Wheat Belly by William Davis MD is a popular diet book in which he advocates for a diet free of wheat and some similar grains. Dr. William Davis MD is a preventive cardiologist who over many years of his work and his own experience often found an improvement in his own and patient’s health with the removal of wheat. He observed that for him, following the recommendations to consume more whole-grains resulted in torpor and weight gain,. Once he removed the wheat from his diet he found that he had more energy, and very quickly lost the weight. This was a telling moment for him, because it was when he started to question the established recommendations and consider alternative diet options.
The book presents several different features of wheat that Dr. Davis feels makes it unfit for human consumption. The primary thrust of the argument is that the wheat we consume now has been modified and hybridized so that the structure of their proteins no longer resemble the original structure. These changes in the structure cause a variety of problems, including gastrointestinal distress, mental fogginess, fatigue, and a variety of other problems.
It is difficult for me to determine the validity of his scientific evidence in this short of a space, so this review will instead be followed by several posts including in depth analysis of his arguments. What I can say for certain is that everything is well cited and seems well supported based on just looking over the references.
There are a couple of different points of his argument where it seems to be lacking, for example there is a short part in the book where he performs a comparative experiment between a piece of bread made from heritage grains and a piece of modern whole grain bread. The modern whole grain bread causes him intense discomfort and a variety of malaise, however the heritage grain does not cause these same symptoms. His argument could be made more convincing, by perhaps further illustrating the differences between these heritage grains which may be safe to eat and modern wheat.
Overall, this book serves as an interesting challenge to the status quo in terms of dietary recommendations. It is well researched and despite having some areas that are a little bit lacking it is still an excellent introduction to an alternative diet. I highly recommend this book to begin your thinking of alternative diets.
7 thoughts on “Wheat Belly Review”
Based on my clinical experience working with patients for over 20 years, the best approach to improving health through nutrition provides access to ALL foods people enjoy. This does not mean that unhealthy food choices should be a primary source of nutrition. Self deprivation (by removing food choices long term) creates an emotional challenge reinforcing a feeling of self imposed “punishment” instead of eliciting a positive sense of healthy living. Telling people to avoid wheat, dairy, legumes and other nutrients claimed to cause inflammatory diseases doesn’t usually work LONG TERM. Reinforcing the concept of healthy balanced meals PRIOR to ingesting “feel good foods” provides the body with nutritional support and satiety that limits the need of excessive unhealthy choices. I found much better compliance with patients willing to create and eat healthy meals knowing it wouldn’t require sacrificing the foods they enjoyed. This approach provided my patients with better LONG TERM results in weight management AND blood profiles.
In reality, what “diet” has CONSISTENTLY produced desired results LONG TERM? I am not aware of any. My approach is more palatable and meets with significantly less resistance. Is it perfect? NO! It simply offers an option emotionally more pleasing and easier for the patient to comply with.
There is definitely an argument to be made in favor of not limiting access to foods people enjoy. I made that argument myself http://healthmasterymovement.com/portion-control-benefits/. However, there is an interesting argument inn this book that focuses on the fact that there may be something inherent in the structure of wheat that can make it addictive for some people. In this kind of situation in which the food begins to dictate eating behaviors it could definitely be seen as beneficial to completely and permanently remove the food.
Thank you for referring me to your article. It was one I had read and previously commented on.
Addictive foods are simply a reality. Sugar is one of the worst culprits and has likely caused greater health complications than wheat. There is a great disconnect in the consumer’s mind between harmful foods and symptomatic outcomes. Although I agree with you that abstaining from addictive foods is the best option, it is often an unrealistic one. Teaching consumers how to incorporate these “inflammatory” foods into a comprehensive nutrition plan improves the rate of compliance while reducing the harmful side effects. Many of us in the field of health care look at the science of healthy eating often overlooking the emotional (less rational) role that commonly dictates behavior. By integrating the physical nutritional needs while compassionately addressing underlying emotional driving forces that seek “comfort foods” for temporary relief, the need for addictive foods dissipate. Addressing the individual from a WHOLE PERSON perspective rather than just a “dietary” imbalance helps to restore function and health (in many cases) much better than addressing food alone.
I agree. The psychology of eating is often not considered as fully as it should be. I hope to have some articles on the psychology of food and specifically dieting coming out soon. Do you believe it would be possible to connect in a patient’s mind the offending food with a symptomatic outcome? Or failing that to show them the benefits of replacing, which I feel is often the simplest way to make a dietary change.
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The concept of connecting harmful foods (in a patient’s mind) with specific symptomatic outcomes is an interesting hypothesis. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience in this area. Replacing foods with healthier alternatives that satisfy the body’s need for dietary changes is a commonly used method. Emotional “trauma,” however, often triggers people to return to older unhealthier patterns of behavior. Determining what can be done to break this vicious cycle might be the “missing link” in overcoming the obstacles impeding long term results.
Just wanted to check to make certain you received my email in response to your concerns.