What Is a “Wheat Belly”?

Wheat (Triticum aestivum) near Auvers-sur-Oise...

By chance I caught this audio segment from CBC Radio‘s The Current.  Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist from Wisconsin postulates that the wheat grain used in agriculture today is very different from the wheat grain grown from fifty years ago.  As a result of this difference, he believes (aside from the increase in sedentary lifestyles) that the consumption of this grain is actually addictive which not only leads to overeating but also to an increase in the “accumulation of deep visceral fat – that is fat that accumulates around the organs but is shown on the surface as a large belly…It is this visceral fat that is different – it is unique, metabolically different from the other fat, say, found on your back side or arm or leg – it is metabolically active, it produces inflammatory proteins, it causes diabetes, hypertension etc.”

He calls this large belly a Wheat Belly, which is also the title of his book.  You might imagine the controversy his theory is generating among grain farmers and others.  Of course, I find this most fascinating especially if you consider my latest post titled, Full But Empty?

He briefly talks about the fact that in an effort to be healthy we are encouraged to eat more whole grains or complex carbohydrates most often in the form of whole wheat…’because complex carbohydrates sounds healthier versus simple sugars,’ but in fact they (the whole wheat grain) may very well be the source of the problem.  He comments on how people or his patients who complain that since they’ve been eating ‘apparently healthier’ or exercising more they have strangely put on more weight and can’t seem to shake it.

Something we need to address is: what is a complex carbohydrate in the first place?  Do you know?  The first item that comes to mind for most people is GRAINS.  But in fact, complex carbohydrates abound.  Here is a list from Livestrong.com of some, not all complex carbohydrates:

GRAINS millet, oats, wheat germ, barley, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat, oat bran, cornmeal and amaranth.

FRUIT apricots, oranges, plums, pears, grapefruits and prunes.

VEGETABLES Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnip greens, eggplant, potatoes, yams, corn, carrots, onions, all types of lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, artichokes and aspragus

Soy milk made from soy beans is a complex carb and dairy products like low-fat yogurt and skim milk are also complex carbs.”

As you can see, complex carbohydrates are in abundance, we are not at a loss if we should eliminate wheat as an experiment.  In fact if you do, you may find that you end up eating more vegetables which is a better choice regardless.

Here is the link for the audio segment from CBC Radio’s, The Current featuring Dr. William Davis. It is 24 minutes long.  When you open the link, just below the title/ opening paragraph you will see a black bar which reads- Listen: (Pop-up). Turn up your volume.

Maybe whole grain wheat could be utilized for other things such as cleaning products? It must be useful for something other than food. I would LOVE to hear any comments or stories that are relevant to to this topic…please share your ideas below.

Related Articles:

Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat, by Mark Hyman, MD

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4 comments

  1. I want to applaud you for bringing together so many different threads of information critical to the understanding and caring of the armature of a ‘life’. A life well lived that is.

    When my partner and I were visiting the south part of Italian island of Sardegna, we enjoyed a very rustic artesanal type of pasta there made with the kinds of grains grown so long ago. We liked it so much we brought back bags of it along with local organic honey’s. Without knowing much about the difference other than taste I was certain this pasta reacted with my body differently. I could eat quite a bit and it did not seem to compromise my system. Was it my imagination ?

    But we are stubborn and fall back into familiar habits easily. I do not eat much bread or muffins/etc. But without question, pastas and occasional pizza have been part of the monthly menu. That is until recently and definitely inspired by You as a Machine.

    It began by you introducing me to the concept of blood type diet. When I looked through the list I was surprised by the foods I instinctually knew to stay away from, however there were others I had a feeling I seriously needed to consider leaving behind.

    I need to preface all of this by saying that at the start of this year I began to have acute pain in my hip area. I thought walking it off would help and would go on hour/2 hour long walks only to end up in more pain. The pain intensified and was fairly continuous. Months of this and I began to accept it was time to go see the specialist and discuss hip replacements. Very scary thought and one I never thought I would be confronting.

