In a nutshell, here’s how it works:
- When you eat carbs, your blood sugar goes up. Eat gobs of carb-rich foods (bread, sugar, pasta, rice, etc. — all of which are nutrient poor, relative to meat and veggies), and your blood sugar goes up a lot.
- In response, your body secretes insulin, a storage hormone, which takes the blood sugar out of your bloodstream and stores it for future use (in the form of glycogen in your liver and muscles), and returning you blood sugar levels to normal.
- But your glycogen stores fill up quickly. What happens if you keep eating carbs after your tank is full? Your body senses the dangerous excess blood sugar, and pumps out a ton of extra insulin to deal with it. Your glycogen stores are still maxed out, so the extra insulin converts the carb-orific energy into body fat.
- But now, so much insulin’s kicking around your system that it ends up driving your blood sugar too low — to the point where you experience a “blood sugar crash” (you know, like in the afternoon, after you’ve downed a big turkey sandwich and a sugary coffee drink). Your blood sugar’s low, so your body craves…(drum roll, please)…MORE CARBS. And the cycle starts again.
- Over time, these cycles of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia wreak havoc on your metabolism, and can escalate into full-blown insulin resistance — a precursor to a parade of health horribles like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc. (We’ve previously discussed this problem — and how it escalates into full-blown insulin resistance and metabolic derangement — here.)
- And that’s not all. Researchers have long known that gluten-containing grains (barley, wheat, etc.) contain exorphins — opiates with potency levels that are “comparable to morphine and enkephalin.” So even absent the blood sugar spikes and crashes that make you crave carbs, gluten grains are inherently addictive.