Wheat Belly is a book by Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has reversed diabetes and markers of heart disease in his patients. The key to these health improvements involved giving up wheat. The book describes the dangers of wheat – even whole grain wheat – and outlines a program of what to eat to improve health.
Here are some notes from the book:
• By giving up wheat, patients can lose 20, 30, or 50 pounds within the first few months.
• Diabetes can in many cases be cured – not simply managed – by removal of carbohydrates, especially wheat, from the diet.
• Whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose.
• In a study of healthy and slender volunteers, two medium-sized slices of whole wheat bread increased blood sugar by 30 mg/dl (from 93 mg/dl to 123 mg/dl) which is no different from white bread.
• In people with diabetes, both white and whole grain bread increase blood sugar by 70 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl over starting levels.
• A Mayo Clinic study of 215 obese celiac patients showed 27.5 pounds of weight loss in the first six months of a wheat-free diet.
• A study showed that wheat elimination reduced the number of people classified as obese by half within a year.
• People who eliminate wheat from their diet typically report improved mood, fewer mood swings, improved ability to concentrate, and deeper sleep within just days to weeks of giving up wheat.
• Research from psychiatrist F. Curtis Dohan shows that during World War II, patients required fewer hospitalizations for schizophrenia when food shortages made bread unavailable. The hospitalization rate went up when wheat consumption resumed after the war was over.
• Prior to the introduction of Western foods, schizophrenia was rare in New Guinea (in only 2 of 65,000 inhabitants). As wheat was introduced, the incidence of schizophrenia increased to a rate sixty-five times higher.
• A study that removed all wheat products from meals provided to schizophrenic patients led to a measurable reduction in disease symptoms. When wheat was added back into the diets of patients, they re-developed hallucinations, delusions, and social detachment.
• Studies with small sample sizes have demonstrated improvement in autistic patients when wheat is removed from their diet.
• When digested, gluten is degraded to a mix of polypeptides that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and bind to the brain’s morphine receptor.
• A study showed that 50 percent of obese children with celiac disease approached normal BMI with wheat gluten elimination.
• Multiple clinical studies demonstrate the weight loss advantage of low-carb diets.
• Gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch can still increase blood sugar.
• Wheat gliadin triggers the release of zonulin, which leads to inflammatory conditions such as celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases, and asthma.
• Wheat triggers zonulin release and disrupts intestinal permeability, just like the infectious agents that cause cholera and dysentery.
• Conditions associated with gluten intolerance include: dermatitis herpetiformis, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, asthma, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, ataxia, and peripheral neuropathy.
• Rheumatoid arthritis has been shown to improve and occasionally remit entirely with gluten removal.
• Celiac sufferers who fail to avoid gluten can experience as much as seventy-seven-fold increased risk for lymphoma and twenty-two-fold greater risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
• Eliminating wheat is a possible treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux.
• The adoption of grains into the human diet was followed by archaeological evidence of increased infections, bone diseases such as osteoporosis, increased infant mortality, reduction in lifespan, and diabetes.
• High blood sugars lead to damage to pancreatic insulin-producing beta cells.
• Ignoring advice from the American Diabetes Association and instead cutting carbohydrate intake leads to improved blood sugar control, reduced HbA1c, weight loss, reduced high blood pressure, and reduced triglycerides.
• Physicians such as Dr. Eric Westman and Dr. Mary Vernon report that they typically need to reduce the insulin dose by 50 percent the first day a patient engages in reducing carbohydrates to avoid excessively low blood sugars.
• Research by Dr. Jeff Volek shows that sharp reduction in carbohydrates reverses insulin resistance, postprandial distortions, and visceral fat.
• A study by Dr. Eric Westman placed 84 obese diabetics on a strict low-carbohydrate diet that reduced carbohydrate intake to 20 grams per day. After six months, waistlines were reduced by over 5 inches, triglycerides dropped by 70 mg/dl, weight dropped 24.5 pounds, HbA1c was reduced from 8.8 to 7.3 percent, and 95 percent of participants were able to reduce diabetes medications. 25 percent of participants were able to eliminate medications (including insulin) altogether.
