Wheat, Heroin, and Addiction

We all know heroin is a drug of abuse, and is in a class of similar chemicals, known to us as opioids.  Most of the drugs in this class, whether used for medical or non-medical purposes, have the potential to be very addicting, ue to their ability to affect the brain reward pathway.  These drugs stimulate neurons in our brain to release chemicals when they are stimulated in a certain region of our brain.  Whenever these chemicals are released in our brains reward center, we feel good.  Evolutionarily speaking we need our brain reward system to survive.  We have chemicals naturally which trigger this reward center.  Those chemicals, in an evolutionary scale, were released and helped us to keep up activities essential to survival, such as sexual activity/reproduction, shelter, drink, seeking and eating food, etc.  We also feel the effects of those chemicals post workout, or when we receive a compliment.  Drugs of abuse so highly stimulate our reward center, that it stimulates further abuse of the drug, and causes us to seek out that drug.

What does this have to do with Wheat?  Gluten, a protein found in wheat can actually be broken down into fragments which show pharmacological activity on Opioid receptors.  In layman’s terms, gluten byproducts stimulates the same receptors that heroin and morphine do in the brain.  Hence, there is a possibility that we are drawn to wheat and grains, partly due to the stimulation of our reward system every time we eat flour, and this stimulation is self propagating, and causes us to seek out more and more?  Could we be addicted to wheat and that’s why we can be so opposed, and find it so difficult to give it up?  The basic biological and pharmacological research says that is a likely possibility.

References:

Opioid Derivatives derived from food proteins

Behavioral and Pharmacological studies on gluten exorhin A5, a newly isolated bioactive food protein fragment, in mice

opioid Receptor Ligands derived from food proteins

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~ by 8weeks2thrive on January 16, 2012.

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