Wheat/Gluten and how it affects PTSD, Anxiety, Depression

Author: Dr. Cheng Ruan, MD

Hey, everybody! Welcome to the live stream. This is Dr. Ruan. If we haven’t met before, my name is Dr. Cheng Ruan, I am a board certified internal medicine physician and practicing out of Texas and I think that a conversation with your physician is far more beneficial than any prescriptions so let us have a conversation right now. The title and what we will be talking about is how wheat relates to post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and all that stuff. The relationship is probably not what you are thinking.

Probably not what you are thinking. There’s a whole lot of stuff out there about whether things are gluten free. Is gluten really bad for you? What is gluten, what it really does? What is wheat, what it really does? What exactly is gluten? Is gluten really wheat? I just want to clear up some mystification really quick. So when I talk about wheat, I am talking about wheat flour products, right? So some are bread, a lot of sauces, some ketchup that was gluten and has wheat in them. So what is this has to do with mentality? What is this has to do with PTSD? What does it have to do with anxiety? What does it have to do with depression? So what is this has to do with all these. Let us examine what wheat does to the body first. Then after that will take that and relate it to the mentality.

So as we consume wheat products, and why do we consume wheat products? We consume wheat products because that is kind of what the government has been telling us to do and what marketers for cereal companies has been telling us to do since the 1980s, When the original food pyramid came out, right? The food pyramid is like this: In the bottom, you had your 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates. A lot of that is in bread. In the middle, you have your proteins. What’s at the very top? At the very top of the food pyramid back in the ‘80s right is fat including healthy fats.

So, what is that really based on? It’s not really based on a whole lot of substantial research but what that’s based on is the American diet is a carbohydrates foundation in diet because you have a food pyramid with all the carbs in the bottom. Since then, the food pyramid has changed to a circle. But my point is that, since the 1980s we have been consuming a lot of wheat and a lot of flour products and a lot of carbohydrates in the bottom pyramid of the food pyramid. So what has happened since then? What has happened is that the rates of diabetes, the rates of pre-diabetes, the rates of obesity have sky-rocketed. It has sky-rocketed because that is what we were taught. That’s what we were taught in school, we were taught in school about the food pyramid when I was in the second grade coming from China. I remember learning about that stuff.

Wheat/Gluten and how it affects PTSD, Anxiety, Depression

But it has led to now, a place where we didn’t really want to be. You know, we don’t really want to be in the country where 50% of the country is either diabetic or pre-diabetic, and a lot of people who are diabetic and pre-diabetic are also depressed, they have post-traumatic stress disorder, they have anxiety and they are all obese. These are all very related things. So let’s take a step back to see exactly what kind of diet and how the food pyramids really should be restructured a little bit. And so right now, we have public enemy #1: and that’s really carbohydrates. We hear in your low carb this, and low carb that. Is that really good for you? Let’s talk about what low carb really means. So, we have to undo a little bit of what we were taught back in the ‘80s about the food pyramid, about up to 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates including a lot of bread, wheat, noodles, pastas, and all flour products like that.

And when you consume carbohydrates including wheat, it does a few things to your body. First, a lot of people have a hard time absorbing the wheat and knowing that the wheat allows a lot of inflammation to happen in the gut, and that’s the new cause of leaking gut syndrome that we talked about. The leaking gut syndrome is that a lot of people can’t tolerate this wheat product as it hits the gut. It creates so much inflammation. A lot of the stuff leaks out. And that’s the concept behind that.

It’s a very simple five concepts. But what is that do? It causes inflammation to occur over the entire body not just the gut. A lot of people can have joint issues, People can have severe fatigue, A lot of people have bloating abdominal bloating, and that does not make them feel very good, and when it doesn’t make them feel very good day after day, after day, after day, after day and depression sets in, anxiety sets in, right? And they’ve been through traumatic events, the post-traumatic stress disorder, it just makes it all that worse. It makes it all that worse. So, I’m not saying that this happens for everyone, but this happens for a large number of people who are suffering from a lot of psychiatric issues like anxiety, like depression, like PTSD, right? A lot of these people are also, on the obese side, right? They say, “Doc, I can’t lose any weight.” You know, “I’m depressed.” “I’m anxious.” And it’s just a downward cycle. And then, but that has to do with the way that we’re actually eating. A lot of us are actually eating whole foods.

So, you know, I talk about wheat a lot, but it’s not just wheat, it’s about processed foods, it’s about the toxins that are in the diet, it’s about preservatives. All of these things can cause a lot of inflammation to happen in the body, in the gut, causing that leaking gut syndrome, and then your entire body reacts to it systemically. Systemically means that it reacts over the entire body rather than just one area, right? So, as we consume all these different things, we follow the American diet with the food pyramid and the 6 to 11 servings of carbs. As you do that over number of decades, everything that we predicted was going to happen with this is happening right now in America especially in 2016. Anti- depressants are the number one prescribed medicines in the pharmaceutical setting, anti- depressants. Not only that, the rates… the obesity rates of diabetic and either pre-diabetic is sky-rocketed more in the last three years, in the last fifteen.