• Studies in mice susceptible to type 1 diabetes show that elimination of wheat gluten reduces the development of diabetes from 64 percent to 15 percent and prevents intestinal damage characteristic of celiac disease.
• Protein-rich meats have effects that partially negate their acid load. Animal protein exerts a bone-strengthening effect through stimulation of the hormone IGF-1.
• Children, adolescents, and the elderly who increase protein intake from meat show increased bone calcium content and improved measure of bone strength.
• Vegetable consumption neutralizes the acidic burden from animal products.
• A study from the University of Toronto found that increasing gluten consumption led to increased urinary calcium loss by 63 percent. It also led to increased markers of bone weakening.
• A study of obese patients with osteoarthritis found a 10 percent improvement in symptoms and joint function with each 1 percent reduction in body fat.
• Advanced glycation end products result from increased blood glucose. AGEs lead to loss of kidney function, atherosclerotic plaque accumulation in arteries, deterioration of cartilage in joints, loss of brain cells, damage to eye tissue, and the development of some kinds of cancer.
• Wheat increases blood glucose, which leads to the development of advanced glycation end products and accelerates the signs of aging.
• Fructose increases AGE formation within the body up to several hundredfold more than glucose.
• Broiling and frying animal products increases AGE content more than a thousandfold.
• A study of arterial function found that a meal cooked by frying or broiling led to a 67 percent reduced capacity for arterial relaxation in diabetic patients.
• HbA1c in the “normal” range is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, cancer, and 28 percent increased mortality for every 1 percent increase in HbA1c.
• Carbohydrates form small LDL particles and glycate small LDL. These particles are potent contributors to atherosclerotic plaque.
• Excess carbohydrates lead to high levels of insulin in the bloodstream. This stimulates lipogenesis in the liver and leads to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
• High blood sugars and diabetes itself are reversed in many, if not most, cases by reduction of carbohydrates.
• A study by Dr. Ronald Krauss found that as carbohydrates as a percentage of diet increased from 20 to 64 percent and fat content decreased, there was an explosion of small LDL particles.
• A study by Dr. Jeff Volek found that eliminating wheat, sugar, cornstarch, potatoes, and rice led to a reduction in small LDL particles by 26 percent over twelve weeks.
• The antigliadin antibodies triggered by gluten can damage Purkinje cells of the brain and lead to cerebellar ataxia. This results in a loss of balance, involuntary muscle twitching, involuntary jerking motions of the limbs, and impaired memory.
• A study of thirty-five gluten-sensitive patients with peripheral neuropathy found that the twenty-five participants on a wheat-free and gluten-free diet improved over one year, while the ten control participants who did not remove wheat and gluten deteriorated.
• A British research group has so far diagnosed sixty-one cases of encephalopathy, including dementia, due to wheat gluten.
• Temporal lobe seizures triggered by wheat gluten are improved after gluten elimination.
• In one study, a low-gycemic diet yielded 23.5 percent fewer acne lesions, compared to a 12 percent reduction in the control group. Participants who cut their carbohydrate intake the most had a nearly 50 percent reduction in the number of acne lesions.
• Wheat gluten-related rashes and skin manifestations include dermatitis herpetiformis, alopecia areata, oral ulcers, cutaneous vasculitis, acanthosis nigricans, erythema nodosum, psoriasis, vitiligo, Behcet’s disease, dermatomyositis, icthyosiform dermatoses, and pyoderma gangrenosum.
• Fasting over a period of eighteen hours to several days can lead to weight loss, reduction in blood pressure, improved insulin responses, and longevity.
• Wheat withdrawal can lead to fatigue, mental fogginess, irritability, or sadness. This tends to last only a few days. Fortunately, many people don’t even experience symptoms of withdrawal when giving up wheat.
• Reintroduction of wheat can provoke undesirable effects such as joint aches, asthma, and gastrointestinal distress.
Vegetables (except potatoes and corn)
Raw nuts and seeds
Oils (extra-virgin olive, avocado, walnut, coconut, cocoa butter, flaxseed, macadamia, sesame)
Meats and eggs (preferably free-range and organic)
Fish and shellfish
Foods to avoid
Unhealthy oils (fried, hydrogenated, polyunsaturated)
Starches (cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch)