A far cry from just-another-diet-book, Wheat Belly, written by cardiologist William Davis, M.D., takes an in-depth look at how the staff of life has actually begun to yield the opposite effect. From diabetes and heart disease all the way to mental disorders including schizophrenia, this well-researched New York Times bestseller is sure to make even the most skeptical of gluten’s health impacts lift a brow.
What makes Davis’s case about avoiding wheat (the grain he uses to encompass all gluten containing grains) so persuasive is his detailed history of the changes to the grain itself. His account of comparing the wild einkorn wheat harvested around the Fertile Crescent during the Pleistocene age to the wheat of 2013, Triticum aestivum, is akin to the apples and oranges idiom. Hybridization techniques of the twentieth century has lead to a wheat species that is, asserts Davis, “hundreds, perhaps thousands of genes apart from the original einkorn wheat that bred naturally.”
So what’s the big deal? Well Wheat Belly contests that the wheat of today’s pizza crust was bred not only without human or animal safety testing, but that protein analysis of these modern wheat hybrids contain higher amounts of the gluten proteins, and higher amounts of amylopectin, a glucose unit that causes blood sugar spikes higher than table sugar. These changes to the grain, the author suggests, are why rates of CD, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune conditions and more are on the rise.
Davis is able to carry the reader through potentially confusing topics (i.e. how zonulins in wheat can cause intestinal permeability) in a very reader friendly - at times even hinting at humorous - ways. This is no small feat for an M.D. author. However the science is not glazed over, and the reader gets delivered a very clear case of both how and why wheat is the culprit behind so many of today’s common diseases and disorders.
The third and final section of the book is essentially a how-to give up wheat guide. What makes this portion of the book different than others is that he addresses the actual withdrawal process that people go through as a result of the addictive properties of wheat. The recipes and meal plans provided are good, my one complaint is that some recipes suggest the use of Splenda and sugar free syrups that also contain Splenda which are a far cry from a natural sweetener, and not suggested by GFP. His overall dietary suggestions are certainly sound, breaking food groups into those to enjoy regularly, ones to eat in moderation, and ones to avoid. This book is a must-read for, dare I say, all Americans.
Jess Kelley, MNT