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Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health Kindle Edition
In this #1 New York Times bestseller, a renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems.
Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100 million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls "wheat bellies." According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It's due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.
After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as "wheat"—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle.
Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.
"Detailed and ultimately therapeutic, [Davis'] Wheat Belly might be our best bet yet for real belt-tightening."-- "Barnes & Noble, editorial review"
Fascinating, compelling, and more than a little entertaining, Wheat Belly may be the most important health book of the year.-- "Dana Carpender, author of 500 Low-Carb Recipes" --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
WHEAT: THE UNHEALTHY WHOLE GRAIN
The scientific physician welcomes the establishment of a standard loaf of bread made according to the best scientific evidence. . . . Such a product can be included in diets both for the sick and for the well with a clear understanding of the effect that it may have on digestion and growth.
Morris Fishbein, MD, editor, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1932
IN CENTURIES PAST, a prominent belly was the domain of the privileged, a mark of wealth and success, a symbol of not having to clean your own stables or plow your own field. In this century, you don't have to plow your own field. Today, obesity has been democratized: Everybody can have a big belly. Your dad called his rudimentary mid-twentieth-century equivalent a beer belly. But what are soccer moms, kids, and half of your friends and neighbors who don't drink beer doing with a beer belly?
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.
A wheat belly represents the accumulation of fat that results from years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone of fat storage. While some people store fat in their buttocks and thighs, most people collect ungainly fat around the middle. This "central" or "visceral" fat is unique: Unlike fat in other body areas, it provokes inflammatory phenomena, distorts insulin responses, and issues abnormal metabolic signals to the rest of the body. In the unwitting wheat-bellied male, visceral fat also produces estrogen, creating "man breasts."
The consequences of wheat consumption, however, are not just manifested on the body's surface; wheat can also reach deep down into virtually every organ of the body, from the intestines, liver, heart, and thyroid gland all the way up to the brain. In fact, there's hardly an organ that is not affected by wheat in some potentially damaging way.
PANTING AND SWEATING IN THE HEARTLAND
I practice preventive cardiology in Milwaukee. Like many other midwestern cities, Milwaukee is a good place to live and raise a family. City services work pretty well, the libraries are first-rate, my kids go to quality public schools, and the population is just large enough to enjoy big-city culture, such as an excellent symphony and art museum. The people living here are a fairly friendly bunch. But . . . they're fat.
I don't mean a little bit fat. I mean really, really fat. I mean panting- and-sweating-after-one-flight-of-stairs fat. I mean 240-pound 18-year-old women, SUVs tipped sharply to the driver's side, double-wide wheelchairs, hospital equipment unable to accommodate patients who tip the scales at 350 pounds or more. (Not only can't they fit into the CT scanner or other imaging device, you wouldn't be able to see anything even if they could. It's like trying to determine whether the image in the murky ocean water is a flounder or a shark.)
Once upon a time, an individual weighing 250 pounds or more was a rarity; today it's a common sight among the men and women walking the mall, as humdrum as selling jeans at the Gap. Retired people are overweight or obese, as are middle-aged adults, young adults, teenagers, even children. White-collar workers are fat, blue-collar workers are fat. The sedentary are fat and so are athletes. White people are fat, black people are fat, Hispanics are fat, Asians are fat. Carnivores are fat, vegetarians are fat. Americans are plagued by obesity on a scale never before seen in the human experience. No demographic has escaped the weight gain crisis.
Ask the USDA or the Surgeon General's office and they will tell you that Americans are fat because they drink too many soft drinks, eat too many potato chips, drink too much beer, and don't exercise enough. And those things may indeed be true. But that's hardly the whole story.
Many overweight people, in fact, are quite health conscious. Ask anyone tipping the scales over 250 pounds: What do you think happened to allow such incredible weight gain? You may be surprised at how many do not say "I drink Big Gulps, eat Pop Tarts, and watch TV all day." 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!"
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The national trend to reduce fat and cholesterol intake and increase carbohydrate calories has created a peculiar situation in which products made from wheat have not just increased their presence in our diets; they have come to dominate our diets. For most Americans, every single meal and snack contains foods made with wheat flour. It might be the main course, it might be the side dish, it might be the dessert--and it's probably all of them.
Wheat has become the national icon of health: "Eat more healthy whole grains," we're told, and the food industry happily jumped on board, creating "heart healthy" versions of all our favorite wheat products chock- full of whole grains.
