When Dr. William Davis released his long-awaited and much-needed new health book entitled Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health on August 30, 2011, I wonder if he had any clue what was in store for him in the weeks that followed. Just a few days after the release of his book, the Grain Foods Foundation sent out a press release (and have since been joined by The National Association of Wheat Growers) to the media designed to “discredit the book” and its assertion that their beloved whole grains aren’t as healthy as they think they are. In typical fashion for Dr. Davis, he responded calmly and let the facts speak for themselves with “An Open Letter to the Grain Foods Foundation” addressing their specific concerns about the information contained in his book (and it’s doubtful they even read the book to begin with!). He alluded to this controversy brewing when he appeared on my podcast last Monday.
We’ll be watching this story unfold in the coming months as news of Wheat Belly starts to reach out far and wide. And it looks like it’s already beginning to happen. The book just debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestsellers list for “Advice, How-To And Miscellaneous” for September 18, 2011 and is currently in the Top 100 books overall at Amazon.com. You know that’s gotta make the people at his publisher Rodale quite happy to hear how quickly this book eschewing one of the most sacred foods in health is selling. I suppose the success of the book so far is thanks in no small part to Dr. Davis making the rounds on the popular low-carb/Paleo health podcasts over the past few weeks:
7-27: Carl Lanore’s “Superhuman Radio”
8-30: Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution”
9-5: Jimmy Moore’s “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show”
9-7: Dr. Robert Su’s “Carbohydrates Can Kill”
9-7: Hank Garner’s “The Journey”
COMING 9-27: Sean Croxton’s “Underground Wellness”
Yes, he’s been quite the busy man working the podcasts. But Dr. Davis has also gotten a TON of support from the health blogging community as well who have enjoyed reading his book so much they’ve written a review:
Here’s my brief review of Wheat Belly:
As a low-carb dieter since 2004 when I weighed in at 410 pounds, I’ve been conscious of the kind of carbohydrates I have allowed to pass my lips. And for many years I concentrated on avoiding what I thought were the biggest carbohydrate culprits in my diet–namely sugar, refined carbohydrates, fast food, junk food, and starchy foods. But when I noticed I was doing everything perfectly fine and still dealing with some added weight, it made me stop and wonder what else could be going on.
Enter WHEAT BELLY by Dr. William Davis.
Although I’ve never been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have a requirement to cut whole grains from my diet, this so-called “healthy” food is probably not as healthy as most of us believe. It’s the opposite of what we have seen with saturated fat which has been vilified as a dastardly part of the human diet on obesity, diabetes and heart disease. At the same time the lipophobes have been running rampant in nutritional health, the whole grain goons have been pushing these on the public as a food to be consumed in large quantities. In fact, even the U.S. Dietary Guidelines put whole grains up on a pedestal as a food that Americans should be consuming lots of. But at what cost to our health?
Dr. Davis brilliantly outlines the case against consuming wheat specifically stating that the modern-day wheat is just a strange mutation of the wheat of our grandmother just 50 years ago. The genetically-altered version is especially dangerous to our health because of the impact on blood sugar (much greater than even table sugar), massive weight gain (thus, the title of this book), to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. This cardiologist has had his eyes opened by what he has seen in his own patients over the years and now he’s sounding the alarm to prevent future generations from dealing with the ramifications of this seemingly harmless food.
There are delicious recipes and instructions on how to begin your wheat-free lifestyle in WHEAT BELLY and I highly recommend it to people with Celiac disease, obesity, diabetes, and virtually any other chronic disease. If you’re still eating wheat thinking it’s good for you, then it’s time to open your eyes to the truth lest one of these conditions befalls you.
I believe this is THE biggest health book of 2011 and every single supporter of low-carb and Paleo living needs to embrace this concept of wheat-free. It’s just not enough to say “low-carb” and expect people to understand what that means anymore. Cutting the sugar, refined carbs, and, yes, even the whole grain carbs is necessary for optimal health. Any company purporting to sell you a product made with wheat as a “low-carb” food may technically be correct but they’re omitting a vitally important element of the health equation as Dr. Davis so brilliantly outlines in Wheat Belly.
As is sometimes the case when I interview someone on my podcast, I think of questions that I wish I had asked AFTER the interview is finished. This question actually came to mind during the interview with him but was quickly diverted from my memory when Dr. Davis started talking about something else that intrigued me. Here’s what I mean to ask him that I think is an important question:
What do you think about Dean Ornish’s claim that he reverses heart disease with his low-fat, high-carb program? I notice you make a similar claim in Wheat Belly. Can you elaborate on Ornish’s claim vs. yours?
Dr. Davis was all-too-eager to give his two cents worth:
Ornish likely did not reverse heart disease; he more than likely reversed endothelial dysfunction, the state of abnormal constriction of coronary arteries that develops with atherosclerosis. His study needs to be re-performed (though I personally wouldn’t bother) using newer techniques, not the quantitative coronary angiography he used. Also, his approach may work in some subsets of people, such as those with apo E4 who are fat sensitive (approximately 25% of the population), though they can also be very carb sensitive. (This is a kind of rock and hard place nutritional pattern.)
I’ve reduced coronary calcium scores as a surrogate for coronary atherosclerotic plaque. My preliminary series was published, but I will have to send the reprint separately since it’s on my office computers. Reducing coronary calcium scores as a surrogate for total coronary atherosclerotic plaque requires 1) correction of hidden atherogenic causes, such as lipoprotein(a) and small LDL (thus the low-carb diet), 2) vitamin D normalization, 3) thyroid normalization and iodine supplementation, 4) omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Vitamin K2 is a recent optional addition, as the data have become very compelling. As you know, a cornerstone of the Track Your Plaque dietary approach is to eliminate wheat; while this reduces small LDL dramatically, reduces triglycerides, increases HDL, reduces fasting blood glucose and HbA1c, reduces c-reactive protein. What I am not sure about, though I have suspicions, is whether wheat is intrinsically atherogenic (plaque-causing) above and beyond these benefits.
Claiming that diet alone reverses heart disease is, in a word, silly. While diet is potentially powerful, there are non-dietary factors that need to be corrected, such as thyroid dysfunction, vitamin D deficiency, prostaglandin imbalance as provided by omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, etc. Just cutting fat and weighing diet towards whole foods is good, but insufficient. Also, recall that, of the 28 patients in the treatment group (low-fat diet, counseling), 25 had events that included 2 deaths, several angioplasties, and heart attacks. It was far from a huge success. In fact, it was only marginally more successful than medication with the usual dietary advice.
Ornish is beating a dead horse. It’s time to make glue!
Ahhhh, I love this man! He’s not afraid to say what he means and mean what he says. One final thing while I’m talking about Dr. William Davis from the “Heart Scan Blog.” He’s been instrumental in pushing the idea of people having a heart scan done for nearly 15 years as a preventative means for determining heart disease risk. It’s a very simple procedure that can be done in just a few minutes time. I had one done in 2009 and my result came back a big fat ZERO! Last week we took Christine to a local medical testing office where we live in Spartanburg, South Carolina, plopped down $99, and got her heart scan done. Here’s a video I posted to YouTube to show you how super easy and non-invasive this test is:
By the way, we got a call back from them later that afternoon after Christine had her heart scan and they said her calcium score was ZERO as well. We’re just a couple of zeroes! HA! Since I’ve interviewed Dr. Davis a few times on my podcast where he discusses the heart scan, I decided to make this 10-minute video featuring some of the highlights of what he had to share about getting a heart scan done in case you are interested. Listen to what Dr. Davis says on this: