Health oriented people have promoted the use of whole wheat for as long as I can remember. There was a time when white bread held equal status with whole wheat in nutrition schools in the US because it was “fortified” with synthetic vitamins. William Davis, MD, who wrote the book, Wheat Belly, has awakened us to the fact that wheat in any form, whether white flour or whole wheat, is not what it is cracked up to be.
The original wheat found in tombs near the Sea of Galalee and that humans ate unchanged for nearly 20,000 years, bears little resemblance to the wheat of today. Modern agriculture has made it more profitable by hybridizing, modifying wheat so the stalk is shorter and stronger and can support the larger kernels that are mostly gluten and starch--the more to make white bread, pasta, cereal, cakes, cookies and all the other junk foods that compose about 90 percent of what Americans eat. The food pyramid, recommended by our industry-driven government, recommends that we eat six to eleven servings of this stuff per day. It is clearly another food substance which has been altered for profit—not for health.
Along with the higher yielding wheat has come an increase in its consumption. The average American now eats 133 pounds of wheat per year, 26 pounds more than in 1970. The previous wheat which grew four feet tall has been replaced with high-yield dwarf strains and new gluten structures not consumed by humans in the past. China is the world’s largest producer of wheat and according to World Wheat Facts and Trends; yields have increased from eight to sixty-five bushels per acre.
Davis has made a big splash with his book, his appearances on news shows, and especially the Dr. Oz show. However, anyone can write a book about anything and most of us need some evidence before we are ready to swallow the printed page. We want to see what has happened to people who have stopped eating wheat in all forms. “Gluten free” has become popular and all kinds of gluten free products are on grocery shelves—much of which is little more than junk food.
A recent couple of weeks in Chicago, visiting my daughter who has had a serious weight problem for many years, have made a believer of me. She decided to stop eating bread, cereals, pasta and all stuff made with wheat or even that containing gluten or sugar. She decided she would eat “real food”, meaning that which grows on a tree or bush or has walked or swam—and not been put into a box, bottle, or package. Weight has fairly dropped off her. She said her sweet tooth was acting up one night and she ate 5 mangos, which are in season right now. She still lost weight. (People don’t get fat on fresh fruit.) When asked if she was hungry, she answered emphatically, “No, I am eating a lot!” She is eating sautéed onions (in coconut oil) to which she is adding scrambled eggs or other kinds of protein and vegetables. The amazing thing is that she is not missing the processed wheat products that used to make up so much of her diet. Noodles and pasta were big. She says she is feeling great and had dropped 8 ½ pounds at last report.
Page 2 of 2 - I like to read about results other people have had with a wheat free diet. Amazon.com has reviews of books they sell. One person said, “Since starting the Wheat Belly way of eating (low carb, high saturated fat, no grains, no sugars) my wife and I have lost a total of 90 pounds. I went from a 40 inch waist to a 30 inch waist in less than 6 months.” Others reported on improvement in all kinds of health challenges, including digestive disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high blood sugar, high blood pressure—the list goes on.
When we think of wheat bread or cereals, we tend to think of those termed “whole wheat” or “whole grain”. However, white flour has even more of the destructive gluten/starch than whole wheat. That is why most recipes for whole wheat bread call for some white flour; it adds gluten, which makes the dough more elastic and it rises better, creating a fluffy loaf.
Maybe you, like many others, are saying, “I could never give up bread, cereal, or cookies.” Davis said wheat is addictive, much like a drug. From experience, I can tell you once you have broken the habit, you will not miss it.
How would you like to give up your many ailments that may be connected to eating wheat? Giving up breads, cereals, pasta could be pure delight when those aches, pains, and miseries start to go away—not to mention the big belly and excess weight you may be carrying around.
Maybe it’s worth a try—it can’t hurt you.
(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)