A few weeks back I told you that I’m in a spell of procrastination and suffered from general lack of energy. Despite knowing most of the tricks in the book on how to beat procrastination with priority setting, blocking time, breaking down tasks to simple sub-tasks, de-cluttering my work environment and all the rest – none of it worked.
However, I did find a way out of it, I am now back in a state of energy and I’m crushing procrastination whenever it shows its ugly face.
How I did it you may wonder? Diet. By cutting one specific food.
In the larger scheme of things I am on a pretty good diet most of the time and have been so for the last 5-6 years or so. I guess it’s easiest to call my approach paleo but I do so reluctantly because there’s so much strange interpretations of it and too many people with a dogmatic approach to it. So to briefly describe my interpretation of paleo I would say that I eat real food, food as close to its original state as possible. I don’t put things on my plate that can not be directly recognized in nature, and that includes things that may look the same but have been hybridized or genetically modified to have little in common with its original state (I know ‘original state’ is very debatable but that’s for a different post).
But of course, sometimes I slip and in my good periods I’d say I eat well 80% of the meals and during my bad periods… I eat like most people do (except that I never do dairy, that’s a poison I’m off for good).
I didn’t realize it until afterwards but my latest spell of procrastination coincided with my diet turning from good to worse to bad. Specifically when I was at my low point of energy I eat wheat in the from of bread and pasta pretty much every day, even multiple times a day. I know!! Scary!!
Wheat – the perfect chronic poison?
Dr Davis, author of the book Wheat Belly does call wheat the “perfect chronic poison”… so with that thought in your mind let’s quickly look at the two conditions associated with wheat – celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerence.
Both conditions are on the rise and some argue that the increase is directly caused by the modified gluten protein in modern wheat compared to original wheats.
Celiac disease affects 0.7-1% of the population and is caused by an auto-immune reaction triggered by the alpha-gliadin and transglutaminase from wheat. It’s an inflammatory illness of the intestines leading to a wide range of chronic problems such as headache, osteoporosis, IBS, and malnutrition to name a few,
Gluten sensitivity is a milder form of celiac disease and doesn’t create chronic problems but only the symptoms of celiac disease and the symptoms go away if you take a rest from gluten. However, gluten intolerance affects far more people. The most conservative researchers state a figure at around 10% and some state as much as 50% of the population.
Before looking at Dr Davis statement of “the perfect chronic poison” let just talk about wheat a bit.
Is wheat really wheat?
Wheat is credited as the food that built ancient societies like the Egypt empire around the Nile delta and today marketed as a healthy staple food full of minerals, vitamins and fiber so isn’t it almost magic? And if not, what’s all the fuzz about anyway?
Firstly, wheat did allow our ancestors to effectively feed larger settlements BUT it’s a very different wheat than the wheat we have today.
Wheat is one of the most modified foods we have and while it’s not genetically modified in scientific terms but only hybridized it’s seriously modified. The difference between genetically modified and hybridized is that GMO (genetically modified organisms) is done in the laboratory by extracting and injecting various genes to alter the characteristics of the host whereas hybridized is combining of plants (or animals for that matter) to cross-breed and through trail and error improve desired characteristics of a plant (or animal).
GMO-wheat isn’t supposed to exist commercially as it has never been approved for commercial use but there’s been at least two known cases of Monsanto GMO wheat in commercial use (explained by Monsanto as caused by sabotage towards Monsanto…). Center for Food Safety is also very critical towards the lax attitude towards test fields and the risk of leakage of GMO-crops.
Systematic hybridization of wheat started in England in 1843 under the Broadbalk Winter Wheat Experiment and since then hybridization of wheat has been big business with the objective to come up with a wheat that has higher yield per year and is more resistant to disease.
What we call wheat today is actually a hybrid from the 1960’s called dwarf-wheat. The old original wheats still exist but 99% of what is sold today is dwarf-wheat or a variation thereof. Without going into more on the exciting (not really) history of wheat hybridization let get into the issue of modern wheat in the human diet.
The issue with wheat
So what about Dr Davis statement “the perfect chronic poison”? Keeping mind that the symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are similar the only difference being that the symptoms lead to chronic problems with celiac disease and only passing problems with gluten sensitivity as you get better when cut gluten from your diet.
Both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are associated with a wide range of diseases, from schizophrenia and diabetes to osteoporosis and psoriasis, from skin problems to IBS and some research even links it to Alzheimer’s and autism.
The bottom line is: wheat makes 10-50% of the population ill and when you’re ill your body’s resources goes to fighting the cause of illness leaving the rest of your system under-resourced and your energy level drop. It’s like when you get a cold, your energy level drop and you just want to cuddle up in the couch with a cup of tea until your immune system has taken care of your cold.
Your immune system works undercover most of the time. It takes care of hostile elements in your body before you feel ill, most of the time keeping you healthy but every now and then your immune system is overwhelmed and you get ill. So just because you don’t feel ill doesn’t mean your immune system isn’t fighting fiercely for your health!
So if you’re constantly feeding your body with wheat your are constantly keeping your immune system busy (on top of having to deal with all the other potential threats to your health) and as a result your energy level drops, in a 2nd phase you experience the symptoms of gluten sensitivity and if you’re among the unlucky 0.5-1% with celiac disease you develop chronic problems.
Cutting wheat helped me crush procrastination
While I haven’t done any tests for gluten sensitivity (the tests are every rudimentary anyway) and I haven’t experienced any serious symptoms beyond lack of energy and bloated stomach I do normally stay away from wheat.
At the end of this summer and early autumn I strayed too far away from my normal paleo-ish diet. I had way too much bread and pasta and the impact on me was immediate (although I didn’t make the connection until later).
Mid-October I realized that I had to clean up my diet again and after only 2 days off wheat I noticed a significant boost of energy and I connected the dots. It’s also nice to see that a holistic approach does make sense and as I’ve stated before “food is the most powerful drug” for good and for bad.
Give it a try!
Cut wheat completely for 14 days to see if it makes a difference for you! Here’s a list of foods that contains gluten. Let us know in the comments how your experiment goes!