Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gotta Read This- Wheat Belly!

I've read more in the last three months than I have in a long time.  I'm REALLY glad that my daughter has a Kindle that I can borrow- I find a book that looks good, and I can download it right then for about $10.  Guess it's time that I get my own so I can give hers back.

Last week I came across the greatest book!  It's called Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, by William Davis, MD

Dr. Davis is a cardiologist that witnessed many of his patients regaining their health after giving up wheat.  In this book he explains how eliminating wheat from our diet can prevent fat storage, shrink bulges, and reverse a lot of health problems.

Okay, okay.  I know this sounds extreme.  I think if I had found this book before I started this transformation three months ago I would have laughed it off, and considered it too extreme, or just a big fad.  But the thing that I'm amazed with is how time and time again what he explains in the book I HAVE EXPERIENCED.  I am reading this book after the fact, and what he's saying is right.

He starts off by bringing out the point that men & women in the 1950's and 60's were much thinner, but they didn't exercise much at all (especially women- it was considered unseemly).  Today many people are exercising like crazy, but they're much heavier than people from back then- many even overweight (YES! That was me!)

Here he brings out the point that our wheat of today is much different that wheat of 50 years ago, altered by genetic research.  He makes the case against wheat by stating documented peculiar effects of wheat on humans such as:  appetite stimulation [makes complete sense!  I am not abnormally hungry any more!  I feel in control!], exposure to brain-active exorphins, exaggerated blood sugar surges that trigger cycles of satiety alternating with heightened appetite, the process of glycation that underlies disease and again, inflammatory and pH effects that erode cartilage and damage bone, and activation of disordered immune responses.

He states that a complex ange of diseases result from consumption of wheat, from celiac disease, to an assortment of neurological disorders, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, curious rashes, and schizophrenia.  He talks about "flop over the belly fat" vanishing when his patients eliminated wheat from their diets [YES!  I did too!  You know how low rider pants are popular for women?  I've hated that style because of my roll of blub hanging over the edge.  Now?  3 months after no wheat?  Not a problem any more. I mentioned this to Jimmy- how amazed I was that I could get so flat with out tons of sit-ups and ab work- Sorry Jillian.]  And he says that typical weight loss totaling 20, 30, or 50 pounds within the first few months was common [Right there, too!]

Here is the Table of Contents:


Chapter 1  What Belly?
Chapter 2  Not Your Granma's Muffins: The Creation of Modern Wheat
Chapter 3  Wheat Deconstructed

Chapter 4  Hey, Man, Wanna Buy Some Exorphins?  The Addictive Properties of Wheat
Chapter 5  Your Wheat Belly Is Showing:  The Wheat/Obesity Connection
Chapter 6  Hello, Intestine.  It's Me, Wheat.  Wheat and Celiac Disease
Chapter 7  Diabetes Nation:  Wheat and Insulin Resistance
Chapter 8  Dropping Acid:  Wheat as the Great pH Disruptor
Chapter 9  Cataracts, Wrinkles, and Dowager's Humps:  Wheat and the Aging Process
Chapter 10  My Particles Are Bigger Than Yours:  Wheat and Heart Disease
Chapter 11  It's All in Your Head:  Wheat and the Brain
Chapter 12  Bagel Face:  Wheat's Destructive Effect on the Skin

Chapter 13  Goodbye, Wheat:  Create a Healthy, Delicious, Wheat-Free life

Appendix A  Looking for Wheat in All the Wrong Places
Appendix B  Healthy Wheat Belly-Shrinking Recipes

So, even if you're skeptical, read this book!  I would love to hear your take on it.

The main that I've had to grapple with is how this book ties in with my church's Word of Wisdom, which is
revelation that contains specific instruction about beneficial and harmful health practices.  In one of the church manuals on gospel doctrine it states:  "Each of us will be healthier as we follow the Lord’s counsel to (1) use herbs, fruits, and vegetables, (2) use grains as a central part of what we eat, and (3) eat the flesh of animals sparingly. Each of these groups of food provides essential body nutrients."

I wrote to a fellow Mormon blogger, Newell Wright at after I found a post he did on the word of wisdom and low carb eating.   He had a great take on it. 

In his email to me he said: 

I have had some issues with the Word of Wisdom and wheat, and Wheat
Belly effectively gave me a great answer: the wheat in 1829 is not the
wheat we are eating today. Plus this: in 1829, the average 30-year-old
had consumed as much sugar in her/his lifetime as the average
2-year-old today. Most sugar came from either honey (which had its own
collection difficulties) or from fruits in season. Honey and fructose,
combined with man-made seed oils, have caused a lot of problems.

When we abuse our bodies by eating wheat, fructose, and seed oils, I
am convinced we are violating the spirit of the Word of Wisdom,
whatever it says or doesn't say about wheat. We need to contextually
interpret it: it is about not defiling our temples (bodies). If my
temple becomes diabetic, then I am defiling it when I eat things that
cause it harm.

