Triticum Fever, by Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly

Quick: Name a common food, consumed every day by most people, that:

• Increases overall calorie consumption by 400 calories per day
• Affects the human brain in much the same way as morphine
• Has a greater impact on blood sugar levels than a candy bar
• Is consumed at the rate of 133 pounds per person per year
• Has been associated with increased Type 1 Diabetes
• Increases both insulin resistance and leptin resistance, conditions that lead to obesity
• Is the only common food with its own mortality rate

If you guessed sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, you're on the right track, but, no, that's not the correct answer.

The true culprit: Triticum aestivum, or modern wheat.

Note that I said "modern" wheat, because I would argue that what we are being sold today in the form of whole grain bread, raisin bagels, blueberry muffins, pizza, ciabatta, bruschetta, and so on is not the same grain our grandparents grew up on. It's not even close.

Modern wheat is the altered offspring of thousands of genetic manipulations, crude and sometimes bizarre techniques that pre-date the age of genetic modification. The result: a high-yield, 2-foot tall "semi-dwarf" plant that no more resembles the wheat consumed by our ancestors than a chimpanzee (which shares 99% of the same genes that we do) resembles a human. I trust that you can tell the difference that 1% makes.

The obvious outward differences are accompanied by biochemical differences. The gluten proteins in modern wheat, for instance, differ from the gluten proteins found in wheat as recently as 1960. This likely explains why the incidence of celiac disease, the devastating intestinal condition caused by gluten, has quadrupled in the past 40 years. Furthermore, a whole range of inflammatory diseases, from rheumatoid arthritis to inflammatory bowel disease, are also on the rise. Humans haven't changed -- but the wheat we consume has changed considerably.

Wheat Bellies

201110261359You've heard of "beer bellies," the protuberant, sagging abdomen of someone who drinks beer to excess. That distinctive look is often attributed to alcohol consumption when in fact it's just as likely to be caused by the pretzels -- not just the beer -- you're downing after work. A wheat belly is a protuberant, sagging abdomen that develops when you overindulge in wheat products like crackers, breads, waffles, pancakes, breakfast cereals and pasta. Dimpled or smooth, hairy or hairless, tense or flaccid, wheat bellies come in as many shapes, colors, and sizes as there are humans. But millions of Americans have a wheat belly, and the underlying metabolic reasons for having one are all the same.

Wheat contains a type of sugar called amylopectin A that raises blood sugar in an extravagant fashion. Eating just two slices of whole wheat bread, can raise blood sugar more than two tablespoons of pure sugar. This leads to the accumulation of visceral fat on the body, the deep fat encircling organs that is a hotbed of inflammatory activity. Inflammation, in turn, leads to hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions.

Wheat-consuming people are fatter than those who don't eat wheat. Why? Among the changes introduced into this plant is a re-engineered form of the gliadin protein unique to wheat. Gliadin has been increased in quantity and changed in structure, such that it serves as a powerful appetite stimulant. When you eat wheat, you want more wheat and in fact want more of everything else -- to the tune of 400 more calories per day. That's the equivalent of 41.7 pounds per year, an overwhelming potential weight gain that accumulates inexorably despite people's efforts to exercise longer and curtail other foods -- all the while blaming themselves for their lack of discipline and watching the scale climb higher and higher, and their bellies growing bigger and bigger.

All of which leads me to conclude that over-enthusiastic wheat consumption is not only one cause of obesity in this country, it is the leading cause of the obesity and diabetes crisis in the United States. It's a big part of the reason that reality shows like the Biggest Loser are never at a loss for contestants. It explains why modern athletes, like baseball players and golfers, are fatter than ever. Blame wheat when you are being crushed in your 2 x 2 airline seat by the 280-pound man occupying the seat next to yours.

Sure, sugary soft drinks and sedentary lifestyles add to the problem. But for the great majority of health conscious people who don't indulge in these obvious poor choices, the principal trigger for weight gain is wheat.

And wheat consumption is about more than just weight. There are also components of modern wheat that lead to diabetes, heart disease, neurologic impairment -- including dementia and incontinence -- and myriad skin conditions that range from acne to gangrene -- all buried in that innocent-looking bagel you had for breakfast.

Despite the potential downside of a diet so laden with wheat products, we continually bombarded with messages to eat more of this grain. The Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA, for instance, through their Dietary Guidelines for Americans, advocate a diet dominated by grains (the widest part of the Food Pyramid, the largest portion of the Food Plate). The American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, along with the Grain Foods Foundation, the Whole Grains Council, and assorted other agriculture and food industry trade groups all agree: Everyone should eat more healthy whole grains. This includes our children, who are being told to do such things as replace fast food with grains. These agencies were originally sidetracked by the "cut your fat and cholesterol" movement, which led to a wholesale embrace of all things carbohydrate, but especially "healthy whole grains." Unwittingly, they were advising increased consumption of this two-foot tall creation of the geneticists, high-yield semi-dwarf wheat.

This message to eat more "healthy whole grains" has, I believe, crippled Americans, triggering a helpless cycle of satiety and hunger, stimulating appetite by 400 calories per day and substantially contributing to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. And, oh yes, adding to the double-digit-per-year revenue growth of the diabetes drug industry, not to mention increased revenues for drugs for hypertension, cholesterol, and arthritis.

It is therefore my contention that eliminating all wheat from the diet is a good idea not just for people with gluten sensitivity; it's a smart decision for everybody. I have experience in my heart disease prevention practice, as well as my online program for heart disease prevention and reversal, with several thousand people who have done just that and the results are nothing short of astounding. Weight loss of 30, 50, even 70 pounds or more within the first six months; reversal of diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions; relief from edema, sinus congestion, and asthma; disappearance of acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms; increased energy, happier mood, better sleep. People feel better, look better, eat fewer calories, feel less hungry, are able to discontinue use of many medications -- just by eliminating one food from their diet -- ironically a food that they've been told to eat more of.

It is imperative that we break our reliance on wheat. It will require nothing less than an overthrow of conventional nutritional dogma. There will be battles fought to preserve the status quo; the wheat industry and its supporters will scream, yell, and claw to maintain their position, much as the tobacco industry and its lobbyists fought to maintain their hold on consumers.

If the health benefits of a wheat-free diet sound hard to believe, why not conduct your own little experiment and see for yourself: simply eliminate all things made of wheat for four weeks -- no bread, bagels, pizza, pretzels, rolls, donuts, breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, pasta, noodles, or processed foods containing wheat (and do be careful to read labels, as food manufacturers love to slip a little wheat gliadin into your food every chance they get to stimulate your appetite). That's a lot to cut out, true, but there's still plenty of real, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, cheese and dairy products, meat, fish, soy foods, legumes, oils like olive oil, avocados, even dark chocolate that you can eat in their place. If after that 4-week period you discover new mental clarity, better sleep, relief from joint pain, happier intestines, and a looser waistband, you will have your answer.

Buy Wheat Belly on


  1. What can replace the wheat? Is it possible to get “old” wheat still and eat that?

    Has the effects of “old” wheat been studied or is it just assumption that it had a different effect on the body?

    1. Spelt is a currently available old form of wheat, as is khorasan wheat (marketed under the brand name “Kamut”).  I was not aware of farro as pointed out by parfae, but apparently it’s another.  There’s also einkorn wheat, though I haven’t seen it in stores near me.

      Also, whole barley flour makes a good (not gluten free but lower gluten, and apparently different gluten) substitute for white wheat flour for a lot of cakey or biscuity things.

    2. SPELT is a great replacement.Spelt flour has 3x the protein and is far easier in on your digestive system. Spelt pasta is delicious and addicting. Cooks well. Spelt flour unfortunately is not widely produced or used in commercial foods. Only 3 companies in the U.S. sell Spelt Flour in stores. One of the 3 in particular has driven up the price to reap huge profits. I have been using it at home in all my baked goods for 20 years and do not have a wheat belly. Good article. If you can’t get Spelt then consume 2/3 less bread and wheat.

  2. “Wheat-consuming people are fatter than those who don’t eat wheat.”
    Something that always bugs me about gluten-free advocates is this claim. Well, guess what, not eating wheat requires vigorous effort, the demographics of those with the self control to avoid wheat foods != general wheat consuming populace. Comparing people who eat wheat with similar choice characteristics to those who don’t eat wheat would be a better comparison. But why would they do that, it would probably show no statistical significance and not spur sales of their snake oil book.

  3. The ‘gotcha’ questions at the beginning of this adverti… er, guest post remind me of all the times I’ve heard of the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.

  4. I can’t quite decide whether that was written by a crank or a spammer.  Either way, I’m kind of surprised to encounter it here.

    “It is therefore my contention…”
    Don’t care.  Hard, verifiable facts, please.

    1. Your facts are in front of your face – look around you at AMERICANS.  It’s that simple. Just look around.  What you are seeing are your fellow Americans after they have been following the advice of the U.S.D.A., the American Medical Association, and the F.D.A.  for the past 50 years.  What you are seeing is the result of BAD food advice.  Even if wheat-free isn’t the answer, and I believe it is, something has to change, because the information we have been given has only served to make us fatter and sicker.  There’s a hard, verifiable fact for you.

      1. Ann
        The advice may have been there but please produce eveidence for the extent to which your fellow Americans have actually been following this advice in their dietary habits. 

        Anecdotal observation might suggest a hypothesis that such evidence may be hard to find.

    1. No, we’re not.

      Seriously, do you know how hard it is to snort a line of bread dough?  Not to mention getting it in a syringe and shooting it.

      1. Seriously, Pillsbury has done the hard work for you, just load a canister of dough into a caulking gun and you’re ready to go.

    2. “Affects the human brain in much the same way as morphine.”

      Now we’re talkin’!!!!

      Unfortunately, it also affects the human digestive system the same way as morphine for some people.

  5. Pretty much everyone eats plenty of wheat, some are thin some are fat. I’m not sure a correlation would prove a causality: removing wheat from your diet is a quite dramatic choice to make in the western world. It may as well be that a strong will to loose some weight correlates with both.

    As a side note, pasta (real pasta) is not made from “modern” wheat, but from durum wheat. 

  6. This thread is going to get nasty! Just to get it started – F#CK YOU! You can have this white bread when you pry it from my cold, dead hands! Which, if I understand this book excerpt, isn’t too far off.

