By Dr. Dana Myatt
A brief survey of my Ketone Zone book reviewers revealed that cancer is not their most-feared disease. It ranks second. The biggest fear is dementia. No one wants to lose their marbles to Alzheimer’s or some other non-Alzheimer’s brain fog.
So let’s talk about two foods that can dumb you down just as surely as opium and related compounds. [NOTE: in very specific pain situations, such as post-surgery or advanced cancer pain, opium and related opioid compounds are good drugs. But for those who are not in pain, these drugs just make you stupid.]
All simple carbohydrate foods can be stupid-making. High blood sugars, whether high enough to be outright diabetes or just high-normal "borderline diabetes,” increases the risk of dementia.
High blood sugars also increase the risk of many cancers by as much as 200%.
Eating simple carbohydrates increases blood sugar levels; higher blood sugar levels increase the risk of the two most common health concerns, dementia and cancer. Why risk it? Just decreasing simple carbohydrate intake drops these risks dramatically. I’ve warned about the dangers of carbs for a long time. Here’s a good summary of these dangers: 10 Dangers Of Carbohydrates
However, the two foods I’m talking about right now are not just simple carbohydrates. These two foods act like opium in the body. Opium is a natural narcotic. Drugs in this class – opioids – are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Medications in the opioid class include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza) and codeine. Heroin is also in this class.
One of the side effects of drugs in this class is confusion. That’s why a person using such drugs for pain is advised to exercise extreme caution when driving. I’d say better yet, if you are taking drugs in this class, you should not be driving at all. In children, these effects can manifest as autism. In both children and adults, schizophrenia is also a possible result.
You may not be using any of these opium drugs, but many people eat foods on a daily basis that acts like opium because it binds to the opium receptor in the body, stimulating similar effects. Are you a drug addict and don’t know it? Could that be the cause of your memory problems?
The two "offender foods" are wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein). Specifically, an inability to completely digest gluten (found in wheat, rye barley and oats) and/or casein found in milk can result in the production of neuropeptides that are chemically similar to morphine. A neuropeptide is a small protein molecule that acts as a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are "brain hormones." Other neurotransmitters that are more familiar to most include serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline).
These peptides, called gliadorphin and casomorphin, can have effects similar to opium in the body and brain. Notice the "orphin/morphin" in their names. They are so named because they bind to the same receptor as morphine. They stimulate the morphine receptors, causing morphine effects.
How does this happen?
Gliadin and casein are proteins that are often not completely broken down by the human digestive tract. Instead, they are only partly broken down into peptides, or protein fragments. That might not be such a bad thing, except that the peptides from these particular proteins are opioids. Opioids are morphine-like substances with effects on the brain and other organs.
Gliadorphin (also known as gluteomorphin) and casomorphin are known to have opiate effects and are ingested when one eats grain or dairy products.
It’s not just the obvious foods like bread or pasta or that healthy breakfast cereal or milk or yoghurt or cheese – but foods that you might never suspect to contain wheat or dairy products.
French fries or potato chips should be OK for someone with a gluten / gliadin sensitivity, right? Wrong – many commercial fries are dusted with wheat flour during manufacture to prevent them from sticking together. And casein is a common food additive that is often found in imitation sausages, infant formula, processed meats, soups, energy bars, drinks, and many other packaged foods – even toothpaste!
Not Everyone Is Sensitive
Some people digest these foods past the "opioid peptide" stage and do not suffer opioid effects. This is similar to "lactose intolerance" where some people can digest the sugar in milk and some cannot, based on what enzymes we naturally produce.
At this point, however, it appears that a surprising number of people are gluten and/or casein sensitive, meaning they cannot fully digest these substances and will therefore suffer the opioid effects of these foods.
How Can You Know If These Foods Are Affecting Your Memory?
If you have ANY symptoms that are similar to opium/morphine/heroine, including memory problems, there are several ways to find out if gluten or casein (wheat or dairy) is a contributing factor:
- avoid these foods entirely and see if it helps (this can be difficult because there are many "hidden" sources)
- get tested for the enzymes and find out if you are lacking in either. The Gluten/Casein Peptides Test requires a small amount of first morning urine to evaluate for both gluten and casein peptides.
- At the very least, take digestive enzymes as a replacement for what you might be missing.
Since both wheat and dairy (especially milk) are high in carbohydrates which causes a host of other health problems, there is good reason to avoid these foods. That is the least expensive and overall healthiest option.
Avoid gluten-containing foods and dairy, save your health, save your brain. Isn’t it great when those two get "saved" together?!
Crane P.K., Walker R., Hubbard R.A, et al. Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia. N Engl J Med. 2013 Aug 8;369(6):540-8.
Crawley DJ, Holmberg L, Melvin JC, Loda M, Chowdhury S, Rudman SM, Van Hemelrijck M. Serum glucose and risk of cancer: a meta-analysis. BMC Cancer. 2014 Dec 19;14:985.
B.Windham (Ed), Autism and Schizophrenia subgroup related to blockage by toxic exposures of enzymes processing gluten and casein. 2008. http://www.flcv.com/autismgc.html
Review of the potential health impact of β-casomorphins and related peptides. Report of the DATEX Working Group on β-casomorphins. Issued on 29 January 2009
[Nurse Mark Comment: This European government paper is working very, very hard to find that these casomorphins are not worth following up on - "don't worry, be happy..." But there is a vast amount of information within the paper that contradicts that position - and all well referenced.] http://www.bezpecnostpotravin.cz
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