Banishing Wheat Belly - The Drawbacks of a Wheat-Dominated Diet
Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health, is a preventive cardiologist who has gone against the grain to expose yet another genetically engineered monstrosity, shedding light on the dark side of today’s commercial wheat crops.
What made you suspect that wheat might be behind numerous health problems? When I recognized that 80 percent of the people that came to see me had diabetes or pre-diabetes, I began asking patients to consider removing all wheat from their diets. This made sense to me due to wheat’s high glycemic index. Foods made from this grain raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods, including table sugar. The next logical step was to reduce blood sugar by eliminating wheat—organic, multi-grain, whole grain and sprouted—from anyone’s diet. Patients that followed my simple directives and replaced the lost calories with healthy foods such as vegetables, raw nuts, meats, eggs, avocados, olives and olive oil returned three months later with lower fasting blood sugars and lower glycohemoglobin levels, which tests how well diabetes is being controlled. Some diabetics became non-diabetics and pre-diabetics became non-pre-diabetic. On average, these people each lost about 30 pounds and experienced relief from arthritis and joint pains, acid reflux, migraine headaches, edema and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other conditions. Some even reported that they no longer needed inhalers for asthma. Initially, it seemed like these positive results were just odd coincidences. However, based on the overwhelming number of incidences, I clearly saw that it was a real and repeatable phenomenon. I began systematically removing wheat from all my patients’ diets and continued to witness similar turnarounds in health. Research related to agricultural genetics, an area largely ignored by medical doctors, and my own interviews with U.S. Department of Agriculture experts substantiated what my own anecdotal evidence has revealed.
Why has wheat suddenly become such a health threat? The wheat we eat today is not the same wheat our grandmothers used for baking. In the 1970s, in anticipation of a global population explosion and world hunger issues, a well-meaning University of Minnesota-trained geneticist developed a hybridized strain of high-yielding dwarf wheat. By 1985, all wheat products were made from the altered dwarf strain, which now comprises 99 percent of all wheat grown worldwide. By weight, this modern wheat is approximately 70 percent carbohydrate, in a highly digestible form of a starch known as amylopectin A, which converts more easily to blood sugar than nearly all other simple or complex food carbohydrates. Gram-for-gram, wheat increases blood sugar and causes insulin problems to a greater degree than even potato chips or table sugar. Wheat, which now typically comprises 20 percent of all the calories we consume, is in hundreds of prepared foods such as instant soups, salad dressings, candy and granola. In 1970, this wasn’t true. Wheat was only in such foods as bread, rolls, cookies and cake, and it was in a natural form.
How does a wheat-dominated diet compromise health? Eating a wheat-based cereal for breakfast, wheat crackers and pretzels for snacks, two slices of whole wheat bread for lunch and whole wheat pasta for dinner results in too much exposure to amylopectin A, and repeated spikes in blood sugar levels. This leads to insulin resistance and cultivates the growth of visceral fat in the abdomen, which tends toward diabetes and other inflammatory responses. Even worse, the gliadin protein in wheat is an opiate that stimulates appetite and addictive eating behavior (it does not relieve pain). All this plus the direct intestinal toxic effects of the wheat germ agglutinin protein in wheat add up to a destructive ingredient that spurs acid reflux, bowel urgency and irritable bowel syndrome, and leads to inflammation in various organs.
Describe how eliminating wheat has affected you. Thirty pounds ago, I was an enthusiastic consumer of “healthy whole grains,” who relied on pots of coffee or walking and other exercise to maintain focus and energy. My cholesterol values reflected my wheat-consuming habits: HDL 27 mg/dl [milligrams per deciliter of good cholesterol] (very low), triglycerides 350 mg/dl (very high), and blood sugars in the diabetic range (161 mg/dl). I had high blood pressure of 150/90 and excess weight around my middle. Eliminating wheat from my diet reversed all of these conditions without drugs, including the struggle to maintain attention and focus. Overall, I feel better today at 54 than I felt at 30.
Are gluten-free foods the answer? Commercially produced gluten-free foods made with tapioca, cornstarch or rice starch—all poor replacements for wheat—are destructive to the body. Homemade or locally made gluten-free foods absent such ingredients are better, as are the free recipes available via WheatBellyBlog.com. Millet, quinoa and amaranth, whole grains that lack most of the undesirable properties of modern wheat, are better but not necessarily safe in unlimited quantities because most people today have spent their lives overexposed to carbohydrates. Eating only small portions of these non-wheat grains is key.
For more information visit WheatBellyBlog.com.