  7. You know what else causes sagging, distended bellies? Starvation.

    Those high-yield semi-dwarf varieties decried above have saved millions of lives.

    Every time someone buys this book, Norman Borlaug sheds a tear.

  8. This book reaches all the correct conclusions for all the wrong reasons.  See a very thoughtful review here:

  9. Some of the most unhealthy, lethargic people I’ve known have been those with gluten intolerance who never ate wheat.

    Having said that, if modern wheat is so bad, why can’t we use older strains and stay healthy?

      1. Much lower yields. Spend enough money and you can buy all the spelt, rye (great stuff, that’s what bread is made of in my part of the world) and all sorts of pseudocerals you can eat.

  10. What is it that makes popular “nutritionists” have such single track minds?

    Why is it always one (1) food ingredient that is salvation/damnation.

  11. I gained almost forty pounds when I went on a gluten-free (wheat, rye, barley-free) diet.  Yay anecdotes!

    I guess I’m different from most, though, since I am probably celiac (don’t test positive for the antibodies, but several of my aunts do) and was probably not actually absorbing most of the nutrients from my food until I made the transition away from eating gluten.

    I kind of miss wearing smaller pants, but on the other hand i don’t have diarrhea every day any more and i don’t throw up three times a week. 

    1. You gained weight because the gluten was replaced with some kind of a starch – corn starch, rice flour starch, arrowroot starch, tapioca starch.  The gluten, a protein, was replaced by a starch, which is a carbohydrate.  You were simply feeding your body more sugar instead of the gluten.  Wheat Belly author Dr. Davis suggests replacing the grains, such as flour, with vegetables for vitamins and fiber.

      Americans just don’t want to give up their white, fluffy, comforting breads and crackers, which are really just a vehicle for transporting other foods to the mouth.  They are empty calories, and that’s why you gained the weight.  You weren’t giving anything up, just replacing one set of carbs for another.

  12. Without commenting upon any of the science behind these claims, I’ll just say that this is somewhat more persuasive than the arguments I’ve heard parroted by paleotards.

  13., a proponent of another version of single track mind dietists.

    “We must eat as our forefathers did, because that is natural to us!”

    Yeah, natural – as in 30 years median life span. Staving of colon cancer wasn’t much of an issue then.

    1. Ah, I see you fell for the 30 year median life span trick.  Control for infant mortality, and paleolithic humans lived just as long as we did.

  14. “Has a greater impact on blood sugar levels than a candy bar.”

    Which is why endurance athletes carry slices of whole wheat bread instead of glucose gels.  Oh, wait.

    All of those advances in wheat that Dr. Davis decries as the root of all evil have also resulted in fantastic growth in yields, helping to feed vulnerable populations in developing countries and saving land from being razed for agricultural use.

    1. A bookshelf full, google candida or “yeast free diet”.

      Candida killed my Master.  I train each day to revenge him and re-establish the honor of our art.

    2. There are all kinds of books about the evils of yeast. It is almost a religion with them. Thid is one of the most boring diets. No beer, no wine, no bread, no cheese…nothing with living beings trapped inside. I’d rather give up meat.

    3. @twitter-16089085:disqus
      “Is there a book about the evils of yeast?”

      why, thank you for asking, yes there is:

      it seems a pretty tried and true business plan if you ask me:

      1. identify a common practice (do you eat wheat/yeast/carbohydrates?)
      1a. bonus points for combining it with a common concern (do you have a belly/are you overweight/unhappy?)
      2. draw a bunch of correlations and conclusions about evils of said common practice
      3. write book
      4. kerching!

      people want some kind of golden mean to rule their food, but michael polan’s “eat food, mostly plants, not too much” works for me.

  15. Consider this:  modern homo sapiens emerged about 200,000 years ago.  Agriculture and cultivated grain has been with us for about 10,000 years.    That means that for 190,000 years, or 95% of humans existence, grains have not been in our diet.    This pretty much seals the deal for me:  I don’t think we’re supposed to be eating grains.

    1. We’re not “supposed” to be eating grains? Human’s ain’t koalas. There’s nothing that we’re “supposed to” be eating. We don’t have ideal human food. We’ve always lived by making do with what we can find. We are adapted to be adaptable.

      We didn’t cultivate grains for 10,000 years. That does not mean we didn’t eat them, because, frankly, I’m pretty sure primitive humans were as crazy as moderns for finding what to eat.

      1. “We don’t have ideal human food. “

        Oatmeal with sardines. The kind of sardines that come in hot sauce.

        You’ll never eat enough to get obese, and most predators will stay away from you.

        Trust me.

    2. Open your mouth in front of the mirror. See those big flat teeth at the back. They grind grains. They are not for grasses as we cannot digest them. 

      1. The teeth evolved waaaaaay before grain became a major component of the human diet.  They’re for chewing – not ‘grinding grain’ or eating grass.  We can’t even eat grain unless it’s pre-ground and cooked first.

    3. Where do you think humans got the grains to grow for agriculture?  Grains have always been part of a hunter gatherer diet.  However, they were probably not the staple of the diet like now.  Other higher calorie foods like meat and nuts and starchy vegetables probably made up most of the diet.  My 2 cents is that unless you genuinely have a gluten intolerance, grains are a fine as part of a balanced diet.  I my self like to get my grains from beer.  And I have the beer gut to prove it.  A beer gut or “wheat gut” is just what happens when guys get fat.  Women have thicker subcutaneous fat layers all throughout the body, while men mostly carry it around their gut.

      1. I think that this “gut” can be attributed to sugars or carbs of all kinds, wheat, fructose, sucrose, alcohol. The gut is definitely more pronounces in those who drink beer, you cannot deny that.

    4. Forgot about the gatherer part?

      We ate the stuff all along, we lacked the means to mass produce it.

  16. You know what’s worse than Wheat Belly? An Oatmeal Butt.

    Even worse is having an Quinoa Wattle under your chin. The ancient Aztecs had those, and look how they ended up.

  17. @Spinkter also, starvation is a strong selective pressure. We can evolve quite a bit in 10,000 years if the alternative is slow death.

  18. The essential problem in the U.S. is that wheat here is a mono culture. If some blight came along it would be like the potato famine in Ireland. In Europe you can get a variety of lower gluten wheats. We seem to delight in painting ourselves into corners. 

    1. If the american wheat crop totally collapsed we would turn to some of the corn crop used to feed our livestock. American cows eat enough corn to feed the entire american population several times over.

      Western nations are truly at no risk of a shortage of staple plant foods. At worst, there is a risk of having to stop feeding animals with them and start feeding people.

    1. Wikipedia disagrees with you, sir. At birth, Paleolithic lifespan is 33 years, but if you make it to 15, you’re likely to make it to 54. It’s about childhood illness and mortality rates related to those.

  19. The post is a bit over the top – fair enough the guy wants to sell his book (on Boing Boing for some reason, even Cory doesn’t post such glowing reviews of his own books).

    I see that in the time I wrote that sentence, 4 new comments were posted.  So this is to be a diet and obesity free for all.  Everyone has an opinion.  Huzzah.

    There will be blood in the streets. 

  20. FFS, whatever happened to just eating reasonably?  We have so much “don’t eat this” in our culture…what the hell are we left with that we are “supposed” to eat?  Not a hell of a lot, that’s what.  

    How about just eating reasonable amounts of food, avoiding overly processed food, and getting some exercise once in a while?  I like to follow the Michael Pollan rule: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

    1. If you can sit in front of a dozen cookies, a delicious cake, or a warm crusty loaf of (white)bread with a pallet of butter and eat just one single serving none of this applies to you.  But if you are anything like me, you will hurdle a mountain of eight balls, knock an infant out of its mother’s arms, and skull rape a nun to get to this shit and devour all of it immediately and without looking back.  That triticum shit is the devil.

      Eating reasonably! Hah! Yes, whatever did happen to it? btw-am currently on an extremely low carb diet so am susceptible to erratic behavior please forgive if I over reacted.

  21. Desperation, yeah, like exactly any other foodstuff they ate – they had no choice but to eat what they had.

    Why ever do you think that the other stuff they had to eat were any better?

    There’s no evidence whatsoever for it – if wishful thinking is not evidence, of course.

    1. Why?  The fossile record shows clearly that humans were much more robust before the Neolithic Revolution than after.  At the advent of agriculture, humans shrank several inches, and started living shorter lives.

  22. My girlfriend is gluten-intolerant and eats a wheat-free diet (which means that I avoid gluten [by association] more than I otherwise would). I find many gluten-free substitutes to be awful and borderline inedible.

    However, there are many exceptions including (rice- or corn-flour) pasta and breakfast cereals which taste better than the wheat-laden variety. They’re more expensive, but not hellaciously so.  (We’ve also purchased gluten-free donuts that were astonishingly good, but were extremely expensive.) Switching to a wheat-free diet does require changes to your shopping/cooking/eating habits, but it’s not as difficult as you might think.

    1. word, spelt breads have gotten better over the past decade, but all other spelt products are shite… don’t get me started on quinoa, and anything that uses garbonzo/chick pea flour (unless it is a delicious falafel) tastes horrible.

  23. My diet consists entirely of Crisco. I wear a size 32 and have the sexual stamina of an entire troop of Bonobos. My e-book, Shorten Your Way To Health is available on Amazon.

  24. I don’t really care about any other aspect of the book, but I’m going to try cutting wheat from my diet for three weeks and see if it has any effect on Acid Reflux.

    1. I cut most grains out of my diet 6 months ago.  I went from having to take a Pepcid Complete every day to not having to ever take any kind of heartburn meds in about 2 weeks.  You will see a difference in this area if nothing else.

  25. I came to moan, but the internet beat me to it.  I did enjoy these two lines though

    • Increases overall calorie consumption by 400 calories per dayAs in most people get 400 of their daily calories from wheat?  Almost like it is a dietary staple!• Affects the human brain in much the same way as morphineAmerican bread sounds awesome.

  26. “They starved to death!  In a storage compartment full of grain, they starved to death!”

  27. I just choked a little on my pita as I tried to determine its wheat content.   Luckily, the part I spilled actually went directly to my lap, and did not get hung up on any sort of ‘wheat belly’!

  28. I’ve read the book. I don’t recommend it. The constant stream of anecdotes to the theme of “[friendly first name] had [incurable disease], and saw me for something else. I said ‘quit eating wheat!’ Now, s/he is cured! Cured!!!”

    When he got to the ‘balance of acids’ business, it turned into more of a humor read. There’s nothing so enjoyable as realizing that someone’s statistical graphs don’t actually match up with the theory he’s selling….

  29. @boingboing-c61f09172291b2268d13e1b8b8301e43:disqus :wikipedia has some data if you like, so even after all the childhood diseases they still didn’t live past 55.

    Also, the shrinking after agriculture was because they hadn’t figured out any crop variety. They grew only one thing. They just hadn’t gotten the hang of it.

  30. Ah, you mean after the neolithic revolution, when suddenly population increased as more people survived and had enough food to procreate – which did lead to overpopulation and an over reliance on the food they could grow.

    In what way does that make the “paleolithic” food any better? Because more people died and the nativity was much lower?You’re mixing things up. 

    But I’m sorry I got mixed up in a discussion about religion with you.

    I suppose it is always easier to believe that there is just one way to salvation, and that it is clearly delineated with “good” and “evil”.

    1. I thought he was being too strident, but it turns out Robb Wolf was correct in this regard.  Have fun with those lectins, glutens, and phytates.

    2. Compose yourselves, please.

      And also, has it occurred to you that increased longevity might be an evolved trait rather than just a factor of lifestyle?

      1. There is a not a strong selection to get life expectancy longer than that required to raise your child, maybe your grandchild, which for most of human history put you at about 50 or 55 years old. It is therefore unlikely than much evolution has gone on to increase our lifespan beyond that point.

        1. There is a not a strong selection to get life expectancy longer than that required to raise your child…

          Unless the increased longevity is tied to an increased period of fertility, which is pretty much automatic in men.

      2. Not that I think this supports Davis in the least, but no, Antinous, increased longevity can’t be an evolved trait if you are referring to the observed increase in human longevity in the historical period. Evolution just can’t work that fast (really, there’s actual math involved in population genetics). Of course, the major component to the “lifestyle” leading to this increase isn’t diet but rather decent plumbing and sewage systems. Not drinking the shit of the infected goes a long way in preventing epidemics.

      3. Considering that you can increase the lifespan of a individual in a population by decades in a generation just by introducing lifestyle changes.

        Anyway it’s not either/or, there are genetic factors and lifestyle factors.

  31. Obviously this is just a weeeeeeeeee little bit opportunistic and self-serving, and may contain only trace amounts of science. But he’s not wrong about one thing: it’s ridiculous that we consume so much  Triticum aestivum when space-age science has given us the far superior quadrotriticale (a Russian inwention).

    Of course, Big Wheat doesn’t like the competition, so they spread rumors about Klingons poisoning it, and release ravenous Tribbles into storage compartments that hold it. But I think you can still get it at Whole Foods.

  32. “…just by eliminating one food from their diet…”

    One food? ONE food???? Just that ONE food of WHEAT????? Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

  33. “Modern” wheat varietals also more or less eliminated periodic, massive famines in South Asia (there are still people who can’t buy enough to eat there, but not because of a general lack of food), thereby saving millions and millions of lives.

    And the DHMO comment is spot on, first thing I thought of too.

  34. While older forms of wheat are, undoubtedly, better than modern, genetically-altered wheat, it is not necessarily entirely benign.

    Wheat has been a problem for humans ever since we began consuming it as 14-chromosome einkorn 10,000 years ago. The fossil record and study of human remains demonstrate increased dental caries, osteoporosis and arthritis, and other diseases when humans converted from a hunter-gatherer diet to a diet that included wheat and other grains. There are descriptions of celiac disease dating back to 100 A.D. So even older forms of wheat, such as einkorn, emmer, spelt, and kamut, while better, are not necessarily entirely benign.

    Nonetheless, if we were to replace modern wheat with one of these forms, there would indeed be improved health. 

      1. I’m pretty sure that this book is being marketed to people who can afford to feed themselves with or without wheat

    1. The only true allergy that runs in my family is to opiates.  I’ve long thought that my wheat intolerance (and dairy) is linked to this allergy.  I don’t test positive (skin or blood) to either foods/food groups, and I’ve been tested several times over the years.  Yet, when I exclude those foods from my diet, I’m relieved of a long list of symptoms.  Bloat, gas, a constant pink flush to my face, reflux, chronic fatigue, extremely dry skin, dry eyes, constipation, and, of course, unremitting weight gain that no weight loss diet seems to address. 

      Is there a correllation between opiate allergies and wheat intolerance?  I have heard this denied, saying these are two entirely different opiate classes(?), but I’ve wondered if my body can make such fine distinctions?

    1. Seriously – BoingBoing? Could you disable the comments on the advertising?

      I could disable the commenters. Would that work for you?

  35. I find it really sad that even doctors routinely confuse Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 has nothing to do with lifestyle, it’s strictly an autoimmune disease. What IS associated with sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food is Type 2 diabetes, which is an acquired insensitivity to insulin due to overtaxing body’s ability to produce insulin (needed to metabolize carbohydrates).

    1. BOTH type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with wheat consumption. There’s no confusion here.

      That’s the incredible thing: Type 1 diabetes, average age onset 4 years old, is on the increase, 3% per year. Watch these kids grow up and they have a 20-fold increased likelihood of developing celiac disease. Watch kids diagnosed with celiac disease, they have nearly 20-fold increased likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes.

      In other words, for some kids, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are one and the same.

      1. >In other words, for some kids, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are one and the same.

        Uhhh…one and the same? How so?

        Isn’t this an excellent example of  “correlation does not imply causation” ??

        1. That’s right: We can only speculate. But the association is so powerful that it smells pretty bad to me.

          Also, an animal model prone to type 1 diabetes: If fed wheat-free mouse chow, 15% develop type 1 diabetes. If fed wheat-containing mouse chow, 73% develop diabetes.

          Again, correlation, not necessarily causation.

          Unfortunately, the clinical trial to prove causation once and for all will likely never be performed. It would, I believe, require parents to either not serve modern wheat to their children or to serve it, compare groups and outcomes over several years. I believe it would be a tough sell to most parents.

    2. @stooovie:disqus He’s got the right diabetes, actually.  There’s a strong correlation between autoimmune diabetes and irregular immune reactions to the gluten protein.  Causality is still under investigation.

  36. ” . . . after that 4-week period you discover new mental clarity . . .”

    In this day and age, achieving mental clarity is just begging to get depressed over the state of the world.

    I demand a comforting level of delusion, and Hot Pockets!

  37. this is an experiment i tried this summer, thinking i have a gluten sensitivity.

    For one  I lost about 30lbs. 

    People up until a 100 years ago used to eat a lot of hemp seed as their primary grain.  
    Most modern grains are new forms of hybrids or inter-species crosses. 

  38. While I’m not sure wheat is the only bad carb in my diet, I’m considering eliminating wheat for 30 days and recording the results on my blog.  Could make for an interesting read regardless as to the result.

  39. “Ad Policy

    Boing Boing is supported by advertising. We don’t do pay-per-post and we are always transparent when a sponsor is involved.”

    Er… so what is this post then? Was this post paid for? How did it come to be on BoingBoing?

    1. This is not an advertisement. We did not get paid to post this. One of the editors found the material interesting and published this post by the book’s author. If the post was a paid advertisement, you’d know. How? Because it would say ADVERTISEMENT above it.

      1. I assume that editor wasn’t Maggie.

        I’m sorry; on reflection I should have said that less snarkily:

        You have an excellent science editor with a keen eye for unsound reasoning in scientific writing. I don’t know how the different editors at BoingBoing collaborate on these matters, but I suspect the quality of your science-related (and especially health-related) guest posts might be improved if she had more input into the invitations.

  40. If you don’t like commenting in posts that you consider advertising then why are you commenting on a post you consider advertising?

  41. I am a bit disgusted by the people who point to things like wheat and milk as being ‘unnatural’ and so should be removed from our diet. There is something more compelling about saying that wheat is significantly changed since the 60’s, but I have no way of confirming that assertion. All I know is people have eaten wheat and milk for tens of thousands of years, and people around the world still depend on those foodstuffs to survive. That we think we can cast it off is truly a kneejerk solution to a first-world problem – obesity.

    For tens of thousands of years, and even elsewhere around the world today, people ate wheat and milk and were not grossly obese – I’d say the finger no one wants to point is to our culture and our lifestyle. We spend 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer 5 days a week (just for work, even more for pleasure) and wonder why we’re fat. Get out and work on a farm for 4 weeks raising your own food and I’ll bet you’ll also find “new mental clarity, better sleep, relief from joint pain, happier intestines, and a looser waistband”.

    1. Agreed about the lifestyle contributing to our health issues – no argument there.

      If it were possible that wheat were the causes of some of our health issues, what would be the problem in trying to live without it for a while?  I’m not sure why so many folks here seem so threatened by the idea that something we’ve been eating for so long could be bad for us –  Humans have been stupid about such things many times over in our history.  Why stick to something that really might not be good for us just because everyone else does?  That’s stupid, and not thinking for ourselves. 

      I would say that anyone commenting on this post that does not have health problems, don’t worry about it because you don’t need to make any changes. 

      However,  there are plenty of the rest of us who have been listening to and following modern health and dietary advice from our “experts” for long enough to have realized that it’s bad information.  Dr. Davis’s book lends fresh perspective to a problem that many Americans are facing – eating “healthy” and still getting fat.

      1. If it were possible that wheat were the causes of some of our health issues, what would be the problem in trying to live without it for a while?

        BECAUSE…BECAUSE….HOT POCKETS AND POP TARTS AND….is there wheat in Mountain Dew?

        1. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus

          is there wheat in Mountain Dew?

          No, but there is recycled toilet paper. Look up “microcrystalline cellulose” or “cellulose gel” sometime.

      2. Ann, I think it is pretty much undisputed that there are health issues connected with excess wheat consumption, and that most westerners are consuming too much. Too much of a lot of stuff, in fact.

        The real issue here is that the guest poster, promoting his own book, is using language that hovers somewhere between anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and side-show con-artist.

        A few more citations and a few less assertions, thanks.

        Edit: I just want to add that I don’t buy the ‘this is advertising’ line. I accept that this author has been given a chance to post about something the BB audience might be interested in, like any other guest poster. I just think he’s grossly misread the right tone to use for this audience.

