by Wendy Schmid
January 7, 2013
With the steady rise of
the staple grain is at the
center of a storm.
Two opposing experts debate its
For amber waves of grain. Eat your Wheaties. Wheat has been sung
about in America The Beautiful, championed by Olympic
athletes, and generally in-‘grained' into our popular psyche as a
reliable food staple.
As the key component in most cereals,
breads, pastas and baked goods, it's almost un-American to think of
passing on it. But lately, there's a growing nutritional divide with
some experts advocating that we
give wheat up - and not just for a
short-term low-carb fix. (Those with celiac disease and gluten
sensitivity reside in this camp with good reason.)
Others argue that this very notion
messes with years of a tried-and-true food pyramid.
But could you benefit from eliminating wheat even if you're not
allergic? Cardiologist William Davis, author of Wheat
Belly, says yes.
Unlike most heart docs who spend their
time lampooning red meat, Davis focuses on modern-day wheat,
outlining how it causes everything from addictive behavior and
weight gain to inflammation and “bagel face” (and, no, not the kind
administered through a forehead saline drip as fun Japanese
Get off wheat, he says, and your acid
reflux and irritable bowel will be gone in 3-5 days,
“and most people start losing weight
within 48 hours.”
But what of the people who seem to eat
wheat without incident? Davis concedes that 20-30% of people may
have no perceived problems with the grain, though internal testing
may show otherwise.
Precision Nutrition Coach and
Registered Dietician Ryan Andrews explains why he'll keep eating
wheat and Davis makes a case for permanently eliminating the grain
from your diet. You decide:
The Case for
1. Whole wheat is healthy and nutritious
It contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, selenium, magnesium, manganese
and folate. It's also a good source of fiber.
The exception is if you have
disease or are gluten sensitive, then of course it's not a good
choice. But many people are going gluten-free because they
perceive it to be healthier - they're passing on wheat bread and
then eating gluten-free cookies.
A piece of whole grain sprouted
wheat bread can be healthier than a processed cookie with added
sugar that's made from potato starch or rice flour.
2. Eating wheat doesn't automatically
mean a puffy face and body
You can be lean, muscular and healthy and eat wheat.
Now, if you eat wheat products and
breads that are too high in salt, then sure, you could get
puffy. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control
evaluated the top ten sources of sodium in the American diet and
they found bread to be number one. But that includes wheat-free
breads too, like those made from potato, quinoa, and other
So the key when eating wheat bread
is to look for low-sodium varieties and puffiness shouldn't be a
3. Wheat is filling and can prevent
you from overeating other foods
When you cut wheat out, it's easy to reach for foods that may be
even more caloric, like nuts, meats and fruits. I see this all
the time with clients.
They cut out their morning wheat
toast and then add an extra egg and more cheese to their
omelette because they feel deprived. In the end, this
compensation can translate to more body fat.
4. Not all wheat products will spike
your blood sugar
Sprouted wheat is often
combined with other sprouted foods like lentils, sunflower seeds
and quinoa, and the combination gives you additional nutrients
plus protein, which gives it a lower glycemic index than regular
Top a slice off with a couple
tablespoons of peanut butter, and you end up with about 15-20
grams of protein and the fat and protein will slow down
5. Wheat may contain toxins, but so do
We get exposed to toxins
everyday from a variety of foods - from the pesticides and
chemicals used on them to the plastic containers they're stored
We're also exposed in our water,
air, and beauty and grooming products.
I think focusing on using a water
filter, changing up your products and cutting down on plastics
is a better plan than cutting out a daily slice of wheat toast.
1. Modern wheat is addictive
modern wheat has been altered
to increase the yield per acre, and a naturally occurring
protein in it called
gliadin has been changed in the process.
Glia-alpha-9 (Glia-α9), a new form of gliadin,
didn't exist before the 60s. It binds to the opiate receptors in
the brain, stimulating appetite so you eat more. It generally
increases caloric intake by 440 calories per day - and the
effects of gliadin persist for days after eating wheat.
Gliadin also causes sodium
retention, and it's been linked to autoimmune and inflammatory
diseases. It is likely the reason we've seen a quadrupling of
celiac disease in the last 50 years.
2. Wheat's high glycemic index
promotes fat storage
The GI of a snickers bar is 41, but the GI of wheat bread is 72.
So aside from a few B Vitamins, it's
not really a better choice. The spike in blood sugar leads to
fat storage - particularly in the belly region. And this
visceral fat around the organs is highly inflammatory fat.
Over time, chronically elevated
blood sugar levels can also lead to insulin resistance.
3. Wheat causes the formation of aging
The high blood sugar wheat
causes leads to the formation of advanced glycation end
AGEs. They also form when we
eat sugar. AGEs contribute to wrinkles, hardened arteries,
cataracts, kidney disease and arthritis.
4. Wheat consumption contributes to
The number one cause of heart
attacks and heart disease is an excess of small LDL particles in
the blood and a specific carbohydrate found in wheat called
amylopectin A, which triggers the formation of these small LDL
When you go off of wheat, the number
of these particles plummets.
5. Wheat is an obesogen
In other words, it's an
endocrine disruptor. And it's actually the perfect
obesogen, because not only does
the wheat make you eat more and store more fat in your belly,
but once you have that belly, it leads to a substantial rise in
estrogen levels - even in men.
The enzyme aromatase begins
converting testosterone to estrogen, which causes men to store
fat in the breast area. Male breast reduction surgery is now the
4th most performed elective surgery, and it's totally
unnecessary because this is a dietary problem.
Get off wheat and the problem