WHEAT BELLY #1
by William Davis, M.D.
ON THE BACK COVER:
DID YOU KNOW THAT EATING TWO SLICES OF WHOLE WHEAT BREAD CAN
INCREASE BLOOD SUGAR MORE THAN 2 TABLESPOONS OF PURE SUGAR CAN?
Wheat Belly is a provocative look at how eliminating
wheat-even so-called healthy whole grain wheat-from our diets is
the key to permanent weight loss and can offer relief from a
broad spectrum of health and digestive problems.
Drawing on decades of clinical studies and the extraordinary
results he has observed after putting thousands of his patients
on wheat-free regimens, Dr. William Davis makes a compelling case
against this ubiq uitous ingredient. A wheat-free diet has been
associated with significant benefits, including:
* Weight loss of 20, 30, even 50 pounds in the first few months
* Alleviation of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
* Recovery from intestinal woes, like ulcerative colitis and
* Marked improvement in overall cholesterol counts
* Improvement in bone density and reversal of osteopenia
* Cessation of skin conditions from psoriasis to oral ulcers to
* Reduction of inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis pain
Readable, thought-provoking, and carefully researched, Wheat
Belly offers a new and vitally important perspective on the most
critical health concerns of our time.
INSIDE FRONT COVER:
A provocative look at how eliminating wheat from our diets can
help us lose weight, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse a broad
spectrum of health problems.
Since the introduction of dietary guidelines in the 1970s calling
for reduced fat intake, a strange phenomenon has occurred: North
Americans have steadily and inexorably become heavier, less
healthy, and more prone to diabetes than ever before. After
putting more than 2,000 of his at-risk patients on a wheat-free
regimen and seeing extraordinary results, cardiologist William
Davis came to the disturbing conclusion that it is not fat, not
sugar, and not our sedentary lifestyle that is causing an obesity
epidemic-it is wheat.
In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the truth about modern-day wheat,
deconstructing its historical role in the human diet. No longer
the sturdy staple our forebears ground into their daily bread,
today's wheat has been genetically altered to provide
processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest
cost; consequently, this once-benign grain has been transformed
into a nutritionally bankrupt yet ubiquitous ingredient that
causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly t h an eating pure table
sugar and has addictive proper tics that send us on a roller
coaster of hunger, over eating, and fatigue. Dr. Davis sheds
light on wheat's connection to weight gain and fat buildup in all
the wrong places, as well as a host of adverse health conditions
from diabetes to heart disease to immunologic and neurological
disorders like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and
dementia. Finally, he presents a compelling argument for
eliminating wheat products from the diet entirely, with
strategies for making the transition both simple and permanent.
Informed by decades of clinical research and backed by case
studies of men and women who truly transformed their lives after
waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at a
familiar food and a positive course of action to regain health
and lose unwanted pounds for good.
FLIP THROUGH YOUR parents' or grandparents' family albums and
you're likely to be struck by how thin everyone looks. The women
probably wore size-four dresses and the men sported 32-inch
waists. Overweight was something measured only by a few pounds;
obesity rare. Overweight children? Almost never. Any 42-inch
waists? Not here. Two-hundred-pound teenagers? Certainly not.
Why were the June Cleavers of the fifties and sixties, the
stayat-home housewives as well as other people of that era, so
much skinnier than the modern people we see at the beach, mall,
or in our own mirrors? While women of that era typically weighed
in at 110 or 115 pounds, men at 150 or 165 pounds, today we carry
50, 75, even 200 pounds more.
The women of that world didn't exercise much at all. (It was
considered unseemly, after all, like having impure thoughts at
church) How many times did you see your mom put on her jog ging
shoes to go out for a three-mile run? Exercise for my mother was
vacuuming the stairs. Nowadays I go outdoors on any nice day and
see dozens of women jogging, riding their bicycles, power
walking-things we'd virtually never see 40 or 50 years ago. And
yet, we're getting fatter and fatter every year.
My wife is a triathlete and triathlon instructor, so I observe a
few of these extreme exercise events every year. Triathletes
train intensively for months to years before a race to complete a
1- to 2 and 1/2-mile open water swim, a 56- to 112-mile bike
ride, and finish with a 13- to 26-mile run. Just completing a
race is a feat in itself, since the event requires up to several
thousand calories and spectacular endurance. The majority of
triathletes adhere to fairly healthy eating habits.
Then why are a third of these dedicated men and women athletes
overweight? I give them even greater credit for having to cart
around the extra thirty, forty, or fifty pounds. But, given their
extreme level of sustained activity and demanding training
schedule, how can they still be overweight?
If we follow conventional logic, overweight triathletes need to
exercise more or eat less to lose weight. I believe that is a
downright ridiculous notion. I am going to argue that the problem
with the diet and health of most Americans is not fat, not sugar,
not the rise of the Internet and the demise of the agrarian
lifestyle. It's wheator what we are being sold that is called
You will see that what we are eating, cleverly disguised as a
bran muffin or onion ciabatta, is not really wheat at all but the
transformed product of genetic research conducted during the
latter half of the twentieth century. Modern wheat is no more
real wheat than a chimpanzee is an approximation of a human.
While our hairy primate relatives share 99 percent of all genes
found in humans, with longer arms, full body hair, and lesser
capacity to win the jackpot at Jeopardy, I trust you can readily
tell the difference that that I percent makes. Compared to its
ancestor of only forty years ago, modern wheat isn't even that
I believe that the increased consumption of grains-or more
accurately, the increased consumption of this genetically altered
thing called modern wheat-explains the contrast between slender,
sedentary people of the fifties and overweight
twenty-first-century people, triathletes included.