        1. “The real issue here is that the guest poster, promoting his own book, is
          using language that hovers somewhere between anti-vaccine conspiracy
          theorist and side-show con-artist. . . . I
          just think he’s grossly misread the right tone to use for this audience. “

          Thank you. That sums it up brilliantly.

          It is quite enough to mention metabolic factors without the bizarre digressions about pot bellies and gangrene.

    2. Actually, most people in the world can’t digest cow’s milk because they haven’t evolved the enzyme to digest it via being exposed to it for tens of thousands of years.  It’s (mostly) a European thing.

      Ingesting animal milk in the early humanoid days was more likely to be goat or sheep or camel or even horse in Mongolia anyway….not cow.

      1. Evidently you can now be expected to be pilloried for making an observation that might cause people to think about what they put in their eating hole.

  42. I love how many people turn their noses up at gluten/wheat free diets without seriously trying it themselves.

    I have always been rail-thin, so excess weight was never an issue for me. But severe psoriasis was. So were chronic headaches. I cut gluten/wheat/corn out of my diet and behold, those things went completely away. Other un-planned but no less welcome side-effects were increased libido, healthier immune system (I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve become ill in the past 10 years since I switched my diet), and bowels that work smoothly and like clockwork.

     I’ve gotten a few friends to try this out and sure enough they noticed great benefits. But good gawd, the effort it took to get them to try… >_<

    1. Surely we should be free to stuff our faces full of tasty wheat (the gov says it’s good for me!) while bitching endlessly in front of our computers (they took our bread!) It’s the healthy lifestyle and YOU CAN’T TAKE MY PANCAKES AWAY FROM ME!!!

  43. ” The wheat industry and its supporters will scream, yell, and claw to maintain their position.”  Ha ha, like the ones who dominate these comments!

  44. Monsanto and their terminator gene actually does pose a risk in that their patent could get out of control and destroy all food crops everywhere, but I must take exception to this story, as others here have.  My exception is that wheat DOES NOT affect my mind the way morphine does.  I have been to the ER enough to know that if they offer me wheat instead of morphine, I might just have to question their competency.  But does today’s wheat have any resemblance to the wheat of our grandfathers?  Probably not, especially considering Monsanto and their business ethics.  Whatever is cheapest and easiest to control is their motto.  If this author is saying that we are getting poisoned quadro-triticale, then I suggest we feed it to our tribbles first.

    1. No one said that wheat affects your brain like morphine. 

      Dr Davis states that wheat contains a molecule that binds to the opiate receptors in the brain, in a similar fashion as opiates do, but that it causes us to crave more wheat and carbohydrates, thus stimulating our appetites for sugars, carbs, and more wheat. 

      He doesn’t say that wheat causes you to be high, or that it causes you to want more morphine.

      Nowhere was it ever mentioned that it affects the brain the way morphine does.  I’ve read the book, and it doesn’t say that anywhere.

  45. William Davis:
    @William:disqus Odd, one side of my family are multi-generational wheat farmers (who’ve been using co-op grains for close to a 100 years now), have I’ve been in the fields right before harvest, and they sure a shit aren’t dwarf plants (unless you misstyped 2 foot and meant 2 meter).  Care to explain where you are drawing your ‘wheat facts’ from?   What strains are you referring to?  Soft white? Winter?  Red?  In which states?  Which seed suppliers? 

    Your sweeping statement about ‘modern wheat’ makes me question the rigor of the rest of your science.  I’m interested, but mostly curious why only wheat get called out as the main risk factor for these things, when many other scientists have been focused on mutli-factors genetics, activity and consumption styles as well.

    1. Then your family was doing something unique.

      The near-total devotion to the semi-dwarf variant comes from observations of Dr. Peter Shewry, one of the world’s most well-known wheat experts, Dr. Gary Vocke at the USDA in charge of wheat statistics, and Dr. Allan Fritz, wheat breeding expert at Kansas State University.

      1. That’s kind of the point they aren’t; they use the same soft white that a majority of Washington wheat growers do, and it is definitely not a dwarf variety.   I am honestly very curious as to what percentage of American wheat you believe to be using this varietal of Triticum aestivum that causes all these problems.   Do you believe that all strains of wheat cause the problem, have you isolated which providers are supplying said seed stock? Note, they also do no use RoundUPReady seeds, to those asserting that all farmers in the U.S. are.  They would probably prefer to but to date the small difference in reported (versus brochureware) yields over the strains they know work in Washington haven’t pulled them to the darkside yet. I really would enjoy some specific technical answers, since I do have some sway in planting because of my role as family skeptic.  But I would actually need something with science and specificity rather than assertions and an accumulation of anecdotal information.  How did you negatively test your hypothesis?  Which is obviously the first step for any scientist.  I look forward to any factual information you can provide.

    2. I’m interested, but mostly curious why only wheat get called out as the main risk factor for these things, when many other scientists have been focused on mutli-factors genetics, activity and consumption styles as well.

      Probably because “Wheat is killing you!” is a better way to sell books than a more thoughtful look at a hugely complex issue.

  46. Monsanto had nothing to do with the explosion of new plants in the 20th century.  You can thank Burbank for that.  

    1. Oh, it goes back before Burbank to the start of organized agriculture. Humans have been tinkering with their food supply since the start of agriculture — there is something to be said for calling selective breeding “genetic manipulation” but I imagine the author’s purpose in calling modern wheat manipulated is purely to cause confusion among people who have a thing against the sort of genetic manipulation only possible with molecular biology.

  47. I gotta say, I’m dropping wheat on a meal-of-the-day by meal-of-the-day basis (ie dinners, then lunch, now figuring out brekky and snacks), and the weight’s dropping off me.
    I exercise a crapload, consistently, before and during my wheat reduction, doing endurance cycling. The change that seems most effective is dropping wheat.

    So, I’m mid-experiment, but I recommend people try it if they’re into getting good value from their exercise.

  48. Late in life I suddenly developed a fairly severe allergy to gluten. I have never suffered from any other allergies, nor any other “suspect” thing: chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

    5 years ago I would have been among those asking for “hard evidence” and criticizing the wheat-free people as less than intellectually rigorous. 

    Having looked into this — I can say: 1) Modern medicine and science is full of holes in knowledge. Like it always has and always will be; 2) We are quickly learning this wheat thing is a serious issue. 

  49. Why don’t we be productive?
    Is there any type of wheat that isn’t “imperative to break our reliance on?” 
    I mean, I may as well be healthy.
    Don’t you dare tell me that I have to buy the book to find out.

  50. Quadrotriticale is a high-yield grain, a four-lobed hybrid of wheat and rye. A perennial, also, I believe.
    Its root grain, triticale, can trace its ancestry all the way back to twentieth century Canada…  – Lt. Cmdr Spock

    oh Canada…

  51. I’ll be writing my own dietary screed, “Eat the Donut, Love the Donut” full of skewed facts, misinterpreted research and pseudo-science. Look for it soon at your local Carb-friendly food retailer.

  52. @google-566d6e082e7f14bbdd889390bc89d30b:disqus :

    Why don’t we be productive?

    Because this is an internet discussion forum. Productivity in a forum is so unusual that when it does happen, news of it spreads like wildfire and other internet users stop and stare at it like they’re looking at the Aurora Borealis. For example, see that thread on Reddit about the Marines facing the Romans. Nobody in a discussion forum has been that entertaining in a positive way since the late 90’s, at least.

    On a different note, pretty much every online discussion of diet I’ve ever seen has gone like this thread. Somebody with letters after their name talks about having found a correlation between health issue A and food product B, then suggests people try giving up food product B for awhile to see if they notice a difference. In response, people express blinding outrage that somebody somewhere would suggest that they maybe might want to possibly think about sometimes not eating so god damn much food all the time.

    Actually, even if we discount what Doc Davis is saying about metabolizing sugars, the idea of dialing-back the carb intake is a valid and proven way of healthily reducing your weight. I can’t say if Davis is right or wrong about GM wheat vs. other forms, but I do know that the suggestion of easing-up on the carbs will make most people lose weight. If that also means putting a stop to the digestive whale songs, well, that’s good, too.

    1. Actually, even if we discount what Doc Davis is saying about metabolizing sugars, the idea of dialing-back the carb intake is a valid and proven way of healthily reducing your weight.

      Though a problem with this is what do you replace carbohydrates with. Protein? Risk of gout, a strain on the kidneys and liver. With animal protein, it’s also an express ticket to heart disease unless you’re shelling out for lean salmon every day. Fat is an important dietary element also, but you have to be eating the right fats, and that’s not always easy for an everyday person to know how to do.

      The suggestion of reducing a specific type of food as the author of this post suggests is a reasonable idea, but once you scale that up to reducing an entire category of nutrient then the question of what you replace it with becomes a significant health concern.

      You can lose a lot of weight by avoiding carbohydrates, and you won’t die from it, but health isn’t binary.

      There’s also a significant amount of information out there to support the idea that people are so fat and unhealthy because their carbohydrate intake is composed of all the wrong carbohydrates, and they’re filling in the rest with giant steaks and hamburgers. If people cut back on the carbohydrates yes they’re going to lose weight but they’re just hiding the symptoms of the problem which is that they’re eating terrible food and don’t know how to select better foods.

      1. WTF are you talking about?

        He didn’t say reduce carb intake. He said specifically the strain of wheat that’s commonly grown in the USA. I see nothing about rice, sorghum, kamut, spelt, millet, barley, oats, or rye. 

        You guys are doing a bang up job of arguing against something that wasn’t written anywhere in the article.

        1. And he is also in favor of a low-carb diet.  He is a cardiologist, and helps folks with the diseases associated with heart disease, like diabetes.  So, yes, he is wheat-free AND low-carb.

      2. This response uses both concepts of wheat-free and grain-free, so please don’t flame me and say that I am confusing these issues.  They are both relevant to my argument, for different reasons.

        Dr. Davis suggests that grains be replaced by vegetables.  With vegetables you get both the fiber and all the vitamins.  When cutting wheat/grains, you really need not suffer any deficit in your nutrition.

