378 of 396 people found the following review helpful
This book, whose author is a preventive cardiologist, puts another big building block in the wall begun by iconoclasts like Dr Robert Atkins and Dr John Yudkin, and thoroughly cemented by science journalist Gary Taubes. Beginning in the late 1960s, Atkins proposed that eating carbohydrates was the main reason for many people's obesity. (Actually, this had been common knowledge since the 1860s if not before - how many of us recall our mothers saying, "If you want to lose weight, avoid starchy foods like bread and potatoes"?). His 1972 book Dr Atkins New Diet Revolution: The No-hunger, Luxurious Weight Loss Plan That Really Works! urged cutting down on sugars, grain-based foods, and even high-carb fruit and vegetables. Despite arousing immense controversy, Dr Atkins' diet seems to have an impressive track record with tens of thousands of patients reporting weight loss and better health. Coincidentally, 1972 also saw the publication of Dr John Yudkin's blast against sugar, Pure, White and Deadly: The new facts about the sugar you eat as a cause of heart disease, diabetes and other killers in this completely revised and updated edition. Like Atkins, Yudkin was pooh-poohed and slandered by many who disliked his conclusions. From the 1970s to the present day, medical and government orthodoxy has held that fat - in the form of cholesterol - is the arch-demon of nutrition, and advocated increased consumption of "healthy whole grains". More recently Taubes filled in the picture in his brilliant survey of scientific developments in nutrition and diet, The Diet Delusion.
Although their messages have been frantically (and often viciously) resisted by the nutritional "establishment", pioneers like Atkins, Yudkin and Taubes made it clear that most people today (especially in the "West") eat far too much refined carbohydrate and not nearly enough protein, fat, and good old-fashioned vegetables. Nevertheless it seemed more a matter of degree than a point of principle: sure, we ought to eat fewer potato crisps, less white bread, sugar, cakes, puddings and so on. But surely "a little of what you fancy does you good"?
Dr Davis stamps heavily on such notions. Perhaps for the very first time, this book reaches everyone in our civilisation with the message that wheat itself is actually bad for you. Think of that: the staff of life, a word synonymous with food since the Old Testament, stigmatised as a poison! For many years we have noticed ripples of disquiet about wheat: more and more people diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome... but most of us shrugged that off, sympathising with the unfortunate sufferers while blithely assuming that something as pleasant, familiar, and natural as bread couldn't possible hurt us "normal people". Turns out it ain't so. For a start, as Dr Davis convincingly demonstrates, today's "wheat" is NOT the wheat that the Babylonians, Egyptians, ancient Jews and Greeks, Romans, Saxons, Normans, and even our own grandparents ate. The "Green Revolution" of 1943 to the 1970s and later replaced traditional wheat with a stunted, bulging, super-productive dwarf variety (it has to have very short stems to support its massive payload of grain without crumpling). This was achieved by moving around a few genes, and everyone assumed there could be no harmful side effects. But in fact, the genetic changes triggered a shift in the range of proteins our wheat contains, with so far unknown effects on health. Moreover, wheat contains gluten (80% of its relatively small protein complement) which can cause a whole raft of hideous diseases - even in those who don't present with symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Then there is the little matter of glycemic index (GI): two slices of "healthy" wholewheat bread raise blood sugar farther and faster than two tablespoonfuls of sugar. That's true of anything with wheat in it. Thus good ol' wheat turns out to be heavily implicated in the worldwide pandemic of obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Not even bothering to trample on the long-discredited belief that cholesterol causes obesity, heart disease, and cancer, Dr Davis demonstrates that wheat is a far more likely culprit in all of those conditions. Fans of the gifted and rigorous blogger Denise Minger will be pleased to see that Dr Davis reproduces four graphs from her blog, in which she shows that Dr T. Colin Campbell drew incorrect conclusions from his own data in China Study, The: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.
Another problem with wheat is that it is literally compulsive. Due to exorphins (morphine-like substances similar to the endorphins the body itself produces in response to positive stimuli such as exercise), we are doomed to crave carbs on a two-hourly cycle - which is how long it takes for them to lift our blood sugar to the skies (thus causing insulin resistance) and then dump it in the cellar. Check it for yourself: have a nice feast of wheat-based products, then time how long it takes for you to be ravenously hungry again. Dr Davis claims that those who have kicked the wheat habit can fast, effortlessly, for anything from 18 to 72 hours. They eat because they need to, not because they are addicted to the rewards of wheat.