This has to do with how our normal diet has really become and how we were taught in the 1980s for this normal diet to have carbohydrates as a foundation. So let’s talk about not only what’s recommended for the diabetic. Let’s talk about what people are doing these days versus what people were doing 15 years ago. A lot of people these days have decided to not really make carbs a foundation. A lot of people decided to make plant-based foods or vegetables as a foundation. After that on top, you start layering with the healthy fats and then the proteins and then essential oils, essential fatty acids rather, that they have to consume. When people go from the foundation of the whole food and vegetables rather than carbohydrates and wheat products, guess what happens? A lot of inflammation in their body is improved.

They have less allergy symptoms. They have auto-immune conditions like lupus and stuff like that. A lot of those symptoms get significantly reduced because information gets reduced. Blood pressure becomes better. Diabetes and pre-diabetes can be reversed, right? This is the phenomenon.

It’s happening right now for a lot of people who are going on these diets. Old concepts of saying, “Hey! Don’t eat too many eggs.” Or “Don’t eat too much steak as your cholesterol go up.” Well, that’s kind of being not proven right now. It’s interesting to think that maybe these loaves of bread are contributing to cholesterol more than lean grass fed beef for example. But that’s exactly what we see right now. It’s because the number one risk factor of heart disease and strokes and whatnot in this country is insulin resistance, and how diabetic somebody is.

So, that leading into the mentality aspects and the idea behind anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, these are all linked because the way that you feel the more inflammation in your body, they’re all tied together. Your mentality is linked to your body. They are all tied together.

My mom does acupuncture herb and Chinese medicine. We believe in the Yin and the Yang and a chi that’s balanced. If you’re not balanced up here, you can’t be balanced in here.

You can’t be balanced with the food that you eat. So start controlling it by using food as medicine. Start controlling it by eating the colors of the rainbow, I’m not talking about Skittles, I’m talking about eating whole natural foods that have different colors because they have properties and antioxidants within them that can be anti-inflammatory. So how do you start going about doing this? There’s multiple ways of going about doing this.

First, you have to make sure that whatever you eat, it’s very simple. Make sure that Mother Earth made it. It is grown from the ground (or) make sure that it’s a grass fed beef for example. Make sure that whatever you’re consuming is as natural as possible, called the whole foods. No preservatives, Nothing extra in there because they can stimulate a lot of inflammation into your body. Okay, let me tell you a story. Let me tell you a story of somebody that I met a few years ago who came in to my office.

Has severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He was in the military. He was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for a few months. He came to me after suffering that traumatic event. He came to me and he was really nervous in my office. He hates doctors.

He hates being anywhere near where there’s doctors because he had a really, really, really bad experiences being in hospitals and hospital systems. So what did he have? He had a stomach ulcers From a lot of stress like eating really bad food like hot cheetos every night. He has severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

He has severe anxiety. He was very severely depressed and didn’t really know how to get out of it. So, I talk to him. “Listen. You really have to use food to help you out. You really have to use food to really understand what your body can and cannot do.” He was like, “Doc, you know I would like to but I throw up every evening and every morning for the last one and a half years. Every single morning. I have not had an episode where I didn’t throw up.” I was like, “What’s making you throw up?” He’s like, “I don’t know.

I just wake up feeling anxious and I just throw up. When I throw up I feel a little bit better.” I was like, “Do me a favor. Do me a favor. Don’t throw up, okay?” I gave him an antacid and I said, “This antacid is your back up. What I would like for you to do is I would like for you to eat these specific foods and they are whole foods. Eating the colors of the rainbow. A lot of it is plant-based.

I like for you to eat these specific foods for the next 48 hours. Just 48 hours. Let’s just see what happens. So he looks at the grocery list and he was like, “Doc, this is very expensive stuff.” I was like, “Just trust me on this.

Just trust me on this. Just eat these foods in 48 hours and if I want you to come back in my office after 48 hours.” So 2 days later, he came back to me and he says, “Doc, yesterday was the first day that I didn’t throw up. I didn’t gag. I didn’t even feel like throwing up. I feel wonderful.” I’m like, “that’s probably a plcacebo? effect because you had this for 2 days.” “No, no, no! It’s not a placebo? effect.

It’s that, I didn’t realize that every time I put food into my body like the Cheetos I eat every night, like every time I do that, I have severe heartburn at night. But now that I don’t have it, I’m not really anxious about it. My mind and my body are not dwelling on it. I don’t feel like anything’s wrong with me. I sleep really well and I wake up feeling super refreshed.

Then in the morning, I feel so relaxed that I don’t feel like I have to throw up.” I went, well, you know that’s really interesting. That’s really an interesting concept. It’s the first time I heard of somebody describing it like that and I have doubt many people with post-traumatic stress disorder but he took it to a new level.