    So here’s the magical part about the ‘threads’, which has not come without challenges, self imposed challenges that is. I paid attention to the blood type diet and began to wean myself off the not recommended foods with a few exceptions ( ok, I was born and raised in the southern hemisphere so giving up avoacados is just too much of a stretch for me right now ). I also began the 4 minute mornings. These have been quite the ‘wake up call’ ( pun not intended ) as I have had to face all the ways I distract myself from making time to specifically pay attention to myself. Just 4 minutes…..and its been amazing to note what I have come up with to avoid getting to these 4 minutes, to recognize my modus operandi which I need to add, flow into the rest of my life, especially business. Look after everyone, everything else first, then maybe if there is time…..I am on week 3 of 4 minute mornings, although I began 7 weeks ago. Every time I stop I go back to the beginning and start all over again.

    I grew up next to the ocean and as a result was pretty well a porpoise through my formative years, if not in the water then later hiking in the jungles collecting bugs, butterflies and bananas. When I arrived in the big city and began my high octane business I had to learn to go to a club to work out. Only with the insistence of a focused space, time and coach could I tackle de stressing. I did this with the highest impact aerobics and spin classes available here. But left to my own devises and even more so after I closed my company down…..giving myself body time dwindled to long walks inspired by destinations such as H&M or Zara….ironic as my partner wakes up daily at 5:30 to do an hour of stretching.

    Once in a while I would tackle a ‘home’ work out program only to immediately intensify it only shortly after to abandon it.

    So I began the 4 minute morning to see where it would take me. I have kept a log and see the handful of days where I walked away, but also see that shortly after I begin again. There were prompts in the instructions that have been instrumental in helping me begin to embrace this concept, and also made me chuckle ( don’t skip ahead, go easy on yourself, this is not a race, stick with one round until you feel comfortable ). As though you know exactly when and where someone will crumble ! I said to my partner the other day, as I was sharing my progress with him ( he showed great support but also had to laugh at my various modes of ‘distraction’ )…4 minutes, who knew 4 minutes could bring up so much…..and then I laughed too because I said…well actually, You as a Machine knew…..

    7 weeks in, still in early stages of learning the self discipline to truly look after myself, my body, my machine….and I feel connected to the process as never before because of the permission to take it slow and embrace it. With your help, encouragement and inspiration I am paying attention to all the threads you are weaving together and as such being able to understand the importance of the particles that make the whole in a way never before experienced. Again, I must commend you for delivering such inextricably linked subjects. It’s simply brilliant !

    A remarkable bonus is that my acute hip pain is completely gone ! Talk about motivation.

    In addendum to my Sardegna story, and in reply to your morning ” Wheat Belly’ post. If we purchase foods from run of the mill sources, we no longer know what we are really eating.
    I recommend reading about the Monsanto monopoly gripping America ( not unlike the pharmaceutical companies ) to get a better understanding of just how grown food is being manufactured and controlled these days. Very scary indeed…..and definitely worth paying close attention to. http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805

    With deep respect and admiration, thank you.

    1. Dana, thank you SO much for this fantastic comment.
      I love the way you were able to illustrate how difficult it can be to get down and do a measly 4 Minutes! And that is exactly what makes it such a profound addition to our lives. As you so richly described, on the surface – things appear simple, but below the surface are the ‘threads’ which bind it all together into this complex web.
      Since I’ve been gluten-free and have eliminated a variety of foods that didn’t sit well with me (or rather didn’t even know they didn’t until I eliminated them), I’ve noticed that I actually feel awake. It’s like my vision is clearer (no, I still need corrective eye wear), but I am more alert, more productive, my memory feels sharper. It’s as though I had been just going through the motions of living, experiencing life as usual, but now it’s as though I’ve washed away a dull coating of ‘sleep’. I clearly, recall asking myself in younger years, ‘when will I “wake up”?’ I wonder how many people are not as awake as they could be too.

  2. Thanks for a very thought-provoking post. I’ve read several articles suggesting that gluten intolerance appears to be on the rise. You’ve done your readers a big service.

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