Obviously a book like this raises important questions of public policy. If wheat should be rejected as unhealthy, what are the world's billions to live on? We exceeded the population level that could be sustained without wheat decades ago. So does that mean the poor must accept obesity, diabetes, and a shorter lifespan as the inevitable price of survival? Even in relatively wealthy Western countries, a diet such as Dr Davis recommends will be far more expensive than most of us are used to. The author acknowledges such ethical questions, but does not attempt to tackle them. His task, to alert us to the harm that wheat can do, has been thoroughly accomplished. It is for others to pursue the implications.
130 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2013
I have just stumbled across this book - I have no particular health problem - size 10 petite 5ft 4" - so not over weight at all - just lethargic and stiff back and sore hip - IBS - disturbed sleep - I was just genuinely interested in what a wheat belly was - the reviews sold the book to me! I have read some snippets of the book to my family (a wheat loving family) 2 daughters age 15 and 11 and a man! We are all now on the no wheat diet (as best as we can be) myself far more determine than the others and 5 friends have also downloaded the book too! I have only done the wheat elimination for 5 days and I'm already feeling less stiff, full of beans, and brain fog is lifting! You must read this book regardless of any health issues or not!
399 of 421 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2011
I wasn't lucky enough to have a curious, clever, caring doctor like Dr Davis. My massive intolerance to wheat, you would think obvious from my extreme symptoms, went unrecognised and untreated for fifty years. By that time I had been following medically-prescribed, low-calorie, low- fat diets for most of my life. These were all based on wheat products - wholegrain bread and pasta - and completely and efficiently destroyed my health and my life. I became massively overweight, having been slender and attractive in my youth, and despite starving myself for protracted periods. I could not walk upright because of ataxia. I could barely breathe because of asthma. I could barely see. I couldn't focus my mind, despite previously having been a sharp-witted live broadcaster. I began to feel as if I were being possessed. I cried all day, for no reason. I suspected everyone of intending me harm, and wouldn't go out. I developed nerve damage, and often could not feel my legs or hands. My bloated stomach was so large that once, when I attended a POST-natal appointment, the nurses were asking me when my baby was due! I was so weak that I couldn't hold my newborn baby. In fact I couldn't hold my arms up long enough to wash my hair, and became dependent on carers. I developed tinnitus so loud that it could drown out the noise of overhead aircraft at an airport (and which, sadly, is still with me).
I underwent many painful and pointless investigations, to try to find out what was wrong with me. My surgeons were as ignorant as my GPs. One took my appendix out, because he couldn't think what else to do. During one particularly horrific hospital stay, I remember a young doctor's standing at the foot of my bed, begging me to think what could be wrong with me, because it looked as if I might die. I was suffering from a massive peritonitis-like infection, an infection so bad that they simply sewed me up and said there was nothing more they could do. They didn't dare operate for fear of spreading it about. Imagine how frightening that was, and how heartbroken it made my desperate husband. Nothing made any difference. I was sent home to my fate. I would like to add here that on each occasion I visited either a doctor or hospital, it was either subtly or overtly expressed that I was fat, so therefore had been the architect of my own misfortune. By this time my husband was having to make all my meals, so he knew exactly how little I had been eating, and how "healthy" was my food. It made no difference. The doctors took even less interest in me than before, because they assumed I spent all my days sitting on a sofa eating sweets. Like I say - they were no Dr. Davis!
Because we had no other choice, we turned to the internet to try and save my life. We Googled all my symptoms, and quickly began to suspect that this was something to do with autoimmunity. Within about an hour we had found coeliac disease, and knew this was it. We spent a week researching, before approaching a doctor. We knew we would need real proof in order to be taken seriously. I went armed with papers from The Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine, and research from John Hopkins University. I was determined not to insult their intelligence, even though doctors had done that to me for the whole of my life. At that point I had a blood test, which was positive, followed by a biopsy - again positive. I had found my own disease, and I had saved my own life. The results, from a leading specialist, were met with sarcasm and disbelief. Even in the face of expert medical proof, my doctors could not accept that mere bread had been killing me. That is the crux of the problem today. Doctors have gotten into the way of dispensing pointless drugs, rather than their time and powers of deduction. I commend Dr Davis for wanting to reverse this trend.