The sad truth is that the proliferation of wheat products in the American diet parallels the expansion of our waists. Advice to cut fat and cholesterol intake and replace the calories with whole grains that was issued by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute through its National Cholesterol Education Program in 1985 coincides precisely with the start of a sharp upward climb in body weight for men and women. Ironically, 1985 also marks the year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking body weight statistics, tidily documenting the explosion in obesity and diabetes that began that very year.
Of all the grains in the human diet, why only pick on wheat? Because wheat, by a considerable margin, is the dominant source of gluten protein in the human diet. Unless they're Euell Gibbons, most people don't eat much rye, barley, spelt, triticale, bulgur, kamut, or other less common gluten sources; wheat consumption overshadows consumption of other gluten- containing grains by more than a hundred to one. Wheat also has unique attributes those other grains do not, attributes that make it especially destructive to our health, which I will cover in later chapters. But I focus on wheat because, in the vast majority of American diets, gluten exposure can be used interchangeably with wheat exposure. For that reason, I often use wheat to signify all gluten-containing grains.
The health impact of Triticum aestivum, common bread wheat, and its genetic brethren ranges far and wide, with curious effects from mouth to anus, brain to pancreas, Appalachian housewife to Wall Street arbitrageur.
If it sounds crazy, bear with me. I make these claims with a clear, wheat- free conscience.
Like most children of my generation, born in the middle of the twentieth century and reared on Wonder Bread and Devil Dogs, I have a long and close personal relationship with wheat. My sisters and I were veritable connoisseurs of breakfast cereal, making our own individual blends of Trix, Lucky Charms, and Froot Loops and eagerly drinking the sweet, pastel-hued milk that remained at the bottom of the bowl. The Great American Processed Food Experience didn't end at breakfast, of course. For school lunch my mom usually packed peanut butter or bologna sandwiches, the prelude to cellophane-wrapped Ho Hos and Scooter Pies. Sometimes she would throw in a few Oreos or Vienna Fingers, too. For supper, we loved the TV dinners that came packaged in their own foil plates, allowing us to consume our battered chicken, corn muffin, and apple brown betty while watching Get Smart.
My first year of college, armed with an all-you-can-eat dining room ticket, I gorged on waffles and pancakes for breakfast, fettuccine Alfredo for lunch, pasta with Italian bread for dinner. Poppy seed muffin or angel food cake for dessert? You bet! Not only did I gain a hefty spare tire around the middle at age nineteen, I felt exhausted all the time. For the next twenty years, I battled this effect, drinking gallons of coffee, struggling to shake off the pervasive stupor that persisted no matter how many hours I slept each night.
Yet none of this really registered until I caught sight of a photo my wife snapped of me while on vacation with our kids, then ages ten, eight, and four, on Marco Island, Florida. It was 1999.
In the picture, I was fast asleep on the sand, my flabby abdomen splayed to either side, my second chin resting on my crossed flabby arms.
That's when it really hit me: I didn't just have a few extra pounds to lose, I had a good thirty pounds of accumulated weight around my middle. What must my patients be thinking when I counseled them on diet? I was no better than the doctors of the sixties puffing on Marlboros while advising their patients to live healthier lives.
Why did I have those extra pounds under my belt? After all, I jogged three to five miles every day, ate a sensible, balanced diet that didn't include excessive quantities of meats or fats, avoided junk foods and snacks, and instead concentrated on getting plenty of healthy whole grains. What was going on here? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B00571F26Y
- Publisher : Rodale Books; 1st edition (June 3, 2014)
- Publication date : June 3, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 4822 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 320 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #204,741 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2015
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I pre-ordered this book, and finally went wheat free one week before the book was released. And what a difference. My blood pressure had been averaging 140/88 (taking two blood pressure medications). Now, after only two weeks of wheat-free eating, I've averaged 124/68 for the past four days. I've reduced one of my medications to keep my blood pressure from dropping too low after it fell to 108/58. It's crazy! And I'm not starving myself. I'm getting plenty to eat.
So, why did I buy the book if I already knew what to do? Because this book goes into great detail about WHY wheat is a problem. If you're like me, you probably think of wheat as four-foot tall "amber waves of grain." But that's not what we are eating these days. It's an engineered version that's two feet tall, and is nothing like what I ate as a kid in the 1950s. And unfortunately, it raises your blood sugar higher than eating a candy bar. And if you don't think that's a problem then you need to learn more about how high blood sugar affects your health.
"I don't need this book, because there's no way I'm giving up my bagels and pizza," you say. That's fine---if you don't mind being fat, developing diabetes and high blood pressure and heart disease and a host of other health problems---which is what the typical American is doing these days.
Or, you could buy this book and learn how to live a healthier, and quite possibly longer, life.
Update (9-12-2011): I've now been wheat free for three weeks (as stated above, I went wheat free one week before the book was released), and I've lost 7 pounds. That may not sound like much of an accomplishment, until you consider:
- I am 6'4", and have been stuck at around 210 lbs. for over two years. I have not been able to lower my weight by dieting or exercise.
- 210 is only 20 pounds over my goal weight of 190. And everybody knows how difficult it is to lose those last 10 to 20 pounds---especially at my age (61).
- This is my lowest weight since 2002.
- I have not exercised for the past three weeks.
- Although I have eaten no wheat for three weeks, I have eaten a few candy bars and I've had Blue Bell No Sugar Ice Cream almost every night. (I don't recommend this---particularly the candy bars.)
- I have definitely been less hungry than when I was eating wheat.
- The hypoglycemia I've suffered with for many years has pretty much disappeared.
- I fully expect to be down to 190 lbs. within a few weeks. I haven't weighed 190 lbs. in over 25 years!
Update (11-25-2011): It's now been nearly three months since I went wheat-free, and I've lost 16 lbs., which is about 1.2 pounds per week. So you might think, "Hey, that's no big deal--you could have lost that much weight without really trying." But you'd wrong. Way wrong. As I stated before, I was stuck at 210 for over two years. Dieting and exercising did nothing to reduce my weight. I had hit a plateau and was going nowhere. Now, in just three months, I'm down another 16 lbs., to 194! I'm within four pounds of my goal weight!
And now for another confession: during the three months I have stayed wheat-free, BUT...I have eaten Mexican food at least once a week (sometimes twice), including a basket of (corn) tortilla chips, chicken (corn) enchiladas, etc., an occasional chocolate bar, and other carbohydrate splurges. Yet, in spite of all that, I still lost 16 lbs.! My body fat is now at 14%! It's crazy!
Also, it got a lot easier when I realized I could still have breads--without wheat, of course. I am loving almond flour. I bought the Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 lb. and have been using it to make pancakes, muffins, cobbler, :). And it tastes great! Here is the pancake recipe I use:
1 Cup almond flour
1/4 Cup water
2 Tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil)
1 Teaspoon baking powder (double acting)
Makes 6 4-inch pancakes. I top them with real butter (because remember: fat is okay--it's the carbs that are killing you) and Cary's Sugar Free Syrup, 24-Ounce (Pack of 4) .
No sugar, low-carb, high-protein, and high-fiber. My wife and I each eat three pancakes and we are satisfied until lunch time.
With regular, wheat pancakes I used to eat six of them, and then an hour later I was falling asleep (after my blood sugar spiked and then dropped like a rock). But with these almond flour pancakes, I stay alert and feel good.
Dr. Davis has a great recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins in the book. The suggested topping is cream cheese, but I topped them with sugar-free cream cheese frosting. My nephews ate them like cupcakes. :)
So I've lost 16 lbs. in three months--WITHOUT EXERCISING! Wonder what will happen when I start hitting the weights and the exercise bike regularly? ;) I'm about to find out. Stay tuned...
Update (1-22-2012): It's now been five months since I went wheat-free, and I'm still going strong. I originally stated that my goal weight was 190. But my secret goal weight, the goal I didn't actually think I would ever achieve, was 185. Well, guess what? I am now at 188! I'm gonna make it! I'm down 22 pounds since August. And believe me, when you're 6'4", a weight of 188 allows for very little fat.
In 2004 I hit my highest weight: 238. Now I am down 50 lbs.! I was able to lose the first 28 pounds by cutting back on the calories, mostly by not eating out so much. But once I got down to 210, my weight loss stalled for four years. I just couldn't lose anymore. Then I went wheat free---which is not a diet, but a new way of eating, and the excess weight began to fall off.
I'm loving it! Thanks, Dr. Davis!
Update (1-29-12): I've talked a lot in this review about my weight loss, but that's only half the story. Seven years ago when I weighed 238, my triglyceride count was 300. I started to cut back on the eating out and the snacking, and began to take fish oil capsules. After a couple of years I was down to 215 and my triglycerides were 155. Then I doubled my fish oil intake and improved my eating habits a bit more. Two years later my triglycerides were down to 99, which is pretty good, and my weight was 210. That's where I plateaued.
The following year I experienced atrial fibrillation, followed by an angiogram and two stents. This was about the time I discovered Dr. Davis online and began following his blog. So I started taking Vitamin D and Magnesium. I couldn't bring myself to give up wheat, even after trying it for a week and losing five pounds.
Then, about a year later in August of 2011, I bought his "Wheat Belly" book as soon as it was released and I finally determined to go wheat-free. Since then my weight has gone from 210 to 188-my lowest weight in over 25 years. I recently had a yearly exam and my triglycerides were down from 99 to 69! Wow! Dr. Davis likes to see his patients at 60/60/60 for triglycerides/LDL/HDL. These are numbers that most doctors would think wildly unrealistic, if not impossible.
My HDL is still a little low at 39, but considering the fact that my HDL has been low for many years and at the time of my last yearly exam it was 26, that's pretty amazing. My LDL was 44! Yes, I know that LDL is a calculated value-but still-44! I will continue to improve my eating habits. I still eat too many carbs. But I know I'm headed in the right direction.
When I see people who are overweight, have heart problems, diabetes, and all the other problems that could easily be addressed by going wheat-free and taking a few supplements, I feel so bad for them. But perhaps as they see more and more of us having long-term success they will finally read this book...and believe.
Update (8-8-12): It has now been nearly a year since I went wheat free. Do I still miss wheat? Yes, but not enough to start eating it again. If I went back to wheat, I would lose these benefits:
- My weight dropped from 210 to 186 (I'm 6-foot-4). I lost most of that weight within the first three months.
- My triglycerides dropped from 99 to 70 and my HDL went up from a dangerous 26 to an incredible 57! And one of the best indicators of heart attacks is the ratio of triglycerides to HDL (google it). A good value is 2 or less, the ideal value is 1 or less. My number is pretty fantastic: 70/57 = 1.23. Before going wheat free it was: 99/26 = 3.8, which is very bad. It's no wonder I ended up with a 75% blockage, and had to have stents two years ago before I discovered Dr. Davis.
- My chronic sinus problems went away. Before I gave up wheat, every time I put my head on the pillow, my nose stopped up. I could not breathe through my nose at all. That does not make for good sleeping. Also, I used to get regular sinus infections---usually a couple of times per year. No more. My sinus issues cleared up almost immediately after going wheat free.
Will going wheat-free cure YOUR sinus problems. I have no idea. It might make your left knee quit aching or make your headaches go away. You won't know until you try it.
All I know is that I am a much healthier person thanks to Dr. Davis.
Number 1, and for me the most important point of all, is that the wheat we are eating today is totally different from the wheat we evolved with. About 10,000 years ago, humans first started growing and eating wheat. About 50 years ago, wheat was drastically changed by hybridization so that it now has different proteins and lots more of them (mostly gluten). By the way, there are some seeds of the old kinds of wheat available (called einkorn and emmer). We should ask our grain farmers to grow them for us.
The next point concerns wheat’s glycemic index. A given food’s GI is supposed to tell you how much it will increase your blood sugar 1½-2 hours after eating it. (The GI numbers are not the whole story because blood sugar’s increase after eating depends on other factors as well, like what else you have in your stomach for example.) The takeaway for me was that, compared to white table sugar or sucrose, which is a disaccharide made up of fructose and glucose molecules bound together, wheat starch, which is made up of chains of glucose molecules, has an even higher GI despite the fiber present from the bran and wheat germ. This is because 1) blood sugar is glucose, and 2) fructose is processed by the liver, so it doesn’t raise post-meal blood sugar. This is important because so many of our modern illnesses are caused by spikes in blood sugar causing spikes in insulin, with type 2 diabetes the worst of them. By the way, many “gluten-free” foods are made from cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca, and unfortunately these ingredients also cause blood sugar spikes.
I also learned why wheat is addictive. There are molecules in wheat called “exorphins” (think endorphins, but from outside the body) that stimulate the opioid receptors in our brains, and that keep us coming back for a fix. A couple hours after you eat wheat, you’ll find yourself wanting more. On the other hand, if you eat wheat regularly and then stop cold turkey, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
The title of the book refers to the phenomenon of middle of the body visceral fat deposits from eating wheat. This fat produces various hormones like estrogen, which you might think is a good thing if you’re a post-menopausal woman, but it’s really not – think breast and cervical cancer. And it’s really not good if you’re a guy (ever heard of man breasts?)! This is a pretty complicated subject that the author explores brilliantly. So get the book and skip ahead to chapter 5 if this is your interest.