Well said, Newell.  I love the insight.

*This post is linked to The Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania.


  1. I feel like if the Word of Wisdom needed to be revised, we would hear about it. I understand that the wheat we eat now is not the same as it was back in the 1800s, but there are a couple of things we can do about this. For one thing, more ancient forms of wheat are available (such as spelt), and I have found that by using sourdough, I have not had any symptoms that I used to have when I consumed gluten. Souring doesn't completely get rid of all of the gluten, but it does make it much more digestible, and I've been happy to be able to eat bread products again. I find that when I cut out wheat, it's difficult not to eat lots of meat (which explicitly goes against the Word of Wisdom) in it's place. I choose not to use most of the "gluten-free" products out there because they usually contain grains that are even more harmful as far as blood sugar goes. I've grappled with this subject quite a bit myself, because many real food bloggers are bashing grains and calling them dangerous, but I guess I just choose to trust the Lord over different people's interpretations. I'm not trying to say that people that cut out wheat or grains are evil, I'm just stating the conclusion I've come to. I take care to properly prepare my grains and we try not to eat a lot of sugar (and what we do use is sucanat, honey, and pure maple syrup). I don't have a perfect answer, but I really feel like people always think they have things figured out, and then before you know it new research comes out to disqualify what we thought was right. It's up to every individual to figure out what works for them, I guess, but I have found that through souring (the most beneficial way of preparing wheat) I've seen a significant difference in my digestion and how often I'm hungry. There's more to weight gain and unstable blood sugar and bad skin than wheat (and I have tried cutting out wheat, and all grains, and have seen no benefit myself). People also need to look into vitamin and hormone imbalances. Sorry for the long post - this is obviously something I think about a lot! :)

  2. Kelsey, thanks for taking the time to write! I appreciate hearing your point of view. Certainly some food for thought, as I continue to ponder.

    I haven't tried making sour dough yet. Do you have a good recipe? I like how on The Healthy Home Economist she soaks a lot of things. I plan to try that, too.

  3. Hi Jan,

    I'm currently taking the Sourdough e-course on Wardeh's blog at I HIGHLY recommend it - I have learned so much in the short period of time I've been taking it! Otherwise, she does have some free sourdough recipes on her blog (and lots of gluten-free recipes as well for those who can't tolerate gluten) - I really recommend checking her out if you haven't yet. She soaks all of her grains as well, and has lots and lots of recipes. I have to say, in all honesty, sourdough isn't my favorite taste-wise, but luckily my husband loves it and I'm acclimating, and there are lots of sourdough recipes that don't taste sour, or that you can barely taste the sour. I've so far made crepes, waffles, english muffins, pita pockets, artisan bread, sandwich bread, and a pumpkin dessert, and all have been really easy and delicious! I got my starter from Cultures for Health, and have been very happy with it. There's lots of places to get it from, though. Try it out! I think you'll be pleased! I also sometimes use sprouted spelt flour when I don't have time to sour something, but that's pretty pricey, so I stick to sourdough for most everything. Next thing I want to try is a chocolate cake. Yum. :)

  4. I just wanted to point out - if you do look elsewhere for sourdough recipes (there's lots out there) make sure they sour ALL of the flour. A lot of recipes will only sour part of the flour, and then it's kind of pointless because you'll still be eating a lot of unsoured flour that isn't digestible. You can always adapt the recipe to sour all of the flour, but I just wanted to point that out! P.S. The only gluten free food we do eat is brown rice noodles - the Tinkyada brand is the best. I don't have time at this point to home make all of my pasta, so this is a good option for pasta. You can even soak them in water and a little apple cider vinegar for about 8 hours prior to cooking to make it even more digestible. I'm done for real now. :)

  5. Kelsy, you're awesome! I can't wait to check out The little I've seen looks perfect for what I need. Thanks for the info abt the noodles, too! I love having something handy to throw together quickly, and that will be perfect.

  6. No problem! Glad to help. I've been converting lots of people to sourdough lately. :) It's my new love. Hope you have lots of success!

  7. Just wanted to make a comment here on the wheat and the WoW issue. This is also something I have thought a lot about. So many books, blogs, and anecdotes point to wheat as the source of many of our health problems. Some of them are very convincing! But I agree with Kelsey that if the WoW needed to be revised- we'd hear about it. One thing that stood out to me in a recent re-reading of the WoW is the verse that talks about using all things with prudence (temperance) and thanksgiving. I think that if we all followed that part of the WoW, eating all things (including wheat) in moderation, we'd be a lot healthier than we are. I think that it's easy to get misled by pointing the finger at one grain or food. For example, if you cut out wheat, you cut out chocolate chip cookies, waffles with syrup, cake, crackers, and lots of other foods that aren't very nutritionally dense. Of course cutting those out will help you lose weight and feel better! But that doesn't mean that wheat is the problem.
    I really have thought a lot about this issue and come to the conclusion that, for me, if the Lord says it's ordained for the use of man, it's okay for me to eat (no low carbing here!). I've also decided to eat wheat (and everything else) mindfully and in moderation. Do we really need bread with pasta for dinner? No! But occasional wheat pasta is something that we have decided to eat in our family-- as well as fresh bread baked from our food storage wheat:)

