NATURAL MEDICINE: All about wheat belly
Cardiologist Dr. William Davis has detailed in his book Wheat Belly how eliminating wheat, even whole grain wheat, from your diet is the key to permanent weight loss and relief from a broad spectrum of health and digestive problems.
Drawing on decades of clinical studies and the astounding results he has observed after putting more than two thousand of his patients on wheat-free regimens, Davis makes some startling discoveries.
Wheat is the dominant source of gluten protein in the human diet, and almost every meal and snack contains foods made with wheat flour.
The average North American consumes 133 pounds of wheat per year, equivalent to half a loaf of bread per day.
The wheat of today, however, is not the same grain our forbearers ground into their daily bread.
Agricultural scientists have genetically modified wheat through hybridization in the past 50 years to generate the greatest yield at the lowest cost.
Wheat of yesteryear was a tall grain more than four feet tall.
Today’s dwarf wheat stands less than two feet tall, has a stocky stem and can only grow with the assistance of fertilizers; but the yield is about 10 times greater per acre.
Unfortunately, hybridization has also drastically changed the structure of wheat gluten proteins resulting in a devastating immune response to wheat protein by humans.
Blood sugar nightmare
The process responsible for wheat belly begins with high blood sugar (glucose).
Glucose stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting the glucose into fat.
The higher the blood glucose after the consumption of food, the greater the insulin level, the more fat is deposited.
The glucose-insulin-fat deposits are especially visible in the abdomen.
Left unchecked, the visceral fat deposits in wheat belly produce inflammation signals responsible for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer.
Wheat has the extraordinary ability to spike blood sugar levels.
Wheat products are super carbohydrates because they are highly digestible and can be converted more efficiently to blood sugar than almost all other carbohydrate foods.
Whole wheat bread increases blood sugar as much as or more than sugar. Eating two slices of whole wheat bread is equivalent to drinking a can of pop or eating a candy bar.
Wheat is an appetite stimulant that makes you crave more wheat containing and non-wheat foods. When wheat gluten is broken down in your body, opiate-like peptides called exorphins are created.
These exorphins trigger your brain, causing you to eat more food and increase calorie consumption.
When this discovery was made, wheat became the go-to additive to put in products. Add a little bit of wheat to a food and make it addictive.
As a result, wheat is in almost everything today, including unusual products like chewing gum.
Experience has shown that eliminating wheat products and gluten foods from your diet can have surprising and significant benefits. People have lost millions of pounds by simply not eating wheat.
By doing so, they are also reducing sugar consumption, fat enemy number two.
They are enjoying better health and reduced risk for long-term illness and disease. Hats off to Dr. Davis for championing Wheat Belly.
Sometimes not enough
Like everything else, however, avoiding wheat and gluten does not work for everyone. For some it doesn’t work at all, others have moderate success or will lose weight but gain it back.
While we all want simple methods and immediate results, there are other processes going on that conflict with and prevent the elimination of wheat from being a single solution.
For example, as we age, hormone imbalances occur.
Everyone’s progesterone levels decline dramatically and estrogen can become dominant.
This results in excessive fat storage.
Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) impairs your body’s metabolism and ability to lose weight.
Occurring in up to half of all women, hypothyroidism must be treated for successful and permanent weight loss. In addition, dietary and lifestyle factors such as inactivity and inflammatory foods need to be addressed.
If you get the results you want from wheat belly, fantastic.
But if it isn’t working quite right, or you want a more comprehensive and complete approach, medical treatment is available to turn your body into a fat burning machine.
Dr. Denise De Monte is a naturopathic physician in Vernon at the De Monte Centre Natural Medicine.