Wheat Belly

My chiropractor, purveyor of all things interesting to read in addition to being a great chiropractor, put me in the know with a book called “Wheat Belly,” by Dr. William Davis. You (like I was) are thinking, yet another diet book. What food is NOW off the table? We’ve all heard of low-carb, gluten-free diets, low fat, low sugar, what-ever! It’s hard to keep it all straight. I’m just looking for what makes my own body better. For those who know me, Paleo and Primal are all that – I get the science and I get the logic. I may not always practice it but I get it.

I’d say this book is different and I think I’d be right. First off, it’s written by a cardiologist. He doesn’t mince words. He gives you science and fact along side his anecdotes, and he doesn’t shy away from saying “hey, this isn’t a double-blind study but it does fit what I see.” I’m only through Chapter 3 and I have to say, I’m impressed and it makes sense to me.

Some basic tenets:

1. The wheat flour of today is not like the wheat our ancestors ate. To say “we’ve always eaten wheat so it can’t be bad” is a gross misunderstanding of modern wheat lineage and hybridization.

2. In the mid part of the 20th century, hybridization, not genetic mutation, was much of the cause of the changes in wheat, of which there are now thousands of permutations. No testing was ever done on the hybridization. It wasn’t until genetically modified food (GMF) forced companies to begin testing effects of genetic mutations that the changes of hybridization were brought to light.

3. Wheat, and other gluten high ‘flours’ cause problems for us because of the high amount of Amylopectin A (Amylopectin is in many foods, but onlywheat has high amounts of Amylopectin A), which increases the insulin response and inflammation in our bodies. Most especially, our gut.

4. Barley, rye, bulgur, kamut, and triticale are all high gluten flours in addition to wheat.

5. It’s not just wheat or grains – it’s about the inflamation that’s caused to the body by myriad things.

6. The process of body degredation can be slow, depending on genetics, environment, whatever – sugar, smoking, chemicals. And it all manifests in different ways in different people – what shows as a gluten intolerance in one person does not present the same way in another – even the classic symptoms.

Since beginning this entry, I have finished the book in its entirety. It’s not do far off what I thought and not so far away from many of the other books on primal or paleo eating out there. The one difference is that it is quite scientific. Dr. Davis does not hold back and by the end of many chapters, you feel as if you’ve been sunk into a huge bowl of alphabet soup. For me, this is a good thing. I have studied anatomy and physiology for a long time and I understand the metabolic process, perhaps not as well as a medical professional but more so than the average person. I want the science and the tech as it helps to really drive it home for me. People without this background may shy away. But dr. Davis does something incredibly helpful: he rephrases those sections which are medically heavy into digestible bites. For me, this reinforces what I think I got from the tech and solidifies my view.

Having been in the “low carb” thought process since the days of Atkins, I’d have to say that I think the science and the delivery are both becoming better. Atkins was right in a good many ways but misled and commercial – one never gets healthy eating processed chemical food suppliments. Studies later, paleo and primal are shown to have substantial foundation for the way we should eat. This book, without the inference of capitalism or commercialism, solidifies it for me. The bibliography and endnotes alone are worth the price of admission.

The biggest problem that I see with this book, and the many others out there on eating for our genetic support is “conventional wisdom.” How does a single doctor or biologist or trainer combat the establishment of big business, big government, or the lax mentality of those who won’t think differently?

I fight these same misconceptions with people I talk with about food. I have heard everything from the government wouldn’t hurt us to its written in a study therefore it must be true. Until science and business find common ground in the finance and popularity of eating properly for our body types, we are subjected to what they feed us – in print and on our plates. It’s difficult to overcome things we’ve heard our entire life – food pyramids and mom’s habits. It’s difficult to listen to the subtle reaction within our bodies to food, drink, and environment. It’s difficult to believe that something we eat over years can suddenly affect us in such negative ways. Just because it’s difficult does not make it a lie. This is our body, and the only piece of hardware we will ever get. Why not listen to it rather than big business or chemical companies?

I do not believe at food companies, chemical companies, or politicians are in a conspiracy to harm us. What we, the public, need to understand is the they do have a mission and it is not the perfect care and feeding of your body – it is the care and feeding of THEIR body. Caveat emptor is not a new concept….  it is Latin after all…

I think if we do nothing else, we should begin to do something we know to be good for us regardless of whatever people say about it, I think we should pull out a pan, break out some spinach, sauté it with some garlic and olive oil, sit down at the table, and eat it together. If we do nothing more than eat a veggie, cooked with love on our own stove, and eat it at a table with our family, tasting the earthiness of green sunlight and human connection, how can this be bad for our bodies? Be inquisitive. Be open. Be self serving when it comes to how you feed yourself.