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A ‘Wheat Belly’ Bonanza: New Book By Dr. William Davis Making An Impact

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:

Tom Naughton’s FAT HEAD
Dana Carpender’s Hold The Toast
Brent Kearney
Paleo Hacks
Low Carb Age
Michelle’s Low Carb Lifestyle
Cynergy CrossFit
Craving Sugar
The Book Addict

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:


http://youtu.be/XeAhhWn2h_Q

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:


http://youtu.be/1zIciBJNWFw

Track Your Plaque’s Scan Center Finder
ScanDirectory.com

  • greenteadrinker

    Jimmy, I just love your blog.  I’ve  avoided gluten for several years and am loving the Wheat Belly book.  I  follow the Metabolism Miracle Diet and feel terrific.  Jimmy, please interview Diane Kress the author.   She has a new book coming out in January called The Diabetes Miracle.  I realize her diet is not super low carb, but it’s a lot lower in carbs than what the general population eats.  It’s normalizing my blood sugars.    I wish you’d interview her!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1563322716 Paul Stevens

    Did you see that our favourite “wheat belly” tennis player won again?

    You do great work.

    • Anonymous

      Yep, he’s doing amazing stuff.

    • http://profiles.google.com/peggy.holloway5 Peggy Holloway

      I read that Djokovic had muscle cramps before the match. I wonder if he knows to take magnesium supplements? I got that advice from Steve Phinney and it has eliminated what used to be a problem with nightly foot and calf cramps.

      • Anonymous

        Love my magnesium and potassium supplements. Helps with the cramps for sure. Didn’t hurt Djokovic’s performance. :D

  • Joe Lindley

    Jimmy,

    Thanks for mentioning my review on Wheat Belly! – I agree it’s going to only get more traction from this point on.
    A Reuters news item popped up late yesterday on the
    link between insulin, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer’s disease.  I then thought, well DIET of course is the next thing to talk about – to avoid insulin resistance in the first
    place, so I published a post on it, including a reference to you and Dr. Davis.

    http://cravingsugar.net/insulin-spray-memory-alzheimers-study-insulin-resistance-low-carb.php

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about this latest link between diet and our health.

    …Joe…

    • Anonymous

      THANKS Joe! This looks like a good topic for an episode of “Low-Carb Conversations.”

  • http://www.realfooddigest.com Lisa

    Hi Jimmy,
    I read this book in 2 days (would have finished it quicker if sleeping and parenting weren’t some of my other priorities).
    What I love about this book, in addition to the amazing real life stories of healing, is that he explains why wheat today is so harmful, the chemical structure that makes modern wheat dramatically different than its predecessor. From all my years of reading about nutrition I never knew that wheat did more damage to blood sugar than sugar!
    I keep a gluten-free, real food household but make exceptions for the traditional Sabbath and holiday meals where blessing over bread is integral to the celebration. It’s been a struggle trying to make sense of how to merge what I know is a better way of eating with my traditions and this book finally explains how different the wheat in biblical times is from today.
    I agree with you that this is “THE biggest health book of 2011″ and wish I could get more people I know to read it.

    Thanks for all that you do – I love your podcast!

    • Anonymous

      THANKS Lisa!

  • http://www.blackhairinformation.com BHI

    25% of the population fat sensitive? That’s very high and maybe that’s why low carb doesn’t work for everyone. In any event, when it comes to heart disease risk, I’m done taking MD’s on their claims unless we can see a concrete study to prove them. I’ve not seen one yet that shows reversal of heart disease or even reversal of endothelial dysfunction (as Davis seems to think that Ornish did) with Davis’ diet. Anyone have any links, maybe they’ve just passed me by . . .

  • ValerieH

    “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.”

    I think the above deficiencies are completely diet-related. I don’t understand why Dr. Davis says these are non-dietary factors. Most of these can be helped with healthy animal fats, though supplementation in the beginning would be useful, of course.

    The heart scan test is interesting. I tend to skip most annual testing because I’m not sure what I get out of it. A good test result proves you are on the right track, if you want that kind of validation.  It is only a snapshot in time. The next day something could change.  There is potential for false positives with some tests (i.e. mammograms, pap smears). That can be very stressful and lead to more testing and interventions. I guess it’s a personal choice of how much information is desired. I don’t like doctors enough to want to spend that kind of time and money if I don’t think I’m sick. That’s just me. It’s awesome that this test exists, though.

    • Anonymous

      The beauty of this test is you only have to do it every 5-7 years when you get a positive score.

  • damaged justice

    Jimmy, I noticed that Oregon Report link a couple days ago and followed it only to discover it was dead. Searching the site didn’t get me anything, so I mailed them asking what happened to the article. This was their response:

    “The article was removed because it was posted in error as the National Association of Wheat Growers did not write the article.  A mistake was made as the it was bundled in with other articles in an email, and without authorship it was incorrectly attributed to NAWG which was among other writers and articles in the email.  Without an author we cannot verify that the article is credible or legit to post.  Sorry for the inconvenience.”

    I’m thinking someone tried to troll up some controversy with a fake press release, and thankfully failed due to someone else exercising the near-lost art known as “fact checking”.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. Davis should find this interesting…I’m forwarding this to him now!

  • http://profiles.google.com/peggy.holloway5 Peggy Holloway

     Just have to say thanks to Jimmy and the rest of the low-carb community for all of the help and suggestions for my sister. With Jimmy’s help, she was put in contact with Jackie Eberstein and it looks like they may have figured out some of the problems. It appears that dear Dr. Atkins covered many of the possibilities in his old diet revolution books, and revisiting them is helping all of this make sense. Thyroid, yeast, medications and suggestions for supplements – its all there. Jane is finally feeling optimistic again that she can get the weight/blood sugar under control.
    It is truly wonderful how this community comes together to help each other. Many, many thanks.

    • Anonymous

      Glad Jackie was able to help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730819585 Karly Randolph Pitman

    Thank you for this helpful information, Jimmy. Michael Collins is a making a movie about sugar addiction (http://www.healthguynews.com/) and he told me about Dr. Davis’ new book, too. I can’t wait to check it out! I appreciate all your hard work in getting information like this out there. Warmly, Karly

  • Dottiekal

    what percentage of fats, protein and chos should your people be following     thank you dottie

    • Anonymous

      It varies from person to person.