4

votes

Hack my hypothesis on wheat and LDL

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 02, 2012 at 1:53 AM

Maybe you've seen Denise Minger's blog posts (If not check out "The China Study, Wheat, and Heart Disease; Oh My!" where she discusses the strong correlation she found between wheat and heart disease in the raw china study data. Yes, ultimately it only shows correlation and not causation, but the correlation appears strong. She also brings up a few studies, including this one in which wheat germ raised LDL a little and flax seed lowered it. This study was very similar (but longer and only involving women) and reported the same result; wheat germ raised LDL. And I found a few more studies with the same results.

I also recently posted a question about this study, in which whole wheat increased LDL relative to white bread but, interestingly enough, this effect varied depending on ApoE genotype. This made me wonder if perhaps something in wheat germ raises LDL and does so in part through interactions with ApoE.

I researched physiological differences between the various ApoE phenotypes and found that one prominent trait is varying quantities of sialic acid in the ApoE protein. Why is sialic acid important? Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), the infamous lectin in wheat, binds to sialic acid.

(From here I get more speculative...) Apolipoproteins such as ApoE and ApoB100 are proteins that help form LDL, HDL, and so on. They all contain sialic acid which WGA can bind to. These apolipoproteins are what is recognized by several receptors of the LDL receptor family. So perhaps when WGA binds to the sialic acid on these proteins it changes their structure and reduces or eliminates the ability of some LDL receptors to recognize them (such a process seems to happen when AGE's modify LDL)

To Summarize:

There is some conflicting evidence that wheat or wheat germ increases LDL. My hypothesis is that this is at partly due to WGA entering the blood stream, binding to sialic acid on apolipoproteins and changing their structure, impairing their recognition by LDL receptors and potentially leading to increased LDL levels. Whether this implies wheat increases heart disease is too difficult to determine.

I'm aware this is total mechanistic speculation, but I'd really like to hear what people think, even if that means explaining why none of this makes any sense.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 04, 2012
at 01:13 AM

I find it very interesting that Loren Cordain, despite being the advisor for the study you posted about WGA not getting into the blood, has written in several books that WGA bypasses the gut and enters human circulation.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 03, 2012
at 02:49 AM

@MScott - it's never too late. I'm 33 and I'm just now getting an advanced degree in nutrition. Wish I'd done it 10 years ago, but of course, back then I was still eating the SAD and probably would've gone the RD route and believed everything they would have told me about arterycloggingsaturatedfat and hearthealthywholegrains...

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 09:40 PM

So biochemistry... I was wondering about that! How about nutritional anthropology - it goes deeper than nutrition. Nutrition is "what", biochemistry is "how" and anthropology is "why".

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:56 PM

Just very interested to this stuff I suppose. I'm a biochem student who wishes he studied nutrition as a career rather than a hobby.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:53 PM

As far as white rice, I think it's pretty benign myself and I eat it fairly often. But lack of apparent toxins aside, I try to eat it in moderation because it's basically empty of nutrition (excluding glucose). I don't think everything you put in your mouth has to be a superfood, but I think a nutrient poor diet is as much if not more of a promoter of ill health and disease as the so called dietary demons of the paleosphere (e.g. fructose, gluten, seed oils, etc.).

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:43 PM

Thanks for the response VB, you always have a unique perspective. A lot to touch on, but I will say that yes, domestication of food has resulted in a lot of poor results. But not always, there are pros and cons of course. Characterizing wheat as a mutant is accurate but that term does not equal bad. Humans are mutants too, mutations put us where we are today (and this is not meant as a defense of wheat).

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Interesting, thanks for the links. I had also seen a few papers where the authors suggested that WGA is resistant to cooking and/or digestion (like this one (no full text): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X09001227. Results seem mixed on the subject. Of course that still doesn't mean WGA gets into the blood (as your study suggests). I'll read up on this a bit since my entire concept pretty much hinges on WGA getting into the blood.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:18 PM

This found it doesn't get into the blood http://digitool.library.colostate.edu///exlibris/dtl/d3_1/apache_media/L2V4bGlicmlzL2R0bC9kM18xL2FwYWNoZV9tZWRpYS83NTE1Mw==.pdf

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 04:13 PM

I'll try to dig up the studies if I can, but I've read papers by Cordain (and others not affiliated at all with the Paleo concept) that said intact WGA has been detected in human feces. (Meaning not only does it survive the the cooking process, but also digestion. It is supposedly extremely resistant to both temperature *and* pH.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 02:09 AM

You've mentioned you're really interested in the ApoE genotype stuff and its relation to diet and health. Just curious...are you a researcher for a living, or just drawn to this stuff?