For the avoidance of all doubt, here it is. Eating wheat almost killed me. It cost me my appendix, an ovary and one kidney. It cost me my childhood to illness, and more than one lucrative job. I am, thankfully, and only just, living proof that wheat is a devastating poison. The food pyramid is on its head, and Dr Davis is being vilified for pointing this out. I love this book. I admire his courage in spreading the message. He is not alone. He finds himself facing up to the baying, illogical, unscientific wheat growers and food processing companies and wrong-headed doctors as did Robert Atkins in the past, and as does Gary Taubes now. There is a lot of money in wheat, so it's going to be quite a fight to be rid of it. These men come at the subject from slightly different angles, but agree about processed carbs, and the dangers of eating grains. The science backs them up. You have to ignore a great deal of science to conclude that wheat is safe to eat. Look how ill and fat people are becoming. How cynical for governments to be hounding the obese, whilst insisting they eat the cereal poisons which made them fat in the first place. To governments everywhere I ask why do you prefer to break your bank to meet the cost of drugs and healthcare for chronic illnesses, than to revise your outdated views on diet? If you aren't motivated by compassion, which I am sure you would wish to be, then be motivated by the prospect of financial savings, because I suspect, as do many people more knowledgable and well-informed than I, that your savings could be in their billions. Save money. Heed the low carb movement. Heed Dr Davis.
We were all warned about tobacco products when it was realised smoking was dangerous. The government didn't order us to smoke MORE, whilst it investigated. But that's what's happening with wheat. If you read this book, and take on board the message, you will improve your health more than you could ever imagine. I have been left disabled by my intolerance of wheat - my system broke under the stress of so much poison, but even so, the transformation in my health has been miraculous. My neighbour described my recovery, a week after ditching wheat, like my being given anti-venom for a snake bite! Don't let yourself become permanently handicapped by your love of toast and sandwiches. They are not worth it - not worth developing paralysis for, as did I, or heart disease or cancer, as do other unfortunate people. I have lost fifty pounds this year, simply by eating gluten and wheat free FRESH food. Eat this way and, as Dr Davis counsels, you can be slender (and healthy) without ever going hungry. Say goodbye to your wheat belly. Forever.
192 of 203 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2011
This is not a diet book, its a revolution with justifiable cause, in the guise of a book. This is NOT a get rich quick fad diet, it is an easy to read scientific explanation of how the human body reacts to wheat and high carbohydrate foods, but especially Wheat as we know it today, the genetically modified stuff that has gone from 4 foot tall waving amber fields to a stubby 2 foot tall hybridised, radiated and chemically altered something. By the way its also addictive, fully chemically addictive, you as a wheat eating, bread eater, whether wholemeal, organic, or white, pies pastries, pasta or noodle are an addict, a junkie, as bad as a smoker giving up his weed, you don't want to give up wheat, the thought of giving up wheat gives you goose bumps and you reach for that slice of cake or a piece of toast to comfort yourself. I can attest to the addiction, having had horrible withdrawal symptoms for 5 days when I stopped using wheat.
As well as being addictive it also causes terrible spikes in your blood sugar followed two hours later by terrible lows. You have wheat, toast, or cereal for breakfast, two hours later your addiction AND your blood sugar are screaming for more, so you grab a coffee and a cake, two hours later you are feeling tired and sluggish and really, really feel like a bagette or a burger (again addiction and low blood sugar) with strong coffee to get your brain back in order. By 2 or 3 pm, you are ready for your bed, so you grab a mars bar or another cake and eat at your desk, yet another blood spike and addiction reaction. By dinner time you have already eaten an extra 400 to 800 calories and still haven't had your biggest meal of the day. Its no wonder we are all seeing more and more pot bellies. 30 years ago it was the rare fat young adults that got stared at in the high street, now it's the rare slim ones who get stared at, because be honest, how many wheat belly's have you seen today flopping over the tops of jeans just walking around town.
I bought this book after stumbling on it with a mention from a friend of a friend on Facebook. After reading it I gave up wheat immediately and eased off on all other grains. I am clinically obese, and have been piling on weight for 25 years. All through those years I have been 'high grain low fat' and exercised regularly as recommended by my doctors my dietician, my weight watchers counsellors (7 in all) and my slimming world coaches (6 of them) and even strangers in the street, look where its gotten me, fat and unhealthy. This book has thrown all their 'advice' in the bin, turned it completely on its head. But, look now, day 11 and 9lbs down, I can hear you scoff from this distance "yeh, but any diet will give you an initial weight loss", My normal reply to that is "no 'normal' diet will give that kind of weight loss when you are eating bacon and fried eggs for breakfast, steaks and chips for dinner, kebab for supper, and as many nuts and full fat cheese, cream, butter and yoghurt as you like".
I am losing weight because I am no longer addicted to wheat, my calorie intake has dropped dramatically because I no longer crave wheat. I am now controlling my carb levels so I no longer have sugar lows where I just HAVE to have something to eat. I no longer 'prowl' the kitchen, opening cupboard doors and the fridge, looking for something that's 'guilt free' or low calorie/ low fat to eat only two hours after eating a full meal. I am no longer HUNGRY between meals, no longer snacking and I feel GREAT!
