Must-Read: Wheat Belly

Dr. William Davis is a renowned cardiologist with a new book that’s probably the most important thing you’ll read this year.  Here are a few long but really good quotes from just the first few pages of the book:

Quoting Wheat Belly:

I recognize that declaring wheat a malicious food is like declaring that Ronald Reagan was a Communist.  It may seem absurd, even unpatriotic, to demote an iconic dietary staple to the status of public health hazard.  But I will make the case that the world’s most popular grain is also the world’s most destructive dietary ingredient.

Documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans include appetite stimulation, exposure to brain-active exorphins (the counterpart of internally derived endorphins), exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and aging, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.  A complex range of diseases results from consumption of wheat, from celiac disease -- the devastating intestinal disease that develops from exposure to wheat gluten -- to an assortment of neurological disorders, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, curious rashes, and the paralyzing delusions of schizophrenia.

If this thing called wheat is such a problem, then removing it should yield outsize and unexpected benefits.  Indeed, that is the case.  As a cardiologist who sees and treats thousands of patients at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and the myriad destructive effects of obesity, I have personally observed protuberant, flop-over-the-belt belly fat vanish when my patients eliminated wheat from their diets, with typical weight loss totaling 20, 30, or 50 pounds just within the first few months.  Rapid and effortless weight loss is usually followed by health benefits that continue to amaze me even today after having witnessed this phenomenon thousands of times.

I’ve seen dramatic turnarounds in health, such as the thirty-eight-year-old woman with ulcerative colitis facing colon removal who was cured with wheat elimination -- colon intact.  Or the twenty-six-year-old man, incapacitated and barely able to walk because of joint pain, who experienced complete relief and walked and ran freely again after taking wheat off the menu.

Extraordinary as these results may sound, there is ample scientific research to implicate wheat as the root cause of these conditions -- and to indicate that removal of wheat can reduce or relieve symptoms entirely. [...]

I call it wheat belly, though I could have just as easily called this condition pretzel brain or bagel bowel or biscuit face since there’s not an organ system unaffected by wheat.  But wheat’s impact on the waistline is its most visible and defining characteristic, an outward expression of the grotesque distortions humans experience with consumption of this grain. [...]

Many overweight people, in fact, are quite health conscious... Most will say something like "I don’t get it.  I exercise five days a week.  I’ve cut my fat and increased my healthy whole grains.  Yet I can’t seem to stop gaining weight!" [...]

Diabetics became nondiabetics.  That’s right: Diabetes in many cases can be cured -- not simply managed -- by removal of carbohydrates, especially wheat, from the diet.  Many of my patients had also lost twenty, thirty, even forty pounds.

But it’s what I didn’t expect that astounded me.

They reported that symptoms of acid reflux disappeared and the cyclic cramping and diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome were gone.  Their energy improved, they had greater focus, sleep was deeper.  Rashes disappeared, even rashes that had been present for many years.  Their rheumatoid arthritis pain improved or disappeared, enabling them to cut back, even eliminate, the nasty medications used to treat it.  Asthma symptoms improved or resolved completely, allowing many to throw away their inhalers.  Athletes reported more consistent performance.

Thinner.  More energetic.  Clearer thinking.  Better bowel, joint, and lung health.  Time and time again.  Surely these results were reason enough to forgo wheat. [...]

The bottom line: Elimination of this food, part of human culture for more centuries than Larry King was on the air, will make you sleeker, smarter, faster, and happier.  Weight loss, in particular, can proceed at a pace you didn’t think possible.  And you can selectively lose the most visible, insulin-opposing, diabetes-creating, inflammation-producing, embarrassment-causing fat: belly fat.  It is a process accomplished with virtually no hunger or deprivation, with a wide spectrum of health benefits. [...]

So why has this seemingly benign plant that sustained generations of humans suddenly turned on us?  For one thing, it is not the same grain our fore-bearers ground into their daily bread.  Wheat naturally evolved to only a modest degree over the centuries, but it has changed dramatically in the past fifty years under the influence of agricultural scientists.  Wheat strains have been hybridized, crossbred, and introgressed to make the wheat plant resistant to environmental conditions, such as drought, or pathogens, such as fungi.  But most of all, genetic changes have been induced to increase yield per acre.  The average yield on a modern North American farm is more than tenfold greater than farms of a century ago.  Such enormous strides in yield have required drastic changes in the genetic code, including reducing the proud "amber waves of grain" of yesteryear to the rigid, eighteen-inch-tall high-production "dwarf" wheat of today.  Such fundamental genetic changes, as you will see, have come at a price.

If you are overweight or have any kind of sickness at all -- or even if you don’t -- you owe it to yourself to try simply removing wheat from your diet for 30 days, and see if it helps you.  It costs you nothing and could literally save your life.  The first time you think about cutting out wheat, the reaction is usually something like, "But what am I going to eat without bread, pasta, cereal...??!?"  But it’s actually pretty easy: just eat lots of meat and vegetables, plus smaller amounts of fruit, nuts, and seeds.  It helps if you already know that saturated fat is good for you, because then you won’t be worried about replacing "healthy whole grains" (which are actually killing you) with "artery-clogging saturated fat" (which is actually good for your heart and the rest of your body).

Perhaps the best thing about Dr. Davis, Robb Wolf, etc, is that these guys aren’t trying to sell you anything; they’re just trying to help you.  Well, technically they’re selling books, but you only need the books if you want all the details and the proof: they give away the "secret" for free on their websites and in their book summaries.  The "secret" is that if you cut these foods (wheat in Dr. Davis’ case, or all grains plus legumes and dairy in Robb Wolf’s opinion) out of your diet -- ideally for good, but at least for 30 days to see how it affects you -- then you’ll be far healthier for it.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


01. Sep 2, 2012 at 09:11am by Heather:

I just started removing wheat from our families diet.  I started a blog called the Wheat Removal Experiment and so far people are interested!  I am continually looking for information to post about what I am learning.  I love Dr. Davis and I was happy to read your posts on the subject!  :)

02. Sep 2, 2012 at 10:49am by Anthony:

Thanks!  It’s great to hear that people are interested in your blog on the topic.  After so many decades of erroneous advice about good, natural, healthy stuff that is supposedly bad for us (animal products, saturated fat, sunshine...) it’s important to spread the word about this "healthy" item called wheat that actually is bad for so many people.

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