Friday, June 7, 2013

Wheat....the Devil's Only Other Friend

In his classic song "American Pie", Don McLean said that fire was the Devil's only friend.  Well, he was half right.  I am convinced the other friend of the Devil is modern day wheat.  O.K., you say, Smith has finally lost it.  That could be, but hear me out.

Back in December last year my wife gave me a book to read, little suspecting the monster she was creating.  It was a book titled "Wheat Belly" by Dr. Michael Davis, MD.  To summarize what the author's premise is all about read just this from the fly-jacket:

"Dr. Davis exposes the truth about modern-day wheat, deconstructing its historical role in the human diet.  No longer the sturdy staple our forebears ground into their daily bread, today's wheat has been genetically altered to provide processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest cost; consequently, this once benign grain has been transformed into a nutritionally bankrupt yet ubiquitous ingredient that causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar and has addictive properties that cause us to ride a roller coaster of hunger, overeating and fatigue."

Wow.  Sounded a little radical to me too but I dove in anyway just to please my wife who was probably getting tired of seeing the six-pack abs of my youth looking more like a keg everyday.  Am I glad I did.

Dr. Davis isn't just setting forth some radical opinion that flies in the face of the conservative and traditional medical establishment.  He presents a compellingly strong case, based on decades of research and cites over 290 clinical studies, both large and small, which prove the consumption of today's wheat is hazardous to our health.  Now I am not just talking bagels and donuts here.  All wheat, even what the American Medical Association calls "healthy whole grains", are the Devil's friend.  Wheat, in any form, processed or not, has the highest glycemic impact of any food, even higher than table sugar.  What this means is consuming wheat products and grains raises your blood sugar higher and faster than even refined table sugar.  More than fruit and fruit juices.  More than even chocolate!

Why is that important to know?  Because when your blood sugar spikes, the pancreas kicks in and produces a spike in insulin to counteract the high blood sugar levels.  Then you get hungry almost right away and crave more sugar to counteract the insulin.  This battle eventually leads to insulin-resistance, then pre-diabetes, then Type II diabetes and, eventually and inevitably, to insulin-dependant diabetes.  Today, diabetes is epidemic.  Twenty-four million Americans are diabetic and it is growing faster than any other disease. 

Besides contributing to an explosion in diabetes, wheat also is the culprit contributing to the fattening of America.  Seventy-five million Americans meet the criteria for being considered obese (a BMI of 30 or greater) and HALF of all Americans are considered overweight (BMI of 25-29.9).  The tendency of wheat to force the body to store those unburned carbohydrates as visceral fat (the fat around your belly) is not speculation or conjecture, it is a proven fact.

The studies Dr. Davis cites also show the undeniable link between wheat consumption and gluten intolerance, celiacs disease and ulcerative colitis, bone density loss and osteopenia, high cholesterol, skin conditions like psoriasis, oral ulcers, inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis and even hair loss.  Basically, everything that ails you.

So what to do?  Eliminate wheat from your diet.  Eliminate sugar and watch out for foods which have sugar added, especially high fructose corn syrup.  And eat a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet of natural foods, not processed foods.  I did it starting back in December.  For the past 184 days I have had absolutely no wheat or even gluten-free substitutes (BTW, gluten-free substitutes have almost the same glycemic impact as wheat and most of them taste like sh....well, are not very palatable).  I have reduced sugar to minimum (mostly strawberries, raspberries, blackberries).  No processed foods.

The results:  Weight loss:  51 pounds  Waist measurement:  - 9" (yup, nine inches off my gut)  Buttocks:  - 6"   Chest: - 4"    My cholesterol is down under 200.  My triglycerides are 151.  My glucose is normal and my A1C is in the middle range.  I have more energy and the fatigue that was dragging me down in the afternoon and early evening is gone.

I am not saying this is easy to do.  Giving up pasta, pizza, Judy's yeast rolls and bread is not easy.  The thought of never having another donut is not devastating but giving up enchiladas and Chinese food, well, I used to think of them as staples of life.  No more.

Is this regimen right for you and your metabolism.  Not for me to say.  Ask your doctor.  But for me.....the Devil can go back to his fire pit and take his wheat with him.


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