Have you been hearing the term ‘wheat belly’? Dr. Oz, among others talked about it during a January episode of his show as he couldn’t ignore this new phenomenon any longer.
American cardiologist William Davis’ best-selling 2011 book Wheat Belly, has been the kickstarter for millions who have stopped eating, according to the author “a perfectly crafted Frankengrain” that “has exerted more harm than any foreign terrorist group can inflict on us.”
How can wheat, the grain that has propped humans for so long, suddenly be such a detriment to your health? The 2nd most produced crop after corn (we grow approximately 650 million tons per year) is no longer our ally, but an enemy? We need to suddenly be wary of the leading source of vegetable protein in our collective food supply? The food that finally allowed us to move from country to city, relax, ponder, invent, philosophize – because it could be grown in mass, and stored for ages – is working against us? The grain that accounts for 20% of all calories consumed on earth should now be avoided?
It’s not the wheat exactly that contributes to weight gain, but the chain reaction it starts. Does that mean it’s off the hook? Is the bullet manufacturer part responsible for where the bullet ends up? I guess the answer to that is different depending on who you ask.
Regardless, anti wheaters will tell you that wheat stimulates your appetite. When you eat wheat rich foods, you get blood sugar rises like bread, followed by blood sugar lows. Davis argues that wheat flour drives this sugar roller coaster higher and lower than any other foods, even classic junk foods like a Snickers bar.
The result of this high-low sugar pattern is you eat more food. When you eliminate the wheat, your constant cravings between meals stop, and you lose the ‘wheat belly’.
If you replace the wheat in your diet with healthier choices like vegetables, free range grass fed meats, eggs, and nuts you stay full longer, so that you consume fewer calories.
Wheat- Lead Me Not Into Temptation
It’s possible that in less abundant times, and throughout history no one looked down their nose at wheat as an appetite instigator, because food was simply too scarce to idly binge on, as many now do.
An ancient Roman likely got the same sugar rush, then a hunger inducing sugar low after eating some bread back in the day. But s/he generally had very limited ways to satisfy any in between meal cravings. Historically people stayed lean because they spent their afternoons working to find dinner – not find snacks before dinner. So their per day calorie count was kept low just due to scarcity.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – And Wheat?
Dr. Davis was inspired to go against the grain on this most popular food as he claims about 80% of people today are either pre- diabetic or diabetic, and largely due to extreme blood sugar levels.
Seeing a link with wheat he asked some patients if they’d be willing to withdraw from it as a test. Sure enough within months their blood sugar levels plummeted enough to turn pre-diabetics into non-diabetics.
But it was the patients’ other results that amazed him. He says he personally witnessed…
“weight loss of 25 to 30 lbs over several months, marked improvement or total relief from arthritis, improvement in asthma sufficient to chuck 2 or 3 inhalers, complete relief from acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, disappearance of leg swelling and numbness.”
The latest science attests that the wheat weight correlation is more than just a theory. Instead it’s known that the wheat flour products that surround us “trigger insulin, the hormone of fat storage. Unlike fat in other body areas, it provokes inflammatory phenomena, distorts insulin responses, and issues abnormal metabolic signals to the rest of the body.”
This is because wheat products are very digestible carbohydrates that are more efficiently converted to blood sugar than most all other carbohydrate foods, be they simple or complex.
Wheat starches are a complex carbohydrate which means glucose. Your glucose level always is accompanied by insulin and is measured as ‘Glycemic Index’.
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose entry into the cells of the body, which essentially converts glucose to fat. The more blood glucose you have after consumption of food, equals greater insulin levels, therefore more fat that gets deposited.
If you are finding this information inspiring as a simple drug free to control your weight and much more, then know this: it is simple, but not easy. And here’s why…
Wheat Withdrawal – Time For Cold Turkey?
Withdrawal from wheat flour products according to Dr. Charles Parker “can be painful, exhausting, and depressing, with weakness, anger, and brain fog as subsequent downstream effects that can drive the uniformed back to their comfort foods.”
Several sources claim that wheat is highly addictive, leading to withdrawal symptoms that can be severe, as you are removing what are essentially very addictive (and opioid-like) substances from your body.
Dr Davis states “most of these phenomena (symptoms) are caused by withdrawal from the gliadin-derived opiates in wheat…that increase appetite and cause addictive eating behaviors. Because it is a form of opiate withdrawal, it cannot be entirely avoided…”
There are however a few steps you can take to minimize the symptoms you may feel.
1. Hydrate: going wheat free causes fluid loss, so drinking lots of water is necessary to compensate.
2. Add Salt: banishing wheat increases the loss of urinary salt…so making up for it with sea salt or other mineral-containing salts is wise and can help reduce lightheadedness.
3. Supplement with Magnesium: symptoms of wheat withdrawal are very similar to those of magnesium deficiency. Hypertension, elevated blood sugar, muscle cramps, and heart disorders are common to both, so covering your bases with supplements that contain magnesium can help.
Remove The Wheat – And The Weight!
There is almost no downside to going wheat free, as the nutrients it provides can be gained elsewhere with a well rounded fresh food diet. Ok, that’s not all true: you may have to go out and get a new smaller sized wardrobe!