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 that is 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

5 comments

  1. Hi — Just wondering about Soy. I’ve read some not so great things about Soya. Including links to Thyroid Cancer. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Cindy,
      I haven’t done much research on the subject, but I don’t eat it…it’s not my blood type! 🙂
      And I would be very curious if Thyroid dysfunction/ cancer affected more people like blood type O’s who should avoid it entirely.

      Because of your question I did a google search and this was the first article that grabbed my attention: http://thyroid.about.com/cs/soyinfo/a/soy.htm

      What I got from the article and have heard separately over the years is that overconsumption is something that is a major concern. The tendency with so many things these days is to assume that if some is good, then more must be better – be it exercise or food.

      Everyone talks a good game about balance…

      Thank you so much for bringing up this subject, I will continue to research…and if you have anything to add, please do.

  2. I’ve always been a little heavy (consistently 170-190 lbs at 5’5″), but excused it by telling myself it was due to certain medications or the fact that I have Narcolepsy, not my lifestyle or food choices. Well, in 2007, I got bursitis in both my hips – at first I was told to rest, as it’s caused by overuse…but that didn’t help anything. My physical therapist suggested that I might have a sensitivity to gluten, and that it can cause joint pain, among other things. That was the day I ate my last “real” bagel, and never looked back. I immediately started a gluten-free diet, and saw and felt results within days. My hips felt better right away, and I had a less “puffy” look, especially in my face. Then the weight started pouring off me. I lost 30 lbs in several months, all due to my diet change. I feel like a different person – my energy level is higher, my body works better, I even feel like my brain is quicker! It’s really easy to go gluten-free when you have those kinds of results. Now, if I accidentally have gluten (at restaurants it can be tricky), I notice it right away: my stomach is upset within an hour, I feel sleepy the next day, and that old hip pain will come back. Also – I was lactose intolerant from the time I was a teenager, but when I gave up gluten, I found that dairy was no longer a problem! (By the way…I have gained a lot of the weight I originally lost back, so I have started BodyRocking 4 times a week, and eating clean about 95% of the time – I’ve lost 5 lbs since August and I feel great!)

    I actually have a question for you, though. Do you find that your body functions better eating no grains, even ones not containing gluten? I’m thinking of trying that, but I’m also a pescatarian, so I eat a lot of grains to fill out my veggie meals, so it’s pretty daunting. Just wondering if you’ve tried that.

    1. Hi Allyson,
      Apologies for such a delayed response!

      Strangely, I have noticed lately that my body prefers to avoid Quinoa too. I tend to do ok with Rice…any kind of rice, except restaurant Sushi Rice which has vinegar and sugar added. But, I can’t overdo it on the rice either…rice at one meal per day.

      For a long while I was experimenting with any kind of grain that was gluten-free and that which was on my ‘beneficial’ blood type list. A lot of the grains disagreed with me regardless, though it took me a while to accept it – assuming it really wasn’t the grain it must have been something else…major denial. Anyhow, as of late I have found that I eat mostly vegetables, of many varieties, which is so lovely. Less fruit than in summer.

      Just keep experimenting.
      Let me know how you’re doing.

  3. I just saw your post on bodyrock.tv. I think I must have been writing my post at the same time as I’ve also discovered that the wheat we eat now is different to the wheat our ancestors ate and therefore, different to the wheat our bodies have evolved to digest.

    A big problem is agriculture – flour is so readily available that we eat way more bread than we should – healthy bread or not.

    I’ve also been told (by a learned colleague) that becasue gluten can damage our intestine, starches get stuck and remain undigested in our intestine. A possible side effect is fermentation in there, and we know what happens when you ferment starch. hence,there is a theory that you can get drunk from eating bread!

    Thanks for the article.

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