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
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-thebelt 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
thirtyeight-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. You will see that we have unwittingly
traded convenience, abundance, and low cost for health with wheat
bellies, bulging thighs, and double chins to prove it. Many of
the arguments I make in the chapters that follow have been proven
in scientific studies that are available for one and all to
review. Incredibly, many of the lessons I've learned were
demonstrated in clinical studies decades ago, but somehow never
percolated to the surface of medical or public consciousness.
I've simply put two and two together to come up with some
conclusions that you may find startling.
WHEAT BELLY #2
by William Davis, M.D.
WHEAT: THE UNHEALTHY WHOLE GRAIN
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
240pound 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
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
THE CREATION OF MODERN WHEAT
What was the wheat grown ten thousand years ago and harvested by
hand from wild fields like? That simple question took me to the
Middle East-or more precisely, to a small organic farm in western
There I found Elisheva Rogosa. Eli is not only a science teacher
but an organic farmer, advocate of sustainable agriculture, and
founder of the Heritage Wheat Conservancy (www.growseed.org), an
organization devoted to preserving ancient food crops and
cultivating them using organic principles. After living in the
Middle East for ten years and working with the Jordanian,
Israeli, and Palestinian GenBank project to collect nearly
extinct ancient wheat strains, Eli returned to the United States
with seeds descended from the original wheat plants of ancient
Egypt and Canaan. She has since devoted herself to cultivating
the ancient grains that sustained her ancestors.
My first contact with Ms. Rogosa began with an exchange of
e-mails that resulted from my request for two pounds of einkorn
wheat grain. She couldn't stop herself from educating me about
her unique crop, which was not just any old wheat grain, after
all. Eli described the taste of einkorn bread as "rich, subtle,
with more complex flavor," unlike bread made from modern wheat
flour, which she claimed tasted like cardboard.
Eli bristles at the suggestion that wheat products might be
unhealthy, citing instead the yield-increasing, profit-expanding
agricultural practices of the past few decades as the source of
adverse health effects of wheat. She views einkorn and emmer as
the solution, restoring the original grasses, grown under organic
conditions, to replace modern industrial wheat.
A Good Grain Gone Bad?
Given the genetic distance that has evolved between modern-day
wheat and its evolutionary predecessors, is it possible that
ancient grains such as emmer and einkorn can be eaten without the
unwanted effects that attach to other wheat products?
I decided to put einkorn to the test, grinding two pounds of
whole grain to flour, which I then used to make bread. I also
ground conventional organic whole wheat flour from seed. I made
bread from both the einkorn and conventional flour using only
water and yeast with no added sugars or flavorings. The einkorn
flour looked much like conventional whole wheat flour, but once
water and yeast were added, differences became evident: The light
brown dough was less stretchy, less pliable, and stickier than a
traditional dough, and lacked the moldability of conventional
wheat flour dough. The dough smelled different, too, more like
peanut butter rather than the standard neutral smell of dough. It
rose less than modern dough, rising just a little, compared to
the doubling in size expected of modern bread. And, as Eli Rogosa
claimed, the final bread product did indeed taste different:
heavier, nutty, with an astringent aftertaste. I could envision
this loaf of crude einkorn bread on the tables of third century
BC Amorites or Mesopotamians.
I have a wheat sensitivity. So, in the interest of science, I
conducted my own little experiment: four ounces of einkorn bread
on day one versus four ounces of modern organic whole wheat bread
on day two. I braced myself for the worst, since in the past my
reactions have been rather unpleasant.
Beyond simply observing my physical reaction, I also performed
fingerstick blood sugars after eating each type of bread. The
differences were striking.
Blood sugar at the start: 84 mg/dl. Blood sugar after consuming
einkorn bread: 110 mg/dl. This was more or less the expected
response to eating some carbohydrate. Afterwards, though, I felt
no perceptible effects-no sleepiness, no nausea, nothing hurt. In
short, I felt fine. Whew!
The next day, I repeated the procedure, substituting four ounces
of conventional organic whole wheat bread. Blood sugar at the
start: 84 mg/dl. Blood sugar after consuming conventional bread:
167 mg/dl. Moreover, I soon became nauseated, nearly losing my
lunch. The queasy effect persisted for thirty-six hours,
accompanied by stomach cramps that started almost immediately and
lasted for many hours. Sleep that night was fitful, though filled
with vivid dreams. I couldn't think straight, nor could I
understand the research papers I was trying to read the next
morning, having to read and reread paragraphs four or five times;
I finally gave up. Only a full day and a half later did I start
feeling normal again.
I survived my little wheat experiment, but I was impressed with
the difference in responses to the ancient wheat and the modern
wheat in my whole wheat bread. Surely something odd was going on
My personal experience, of course, does not qualify as a clinical
trial. But it raises some questions about the potential
differences that span a distance of ten thousand years: ancient
wheat that predates the changes introduced by human genetic
intervention versus modern wheat.
TO MY SHOCK, I HAD NO IDEA THAT MODERN SCIENCE HAS GM
(GENETICALLY MODIFIED) WHEAT FOR A NUMBER OF DECADES NOW.
THIS IS THE SHOCKING TRUTH OF THE MATTER AS WILLIAM
DAVIS BRINGS OUT IN THE FIRST 30 PAGES OF HIS BOOK.
THEN HE GOES INTO DETAIL AND GIVES YOU MIND-BENDING
FACTS ON THE WHOLE MESS THAT MODERN SCIENCE HAS
PRODUCED, AND THE STAFF OF LIFE, AS WHEAT WAS CALLED, IS
TODAY THE SOURGE OF LIFE.
YOU NEED TO HAVE THIS BOOK.