Everything You Think You Know About Wheat is Probably Wrong — Here’s Why.
You know how people say a “book changed there life”? Well, that happened to me with Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.
Wheat Belly taught me why I had to give up wheat to heal my inflammation—as well as prevent a very long list of health problems.
Most folks probably assume that “gluten-free” is just for people with celiac disease or wheat allergies.
That kind of thinking is not just wrong, but very, very wrong, according to Dr. Davis.
This book is a well-researched, informative, fascinating—and life-changing— read.
And it completely changed my perspective on wheat—to the point that I no longer miss my formerly favorite foods—toast, bagels, burgers, and pizza—now that I know what they do to my body.
Wheat Belly Lays Out the Unsavory Facts About Today’s Wheat
This description, from the book’s cover, sums up the book:
“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 costs; consequently, this once benign grain has been transformed into a nutritionally bankrupt yet ubiquitous ingredient that causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar and has addictive properties that cause us to ride a roller coaster of hunger, overeating, and fatigue.”
In the introduction, Dr. Davis goes on to argue that the world’s most popular grain is also “the world’s most destructive dietary ingredient.”
Indeed, his book makes a good case, outlining the many ways in which wheat destroys our bodies—through appetite over-stimulation, exaggerated blood sugar surges, increased glycation (which underlies disease and aging), damage to bones, over-activation of the immune response, and more.
I’ve read or heard rebuttals to this point of view, such as: “But our grandparents ate this food,” or “Other countries eat a lot of bread and pasta,” and my personal favorite, “If it was so bad for us, the U.S. government wouldn’t approve it for consumption.”
These assumptions are understandable, but misguided.
It’s Not Our Grandparents’ Wheat Anymore — From Amber Waves to Dwarf Stalks
For one thing, I learned from Dr. Davis that the wheat our grandparents ate is not the same wheat we consume today. It’s been significantly genetically modified by the food industry in several ways and for several reasons, most of which relate to corporate profit-making it possible to cheaply produce everything from crusty whole wheat bread to light-as-air croissants and pastries.
Here’s another excerpt from Wheat Belly:
“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 forebears 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 great than farms of a century ago. Such enormous strides in yield have required drastic changes in 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.”
That price is our health.
Few countries eat as much wheat as we do in the U.S. For example, while Italians might enjoy their famous pasta on a regular basis, the rest of their diet has not traditionally been like ours. They eat less toast and cereal and more fruits and vegetables than we do on average. (Of course, as American influences induce new trends toward over-consumption, fast foods and the like, that may change. Perhaps they will join us at the top of the list of the fattest, most unhealthy nations.)
And, as mentioned already, the foods our grandparents are not the same foods we are consuming today.
How the Food Industrial Complex Used Wheat as a Way to Get Rich Quick
Even before it gets processed, today’s genetically modified wheat would be unfamiliar to the farmers of yesteryear.
Then factor in the chemicals from processing. In fact, many foods that our grandparents ate didn’t last very long on the shelf, without all the chemical preservatives that keep Twinkies looking fresh for years.
Finally, it would be nice if our government was watching out for our well being, and I’m sure that’s how it was once upon a time, but that is no longer the reality, I’m sorry to say.
Today, huge corporate food organizations like Monsanto and ConAgra are big political players, contributing heavily to various campaigns and political action groups.
It’s not chump change, either. I’m talking millions of dollars here. Every year.
The grain industry has been federally subsidized since the early 1900s.
Farmers are paid to overproduce a certain small number of crops, like wheat and corn.
This overabundance makes the grains cheap, and the lowered cost offers a marketing bonanza to food manufacturers. They buy up wheat and corn and soy in mass quantities to create mass market products—cereals, cookies, crackers, baked goods, frozen goods, and more—that form the backbone of the classic American diet.
Dr. Davis is not the only voice today speaking out against wheat. But he is one that everyone interested in understanding the destructive power of wheat needs to read in Wheat Belly.