Healthy Living

Wheat Belly Diet For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

The wheat belly diet was conceptualized by Milwaukee-based cardiologist Dr. William Davis. He outlined his reasons for deeming wheat a toxic food in the New York Times best-selling book titled “Wheat Belly.”  Davis’ book spearheaded the anti-wheat movement, which by the admissions of several anecdotal accounts has helped people lose weight. However, most scientists are not in agreement. 

For the section of people who follow the wheat belly diet, the diet's focus is on unprocessed food, exercise and whole foods, a concept followed by many low-carb diets, has helped them shed pounds. 

The Wheat Belly Theory

How did Davis generate the idea ? One day, after Davis observed the size of his stomach after a family vacation, it came to him as an epiphany to stop consuming wheat. He noticed that meals filled with carbohydrates made people sluggish and lethargic. Davis refers to wheat as “Frankenwheat” because he considers the ingredient an addictive drug that stimulates a voracious appetite to eat junk food. 

As per his theory, wheat is one of the principal causes behind obesity and diabetes in the U.S. He calls it a “perfect, chronic poison” due to the amount of processing wheat is subjected to. A controversial part of the concept is the reference to gliadin, a protein found in gluten, as a new compound formed due to genetic alteration. According to Davis, the wheat available today is a hybridized form compared to what our earliest ancestors consumed. 

Experts Speak

Most expert reviewers of the wheat belly diet have dismissed it as promoting false information without scientific backing. They said he makes a lot of self-contradicting false assertions and alarmist declarations without justification. Therefore, Dr. Davis’ concept of a low-carb diet is not foolproof, as per scientists.

The American Heart Association and Canadian Celiac Association, among other such instituitions, don't recommend gluten-free diets to anyone other than those with celiac disease.

According to Joe Schwarcz, Director of the McGill Office for Science and Society at McGill University, the wheat belly diet is a compilation of gibberish. "This is one of these arguments that has one smidgen of scientific fact to it, which is then exploded into a whole blob of nonsense." 

Schwarcz debunked Davis’ claims in the book saying wheat is an addictive substance. He explained that opioid peptides derived from certain food proteins do not produce the effect of morphine. This is despite binding to opiate receptors, he said. "If we’re going to say that wheat is addictive, it’s along the line that people like foods that have wheat in them. It’s not a physical addiction," Schwarcz elaborated.

wheat Wheat grain is a staple food grown across the world, and is used to make flour, an ingredient necessary to make bread, pasta and cakes, etc. Photo Courtesy Pixabay, Public Domain

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