Book Review: Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD

In Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis outlines the negative impact wheat has on our health. He explains how the wheat you and I are exposed to today is modified significantly, looking completely different than the wheat our ancestors once knew. As Davis points out, wheat is not just gluten protein and bran. Wheat is composed of multiple proteins that may be causing health issues such as:

• obesity,
• diabetes,
• osteoporosis,
• joint abnormalities,
• skin rashes
• and gastrointestinal diseases.

I agree with Davis’ statements regarding the negative impact genetically modifying wheat has, resulting in a highly processed, highly refined and highly absorbed alien. The general population has become addicted to this wheat and it is the staple in the diet of the majority of Canadians. This excess is definitely one of the contributing factors for the chronic diseases mentioned above. I also agree there are definitely situations where eliminating wheat from an individual’s diet is warranted and will have a positive health benefit. However, I disagree with Dr. Davis making a blanket statement that we should all eliminate it.

Interestingly, he talks about Henry the VIII who was overweight as a result of gorging on food and not burning it off through physical labor that underprivileged people were exposed to. Along the same lines, he states over eating gluten free carbohydrates can cause excessive weight gain and overeating rice as well as lentils leads to the same. What I conclude from this is that even though wheat may cause health issues, excessively overloading on carbohydrates in any form is not good for our health or our waistline.

Side note: It’s ironic that Dr. Davis encourages artificial sweeteners in his recipes, as recent literature is proving them as counteractive to a decreased waistline.

Davis is quick to criticize dietitians, as well as professional associations for heart disease and diabetes, stating for promoting the consumption of a diet rich in carbohydrates. As a dietitian, I take offense to this negative image. Just like physicians, we are not all painted with the same brush. Revive Wellness has promoted balanced eating for years and it does not at all include excessive intake of wheat or other carbohydrates. We know the food we eat is powerful in its impact on health and we educate as such.

The bottom line: While Wheat Belly has some valid points, especially regarding excess consumption, the mass hysteria this book could create around carbohydrates is too extreme.