        You would find that you actually eat less food when cutting out grains.  Wheat increases your appetite in two ways, one being the gliadin that increases appetite, and the second being your own body’s insulin response to the carbs.  It’s a fact that people who eat grains, and too many starchy vegetables and fruits, are hungrier, and feel a need to eat more often.  This is due to the blood sugar response by the human body (yes, every human body, even yours) to the task of the digestion, and conversion to fuel, of carbohydrates.

        It doesn’t create nearly the dietary deficiency that you are expecting.  You just aren’t that hungry when you don’t eat all those carbohydrates.  There is no running around the kitchen, opening every cupboard, desperately seeking a carb fix.  There aren’t any poorly-judged stops at fast food joints because your stomach is growling with hunger and you’re getting a hypoglycemic headache.  Adding healthy fats, which is also easy to do, also ups the nutrition and appetite-supressive qualities of a grain-free diet.

  53. Correct me if I’m wrong, but what exactly is this an advertisement for?

    The author plainly states what the gist of his book is: avoid wheat. He even suggests trying it for four weeks on your own, no purchase of the book necessary.

    The knee-jerk defense of GMOs on here is depressing.

    1. I don’t think anyone here is defending GMOs.  In fact, I believe you’re the first person to bring GMOs up.  Quite likely because as far as I know, GMO wheat is not currently being sold/consumed.  

      1. Evidently you didn’t read the article.

        “Modern wheat is the altered offspring of thousands of genetic manipulations, crude and sometimes bizarre techniques that pre-date the age of genetic modification.”

        As so many GMO advocates like to point out, Gregor Mendel’s humble experiments were a form of genetic manipulation.

        Or are we now to believe that selective breeding isn’t a form of genetic manipulation?

        Since we know it is the case that people engage in selective breeding, and since we know that lots of crops are tweaked to maximize crop yields, does it not stand to reason that the resulting changes in those crops might have unintended side effects on our health? What’s the harm in trying the experiment he proposes and drawing your own conclusions?

        1. I’ve never heard anyone use the term GMO in reference to prehistoric plant breeding.  Hell, even Monsanto distinguishes between their products and the stuff bred by our ancient ancestors.  

          1. Really? Seems to me any time someone from the Slow Food movement gripes about GMOs they get the Gregor Mendel lecture.

            I’d be willing to bet that 5 seconds with Google can find this.

        2.  and most people know very little about plant breeding.

          Wheat is not the type of crop you can just go out back and play with like your tomatoes or hemp plants. 

      2. Actually, the majority of the wheat grown in the USA is RoundUp Ready wheat, same goes for Canada and Europe. From what I understand, China is the only major country that has not yet jumped on the RoundUp Ready wheat wagon. It should also be noted that RoundUp Ready wheat has never been submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency for approval. I would be more concerned with the fact that Americans are consuming toxic wheat (glyphosate/surfactants) than with the consumption of gluten, amylopectin, or gliadin.

          1. Funny you should mention boners. The chemicals in RoundUp Ready wheat suppress sex drive. Not only does it make us fat and lazy but it turns people into eunuchs.

        1. Unless you photosynthesize, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Glyphosate readily breaks down in the sun and readily binds to clay minerals. I’m not saying that there are not really nasty pesticides out there (mostly for bugs and fungus that work as neurotoxins in humans), I’m saying that as pesticides go, RoundUp is pretty safe.  To say nothing of suicide genes, and erroneous lawsuits against poor farmers. 

  54. Gray Taubes has been saying this for years. There is a lot of research that shows this link between starches(in this case wheat) and obesity. I’m going to have to read the book to find out if it covers this research and adds insight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was spot on. 

  55. I’m just glad to know I can finally stop buying all that expensive heroin, when bread’s only a buck for a loaf.  Thanks guys!

  56. This topic is annoying because you can’t say anything without it seeming like a grand, wrong generalization. Fortunately, you can attack Davis’s book pretty safely, because it IS a grand, wrong generalization.

    Eliminating wheat from your diet means eliminating many generally unhealthy foods. Are those foods unhealthy BECAUSE of the wheat? Are they unhealthy specifically because of the modern dwarf wheat? Are they unhealthy because modern dwarf wheat has a high glycemic index? Or because it has opioid effects? Or…

    The answer is maybe. Remember, though, there are two separate domains here: what works, and why it works. Cutting wheat out of your diet may lead to improvements. Even if it does, that doesn’t make a single one of Davis’s claims true. Maybe there’s something else in wheat that has negative effects. Maybe there’s something else in the wheat foods you were eating. Maybe wheat is fine but you replaced it with something even better.

    Imagine a diet that banned all food from cardboard boxes – it would help people, but not because the cardboard made the food worse. If there were a craze of cardboard-free products, they wouldn’t be any improvement, since the food would still be processed junk. Davis recommends staying away from processed gluten-free foods, saying they are similarly bad – which is true, but it kinda hurts the idea that the wheat was the problem in the first place.

    1. Your comment makes zero sense.

      “Cutting wheat out of your diet may lead to improvements. Even if it does, that doesn’t make a single one of Davis’s claims true. Maybe there’s something else in wheat that has negative effects.”

      You contradict yourself in three adjacent sentences. No mean feat.

  57. I’m not seeing much scientific evidence presented here, but I am seeing several claims that make the skeptic-meter peg out. I’m always sad when BB puts stuff like this up on the intertubes.

    The most likely reason for people losing 50, 60 or 70 pounds when they give up wheat is that they can’t figure out what to eat. But once you figure out what doesn’t have wheat in it, you gain it all back. (Which is what happened to me after I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. Lost 30 pounds, figured out that there was still a ton of stuff to eat, and gained it all back and more. Now slowly but surely working it all back off.)

      1. “Do you think people don’t know what rice is?”

        If you can eat it. I can eat small quantities from time to time, but can’t eat rice more than a couple days in a row, or I get very sick for some reason.

    1. Um, no – you don’t.  And it’s not hard to figure it out either.  Ever heard of vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, fish, dairy, nuts?  how about rice, corn or oatmeal? 

  58. Thanks for posting this article, I found it quite interesting. Almost as interesting as seeing the reactions of people who are SO DEFENSIVE about their precious wheat. :)

    1. “Thanks for posting this article, I found it quite interesting. Almost as
      interesting as seeing the reactions of people who are SO DEFENSIVE
      about their precious wheat. :”

      I know what you mean.  They’re almost as defensive as the “wheat-is-poison” crowd.

      1. Why is pointing out the logical fallacies of your position necessarily taken as advocacy of the opposing position?

        All I know is I read an article that makes some claims, and then a bunch of hysterical comments freaking out about it. It seems to me you can easily test the premise presented in the article for yourself.

        1. It’s funny that you’re able to point out the logical fallacies of my position when I didn’t take one.  You’re doing exactly what you claim I’m doing.  I just was trying to point out that both sides seem fanatical.  It seems like much more of a religious argument than a scientific one by the way both sides are reacting hysterically.

      2. I know what you mean.  They’re almost as defensive as the “wheat-is-poison” crowd.

        Judging by this thread, I’d have to disagree. There have been a few posters who have supported the book’s view, and they seem a good deal less shrill than the detractors.

        I have no idea about the claims of the author, but I think a lot of people would be a lot more healthy if they cut back on the wheat and ate a better variety of foods. A few months ago I cut back on my grains (in an effort to reduce carbohydrates), and I’m now healthier than I have perhaps ever  been in my adult life. I didn’t eliminate any food, but I cut back on the simple carbohydrates and try to get more of my calories from proteins (and some fats).

        It wasn’t even difficult to do.

        1. I don’t know if I’d describe the attempts at humor by the detractors (which a majority of the detractors seem to be aiming at) as shrill.  It’s the all or nothing approach that the “true believers” on both sides take that I find shrill.  I agree that if people cut back on the amount of wheat and ate a better variety of foods they would be healthier.  That approach seems very reasonable.  I, too, cut back on the amount of grains (and red meat and sugar/corn syrup and saturated fats) that I eat and am much healthier (and 60 lbs. lighter) than I was six months ago. 

          If wheat seems to give you health problems, then don’t eat it.  If it doesn’t give you health problems, then eat it in moderation, like you should eat everything else.  But suggesting that not eating wheat is a panacea for everybody’s health woes is ridiculous.

          1. And arguing against a straw man (“not eating wheat is a panacea for everybody’s health woes” – a claim made nowhere in the above article, or by any of the commenters here) is also ridiculous.

          2. “And arguing against a straw man (“not eating wheat is a panacea for everybody’s health woes” – a claim made nowhere in the above article, or by any of the commenters here) is also ridiculous.”

            Fair enough.  I may have overstated the case.  A bit.    Or a lot.

  59. I agree that wheat is a *huge* contributor to the obesity problem among many other nasty health issues. But I also believe that the absolute epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency and misinformation about this deficiency by the AMA is the largest health crisis that this country has faced in hundreds of years.

  60. About three minutes of Google searching tells me that: 

    * In wheat consumption worldwide, China is first, followed by India, Russia, the US, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Brazil, Ukraine, and Canada.  (Source:

    * In obesity, the US is first (USA! USA!), followed by Mexico, the UK, Slovakia, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, and Canada.  (Source:

    The only countries that are in the top 20 on both lists are the US, Canada, and Turkey.  

    There seems to be a lot of statistics at that site, and there’s also a correlations link.  The correlations for obesity can be found here:

    1. Yes, people tend to forget that Northern China is a wheat noodle culture (it gets cold up there); it’s the warmer South that’s rice based.

      1. Wheat is more common in northern China than in the south (noodles & various buns/breads, mostly), but rice is also a dietary staple and is commonly served with meals as in the south.  They don’t eat nearly as much wheat as we do.  This is my observation, at least, from having lived in northern china for quite some time.

    2. Is it the same wheat?

      Are China, India, and Russia cultivating the same strains?
      Are they preparing them the same way?

      Does it indicate how the wheat is consumed?

  61. In case anyone is curious, according to the type of consumption with highest correlations with obesity rates is consumption of soft drinks.  

  62. I think this post has so many comments because, in addition to being ridiculous, the comment counter is broken.  Everyone thinks that they will be the first commenter when they click on the article.

  63. It’s funny that vegetarians and vegans can eliminate all meat from their diets and you don’t bat an eyelash, but Dr. Davis suggests eliminating one food, and people go nuts calling him a nut.  I bet you’d freak out that not only do I not eat wheat anymore, but I also have never consumed alcohol!  Oh, the horrors of eliminating one type of food from your diet!  I also have always hated corn and broccoli.

