Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

I just finished reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD.

William Davis, MD is a cardiologist who has found that promoting a wheat-free diet in his patients has led to improved health.

Davis is of the opinion that wheat is over-consumed in our society, since it is ubiquitous in the American diet. It is touted as health food and people are encouraged to eat more whole grains. He shows how wheat has been developed over the last half-century and is not nearly as natural or healthy as it is claimed to be.  Our bodies, in consuming so much of it, become more prone to heart disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other health problems, regardless of whether we are plagued by full-blown Celiac Disease.

Davis challenges the reader to remove wheat from their diet for a month and to watch for positive changes in the body.  He has a simple list of what to eat and what not to eat, and a few recipes at the end of the book to help get the reader started.

With  my health challenges over the last few years, I found this book to be affirming.  As readers here might already know, I have been eating Gluten-free for a year now, after years of dealing with food allergies and various immune system problems. I try to avoid Genetically Modified foods, but so far wheat hasn't been put on that list. But maybe it should be on the GMO list; though it doesn't have genes from other species blasted into it, it has been unnaturally changed in a laboratory in a much shorter time than would have ever happened naturally.  I find Davis' explanation and observations of the development of modern wheat to shed a little bit more light on the reasons my immune system ( whole body in general, really) dislikes wheat, and why it gives me  "brain fog" and heartburn and makes me  hungry all the time, rather than classic Celiac symptoms.

Dr. Davis focuses on avoiding wheat in his diet recommendations, and replacing that wheat with vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs and cheese. I can get on board with that!
He tells the reader to avoid "gluten-free" foods. I was confused at this suggestion at first, but then figured out that what he meant was to avoid the highly processed "gluten-free" foods that are mainly starches and not Real Foods.  If you replace wheat with starches, you will have the same junky diet leading to heart disease, diabetes, etc. (and let's face it, highly processed food really isn't the best for us) If you are Celiac, eating this "junky gluten-free" diet would be better than eating gluten, as far as your intestinal health is concerned, but you would still be at risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. due to the junk.

One thing that I personally cannot get on board with in his book is his support of artificial sweeteners and his stance against all sugars. My own stance is that natural sugars are better than, say, Splenda or Nutrasweet or even Truvia(GMO corn additives). But I suppose in the grand scheme of things, if one gives up most bad things, there is room for a little "cheat" here and there and most people's bodies can handle it. And I have to agree on one thing: Sugar/Sweetener (whatever the source) in moderation is key. 

I had gotten this book from the local library, but I plan on getting my own copy of it so that I can re-read, highlight, underline and write notes in the margins. There is a ton of information in this book, and I would definitely recommend it to my health-seeking friends!

Here's to good health!


Anonymous said...

Glad you liked it! Didn't he promote like xylitol more and not the typical nutrisweet, splenda, etc? What is xylitol made from anyways? I am trying coconut palm sugar more as it's made from coconut and has a lower glycemic index. I agree though, honey and maple syrup, etc. in moderation is just fine! Overall, I agreed with most of what he said though-probably all of us will vary a little on our views on a few things...Key is to never stop learning..

Tanya said...

The author promoted a couple different artificial sweeteners/products. Looking through the recipes, when a "sugar" is needed, he recommends products with Splenda, Truvia (stevia), pure stevia extract, or sucrose(table sugar). A good lot of his recipes contain whole foods, though, and don't have added sugars(fake or not). I guess I would assume, since he does add sucrose to the list, that it's ok in his mind because of the moderation idea (though he speaks against sugar/sucrose ad nauseum in the book). He and I just disagree on which sugars/sweeteners are superior to the others. ;)

Xylitol is often touted in sugar-free circles(though I don't remember it being mentioned in the book, and it's not in the index). I don't like it because it's a corn derivative--at least, it's almost for sure derived from corn unless you are getting some not made in the USA. I do tolerate it in the Trident gum I chew off and on, but that's about all. Splenda, most stevias(like Truvia), Nutrasweet and etc. contain corn derivatives (and, in turn, GMO's). Much table sugar is made from beets, also risky as far as GMO's.

I've not seen coconut palm sugar expensive is it? I generally use honey in my tea, cane sugar for baking(which I don't do a lot of lately) and occasionally molasses(blackstrap if I can find it). Oh, and maple syrup, but we don't do pancakes much since I went GF.

I guess it just depends on where we each draw the line and what is most important to us, you know? I don't know that there is a way to eat absolutely perfectly on this earth, with everything that goes on. We just do our best with what we know and keep on. :)