So the holidays are well and gone but the lasting impression of food and drink on our bellies is not. You may be a ‘January joiner’ busy sweating away all those dinner rolls and apple pies right now in your local gym.
You may be one of those people who have a plan, oh yes a plan, and you are going to follow a diet that restricts everything from dairy to carbs. You will have a flat tummy by spring and you won’t have to stuff yourself into those skinny jeans that you love and adore—you will slip into them with ease.
Or maybe you’re the type of person who has to scream, “Check please!” right after consuming Eggs Benedict and a few cups of coffee. You’ve got a sensitive little diva gastric system, but the mind of a food lover.
There are also those who suffer from migraine headaches, arthritis, and such things as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. As it turns out, according to Dr. William Davis, all of these people have something in common. They eat grains, and their bodies are not happy about it.
I got a chance to speak with Davis, bestselling author, cardiologist, and health crusader, about why he is so committed to a grain-free life and the undeniable results that have led him on this journey.
When Dr. William Davis, the author of the NY bestseller Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health was an interventional cardiologist he attended a talk about the reversal of heart disease using a vegetarian diet. Davis decided to follow the program and ate only vegetables and whole grains for an extended period. He soon became a diabetic; he gained 30 pounds; he was hypertensive; he felt awful and had a 161 blood sugar level at fasting.
He was also jogging three to five miles a day and doing everything that he thought was right: eating only whole grains and vegetables. He was meticulous about eating only whole grains—nothing processed. Suddenly it occurred to him that centering one’s diet around whole grains, fruits and vegetables and little to no fat was causing his body to shut down. That was the turning point for Davis.
After removing wheat from his diet, he abolished the diabetes and lost all the weight. Eventually, he started advising his patients to do the same (because wheat is the worst and most dominant of all grains) from their diets for a three month period, and the results were unbelievable.
“Acid reflux was gone within the first five days. Bowel urgency (IBS) was gone within five days. Joint pains (specifically in the fingers and wrists) disappeared in the first five days. Water retention banished, and migraine headaches gone within those days,” Davis says.
In Davis’ new book, Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan he has expanded his battle against the grain from just wheat to all grains. As he explains, grains are the seeds of grasses. Most of the components of grasses are not digestible by humans—this remains true of the seed of grass.
“That’s why when you cut your grass, you don’t save the clippings to toss on top of a salad. If a dog walks on it and poops on it, why don’t we rope it off and save that grass for dinner,” Davis jokes.
Even if we did do that, he says, we still wouldn’t be able to digest most of it, especially the seed. Knowing that, and contrary to popular belief, this is what accounts for the many toxic effects of grains no matter what we’ve done with it over the last 10,000 years.
Quote from WHEAT BELLY TOTAL HEALTH:
“When we started consuming the seeds of grasses 10,000 years ago, this food source may have allowed us to survive another day, week, or month during times when foods we had instinctively consumed during the preceding 2.5 million years fell into short supply. But this expedient represents a dietary pattern that constitutes only 0.4 percent—less than one-half of 1 percent—of our time on earth. This change in dietary fortunes was accompanied by a substantial price.”
Wheat presents this indigestibility, which is a grass after all. The protein found in wheat, namely Gliadin, for the most part, remains intact and provides the first step in triggering diseases of autoimmunity such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, explains Davis. Even though it was absent from most strains of wheat from the early 20th century, it is now present in nearly all modern varieties, likely accounting for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease witnessed since 1948.
He states, “If you had an egg, you break down the proteins in that egg into single amino acids. If you eat the Gliadin in wheat, it’s either not broken up at all or it’s broken down into pieces, about five amino acids long, but those pieces have very unique sequences, unlike any proteins in any other food. And these pieces have the capacity to bind the opiate receptors in the brain. This is what gives all this addictive behavior with grains, appetite stimulation and all these other mind effects that vary.”
Davis goes on to explain that kids with ADHD or autism have behavioral outbursts; people who have a tendency to depression experience suicidal thoughts; people with bipolar disorder can have the mania triggered; people with paranoid schizophrenia can have paranoia and hearing voices triggered; people who have a tendency toward bulimia or binge eating disorder can have food obsessions triggered. But most people just have appetite stimulations effect and mind fog.
The reason why people can experience a withdrawal period after giving up the wheat is because of the direct relation wheat has to opiates. This can include a period where things seem worse before they get better.
Quote from WHEAT BELLY TOTAL HEALTH:
“What happened to those first humans (10,000 years ago), hungry and desperate, who figured out how to make this one component of grasses—the seed—edible? Incredibly, anthropologists have known this for years. The first humans to consume the grassy food of the ibex and aurochs experienced explosive tooth decay; shrinkage of the maxillary bone and mandible, resulting in tooth crowding; iron deficiency; and scurvy. They also experienced reduction in bone diameter and length, resulting in a loss of as much as 5 inches in height for men and 3 inches for women.”
As with everything, Davis has his naysayers, the ones who call it a fad and not a balanced way of living. Probably his biggest opponent, and rightly so, are the wheat lobbyists and trade groups. They say Davis is nuts and that there is no such thing as genetically modified wheat.
“I never said that was true. Genetic modification is NOT the process used to create modern wheat,” Davis states. But what they don’t tell you is that modern wheat was created using other methods that predate genetic modification. They used multiple hybridization to mate wheat with a variety of different strains and with foreign grasses, and also used methods of mutagenesis. What they don’t tell you is that all of this is worse than genetic modification.
Now, as my head is about to pop off from all the information he has already provided me within the first ten minutes of our conversation (we talk for almost two hours) I can’t help but feel inspired by this man who happens to be one ball of passionate fire for this topic. He is not only passionate about this topic because of his experience but because of all the patients who came back to report on life improvements because of the removal of wheat and grains from their diets.
Fatigue was gone; arthritis was non-existent; migraines were a thing of the past; weight was falling off by the truckload. He was witnessing something huge. The results were constant, consistent and astounding.
Now, after a few books (including a wheat-free cookbook) Davis has begun a revolution of sorts. On his website’s success story section today, cholesterol levels had dropped to normal levels without medication, liver diseases are being reversed, and one woman has lost 70 pounds in 180 days. It is nothing short of amazing.
Now as a self-proclaimed moderation girl, I have trouble with the thought of complete abolishment of certain foods that I like. Life is short, I think. But at the same time, when we’re talking about chronic issues and obesity, I wonder if life doesn’t feel so short for those people.
If the consumption of modern wheat and all grains has wreaked havoc on everything from blood pressure to gastrointestinal tracts to nervous systems to hormones, then I say it’s worth a try removing them. It has changed the lives of Davis’ patients well beyond their pant size and millions more after the popularity of his books. One can’t deny anecdotal evidence. For Davis, it’s what sparked the goal of his life: to improve people’s lives. And that, no doubt, has been achieved.