While the term "beer belly" has often been used to describe the spare tire that can accumulate around the midsection of beer drinkers, this extra fat may in fact be due to the gluten found inside the beer. Many health experts are now attributing the
prevalence of obesity in the United States to gluten found in wheat products and processed foods, and a new term has been coined: wheat belly.
What is wheat belly?
Wheat belly is excess body fat around the midsection and other parts of the body that can come from eating wheat and other glutinous products.
I thought wheat was healthy?
Over the years, products made from wheat have changed. It has been modified to grow faster, to repel fungus and to be more elastic for more efficient industrial baking. Unfortunately, these features have increased the amount of gluten in bread from 5 percent to a whopping 50 percent. This might explain why many people have become sensitive to gluten. In addition, the bromides used to condition commercial bread dough can affect iodine levels in the thyroid and lead to hypothyroidism. So while there is a massive supply of soft bread available, it is making people fat, even the whole wheat versions.
How does eating wheat cause excess fat around the middle?
Wheat contains a compound called amylopectin A which quickly converts to blood sugar, even more quickly than table sugar. In fact, the surge in blood sugar produced by consumption of two slices of whole wheat bread is higher than that generated from eating a candy bar. A few hours after eating wheat products, blood sugar plummets and the body craves more carbohydrates. Often, this craving is satisfied with more wheat, and if the cycle continues the calories are stored as fat.
There are many health supplements on the market today that can help individuals who are trying to reduce their wheat belly. Green tea extracts such as Green Tea Elixir include many antioxidants which may help boost the immune system, balance blood sugar, control weight, and increase mental clarity.
Is there any research on gluten and body fat?
A new Brazilian study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, shows that a high-fat diet can lead to reduced body weight if it is gluten-free.
Mice were divided into two groups: one that consumed a high-fat diet containing 4.5 percent gluten, and one that consumed an equally high-fat, gluten-free diet. The mice in the gluten-free group experienced less fat gain, lowered bodyweight, and better glucose metabolism, as compared to the gluten group. The study proved that low-fat diets may be ineffective and unnecessary. However, it is still wise to limit fats and to choose healthy versions like avocados, olives, olive oil, and nuts in place of fatty meats. Many experts suggest that people who are overweight try a gluten-free approach for a few weeks to see if it is helpful.
What foods can I eat on a gluten-free diet?
People who wish to go gluten free need to avoid all products containing wheat, barley and rye. Grains that are naturally gluten free are amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, rice and quinoa. It is important to note that corn and white rice are high-glycemic products which can be detrimental to weight loss. Brown rice and quinoa are good, low-glycemic choices.
There is no gluten in pure green tea, making it a great drink option for those looking to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. If you're not a big tea drinker, consider incorporating green tea supplements into your diet. Green Tea Elixir from the Institute for Vibrant Living is the best green tea extract on the market and may help you control your weight and give your immune system a powerful boost.
Small amounts of wheat, barley and rye can be found in a host of unsuspecting products like beer, soups, soy sauce, barbecue sauce and a variety of processed foods. Therefore, it is important when going gluten free to read food labels. Also, people should be wary of products with a gluten-free label. Some of these foods contain genetically modified and high-glycemic ingredients. Many websites offer lists of healthy, gluten-free foods that can be printed and posted on the refrigerator.