If any of these descriptions ring a bell, or you just want to shift that spare tire or improve your health, read the first chapter or two on 'look see' and buy the book.
If you want to scoff, please do the decent thing and buy the book, read it AND do the eating plan for a month before slagging this book off.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2015
I have followed the advice in this book for about 2 months. I have almost completely eliminated wheat flour from my diet (I find that it is not possible to completely eliminate it because it crops up everywhere). I have lost a stone in weight and feel much better for it. I had developed arthritis in one finger joint and it was painful (my first arthritis lesion) but now the pain and inflammation has markedly diminished. I thoroughly recommend this book and its message.
122 of 133 people found the following review helpful
If you're currently unwell, overweight, have diabetes, can't stick to a diet longer than a week, have acne, rheumatoid athritis or just feel tired and sluggish all the time then you need to read what Dr William Davis has to say.
I am a specialist in addiction, weight loss and quite a few other things and am becoming an expert in nutrition along the way of my own personal wellness journey. Psychotherapy has taught me to be aware and listen to my body. It's taught me to question experts and look for more than one perspective.
I came across this book because I have a 14 year old son who was suffering terribly from a skin condition on his face - acne - he'll grow out of it - try this cream - try this tablet - it's hormonal - nothing to do with diet etc was the advice given...
I chose to look at our diet and chose to eliminate wheat. I then read as much as possible and needed some info for my son that wasn't too heavy or academic or dry. It also needed to be written in a style that was readable by both my son and also my wife because we were about to embark on something a little unorthodox...
I also teach indoor rowing and have to re-teach technique because everyone - including personal trainers & PE teachers - have initially been taught wrong so going against the norm is quite normal for me - if that makes sense...
Anyway, there's a chapter in the book called Bagel Face and is specifically about the effect of wheat on the skin and my son and wife both read this before we made the change.
I must mention that Dr Davis is very good in explaining that our wheat has been genetically modified and so what we think we are eating is not the same as what we are actually eating. And it is very addictive...
My son's face has cleared up probably 90% within 8 weeks of starting this - and he has probably stuck to it 90% because it's quite a difficult challenge initially as wheat and it's derivatives are in most of the things we eat.
This book is part of an ongoing medical backlash against current healthy eating advice because something is clearly wrong. I am also prescribing books like this more and more as part of my psychotherapy interventions. And the information in this book is potentially life saving - especially if you currently have been diagnosed with diabetes. Cutting out addictive substances is always a good shout - and unfortunately addictive substances are becoming more and more normal.
The recipes in the back of the book have american measurements rather than English - but in the age of google this isn't much of a problem - I was able to find American cup measuring utensils in a shop less than a mile from where I live so I'm looking forward to cooking some apple walnut bread...
It's funny how life turns out - and this is one of those books that may just be the catalyst that helps you become fitter, stronger and healthier... My take on this wheat thing is that your body can process x amount of carbohydrates before they become toxic - a bit like being able to have a couple of beers / vodkas before you become a nob... It's knowing when to stop and having rules or principles that are helpful. Just never, ever imagined I would need rules around food and food types - however, after losing 5 stone that I hadn't even realised I had put on - and currently living inside the healthiest body I have ever had - a few principles are not so bad. And limiting my wheat intake or rather my total carbohydrate to less than 50 grammes a day works for me...
I really want to stress that this book has the ability to heal... So if you need a bit of healing then buy this book.
