Amber waves of death?

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I got one of those awesome Kobo e-readers for Christmas from my awesome boyfriend (Yes, I am aware I just used the word “awesome” twice in one sentence). The first book I read was one which kind of jumped out at me, called “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis. I mean, I know I tend to be a bit of a bandwagoneer when it comes to this kind of thing, but wow, I am really convinced that wheat is Satan.

To get all the details, you really have to read the book yourself, which gets a bit doctor-jargony but is for the most part, pretty accessible. To sum it up in a sentence or two: Wheat has been extremely modified over the past century so that it no longer even resembles what your grandma used to make muffins when she was a spunky young teenager. This franken-grain that we eat today in nearly everything (think about it right now….. it’s everywhere…. not just obvious places like bread and pasta, but think about the supermarket aisles, the endless rows of snack foods and pretzels, frozen dinners, cakes, cookies, pastries, and even in sneaky places like soy sauce). And, this stuff is bad for you, people! The glycemic index of bread is much higher than eating straight sugar. That’s right, even your organic, multigrain, high-fiber bread will shoot your blood sugar through the roof, even moreso than a can of Coke. I found this totally shocking. In the book he asks the question: why weren’t any of our grandmothers fat back in the day? They definitely weren’t at the gym three times a week, pumping iron and doing spin classes? What has changed dramatically in the North American diet in the past 50 years or so? Well, Dr. Davis points his finger at wheat. Basically, things with a high glycemic index send your blood sugar sky-high, forcing an insulin response from your body to counteract it. This leads to that all-too-familiar cycle of being starving hungry before a meal, and eating way too much (often starchy, sugary calories which spike the blood sugar again…) only to find yourself starving again a few hours later.

The book is packed with case studies of his hundreds and hundreds of patients he has put on a completely wheat-free diet, whose myriad complaints from colitis to arthritis, were vapourized by simply cutting out the wheat. Oh yeah, and they lost dozens of pounds – effortlessly.

One of the things I found really, totally fascinating was the chapter on the addictive qualities of wheat. Now, I have often heard – and said myself – that I can go weeks without eating junk, but once I do, it’s like opening up the floodgates, because if I eat just one Oreo I am suddenly hoovering up every croissant, cookie, cake, donut, bagel, and slice of toast in the place. And what I have known now empirically has now been explained to me scientifically – that wheat actually affects the same receptors in our brains that respond to opiates (yes, like heroin). And, indeed, has the very same addictive properties, and results in the same compulsive behaviours. So if you’ve ever found yourself reaching for “just one more” Timbit, you are not alone, and it may not even be your fault.

It seems overly simplistic – that the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, even cancer – could be linked with this one unassuming edible grassy plant. But the book is incredibly convincing. I highly recommend it.

So yeah, I totally ploughed a bunch of beer-battered shrimp tonight (it’s New Year’s Eve, people) but other than that, I haven’t eaten any wheat-containing products for three days. I’m going to keep it up. It’s a bit early to say whether it makes much of a difference, but I have to say I have not ONCE been hungry, in three days, and that is a major anomaly for me.

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4 responses »

  1. Oh, it all makes so much sense all of a sudden. I seldom eat bread but now with Christmas and stuff it’s turning ridiculously hard to say no to “just-one-more” home-made biscuit. *sigh*

  2. Huh? Davis is leading us astray if he says, “The glycemic index of bread is much higher than eating straight sugar.” The glycemic index of glucose (simple sugar) is 100. The glycemic index of ALL OTHER FOODS IS BASED ON THAT OF SUGAR. Here are some numbers showing the glycemic index load of foods in one serving: Like, 100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens) made from wheat is 7, but Corn tortilla made from corn flour, not wheat flour, is12. Coca Cola® is 15 but Lucozade® (sparkling glucose drink) is a whopping 40. It’s SUGAR that boosts the glycemic index. White flour and other simple starches are quickly converted to sugar in the body, which gives them a high glycemic index. Complex starches, like whole wheat and rye flours, get changed to sugar slower, so they are a better choice. Only people who are genetically intolerant of wheat need to avoid it completely. But most people should watch out for sugar.
    Data from Harvard Medical School: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

    • Thanks for that! All this is pretty new to me, so obviously I need to get a more balanced source. Maybe I was being a bit dramatic, too, and mis-quoting Davis – so don’t hold it against him, just my own journalistic lack of integrity! All I know is, I have cut out wheat completely for ten days, and lost six pounds – without changing any other aspect of my diet or exercise regime!

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