Friday, September 9, 2011

Holistic Hottie™: Wheat Belly -- the book

I'm really excited to pick up a new book called Wheat Belly.  I've been gluten-free for several years and will never go back because the differences in my body have been so profound.  Everyone I know who's gone strictly gluten-free has said the same.  People who've gone gluten-free off-and-on usually don't know what I'm talking about.  And people who've never tried it have no idea how much better they'll feel without wheat/gluten in their lives - especially when they think they already feel good or are, for the most part, healthy.

The only way you'll know if you are sensitive to gluten is if you completely eliminate it for a straight 30 days.  It might be the greatest gift you've even given yourself.  What usually happens after 30 days is that when you eat something with wheat/gluten, you'll notice the difference and you'll realize how gluten actually affects you.

Lab tests for gluten-sensitivity are often inconclusive or negative.  A lot of times you'll only test positive if your gut is THAT damaged.  The most reliable test is to eliminate it from your diet for a solid 30 days and then have a sandwich on wheat bread or a slice of pizza and pay attention to how it affects your body.  Usually the response is obvious.

Wheat Belly is a book released just a few weeks ago is already on the Best Seller list.  It was written by Dr. William Davis, a renowned cardiologist.  Here are a few long but really good quotes from the first few pages of his book:

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 dietary ingredient. 
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-the-belt 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 thirty-eight-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. [...] 
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. [...] 
Many overweight people, in fact, are quite health conscious... 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!" [...] 
Diabetics became nondiabetics.  That’s right: Diabetes in many cases can be cured -- not simply managed -- by removal of carbohydrates, especially wheat, from the diet.  Many of my patients had also lost twenty, thirty, even forty pounds. 
But it’s what I didn’t expect that astounded me. 
They reported that symptoms of acid reflux disappeared and the cyclic cramping and diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome were gone.  Their energy improved, they had greater focus, sleep was deeper.  Rashes disappeared, even rashes that had been present for many years.  Their rheumatoid arthritis pain improved or disappeared, enabling them to cut back, even eliminate, the nasty medications used to treat it.  Asthma symptoms improved or resolved completely, allowing many to throw away their inhalers.  Athletes reported more consistent performance. Thinner.  More energetic.  Clearer thinking.  Better bowel, joint, and lung health.  Time and time again.  Surely these results were reason enough to forgo wheat. [...] 
The bottom line: Elimination of this food, part of human culture for more centuries than Larry King was on the air, will make you sleeker, smarter, faster, and happier.  Weight loss, in particular, can proceed at a pace you didn’t think possible.  And you can selectively lose the most visible, insulin-opposing, diabetes-creating, inflammation-producing, embarrassment-causing fat: belly fat.  It is a process accomplished with virtually no hunger or deprivation, with a wide spectrum of health benefits. [...] 
So why has this seemingly benign plant that sustained generations of humans suddenly turned on us?  For one thing, it is not the same grain our fore-bearers ground into their daily bread.  Wheat naturally evolved to only a modest degree over the centuries, but it has changed dramatically in the past fifty years under the influence of agricultural scientists.  Wheat strains have been hybridized, crossbred, and introgressed to make the wheat plant resistant to environmental conditions, such as drought, or pathogens, such as fungi.  But most of all, genetic changes have been induced to increase yield per acre.  The average yield on a modern North American farm is more than tenfold greater than farms of a century ago.  Such enormous strides in yield have required drastic changes in the genetic code, including reducing the proud "amber waves of grain" of yesteryear to the rigid, eighteen-inch-tall high-production "dwarf" wheat of today.  Such fundamental genetic changes, as you will see, have come at a price.

Also check out the Wheat Belly Blog.

It important to note that ditching wheat/gluten isn't about losing weight.  A lot of authors and bloggers will try to capture people's attention with the aspect of weight loss because that is smart marketing.  The truth is -- wheat/gluten affects a lot of people in a myriad of ways.  Please, don't write off the whole wheat/gluten-free "thing" because you're slim or think you're "just fine" eating your whole grains.  If you have migraines, arthritic conditions, weak immunity, digestive issues, skin issues, ear-nose-throat issues - in most cases these issues have a lot to do with diet.  "Heart Healthy Whole Grains" (especially the ones with a lot of gluten) are NO ONE's friend.

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