77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2013
The author is a bit like a dog with a bone. He has his theory (intensively bred wheat makes you ill...m'kay?) and there aint nothing you can do to change his mind. Problem is there are so many other aspects to the issue that are not covered. Improper grain preparation for one is a massive problem when it comes to modern food. We do not treat grains properly these days and it most certainly has health issues. Lets just keep it simple: grains are designed to withstand being digested...they wish to pass through the intestines of an animal and end up in a nice warm ball of dung ready for spring. They can withstand harsh winters, floods etc until just the right conditions open them up to germination. The human digestive tract is wholly incapable of handling these little critters and we have spent hundreds of years exploring methods of making them in any way nutritive and edible...all this food wisdom has, in the past 100 yrs or so, been discarded for industry's pumping and fluffing and extruding and all the other nasty things they do to food to increase its value. This renders an already hard to digest product into a toxic product. Bread used to take days to prepare now it can be done in less than an hour! we used to soak oats and grains until they sprouted and then use them now...well now we don't actually cook anything let alone prepare foods for the next days cooking! It is highly likely that Dr.Davis's theory is spot on and that the new breeds of wheat are more dangerous however to simply ignore the blatant issue of preparation is just sloppy work. Sourdough bread for example: A study done at the University of Guelph, Ontario demonstrated that sourdough does not increase blood sugar and can in fact protect you from blood sugar spikes later in the day! A 2, 3 day fermented bread is a far cry from the 60 minute Chorleywood monstrosities that we're accustomed to as part of a modern staple. It is like saying boiled cabbage is the same as sauerkraut. One will likely give you indigestion...the other you can build empires on!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have now read this book three times over the last three years. I must admit even with all the knowledge presented in the book there are still times that I struggle with it. It is hard in part because I am the only one in my family who has gone gluten free. It is very hard when pizza is in the house, or making toast of bagels for the kids. I really believe the message of this book, but I cannot force my wife to change or force changes in shopping habits until she is convinced. The other thing that makes it so very hard is how pervasive wheat is as an additive, filler, packager and more. Between wheat and corn you eliminate almost 80 of the groceries in the store, and if you try and go dairy free also take out another 10%.
That being said, I know I feel much better when I am following the advice in this book, and it is not just about the waist, and weight loss. It is about overall wellbeing, energy, emotional balance and just plain drive and focus are so much better by following the advice in this book. The Appendix 'Looking for Wheat in All the Wrong Places' will blow you away. The last time I had accidental exposure to gluten was a tin of Cashews, they were on sale and a different brand and my wife picked them up for me. I ate a couple of handfuls after a workout as a snack, an hour later I was feeling bloated, brain fog and generally unwell. I went and checked the can and wheat was listed as an ingredient. I literally could not believe it why in the world add it to the nuts?
I highly recommend this book and to be honest the practice of going wheat and mostly grain free. This book will bring the head knowledge you need to make an informed decision and then you will need to move it to heart knowledge so that you consistently put it into practice. That will be the hard work and I hope that Dr. William Davis new book Wheat Belly Total Health will help me get there!
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2014
What can I say? since starting to follow the advice in this book a few short months ago I have gone from size 18 to size 14 and more importantly have no more pain in arthritic knees or fingers and have even gone back to knitting after being unable to do so for years due to the fingers
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2013
I have read many books about low carb diets, cholesterol and the dangers of gluten. I have powerful direct family experience of potential outcomes. I am not going to share those but my personal experience is that when I eliminated refined carbs and gluten from my diet the following things happened. Over a year I lost 25lbs. I always enjoy my food. In that time I have never felt hungry or bloated. I exercise daily and have never had blood sugar problems. For many years I was a racing cyclist following a 'normal' carb diet. In those days if I didn't take in carbs or sugar during a race I would 'bonk' or 'hit the wall.' I recently completed a tough cycling 'sportif' - 60 miles with over 5000 feet of ascent. All the feed stations provided sugary drinks, sugary energy bars and gels. I completed the event in a good time on nothing but water. I am 62 years old.
I am instinctively a sceptic and so will always look at counter evidence or opinion. Something actually rarely seen on the other side of this debate. A critic here of Dr Davis cites Dr Julie Jones, for instance, as a thoughtful counter. I looked at her work and others. It is well presented, and an alternative view, but the evidence on that side of the argument at best shows that the evidence is less than conclusive on that side. And, whilst anyone can challenge cause and effect from research, there is an increasing mass of personal experience that becomes more enlightening and simple fits with the science and I guess just common sense. If we eat unprocessed whole natural foods our bodies will work well.
To dump the 'no variety in food' argument which really is spurious. Lots of people say a veggie diet is good for you. I was veggie for 12 years but chose later to eat meat. A veggie diet eliminates meat. My diet eliminates gluten. It includes meat, fish, vegetables, salad, cheese, butter, olive oil, some fruit, nuts ......... So I lost my excess weight because my diet was so restricted?
I am very interested that all of the mainstream critics have one thing in common - they live on the wheat industry. Nuff said really. I especially loved this quote I found on the web.
"AACC International (AACCI), a global nonprofit of nearly 2,500 grain scientists and professionals studying the chemistry of cereal grains and their products, has responded with a scientific analysis of a few of Dr. Davis' main points."
It's the same in the low carb/cholesterol debate. Apart from genuine stand apart thinkers like Malcolm Kendrick, the mainstream arguments come from people whose livelihoods depend on the mainstream point of view.
Long may the minority voice be heard.
Wheat Belly, by the way, is a good book. I do like the way it, and others like it, worry and frighten those who profit from processed food and drugs.