Sunday, November 24, 2013

'Wheat Belly' ...

Sometimes it can take me a while to get around to doing the right thing.

Like, oh, say ... years.

I wrote this post about Mark's Daily Apple and Mark Sisson in 2009, but I was hip to him and his site before then.

So here I am in November 2013, more than four years after I wrote that post and finally — finally — what Mark teaches has finally sunk in.

Because I read Wheat Belly.

It's not that I needed corroboration. I trust Mark — always trust a man with eight-pack abs — and his books are very worthwhile. I recommend them, too. (I have The Primal Blueprint and the first cookbook and the 21-day transformation.) But I follow the Wheat Belly page on Facebook and the other day, a woman posted Before and Current side-by-side photos and I nearly fell out of my chair.

Since October 1, she's rid herself of many of her joint-pain problems, IBS problems, fatigue problems, and 31 pounds.


Thirty-one pounds in less than two months?

That's astonishing.

Every Friday, Mark's site features the stories of those who have adopted a primal lifestyle and have amazing photos to share, but for some reason, Myah's story on the Facebook page is the one that truly clicked.

I went out to lunch with my mom that day – I had a lovely composed salad with no bread in sight and I didn't miss it – and mentioned wanting to buy the book to read and then share with her.

She suggested I try the library first.

I'm not sure why that hadn't dawned on me. I love the library.

So when I got home, I checked the two libraries nearest to my house. Both have it but it was checked out at both, so I put holds in place to reserve a copy.

And the next day, I received an email that a copy was waiting.

So off to the library I went.

That was Thursday.

I started reading and passages started resonating with me. I told myself I'd remember the page numbers.

And then I got off the couch and headed into my office to retrieve some sticky notes.

Remembering things is not my strong suit these days. And I was about to find out why.

I read for a while on Thursday and then set the book aside.

It is very dense informationally. My brain can only take in so much at once before it wants to take a break.

But I added sticky notes whenever I came across a passage that I wanted to note when I wrote this post.

It quickly became apparently that the gist of the post should be this:

Read Wheat Belly.

It's not that I don't want to write an informative blog post for you. I do. But to illustrate my point of just how much information you'll find worthwhile, I kept adding sticky notes as I read.

This is what the book looks like, now that I've finished it:

You see my point.

You can certainly check it out from the library, but I recommend buying it. (I am recommending it of my own free will, if anyone's wondering. I've not been compensated in any way to link to it, nor would I accept anything. I'm just making it easier for you to get your mitts on it. One less excuse, eh?)

It would make far more sense to own it and be able to highlight a copy and write in the margins and have access to the suggested menus and the recipes that Dr. Davis includes.

Dr. Davis, I should mention, is a cardiologist who shares his own story in the beginning of the book. He's traveled the same path he prescribes to others.

The erstwhile pre-med student in me really responded to the detailed medical information he shares in this book.

Know that going in: He gets into the weeds about the biological and physiological effects of wheat in our diets.

In a nutshell:

Wheat is bad.

Nonsense, you say! Wheat is a grain! Even the government tells us to eat more grains!

Yeah, the government is wrong. Big Food makes a lot of money selling tons of processed crap that not only lacks nutritive value but is literally destroying our bodies.

Wheat affects everything.

I saw myself in these pages. I saw my mom in these pages. I saw my dad in these pages. I saw my brothers in these pages. I saw everyone I know in these pages.

I thought about my friend Marc who is convinced the current push toward gluten-free is a load of crap. He is a very smart, very logical man. Marc, I encourage you to read the book. And then call me and we can have a lovely chat about it.

And I was astonished at the depths of the effects of wheat on our health. The detrimental effects are staggering.

Schizophrenics respond very well to the removal of wheat from their diets. Many experience a drastic decrease in symptoms. That's jaw-dropping.

Mind you, the wheat we eat today is not the wheat folks ate even 50 years ago. Dr. Davis goes into great detail about how wheat has been bred – no pun intended – into something very different in a quest to increase yields and make it pesticide-resistant and the like.

And he makes the very important point that none of these strains have ever been tested for safety in our diets.

So what, you may think. It's still wheat.

Yes, but consider his point that the only thing that differentiates men from women is a single chromosome. We're all human, but change one chromosome and radical differences result.

Dr. Davis covers in great detail:

— The addictive properties of wheat.

— The connection between wheat and obesity. (We've gotten massively, collectively fatter in just a few decades.)

— Wheat and celiac disease.

— Wheat and diabetes.