  8. Hi Chanelle- Thanks for your input! I especially agree with your comment "For example, if you cut out wheat, you cut out chocolate chip cookies, waffles with syrup, cake, crackers, and lots of other foods that aren't very nutritionally dense. Of course cutting those out will help you lose weight and feel better!"
    I know that is true. One thing that stands out to me with cutting out wheat, though, is my appetite control. I had NO control before, and it was driving me crazy. I felt so guilty- here I was a health educator who couldn't eat a healthy diet I taught about? But after cutting out sugar & wheat... GONE. I stop eating when I'm full, and I don't need to snack. So I can't help but be drawn to the anti-wheat side. I talked to my doctor about the WoW on Monday, and he said he's writing a book about it. He feels that the way the foods are listed are significant. Herbs (veggies) first, fruits (legumes) second, Meat third, and wheat fourth (even though it says wheat is the staff of life). That is, unless the wheat is sprouted or soaked, which moves it to the first category. This next month I'm going to try going the sour dough/soaking route & see how it goes.
    Thanks again for the comment. It's great to have another perspective.

  9. There are people who are allergic or sensitive to wheat. Should they eat wheat just because it's in the WoW? Of course not! You may very well be one of those people who has a hard time with wheat. But I think the danger in a book like Wheat Belly, and in the whole gluten-free trend, is that it singles out a grain that can actually be quite helpful for some, AND is one of the few specific "do's" in the WoW.
    I also think that as a society (and especially in the church) we are 'over-wheated.' And most of that wheat comes in the form of white flour. I'd be interested to read your doctors book. I've often wished there was MORE in the WoW. If you look up conference talks discussing the WoW, they almost all talk about the don'ts with very little mention of the nutrition side.

  10. One other thing I've wondered about- if wheat was only healthy or acceptable soaked or sprouted (like WAPF says) would the WoW say that? Not to say that it's not better for some people- it is. But is that the only acceptable way to eat wheat? And if so, why wouldn't the WoW read "all grain is for the use of man, when sprouted or soaked, otherwise stay away from it"?

  11. The thing is, grains have been traditionally sprouted or soaked for centuries. It's how grains and legumes and nuts and seeds were always consumed, prior to our fast-paced microwave world of today. Sourdough is traditionally how breads were made - how else do you think bread was made prior to the invention of commercial yeast (which was originally rejected in some countries because they knew the effects on our health from not souring the dough would be detrimental)? Wheat used to naturally sprout in the fields where it was stored out in the elements before modern methods of farming came about which discontinued that practice. So, that is how wheat was consumed back then, is all I'm saying. That's why gluten intolerance is becoming so prevalent now, because we don't take the time to properly prepare our foods anymore (which ancient societies knew instinctively to do). I'm not saying people should ignore their bodies and consume wheat if they have an intolerance, I'm just saying there are things you can do to wheat to make it more digestible. I, for one, have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, but my body handles sourdough perfectly well, (and there have been studies done on celiac patients who experience no symptoms when consuming traditional sourdough bread) so I choose to bake with sourdough, and I like to educated others about it in case it can help them too. I know it has made life in the kitchen SO much more enjoyable for me and has opened up so many meal opportunities that don't exist when you can't eat gluten!

  12. First of all, I love that we can have this discussion in the context of the Word of Wisdom, which isn't really something I've been able to do before. Real food friends? yes. LDS friends? yes. Real food LDS friends? not so many!
    Anyway, Kelsey, there is some debate on whether grains were traditionally sprouted; souring was more common from what I understand but not even done all the time. (there is a ton of information on Kitchen Stewardship about that here
    But here's my question: for at least the past 100 years or so (commercial yeast was introduced in the 1880's from a quick google search), people have been eating yeasted breads. To quote you, "I feel like if the Word of Wisdom needed to be revised, we would hear about it." The brethren- and the Lord- know that we're eating modern day bread, and yet the WoW hasn't been revised. Baking soda was invented in the 1840s, only a decade after the WoW, which must have changed how wheat was eaten. My point is, there are no qualifications about what kind of wheat we should be eating, and there has never really been any clarification to that part of the WoW.
    On a personal note, we soak our pancakes and waffles, but not our bread. That's just because the first two taste better like that, and I haven't found a great soaked wheat bread recipe (although I need to try sourdough again). I'm not saying that it wouldn't help some people to soak or even to eliminate wheat; I'm talking about wheat as a general rule. And, what I get from the WoW is that in general, we're supposed to eat it.