Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wheat Head

How's this for a mind-blower:

Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets: a case report and review of the literature

Synopsis: 70-year-old schizophrenic experienced complete remission of symptoms after adopting a low-carbohydrate diet. Now, of course, this is just one case study, and needs to be replicated a LOT more times. But it really caught my eye, as from my last post I've been thinking about the mental effects of diet, particularly grains. Schizophrenia is one extreme case of neurological disturbance, but as with all things biological, disease expression is rarely binary. The manifestation of symptoms covers a spectrum when viewed across the population. We just tend to pay the most attention to the extreme cases. Suppose grains were implicated as causal in schizophrenia. It's a good bet they then contribute to other less obvious forms of mental disturbance. Since grains are so widely consumed, this may be actually viewed as the "norm".

Indeed, other neurological conditions are known to benefit from removal of dietary grains, including pediatric epilepsy (discussed in the paper), ADHD, autism, and multiple sclerosis. I've been doing some poking around on wheat germ agglutinin and the brain. Turns out WGA does indeed cross the blood-brain barrier, will bind to insulin receptors in the brain, and probably all kinds of other stuff as well. Google "WGA brain", and you'll find WGA is actually used extensively to map out neuronal pathways, so clearly has potential neurological effects beyond just binding to insulin receptors.

I propose that the sequel to "Fat Head" be "Wheat Head". That covers a lot of ground, from Weston A. Price's observations on cranial development (there definitely seems to be distinct "Wheat Head" phenotypes), to dental disease to the neurological implications, and probably more.

Wouldn't it be fun if the food pyramid were making us fat, sick, deformed, and crazy all at once?


Anonymous said...

Really not much fun at all.

Dr. B G said...

Thanks for a fantastic post!

I think the 'pyramid' is certainly making kids sick...fat, sick/autoimmunity, deformed, and crazy... who knows which boy or girl will have their first 'schizo' break or bipolar episode when life stressors kick in.

Anonymous said...

I'm far from alone in getting a much higher glycemic response to wheat than any other grain. One thing I wonder, and I should see if I can track down any research but I'm asking various people instead:- wheat was originally a transgenic cross with altogether too many chromosomes, like a natural GM crop. Since then it has been majorly developed by plant breeders, principally for increased yield, decreased straw length and disease resistance.

A friend grows old fashioned varieties for thatching straw and when you compare them to modern wheats in his next field they resemble two different species.

Accordingly I wonder if there has been any research into the biochemical makeup of the grains, whether they now have more lectins or any other factors which might explain why they are no apparently so much more toxic.

Dave said...

What I've heard (but not independently confirmed) is that lectins are carried in the protein fraction of grains. Since modern wheat has been bread to maximize the protein content, it may have a correspondingly larger lectin load. Don't know if anybody has actually measured this, though.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I feel a research grant coming on . . . problem is who would pay for any study that might suggest a problem with the world's major food source?

Anne said...

I would love to see the movie "Wheat Head" made. Giving up gluten took away my lifelong depression and more recent brain fog.

There are more reports of gluten and schizophrenia. there is more information under "Neurolgic Manifestations" on the right side of the page.