– Wheat as it affects our pH. (Paul, that chapter's for you.)

– Wheat and the aging process, including cataracts, osteoporosis, and wrinkles.

– Wheat and heart disease.

— Wheat and the brain.

— Wheat and our skin.

And within each of those chapters, I promise you, your mind will be blown to read about wheat's role in dementia, wheat's role in neuropathy, wheat's role in asthma, wheat's role in arthritis, wheat's role in cancer, and the list goes on and on and on. One woman was on three medications to manage her ulcerative colitis and was told she would have to have a colostomy. Dr. Davis advised her to eliminate wheat. Her entire life changed. She went from being on the brink of having part of her body removed and having to deal with a colostomy bag for the rest of her life to getting off of all of her medications.

That dietitians and doctors and so many continue to push "healthy whole grains" blows my mind. People are told not only to eat foods that are toxic to them but to make them the foundation of their diets. It's insane.

My lovely salad on Wednesday was my de facto start of saying goodbye to wheat. I don't remember what I had for dinner that night, if anything.

But I began my intentional no-wheat journey on Thursday.

Yesterday, Saturday, my head felt a little funny. Not worrisomely funny, just "Oh, something is going on in there" funny. Some folks experience severe withdrawal from wheat. I haven't had much of an issue, but then, I wasn't eating that that much of it anyway. (A very bad episode following too many slices of whole-grain bread a couple months ago had jump-started my process.)

Today, I feel fine. I'm more alert than I've been of late. Reading used to put me to sleep pretty quickly. Now I can keep reading. I'm thinner, not from having lost weight but from being less bloated.

Actually, I shouldn't say I feel fine. I feel better than fine: I feel good.

I haven't eaten much today and while I'm hungry, I'm not ravenous. Wheat wreaks such havoc with our blood sugar, so we're constantly looking for food on a wheat-based diet.

Even only being off of it for four days, I feel better.

And I'm not wistful for wheat. I'm not dreaming about a bowlful of pasta. I don't want it. Because now I really understand how it affects me. And the choice is simple: just don't eat it.

Earlier this year, I had finally, at long, long last, decided that I would pursue baking professionally. Folks have been telling me to do it for years and this year, it finally clicked.

And then, a couple of months ago, I read a story about a study that linked wheat and sugars with dementia.

And I decided right then and there that I couldn't go into business and profit off of something I knew would do others harm. Granted, studies have a way of contradicting themselves over time, but I already had plenty of exposure to the idea that grains were bad. I had already been wavering on the baking front. But reading that story sealed the deal.

Charmingly, though, when I posted a note on the Wheat Belly page on Facebook when I was 90 pages into my reading, a community sprang up immediately, chatty and informative and encouraging. More than one person, upon reading of my ditched baking plans, pointed out that if I can produce baked goods with approved ingredients – it's possible to bake without wheat and the usual suspects – that the world will beat a path to my door.

People still want baked goods. They just don't want the ill effects of wheat.

So my baking plan is back to being a possibility.

I'll take on trying to perfect baked goods in new ways. Perhaps my success in the baking world will arrive in a form other than what I envisioned originally.

But in the meantime, I'm so grateful to have read Dr. Davis's book. And I remain grateful to Mark Sisson and the wealth of information I've learned from him, too.

I encourage you to read Wheat Belly and I encourage you to give yourself a few days away from wheat and notice how you feel. It may be a bit unpleasant at first, depending on how much you consume presently. But any unpleasantness is all the more reason to push through. Let your body detoxify itself and feel what you're meant to feel like.

I have to tell you, it's pretty great so far. And I fully intend to keep going.

I'll let you know when the cookies are ready.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Oat bran makes wonderful muffins. The flavor is nutty and the muffins are filling. Two oat bran muffins for breakfast will keep you going until lunch.

My recipe is :

2 cups oat bran
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk or yogurt
1/4 cup or less honey
1 egg or 1 TBS ground flax seed + 3 TBS water
2 TBS olive oil
1 cup blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips, etc.

Preheat oven to 425F. Combine flax seed with water and set aside while assembling other ingredients. Mix together dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients in a large measuring cup. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in blueberries, etc. Fill prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.

You can add spices, shredded carrots, etc. to create a wide variety of muffin flavors. If you want you can shift the dry ingredients.

--Kathy (Dave Waldron's friend from Centre College)

9:08 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, Kathy. They sound tasty! I like the idea of adding blueberries or cranberries.

Oats aren't ideal in Dr. Davis's world, but at least they're not wheat!

7:04 AM  

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