Trying to give up certain foods may seem impossible, because your cravings for them are so intense. But is this merely an emotional addiction...or is there an actual physiological component to it?
If you are a coffee drinker, and try to give it up for a period, you might notice you experience headaches, agitation, and even shakiness. This tells you that you have a physiological dependence or addiction to that black heavenly brew. The same goes for sugar. Trying to break the sugar craving can be as difficult as stopping smoking. This however, is due to a different mechanism. Coffee contains caffeine - a chemical stimulant that can cause a physiological dependence. Sugar, however, creates a metabolic reaction, causing the pancreas to secrete insulin to get the sugar into your body's cells, but at the same time, triggers the pleasure center in your brain - which is very similar to other types of addictions.
But there are two other common foods that most people are completely unaware of the physiological effect on their brain and body: Dairy and Gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt and kamut. Dairy contains two proteins: whey and casein. Casein - in dairy, and gluten - in grains, can both cross the blood-brain barrier. Once they do, they are termed "caseinomorphine and gluteomorphine".
The reason these proteins have the "morphine" attached to their names is due to the physiological effect that it has on the brain. It stimulates the "morphine" receptors and can have the same addictive response as heroine or other narcotics. In other words, coming off of these addictive foods can not only stimulate severe cravings for them, but cause physiological reactions such as headaches, nausea, insomnia, irritability, and other symptoms.
There are lab tests that can be performed to determine if these proteins are crossing your blood-brain barrier, stimulating this type of response. But just as important, these tests can detect if your body is having a response from them, causing damage (or increased anti-bodies) to other tissues. You see, it's not the addictive nature of these proteins that are so detrimental to your health, but the immune response that it has against your own tissues. For example, Crohn's or Celiac disease is an auto-immune response to the gastrointestinal tract. But any tissue in your body can be erroneously targeted as the "enemy" by your immune system: The thyroid, pancreas, skin, lungs, bone, stomach, intestines, etc.
Most people aren't willing to put in the effort to get these foods out of their diet until they experience pain, disability, or life-threatening disease. But with the incidence of auto-immune disease on the rise, why wait to experience full blown symptoms and disease when you can detect and prevent it today?
Don't wait to see a functional medicine practitioner if you have this concern!
Wishing you Abundant Health,
Dr. John Filippini