though. Their unique protein structures allow them to morph into a morphine-like compound when they pass through the gut lining and enter into our blood stream. When this happens, not only do they take on new names – gliadomorphine and casomorpine, respectively – but they actually have the ability to cross our blood-brain barrier and bind up our opiod receptors the same way these receptors get bound up when we’re exposed to actual opioids. This is why they are, quite literally, comfort foods and is the reason that we mentally and physically crave them. This is also the reason why many people feel withdrawal symptoms when cutting them out of their diets (i.e. make statement such as “I can never live without carbs!”). Yes, thanks to these protein structures, the keto-flu is very real, y’all.
This begs the question as to if the amino acid chain in gluten plays a role in the blame of it now being one of the leading factors in the development of obesity. Not only is modern day gluten physically undigestible (this warrants it’s own blog post!), but there is no gluten without gliadin. These two proteins are found in every single wheat structure.
So, if you feel as though you’re addicted to carbs and/or dairy, know that you physically actually may be… And you’re not alone. This physiological process is present in all of us and is the reasoning behind why you (we) love them so much.