Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D.

wheat belly book

In starting the book Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D., I thought this was going to be just another book for those with celiac or gluten sensitivities. Reading the introduction alone proved that to be a very wrong assumption. This book is for everyone. The author practices as a preventative cardiologist. He deals with cardiac disease patients and those at risk for cardiac disease, and a good number of them are diabetics or prediabetics. He describes these people as having a “wheat belly,” high triglyceride count, low HDL count, and high LDL count. What amazed and intrigued him was the fact that these people were not in the habit of lying around on the couch eating potato chips and bon-bons. These people exercise more than the average person (1-2 hours a day), meticulously watch what they eat, but get fatter and fatter. He found himself in the same boat. It begs the question: What is going on?

Davis explains that as we stepped away from hunter-gatherers to being cultivators and farmers, we began to introduce wheat into our diets. He explains how wheat had changed very little for millennia. So, why is today’s wheat causing problems unheard of a hundred years ago? As the author so aptly states in Chapter 2’s title “Not Your Grandma’s Muffins: The Creation of Modern Wheat,” the author goes into explicit detail about how wheat has been genetically altered into the “frankengrain” of today, with many ill effects it has on your body (268).

Most medical associations endorse a dietary practice of eating whole grains for heart health, colon health, and all around good health. However, the author has literally had thousands of patients come to him with the same issues of triglyceride levels too high, HDL too low, and LDL too high; they also are either prediabetic or diabetic and have belly fat. Time and time again Davis suggested ‘losing the wheat.’ With the rare exception, they came back with dropped weight, blood levels right where they are supposed to be, and no more diabetic issues. Other conditions associated with wheat consumption are dermatitis herpetiformis, acne, oral ulcers, psoriasis, vitiligo, alopecia areata, dermatomyositis, and many more. The author explains how wheat disrupts your pH balance causing an acidic atmosphere that can lead to bone breakage (116). He describes in great detail how wheat is addictive, and that some people actually have withdrawal symptoms from ‘losing the wheat.’ He looked up study after study, some new, some decades old; they all show incredible evidence against wheat. One that stood out to me was a case when doctors took schizophrenics off wheat, and they had marked improvement; when patients were put back on wheat, they declined. One woman in particular had suffered with schizophrenia for 53 years and after several days of being off wheat, all her symptoms disappeared and haven’t returned. He has some compelling evidence on how wheat spikes your blood sugar worse than regular sugar does, which dangerously raises our insulin levels. He briefly touches on the subject of celiac and how it is becoming more prevalent because of the modern wheat. He even coined the phrase “be gluten free but don’t eat gluten free” (71).

Davis explains why wheat is the culprit. The book describes the scene at a grocery store. You’ll find an aisle dedicated just to bread and one to breakfast cereals. Wheat is a prevalent part of our diet; the author uses the word ubiquitous. You cannot buy any processed foods without finding some form of wheat or gluten on the label. He talks about how the big food companies use the fact that wheat is an appetite stimulant to make you eat more, and that’s why it’s everywhere and in everything. Taking wheat out of the equation causes you to eat less. According to the author, there are no more calories to count, other than watching what and how many carbohydrates you eat. As long as you replace the missing wheat with real whole food and not “junk” food, your body naturally adjusts, you drop weight, and most health conditions either clear up or dramatically improve. However, the author doesn’t just condemn wheat; he discusses other high glycemic foods as well and why we should either take them out of our diet or severely limit them. This is why he says “be gluten free but don’t eat gluten free:” the tapioca starch, potato starch, and corn starch that are used to replace the wheat can be damaging as well.

After reading this book, I realize I have been lax about replacing my gluten laden foods with real whole foods. I have indeed succumbed to the ease of gluten free foods. This book has strengthened my resolve for eating healthy, given me new ideas, and even supplied me with some tasty looking recipes. There is a lot of information in this book, and I’ve just barely scratched the surface. I often found myself chuckling while reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone whether health conscious or not. Given the genetic modifications, the serious health consequences, and vast amounts of various real whole foods to replace it with, why wait to delve in and ‘lose the wheat’?

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