Yes, there’s a whole chapter on celiac disease. If you have CD, you probably already know why you can’t eat wheat and you probably already know about the gazillion foods that have hidden gluten in them. But a huge number of people have undiagnosed CD – over 90% of those with the disease – because they have less symptomatic versions of CD or an atypical symptom picture. In addition to the typical symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss, here are some other symptoms and diseases that can be caused by issues with gluten: migraines, neurological impairment, cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, anemia and other nutrient deficiencies, type 1 diabetes, asthma, arthritis, rashes, allergies, hair loss, infertility, chronic fatigue, liver disease, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, acid reflux, inflammatory bowel diseases, incontinence, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, dementia, and many more.
I found the story of gliadin fascinating! Gliadin is a gluten protein found in all modern wheat and it makes your intestines permeable. This permeability eventually leads to a number of autoimmune diseases where the body’s immune system attacks its own organs, diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and autoimmune thyroiditis.
Another favorite chapter concerns pH, a subject that had recently been discussed over the water cooler at the fitness center I attend. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral, lower numbers are more acid, and higher numbers more alkaline. Our bodies have a normal pH of 7.4 or slightly alkaline. Acidity in our body is balanced by sources of bicarbonate in our blood. But when that’s not enough, we draw calcium from our bones – the true cause of osteoporosis. Animal products – meats and cheeses – cause acidity in the body, but they also contain factors that improve bone health. Vegetables and fruits are alkalinizing. By the way, that knowledge should point us toward eating well-balanced meals. I love this: “Incidentally, taking calcium supplements is no more effective at reversing bone loss than randomly tossing some bags of cement and bricks into your backyard is at building a new patio.” There is a striking relationship between the incidence of hip fracture and the ratio of dietary protein from animal to vegetable sources. Basically if you eat less than a third of your protein from animal sources, you reduce your chances of hip fracture by 95%. So what’s the wheat connection? Grains also cause acidity in the body, with oats and wheat being numbers 1 and 2 on the list.
And the chapter on cholesterol… I have long known that restricting cholesterol in the diet – the idea that eggs are bad for you – was bogus. (Thank you, Sally Fallon.) This chapter was a lesson, sometimes a little too “medical,” that helped bring it together for me. Did you know that the LDL number on your blood test (the so-called “bad cholesterol”) is not measured but computed from HDL, total cholesterol, and triglycerides? And LDL isn’t even cholesterol, it’s a molecule that carries cholesterol, and it’s only bad if it’s too small. OK, I admit it, I still don’t quite understand all of this. We have VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) carrying triglycerides released by the liver, a process stimulated by insulin. My questions are: Why do the VLDL give their triglycerides to LDL? And for what purpose do LDL give up those triglycerides and become smaller, which is bad? It all happens when we eat too many carbohydrates, but the body must have a reason for doing it.
Have you heard of The China Study by Colin Campbell? It’s a book about how the typical Western diet is bad for us because of the animal foods we eat, and a diet based on non-animal foods is better. OK, I never read it, but I believe that’s the gist of it. Denise Minger is a researcher who went exploring in the source materials for Campbell’s book. What she found is that many of his conclusions were flawed due to his selective interpretation of the data (bad science). She also found – and he neglected to include in his book – that wheat flour was even more closely correlated to the diseases he studied than foods from animals, diseases like coronary disease and heart attacks. (See more at http://rawfoodsos.com/.)
My least favorite part of the book is the “how to” section at the end. Personally, I like to be educated, not told what to do; I can make my own decisions thank you very much. But others may appreciate the guidance and recipes provided for eliminating wheat from their diet.
What a great book… I couldn’t put it down! I wish all non-fiction writers could educate us so well while keeping us turning the pages.
Top reviews from other countries
I bought the recipe book too. What a waste of money. Its Atkins with a strong emphasis on ground linseed, nuts, meat and dairy. Only watery fruit and veg like berries and lettuce. You’re advised to eat enormous amounts of linseed, raw nuts, cheese, fatty meat and butter. If you’re missing pasta as a treat you can have konjac noodles which are zero calorie and zero carb, and in my experience, a serious choking hazard. Unlike Atkins there’s no measuring carbs - because you’re not allowed any at all. Not the book it claims to be. Even when I was significantly overweight I was never attracted to the Atkins diet so why I thought a book by a similar American cardiologist looking to make a similar fortune would make any sense at all to me I don’t know. The wheat (or maybe the new potatoes, they’re the same right?) must have addled my brain.