    1. It’s not the suggestion of eliminating wheat from your diet that’s making people go nuts.  It’s the suggestion that wheat is bad for you and eliminating wheat from your diet is a miracle cure that will magically make you healthy and cure whatever ails you that is making people “go nuts.”

      1. More straw men.

        All wheat isn’t the same, just as all strains of corn aren’t the same. He’s talking not about wheat generally, but about a very specific strain of wheat.

        I’m not an anti-wheat zealot, I eat plenty of it. I just hate seeing people seemingly deliberately misunderstand what’s being presented and freaking out about it.

        1. Yeah – like anyone really has ANY idea as to what sort of wheat they are eating in their bread, ready-meal, doughnut, cookie, etc.  He’s talking about wheat generally even if he has a specific strain in the small print.  Look at his headlines.

  64. In the 70’s, there was a book named “Sugar Blues”.  It claimed many similar things, obesity, diabetes, disease, and so on.  It even claimed that crooked teeth and the need for corrective braces were due to a diet of sugar. 

    Now, cane sugar is some sort of miracle compared to high fructose corn syrup.  Soda cans advertise the use of cane sugar, crooked teeth be damned.

    I’ve lived through a number of sure early causes of death:  sugar, eggs, red meat, carbohydrates, and now wheat.  I’m quite sure that if I stuffed myself full of wheat at every meal, I would suffer some health issue.  I’m sure if I made organic brown rice a mainstay of every meal, I would suffer some consequence.  Same for milk at every meal, or meat, or bananas. 

    How about different foods at different meals over the course of your weeks, months, years?  Bet there would be a book yammering on how that would kill me too (but, I’d still do it). 

    1. Straw man: “cane sugar is some sort of miracle”.

      No. What happened is people now understand the health risks associated with HFCS consumption, supported by scientific research, and prefer sugar because of a perception that it’s less harmful (though there’s now research which suggests that consumption of sugar is also problematic for our metabolism).

      All the things you cite have known health risks associated with them, and there has been zero modification of medical advice concerning their consumption, though there has been more understanding of specific details of why they’re problematic.

      Sugar can evidently lead to insulin resistance with high consumption, eggs are high in cholesterol but one per day isn’t going to kill you, grass-fed red meat is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is beneficial to us, but when red meat is high in omega-6 it’s problematic. 

      All this doctor is pointing out, it seems to me, is that he’s seen a correlation between people modifying their diet in this way, and the improvement of chronic health conditions in some of his patients.

      Why this is controversial is beyond me. I must be stupid.

    2. No – If you read the actual science, (instead of a soda can) you’ll find that cane sugar is just as bad as corn syrup.  This switch is just a marketing ploy, as is the whole ‘corn sugar’ tactic.  

  65.  Lots of abuse of correlation-causation with little in the way of actual science. Classic “its us vs them” technique to help readers that buy in and ignore criticism. But, where is the science?

    You can see the same thing for other miracle diet cures for autism and etc. Even Steve jobs dried special diets to cure himself, to bad what he really needed was immediate surgery to save his life. Tried some diets and ended up 9 months to late and ultimately dead from something that should not have killed him.

    Where is the science in this book? Correlation != causation.

    1. More logical fallacies. Steve Jobs’ adoption of diets to cure cancer is not relevant to what this doctor wrote.
      Poisoning the well doesn’t make your case.

      It’s as though you think inductive reasoning is completely invalid.

  66. what i find most telling is how ANGRY people get when people try to take their drugs.. er.. wheat away from them. they refuse to even *consider* that they may be addicted to wheat.

    1. What I find even more telling is how self-righteous prohibitionists project their ANGER on to those they disagree with and refuse to even consider that what’s right for them is not necessarily right for others.  And you’re damn right I’ll get angry if you try to take my drugs.  Weed is expensive.

  67. I see the book is published by Rodale, which for decades has put out a long line of eat/don’t eat this/that books, each one contradicting others.

    Funny story about the founder, J.I. Rodale…

    Rodale died of a heart attack at the age of 72 while participating as a guest on The Dick Cavett Show. 
    Rodale had bragged during his just-completed interview on the show that “I’m in such good health that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way”, “I’ve decided to live to be a hundred”, and “I never felt better in my life!” [6] He had also previously bragged, “I’m going to live to be 100, unless I’m run down by some sugar-crazed taxi driver.”  [Wikipedia entry on J.I Rodale]
    Just saying…

    1. And “Low-carb” Atkins also died at age 72, admittedly by falling down, but he had suffered a heart attack the year before. I’d kind of like to see a better track record from self-declared health gurus. At least John Harvey Kellogg, he of the “Road to Wellville” lived to the respectable age of 91. Cornflakes, anyone?

        1. I never said he was, although I did (implicitly) compare him to his eminent predecessors obsessed with sugar, carbs, and frequent bowel movements respectively.

        2. All through his book, which is what this review is about.  He does very much believe in a low-carb, grain-free approach.

      1. I think it was the lack of masturbation that led to his long life –

  68. Sure it’s  the wheat.  It’s the sugar-glazed donut made with wheat.  It’s the large extra-cheeze’n’sausage pizza on top of it, it’s the large coke, with two quarter pounders/w cheese and a large fries in the bag with it.  It’s the enormous bowl of Cap’n Crunch drowning in chocolate milk, or the endless sixpacks of New Belgium ale. And for one or two people it might be that 45 minute car ride  to work followed by 9 hours sitting in a chair staring at an LCD screen, followed by another 45 minutes in the car home (with a stop at 5 Bro’s) and a night of hard core Call of Duty action — fueled by more cola and maybe one of Little Debbie’s fine snack products.     

  69. I haven’t been this disappointed in boingboing since the climate denialist guy was guest posting.  There’s something especially galling about seeing science crankery like this appear on a site that appeals to so many amateur science enthusiasts.  Even if the payday’s good, it’s hard for me to understand why the main boingers are willing to risk the brand on this kind of thing.

    1. I’ve been covering fringey, non mainstream stuff on Boing Boing since I started it as a zine in 1988. The brand was ruined a long time time ago!

  70. Dear moderator please get rid of my multiple posts & tell me why it’s so hard to keep paragraphs from running together thank you very much.

    1. If you cut and pasted from Wikipedia, those snippets tend to carry hidden code and frequently cause bizarre formatting issues in Disqus. It’s annoying.

      1. This was beyond formatting… my first attempt to post was all run together, so I hit the “edit” button… Instead of getting my post back to edit, I got a blank window, followed by the comment window. So I rewrote the post. Same problem, same result, lather, rinse, repeat. 

        Maybe a sidebar note on posting issues (e.g. pasting from Wikipedia) next to the comment window would help avoid this kind of thing.

        Meanwhile, please remove the redundant posts so I don’t annoy the other boingers. Meanwhile, please remove the redundant posts so I don’t annoy the other boingers. Meanwhile…

        1. I swear that I already deleted the redundant ones.  Maybe Disqus is wroth with me for trash-talking it.

      2. those snippets tend to carry hidden code … It’s annoying.
        Finally, thanks to Disqus, regular web users can suffer the pain that web designers have long known. To avoid this you need to purify your copypasta in notepad/textedit.

  71. “Arguing against a straw man” about wheat. I see what you did there.

    Anyway, there are scores of different cultivars of wheat just in my little corner of the world. They are bred to be adapted to the growing conditions in every place where they’re grown, and to have particular characteristics regarding emergence, yield, protein content, milling behavior, and lots more. If we’re going to worry about differences among a small number of genes, there is no such thing as wheat. Instant Internet expertise isn’t of much use here, it’s a complicated topic.

  72. To be fair, I (unlike most people commenting here) have read the book, and Dr. Davis does in fact recommend a low-carb diet.  Wheat is the worst of the carbs (for reasons he explains in plenty of detail), so eliminating it is the first order of business.  But instead of replacing it with other gluten-free carbs, he suggests eating real foods like leafy green vegetables, raw nuts, olives, meats, and cheeses.  The resulting diet is low in carbs which raise blood sugar, insulin secretion, and fat deposition.

    But I am with you, Chairman.  The overreaction here is astounding.

    1. “But instead of replacing it with other gluten-free carbs, he suggests eating real foods like leafy green vegetables, raw nuts, olives, meats, and cheeses.  The resulting diet is low in carbs which raise blood sugar, insulin secretion, and fat deposition.”

      And for those of us who can’t eat nuts, cheeses, and the like?

      1. And for those of us who can’t eat nuts, cheeses, and the like?

        Why is the author suddenly responsible for solving everybody’s individual dietary and health issues? I get most of my carbs from fruits and vegetables because starches and I have never really gotten on very well. But I also can’t eat unlimited dairy products. A couple of ounces of cheese a day doesn’t cause problems. Nor does a small piece of bread. If you have dietary issues, one way to deal with them is to avoid eating a great deal of any one thing.

        1. I was with friends in Philadelphia earlier this year. I had not had anything to eat all day, and my friends took me to this one restaurant they knew. Everyone else found something to eat; I thought I did, but I threw up before finishing.

          Diets like this encourage restaurants to replace the foods I can eat with more of the foods I can’t. Or combine them into more of the dishes I can’t. And I’m glad grocery stores haven’t completely replaced the foods I can eat with ones I can’t.

          P.S. the login system has been haywire for me today. I can’t log in right now using my regular account.

  73. the problem is, as always, that we have one word to refer to a very large and complex suite of processes.

    “Wheat Bread” 1:
    GMO Roundup hybridized duplicate chromosome wheat milled into enriched white flour baked with a single strain of commercial yeast, preservatives, sugars, and various salts extra.

    “Wheat Bread” 2: 
    Locally bred, organic, heirloom wheat grown responsibly on high nutrient soils, milled into whole wheat in small cool batches to avoid rancidity, within days mixed with an active sourdough culture consisting of multiple strains of bacteria and yeast that pre-digest the wheat proteins for several hours to days,  sea salt, bake.

    same words, two totally different processes, and two very different foods.
    details details details

  74. Was just showing even a smart person can fall for something so completely unscientific and stupid. It is a problem that science often leaves people wanting more of an emotional explanation that pseudo science is ready to give them. Why do you think so many people love homeopathy?

