I watched an appearance by cardiologist Dr. William Davis on television this morning. He is the author of a study and book on wheat and the role it plays in weight gain and a whole array of other health complications. Say it ain’t so!
We’ve all been hearing that wheat – at least the whole grain kind – is good for you. Not so, says Dr. Davis in his new book “Wheat Belly.”
The title refers to the big spare tire that so many people today are carrying around in front of them. While he’s no fan of sugar or other refined carbohydrates, Dr. Davis believes wheat is a primary (if not the primary) driver of the rise in obesity we’ve witnessed in the past quarter century, and he makes a strong case for that belief. But getting fat is hardly the only price we pay for our love of bagels, breads, cereals and muffins. As Dr. Davis explains in the book’s introduction:
While much of the Wheat Belly story is about overweight, it is also about the complex and not fully understood range of diseases that have resulted from it – from celiac disease, the devastating intestinal disease that develops from exposure to wheat gluten, to an assortment of neurological disorders, curious rashes, and the paralyzing effects of schizophrenia.
Tom Naughton did an interesting review of the book on line and hit some of the salient points.
He says, “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 increased appetite, the process of glycation that underlies diseases and aging, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.”
There’s hardly a single organ system that is not in some way affected by wheat products according to Dr. Davis. He claims everything from depression to joint pain is a direct result of wheat consumption.
He delves into quite a bit of nutrition science and some biochemistry, but writes in a clear (and often humorous) style that makes for easy reading. As a doctor who’s treated thousands of patients, he has the added advantage of being able to cite case histories from his own practice – patients who came to him unknowingly damaged by wheat, but were cured by wheat-free diets.
I was impressed by a couple of the testimonials in the book:
One patient, a thirty-eight-year-old woman, was told by her doctor that she’d have to have part of her colon removed and replaced with an external bag. After Dr. Davis talked her into going wheat free, her colon healed itself.
Another patient, a twenty-six-year-old man, was experiencing so much pain in his joints, he could barely walk. Three different rheumatologists failed to identify a cause. When he visited Dr. Davis for a heart condition, Dr. Davis suggested he try a wheat-free diet for the joint pain. Three months later, the young man strode into the office pain-free and reported he’d been jogging short distances and playing basketball. His heart condition had cleared up as well.
I’m going to dump whole wheat – or any other by products for two weeks and see if I feel any different. Bye bye, low carb tortillas.