Posted: July 30, 2012
For many months now I have been obsessed with how unhealthy everyone looks. It logically started when warm weather hit and I was at the pool a lot. I couldn't help but notice all of the teenage girls in bikinis, thin everywhere but a protruding stomach. And all of the men with large, very hard bellies. Or, shopping at Target and seeing so many people looking pale, tired and, well, very large. Having been overweight most of my life, I used to feel very alone. If I were obese now, I would have lots of company.
Which brings me to reknowned cardiologist Dr. William Davis's book, Wheat Belly. My interest in his book was piqued when I first heard him on Dishing Up Nutrition. When I read the book's intro, I was struck by his memory of when women and men, in the Mad Men era, were effortlessly thin. The most exercise he ever saw his size 4 mother do was vacuum the stairs. Women and men with large bellies were rare. He also remarks that today, even marathon runners and triathletes carry extra weight–America, where even the thin people are fat–and despite all of their working out can't maintain a healthy weight.
What's the difference between then and now? The abundance of wheat and “healthy whole grains” in our diets that's what. Look at this photo of the APOLLO 11 astronauts the morning before launch. They are eating steak and eggs (cooked in butter no doubt). The toast was likely an afterthought because they would have been so full from a protein and fat-rich breakfast. Bread was used like a condiment. Today, it is often the main course. And my guess is that these guys didn't work out nearly as strenuously as today's weekend warrior triathlete. And yet they are lean and healthy.
Dr. Davis asks, “Your dad called his rudimentary mid-twentieth-century equivalent a beer belly. But what are soccer moms, kids, and half of your friends and neighbors who don't drink beer doing with a beer belly?” He calls it a wheat belly, and it results from years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, the hormone that stores fat. He goes on to talk about how the negative effects of consuming wheat show up in every organ of the body, including the brain and skin.
I hope you check out the podcast and the book. I know so many people who are suffering needlessly because of gluten (the protein in wheat) intolerance, manifesting in joint deterioration, brain fog, obesity, and more. Remember Dr. Davis is a cardiologist, and he has observed amazing changes in people's health and improvement in heart disease at his practice in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I commend Dr. Davis for his book. Coming out against wheat and “healthy whole grains” (the food companies way of grasping at straws to make health claim) is sacrileage in this country. When I tell people that I don't eat wheat I get the “You're crazy” look or the “But, it's the staff of life!” comment. I have lost weight because of giving up wheat among other changes. I think when it comes to our health, we need to question what we are being told is healthy and stay open to changes that may scare us.