     My main question was and is “where is the science?” The authors write up is just an abusive correlation-causation so far.

    Still waiting for some scientific studies to back up these claims. Correlation != causation. As long as two things are trending the same way or opposite way over time, you can always claim a strong correlation no matter if the two are related or not. Stating in general people are getting fatter and in general people are eating more wheat != wheat is the culprit. This is why you have to do actual research and try to remove possible influential variables.

    Ex:Most people that sleep with there shoes on wind up with a head ache. Pseudo reason: it is the way the shoes prevent the toxens/demons of the body to escape during our nightly clensing. Actual reason: a large percent of people that fall asleep with shoes on, due so because they are drunk and wake up with a hangover.

    Wheat free diet vs Normal diet. You should add in a random but equally challenging placebo diet, so that you can be sure that it is not simply a placebo effect of dieting which is that it makes you more aware of what you eat, possibly harder to get food, weeds out people that choose to overeat or care little about health, and in the end the only people that stick to a restrictive diet are the ones that are the most motivated to lose weight.

    Once again, where is the science?

    1. “Still waiting for some scientific studies to back up these claims.”

      I would like to see that as well. I was never advocating for his position, I just didn’t like seeing it misrepresented in some of the more hysterical responses. 

  75. Great example from wikipedia:As ice cream sales increase, the rate of drowning deaths increases sharply.Therefore, ice cream causes drowning.

    Oh wait, both trend positively over the summer. Or that is what the Dairy Monopoly wants you to think….

  76. ¿does anyone know wtf “the only food with its own mortality rate” means? no matter how you slice it (groan) it’s a lie, since a 30% increase in death by cancer and heart disease is attributed to red meat. further i have trouble believing that there is any documented correlation of EARLY DEATH with wheat consumption that isn’t crazy-confounded. anyone with a link? needless to say, i’m not buying the book…

    1. Well, there’s celiac disease, which can kill you if it goes untreated.  That’s pretty well-documented.  I don’t know if it’s what he’s referring to here or not, though.  And of course, the cure for celiac is not just avoiding wheat, but also rye and barley.

  77. “The true culprit: Triticum aestivum, or modern wheat.”

    I don’t trust anyone who demonizes one thing using anecdotes.  It smacks of political spin.  If those anecdotes are framed in scientific-sounding jargon, then I want to know what the ACTUAL science says – not a soundbyte.  Real science is filled with theories and caveats, and it takes a lot of effort to communicate it accurately to non-scientists (as Maggie shows us regularly and well).  If someone is making a lot of absolute statements about science to prove how right they are, then they are selling you something.  If you take every anecdote they give you and put them all together, you still don’t have even one piece of scientific data to support their claims.

    Gluten-intolerance is a poorly defined illness that has a large number of health-conscious consumers concerned due to widespread, often unscientific speculation.  If someone comes along and presents anecdotes saying, “You were right.  Wheat is killing you,” I am sure that they will attract many true believers (and who doesn’t like being told that you are right).  For those that haven’t made up their mind yet, caveat emptor.

    On another note…

    I too am getting a bit of science whiplash between Maggie’s fine articles contrasted against articles like this one.  I hope it does not create the impression that this article and those from your Science Editor should be considered on the same scientific footing just because they are both presented uncritically in BoingBoing.

  78. Moderator note:  Does anyone have anything new or interesting to add to the discussion?

  79. As with most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle.  Otherwise known as moderation.
    Why is it that we here in the USA can’t seem to get that??
    The chance of me not eating any wheat at all is exactly ZERO.  
    I needed to lose weight.  I was 5 foot 9 and 191 in my street clothes.  About 25 pounds too much.  You know why?  Because I ate too fucking much.  Not because I have cheerios every morning.  So I learned better portion control and cut my alcohol consumption in half.  Guess what, I lost weight.  I’m at 170 clothed and should be down to where I oughta be soon.
    My first reaction to people who tell me I should eliminate something completely?  Utter horseshit. 
    Americans aren’t fat because they eat a bagel.  They’re fat because they eat too fucking many of them!  Big difference.

  80. While I was on vacation in the US, my main observations were that a) the portion sizes were enormous, b) the drink sizes were huge and the drinks were sweetened more c) people take the car everywhere.

    The amount of wheat eaten did not differ too much, so I’m a bit stumped as to why a single staple should be removed from people diets, while the answer is ‘simple': Eat less, move more, replace soft drinks by water.

    Edit: I’m also surprised to see a post like this on Boing Boing without at least a disclaimer like: ‘the next post is written by a guest blogger (who want to sell stuff to you).’

  81. Yes most of the brands do give out samples of their products. Look for “Get Official Samples” online and get the samples. They are the best. You wont need CC.

  82. Meh, whatever works for people. The mind is the best dieting aid out there and if you want to believe wheat is the evil and that’s what makes you watch what you eat, more power to you.

  83. Wait, is the book bitching about the same semi-dwarf wheat developed by Borlaug, which won him the Nobel peace prize and has been credited with saving over a billion lives?

  84. Thank you BoingBoing  for publishing this.
    The article and some of the comments are highly entertaining.
    I would LOVE to see IP addresses of some commenters. I suspect that one person is making comments under several nicks.

  85. Wheatbelly – “Unfortunately, the clinical trial to prove causation once and for all will likely never be performed. It would, I believe, require parents to either not serve modern wheat to their children or to serve it, compare groups and outcomes over several years. I believe it would be a tough sell to most parents.”

    I’d agree that particular scenario is a tough sell for parents.  It’s presumably not so difficult to test the assertion in the final paragraph of the original piece though.  “If after that 4-week period you discover new mental clarity, better sleep, relief from joint pain, happier intestines, and a looser waistband, you will have your answer.” If there’s really a demonstrable improvement after 4 weeks then get a group of volunteers, give them a pre-determined diet for 4 weeks, identical in all respects except that half of them are randomised to wheat free breads, pasta etc, then find out how they feel afterwards.  Admittedly it’s far from a 100% proof (wheat free prodcts do, after all, taste different so they may be not entirely blinded), but it’s probably a more reliable start than “try it yourself!” and may result in your assertions being better received…

  86. I have done just this.. cut out wheat and sugars (which means essentially most complex carbs.) and I exercise as often as I can and I have lost 40lbs in six months as well as completely eradicating the severe acid reflux (that I had most nights and had to medicate for!)  Now, off to Aqua Gym!

  87. A friend said the other day. Don’t eat anything that your Grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.. Obviously that includes ‘modern’ wheat.. But I think that they are wise words!

  88. I just purchased 10 loaves of whole wheat bread for $1 per loaf. It’s a great sale price and I am currently poor.  The problem is that all of these “don’t eat” articles pretty much cover all foods – there isn’t much left that is both filling and good for you.  I have cut out the obvious: soft drinks, sugar in my coffee,  junk food,  ice cream, high cholesterol foods etc. If I cut out bread, cereal, and pasta I will starve.

    On the other hand, I do have a lot of the symptoms blamed on gluten and I am curious as to whether eliminating it would help. I guess I will have to live on bananas and carrots for awhile.

    1. Beans? Rice? If you do really think you’ve got a gluten issue, it’s worth trying – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Just don’t fall for all those fancy ‘gluten free’ processed things!

  89. Wow!  This generated a lot of comments!

    I agree with the fella on broad principles – wheat is well known to be not great for everyone.  I’d be utterly unsurprised to know that modern wheat is nutritionally defective – all corporates drive to profit, not to sociological benefit.

    Besides, I cut wheat regularly, and stick to lentils and wholegrain rice, and each time lose around 10 lbs within 15 days – it’s retained water going out, that presumably was being held to compensate for the rubbish going in.

    Just do the diet test, complainers.  You’ll see.  Try this:  Don’t mix meat and starch (no steak and potatoes), lay off wheat and processed foods.

    Also avoid the five whites:  sugar, bread, rice, salt, something else evil – baking soda?  Milk?

    Then eat anything you like.  That isn’t obviously laden with fat.

    You’ll lose weight and feel healthier in a hurry.

  90. My sister hasn’t been able to eat wheat for ten years. Not a crumb. She has steadily gained weight over that time and is now obese because she simply doesn’t understand the reality that a calorie is a calorie. You burn it or store it, plain and simple.

    I’m a wheat-eating runner who, at 42, weighs 105lbs and is exactly within the healthy range for my height. I’ve already been asked about this book by a number of overweight friends who regularly seek my advice. I’ve pointed out the flaws in this theory, but they are always looking for the ‘magic bullet’ and books like this pander to people who are too lazy to use their bodies as they were intended.

    While I agree that there is much to learn about the biochemical effects of wheat, in my opinion these claims are misleading.

    Eat real food, know how much you’re eating and move your ass. Your body will take care of the rest.

  91. “modern athletes, like…golfers” ha ha, very funny, nice try Boing Boing. Had me going there.

  92. george571 and others:

    We are primarily ad supported, but advertisers have no editorial control. Please don’t make passive-aggressive insinuations or other tiresome, generalized accusations to the contrary. We are transparent about our relationships with advertisers.

    (From our comment policy)

    1. Hey – others maybe, but not me.  I am not making insinuations about relationships with possible advertisers, I am asking why BB suddenly departed from the format of
      – Editor by-line
      – Editor summary/intro
      – extract

      Why has nobody yet come forward to say which of the BB editors posted this? I don’t care if it is an advert or not – I’m just intrigued at this sudden change of posting format

      1. I assigned the article. There is no such thing as an editor byline. Occasionally, I will write a short introduction to a piece I assigned, but I often don’t. I’m not sure what you mean by extract. Please tell me what you mean, and if it seems like it would be useful and if we have the resources to accommodate your request in subsequent posts, we certainly will.

        1. Hi Mark,

          I guess I don’t see any harm in your listing yourself as a Sponsor or Sponsoring Editor for a guest piece like this.  It would be even better if you had a short intro like, “Gluten-intetolerance is a big health concern these days, and Dr. Davis’s new book “Wheat Berry” shares an different point of view on the subject that I wanted to share with you.”  It confers your intent without endorsing the author so that the focus of the discussion is on the book.


  93. Man, Boing Boingers really love their wheat. “YOU’LL NEVER TAKE MY DONUTS NOOOOOOOM”

    I don’t have time to read every single criticism here, but of the few I skimmed – those questions were answered in the book. Not saying you have to read it, but maybe you shouldn’t demonize his argument until you’ve heard the whole thing.