So, I’m like, “you know what, why don’t we do this for a week. I want you to come back in a week, okay.” He did this for a week. He came back in a week. He says “Doc, it’s been amazing. I have not thrown up since the day after I started eating right, I started eating these things.” I was like, “It was fantastic. It was the first time you haven’t thrown up in the last year and a half.” He came in and he was very teary-eyed. He’s very thankful that we talked about something like this because he was put on anti-depressants.

He was put on a lot of medicines for his ulcer. He was put on cholesterol medicine. He was put on all these different things. What it took is really a conversation for him to understand and to educate him about food and whole food. To have such a profound impact on his psyche.

His PTSD is significantly better. It’s not cured. It is not cured.

It is significantly better. But guess what? It’s been a year. It’s been two years actually and his ulcers are cured. He no longer has ulcers.

He no longer has heartburn. He no longer has the anxiety before bedtime. That’s such a great thing. Then, he started doing things with his children. He started doing things with his wife. He has four kids.

He’s got a lot of kids. He started doing things with his family. He started feeling really great. He joined the boxing gym and he’s got in the best shape of his life. He came back to me, I think, about a month and a half ago. He’s like, “Doc, thank you for taking your time to talk to me about food and using food as medicine.”, because now he’s off all his anti-depressants.

He’s off all his cholesterol medicine because he didn’t really need it. He no longer is taking up blood pressure medicine. He’s taking three different blood pressure medicine.

Then, the doctors keep adding on and on and on that’s why he didn’t like any doctors. So, the idea behind eating whole and healthy food is exactly just it. But what’s even more interesting, is that he eliminated all wheat from his diet because he realized every time he consume something with flour, something with wheat, he gets palpitations. He gets body aches everywhere. His mind is not clear at all.

He becomes very anxious. He’s like, “Doc, I no longer eat bread. I used to eat whole wheat bread. I used to buy whole flour and make stuff out of it by realizing that what is doing is making me anxious.” I’m like, “You know what, that’s because you probably are reacting to it and the concept behind leaking gut syndrome that we talked about earlier is exactly recurring, all that wheat goes into the gut, it creates so much inflammation.” Not only there’s inflammation in the gut but there’s inflammation all over the body, it did not make him feel good. It did not make him feel good.” So, there are a lot of people out there suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A lot of people out there suffering from depression and anxiety and what happens, is that it is such a perpetually downward cycle because they use really bad food as a reward. I was in the same thing. I was in the same thing in residency. I went through about just being really overworked in residency. I did not use food as medicine. I did quite the opposite. I did not feel very good. But once I turned that switch, I felt amazing very shortly afterwards.

But there are so many people that are out there and if you are listening right now, if you are on one of those people, I really encourage you to eat whole foods. Eat the spectrums of the rainbow. You know, different colored bell peppers and vegetables and chartreuse and lettuce and stuff like that. Eat the spectrums of the rainbow. Get those vital nutrients. Vital nutrients are nutrients that are in plant foods and have that into your body.

When you have that into your body, you feel good about yourself. There are a lot of things that happen within your body. Your inflammation comes down pretty dramatically.

Then, not everybody is necessarily gluten or wheat insensitive but try to eliminate wheat from the body and see how you feel. See how you feel. There have been so many of my patients who have suffered from this and I prescribed a gluten free diet for a month and over 80 percent of them have dramatic effect. 80 percent of them have dramatic effect on the way that they feel and their energy level and everything else. It’s absolutely amazing. This is not taught in any medical school. This is something that I really had to learn. This is something that actually my mother taught me because in Chinese medicine, that’s what she does, it is all about using food as medicine.

It’s all about balancing the Yin and the Yang right in the middle. Not the one side or the other. If you know anybody who’s suffering from depression, don’t necessarily tag them on the post because they might not like that but go ahead and share it. Share this in your feed so that they can benefit from this.

Share this on your feed so that they can absorb some of the values that’s form this video and use that to motivate them because everybody loves being motivated and everybody loves the idea that they can do something immediately to change their health because everybody can. Once we are empowered by this, then we will do it. If the reason is strong enough, they will do it. We have to give them a reason. We have to give them motivation. We have to give them tools for them to know that this is absolutely possible. So, I know I am covering on for a very long time but once again share this in your post. I would really love it.

But if you know anybody who actually needs a whole lot of help, please share this video with them. I would suggest don’t tag them and don’t put their name into the comments because it kind of goes against what you are trying to do which is really helping them. Make it as anonymous as possible. Just share it to your feed and maybe message them if you want, okay? Thank you so much for listening. I have covered so many things in this video. More than I thought was going to but I am just really passionate about using food as medicine.

So thank you very much guys.

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Hey, everybody! Welcome to the live stream. This is Dr. Ruan. If we haven’t met before, my name is Dr. Cheng Ruan, I am a board certified internal medicine physician and practicing…

By: Dr. Cheng Ruan, MD