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3 Answers

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on July 02, 2012
at 01:01 PM

A common thought/theory is that WGA that makes it past the gut defenses causes an immune response by the body. Antibodies are created that target WGA. It so happens that these anti-WGA antibodies also cross-react with other human tissues leading to autoimmunity symptoms (that's the popular theory). Should WGA make it into general circulation, it should be targeted and eliminated by immune response. I doubt that it would have the effect on LDL that you propose.

I wouldn't call any of the studies you cite as a slam-dunk inditing wheat. The studies comparing wheat and flax only show an advantage for flax, not a disadvantage for wheat. Whole-wheat vs white bread study shows a very limited effect.

Now if you could find a study comparing blood lipids and the presence of antibodies against various antigens, that might be useful.

2
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:15 AM

Your post is above my level of competence but I have a general feeling that nothing good can come out of wheat. Why?

It is not even about gluten. It is about that wheat is a cheap source of ... pretty much everything that you eat, apply, brush with, feed, add and consume. If you do not believe me, check out a list of items that have wheat-derived products with gluten in it. Anything from facial cream and toothpaste to anti-clumping additives in your spices and peanuts. It is a cheaper alternative to more expensive stuff. So to produce cheap wheat, you have to modify it, not only genetically but chemically and on a molecular level. All those fields of gold need tons of insecticides, herbicides, and any other... cides you can imagine.

Do you know why kale has the most nutrients out of all cabbages? Because it underwent the least amount of domestication. It is as wild as a domesticated plant can be.

Do you know why berries have the most antioxidants? Because they were not as inbred as other agricultural fruit.

So wheat is no longer in its form it was 1,000 years ago. It is a mutant. And you are what you eat.

Two more things. One: I was reading a study from some Chinese scientists that suggested that they could trace unaltered chains of genetic material in rice in humans who consumed that rice. I wish I could put it in more scientific terms, but the idea was that we carry the genes of what we eat (in that particular research it was rice).

Second: one of the guys I know used to work as a doctor in Vietnam. I don't like the guy and think he is not a good doctor, but he claims that liver cancer is more common in Vietnam due to rice consumption and apparently that's what all doctors who worked in Vietnam came to believe. Take it with a grain of salt because I do not know anything about it.

Thanks for your post. I also would love to know if you are a researcher.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:43 PM

Thanks for the response VB, you always have a unique perspective. A lot to touch on, but I will say that yes, domestication of food has resulted in a lot of poor results. But not always, there are pros and cons of course. Characterizing wheat as a mutant is accurate but that term does not equal bad. Humans are mutants too, mutations put us where we are today (and this is not meant as a defense of wheat).

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:53 PM

As far as white rice, I think it's pretty benign myself and I eat it fairly often. But lack of apparent toxins aside, I try to eat it in moderation because it's basically empty of nutrition (excluding glucose). I don't think everything you put in your mouth has to be a superfood, but I think a nutrient poor diet is as much if not more of a promoter of ill health and disease as the so called dietary demons of the paleosphere (e.g. fructose, gluten, seed oils, etc.).

1
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:29 AM

I like your train of thought. I asked a question here about whether or not the WGA survives the cooking process, I'm not sure if it does...

http://paleohacks.com/questions/81656/wga-does-it-survive-baking#axzz1zR1xNHmm

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 02, 2012
at 07:25 PM

Interesting, thanks for the links. I had also seen a few papers where the authors suggested that WGA is resistant to cooking and/or digestion (like this one (no full text): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041008X09001227. Results seem mixed on the subject. Of course that still doesn't mean WGA gets into the blood (as your study suggests). I'll read up on this a bit since my entire concept pretty much hinges on WGA getting into the blood.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on July 02, 2012
at 04:13 PM

I'll try to dig up the studies if I can, but I've read papers by Cordain (and others not affiliated at all with the Paleo concept) that said intact WGA has been detected in human feces. (Meaning not only does it survive the the cooking process, but also digestion. It is supposedly extremely resistant to both temperature *and* pH.)

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:18 PM

This found it doesn't get into the blood http://digitool.library.colostate.edu///exlibris/dtl/d3_1/apache_media/L2V4bGlicmlzL2R0bC9kM18xL2FwYWNoZV9tZWRpYS83NTE1Mw==.pdf

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 04, 2012
at 01:13 AM

I find it very interesting that Loren Cordain, despite being the advisor for the study you posted about WGA not getting into the blood, has written in several books that WGA bypasses the gut and enters human circulation.

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