  94. ChairmanLMAO says anyone can easily test the claims made in this article. That is not true.

    Anyone can stop eating wheat-containing foods, and anyone who does can pay attention to various health markers along the way. That’s not the same thing as testing Davis’s claims.

    Say I wrote a book claiming that sugar makes humans fat because it was cursed by Imhotep. If you quit sugar and get slim, does that prove my Imhotep claim? If a million people quit sugar and get slim, does that prove my Imhotep claim?

  95. What I find interesting about diets like this (and by extension, low-fat, anti-carb, Atkins and all others that recommend moving certain foods from your intake) is that they all have the same basic goal: reducing caloric intake. This is not something you need any sort of fad for — just start paying attention to portion sizes and take the time to educate yourself about the caloric value of those portions. If you keep your intake in the neighborhood of 2,000/daily, you will find your weight falling to its natural equilibrium point, and as it does so, you will discover many health problems disappearing.

    I’m not stating that gluton allergies and sensitivities do not exist. Rather, just blaming one specific part of the industrial food chain is not the cure-all.

  96. David Pescovitz says “One of the editors found the material interesting and published this post by the book’s author.”

    Well it seems like  nobody wants to say which editor and why they declined to put their name to the post.  Let’s open a sweepstake, just for fun.  My money’s on Cory.  ;-)

    1. It’s me. I didn’t put my name on the post because I didn’t think anyone would care. I’ve been a magazine editor since 1993 and I have never seen an article that had an “assigning editor” credit. But if you ever want to know who the assigning editor of a piece on Boing Boing is, just ask in the comments and we will be happy to tell you.

  97. I think the author of the book is having some issues with attribution of the effects he (accurately) observed. His evidence is clinical evidence from his private practice, a good but uncontrolled source of data. His descriptions of massive weight loss and mitigating the effects of diabetes resulted from the prescription of his ENTIRE dietary plan; not just removing wheat, but removing a huge proportion of carbohydrates from the diet.

    In his comparison between high-carb high-wheat generally-unhealthy diets and low-carb low-wheat balanced diets, he’s totally correct. What he hasn’t demonstrated as convincingly (to me as of reading this article) is that there’s a notable difference between a low-carb diet and a low-carb low-wheat diet.

    His claim that wheat causes you to eat 400 more calories a day is also somewhat suspect. How did he generate these figures? Did he compare the caloric intake of his patients before and after getting his dietary advice (which would already have a large negative impact on caloric consumption presumably)? What is the threshold for activating this wheat-based hunger? 400 calories more a day is a big absolute gain, but how large of a relative gain was it in the people in which it was observed?

    His assertion that wheat-laden items lead to negative health effects may be completely true, but his chemical attribution doesn’t necessarily follow from that either. If most wheat-based foods that his patients ate had high caloric density and tended to be consumed rapidly (bagels) and they were replaced with smaller portioned food that was eaten more slowly (bowl of rice), the described effects of increased risk of diabetes and obesity would be an effect not of wheat but how it was consumed.

    Combine this with his constant allusions to highly observable obesity-related phenomena–sitting next to a fat guy on the bus, haw haw–and framing opposition to his ideas as akin to the tobacco industry–anyone who disagrees loudly is in the pocket of big business!–and I start to get a bad impression of this fellow’s academic integrity. Why mention fat golfers at all? His assertion that his patients had this benefit from removing JUST ONE food from their diets also belies his actual treatment; at the end of the article he outlines a quite complex dietary plan, not a simple excision. The listed health benefits didn’t come from simply removing wheat; they almost certainly emerged from a comprehensive dietary shift away from carbohydrates in general and employing fat-to-ketone based weight loss a la Atkins. Presenting them in that fashion is directly misleading.

    So I agree that people would be healthier if they ate fewer carb-dense foods in general and ate plenty of fruit and vegetables. I agree following this doctor’s diet would likely improve your dietary health. I just don’t think it’s wheat that’s the culprit.

  98. Can we get a skeptic on this? I’d love to see a dietitian or someone with a background in nutrition sciences give their take on this. This is pretty biased and I don’t see any evidence backing it up! 

  99. I don’t like the recommendation that you remove ALL wheat from your diet, immediately.  You will lose lots of people right there.  How about, substitute rice for bread in some meals and see if you obtain results?

  100. I don’t buy it…I eat plenty of wheat products, and I am not fat.  I don’t have ANY of the ailments the author attributes to wheat consumption.   I think it is possible that perhaps some people don’t metabolize wheat properly, but the author’s assertion that wheat is just plain bad for everybody does NOT apply to me. 

    Seems to me, that people are always looking to externalize the cause of obesity, and find a “magic bullet ” cure for it…they are willing to try almost anything…except exercise. 

    I have a friend, who started on the Primal Blueprint diet, about six months ago….no carbs, lots of fat….he initially lost 20 lbs, and said he felt “great”…then he got chestpains, and had to get angioplastied & stented…at 40 yrs old!

    I believe the key to avoiding weight gain is simple: Eat sensibly, and exercise.

    1. “I have a friend, who started on the Primal Blueprint diet, about six months ago….no carbs, lots of fat….he initially lost 20 lbs, and said he felt ‘great’…then he got chestpains, and had to get angioplastied & stented…at 40 yrs old!”

      Sounds like he switched to the Primal Blueprint diet just in time, otherwise his heart condition could have resulted in something even worse.

      1. My buddy didn’t have a heart condition, before he started Primal.  Now, he has a piece of hardware in his chest…

        To be fair, however, my friend had high cholesterol, before he started the diet, and was not taking the statin meds that he had already been prescribed.  He read the Primal Blueprint, and Gary Taube’s book, and became an “expert”, overnight.

        I think he was over-doing the “eat as much fat as you like” aspect of the diet…he was cooking ALL his veggies in coconut oil, for example.

        My hypothesis, is that the ultra-high saturated fat content of his diet exacerbated his already-high cholesterol level, and contributed to the clogged artery. 

  101. My advice, always be very skeptical of any nutrition expert who tells you one or more of the following things: 

    1) There is a single cause for obesity in America. 
    2) That single cause is a single “dirty” food that has somehow been tainted by modernity
    3) Eliminate the fetish food from your diet and you will become thinner! And, as a bonus, you’ll think more clearly and have a whole host of other ailments cured!

    In the meantime, I’ll be over here, not being fat and not being sick, eating my donuts in moderation. 

    1. Good advice Maggie! I think one thing a lot of people commenting here don’t seem to notice is that the author states in the above essay that “sugary soft drinks and sedentary lifestyles add to the problem.” He is focusing on wheat because a lot of people consider it to be OK to eat a lot of it (thanks to the gov’t food pyramid, in part.)

      I like donuts, too. But I limit them to once a week!

  102. Put me in the column with the people that roll their eyes whenever someone from the “wheat is murder” crowd shows up. (And rolls their eyes again when someone complains that “if you only read the whole book…” Anyone who repeats the old bromide about judging a book by its cover is giving bad marketing a pass; aside from the minor work of protecting the book’s interior contents, giving you a basis for deciding whether or not to read a particular book is the cover’s main job.) I’ve actually lowered my A1C score and achieved a much better HDL/LDL balance significantly in recent months with a low-carb diet, and I can tell you that the real problem isn’t wheat or corn or corn syrup or meat or any of the other dietetic boogeymen commonly trotted out in these discussions; no, the real problem is not eating consciously and just shoveling in the proverbial mass quantities.  It’s the paradigm that tries to convince you that you’re somehow losing out if you don’t supersize everything, and they can do that with low-carb and low-fat food just as easily as with the regular stuff.

  103. I am shocked at all the naysayers who have NEVER looked into the science behind this. That’s fine. Our bodies DO have amazing defense systems and tend to hold up pretty well in spite of all that we do to harm them. But over time, our bodies wear down. So as you continue to subject your body to the toxin of wheat, just keep this article tucked into the back of your mind. And when you develop heart disease or fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis or migraine headaches or gastric reflux or irritable bowel or eczema or an entire host of other preventable conditions, maybe you’ll be more willing to give “wheat free” a try, “just in case” it might help. Good luck!

    1. Well, some people won’t try anything until a double-blind intervention study comes along to tell them what to do. In this case a meaningful study will never happen. But I enjoy self-experimenting!

  104. Interesting that nobody seems to be talking about refined vs whole-grain wheat here. Of course, I’ve only gone through about 90% of the comments in addition to the article, so I may not be adding anything new, but

    My understanding (based on reading about this 20 years ago) is that whole wheat and refined wheat are metabolized in very different ways. Just like brown rice vs white rice.Those of you who have read the book shilled in the article: is this addressed in it?Thanks.

    1. The negative components of wheat are still contained in wheat flour whether or not they are more processed. It’s still the same grain.

  105. Something a chef friend of mine brought to my attention once: high quality restaurants will never put a basket of bread on the table at the beginning of the meal, or during the meal, unless it’s specifically ordered by their customer. The reason restaurants put baskets of bread on the table is so patrons fill up on bread, so the restaurant can skimp on more expensive items like meat and vegetables.

    If you’ve ever sat down to a meal with wealthy individuals you’ll notice there is no basket of bread on the table. It’s considered low-class. Bread, wheat products, grain products in general, are recommended to the average person because it’s cheap and filling. It’s the perfect foodstuff to feed to wage-slaves. Back in the day slave owners fed their slaves rice and beans. The contemporary version of rice and beans is wheat and sugar.

    From Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:

    “Now farming became industry, and the owners followed Rome, although they did not know it. They imported slaves, although they did not call them slaves: Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Filipinos. They live on rice and beans, the business men said. They don’t need much. They wouldn’t know what to do with good wages. Why, look how they live. Why, look what they eat. And if they get funny – deport them.”

  106. and on that day, “epic lulz” was redefined. i mean, it would have been if there had been lulz. i’m a bit hazy on my pre-history.

  107. Nah – that’s too simple!  The shape of obese people in the US is different somehow.  Weird food chain dynamics messing with the endocrines.  I’ve stopped at a BK drive in to order, seen the strange looking people serving, and moved hungrily and quietly away.

    Read “Fast Food Nation” for information.  I’ve never looked at food the same.

Comments are closed.