As you’ll come to find out if you keep reading my notes, I am always devouring a dozen or so books at once. One of the titles I can’t put down at the moment is ‘Wheat Belly’ by William Davis, MD. An ENT doctor recommended it to me a few years ago when we got on the topic of low carb, keto, paleo ways of eating. I was on a paleo kick at the time and he was a fan of low carb/no gluten, having just read Wheat Belly. I decided I probably didn’t need to read it since I had just finished a few books by Mark Sisson, pioneer of the Primal Food movement, and I wrongly assumed all I needed to know was that processed carbs are bad, whole natural foods are good. And although that is true, there was so much more to the puzzle that I hadn’t quite figured out.
I have had some pretty mysterious health concerns crop up since having surgery to repair a hole in my heart in 2016. I’ve been to a number of different doctors and had all types of tests run and no one can ever seem to find anything abnormal. Luckily, a few months ago I began seeing an awesome osteopath and he has been able to help me with a few of my main pain concerns. We also ended up talking about diet and he said that he agrees processed carbohydrates and gluten should be omitted from the diet.
Back and neck stiffness unfortunately is still bothering me many a morning and I have to watch what I eat or I get acid reflux easily. When I buckle down and eat a strictly keto or primal diet I notice right away that the acid reflux seems to go away. But inevitably I’ll be at a birthday party or out with friends and have a slice of cake or tortilla chips before dinner and one thing leads to another and I’m back on the carb train.
Last week I said a little prayer to the Gods. I asked to be given the eyes to see and the ears to hear how I can best treat my body so I can do what I’m meant to do here on Earth. The next day I went treasure hunting at the thrift store and there in the book section was Wheat Belly and the Wheat Belly cookbook too. For a few dollars I felt I had to get them and it dawned on me that maybe the Gods were giving me answers.
Now, I’m a bit of an anomaly. I collect cookbooks but don’t enjoy cooking and I love to study nutrition and health but don’t always apply what I learn. I had pieced together in the last few years that celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis were probably two branches of the same tree. But I wasn’t exactly sure what was causing the inflammation and immune response. My father and his mother were both afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and my father’s older brother had celiac disease. Knowing this about my family members is what gave me the idea that celiac and rhuematic arthritis were the same disease expressing in two different ways. But why? And how could I prevent myself from getting these illnesses?
When I started reading Wheat Belly I expected to come across a lot about celiac disease and in fact an entire chapter of the book is dedicated to it. What surprised me though is when the author explained that rheumatoid arthritis is just one of the many ways that celiac disease manifests itself in the body. It is actually a misconception that the symptoms of celiac and gluten sensitivity are limited to stomach cramping and diarrhea. In fact, those symptoms often don’t show up in people with celiac. Unfortunately, most doctors understand little about the condition and it goes wildly undiagnosed. As I continued to read on the book was blowing my mind! Diabetes type 1 and 2, hypertension, fatty liver, gastrointestinal cancers, breast cancer, high cholesterol, obesity, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, all manner of skin rashes, crazy effects on the brain etc. etc. etc. All results of wheat/gluten intolerance! I know that may be a difficult pill to swallow, but if you take into account the fact that the wheat we eat today is genetically nothing like the wheat our great grandparent ate, things start to make sense. Wheat has been genetically modified over and over. Crossbred until it produced the highest yields at the least cost to the farmers (and in turn creating many new types of glutens.) This may sound good in terms of feeding the hungry mouths of the world but when it comes to our health it has proven to be disastrous. The final nail in the coffin is that the governments health departments actually state the heart health benefits of whole grains and wheat products and encourage us to eat large quantities daily. We are being told at every corner to eat more and more of the thing that is making us sick.
Wheat Belly is full of case studies of patients recovering or greatly improving their conditions by giving up wheat and gluten containing foods. Not only that but issues that these patients never would have connected to diet improve as well, and almost always people lose weight.
I have a few more chapters yet to read but I’m already attempting to rid my pantry of gluten and keep it far away from my plate. It now seems glaringly obvious to me that my uncle and my father didn’t suffer from separate illnesses but indeed both are afflicted with celiac. It could be many more years before mainstream medicine starts to suggest to rhuematoid arthritis sufferers the removal of gluten from the diet but we can all start to improve our health by doing it now. You don’t need to have a health issue or wait around for one to arise!
It’s no secret that most modern diseases, or metabolic disease as its called, are caused by diet. With all the sodas, candies and chips that get eaten per year it is a shock to no one that America is fat and sick. The real shock is that your healthy bran muffin is harming you as much as your afternoon candy bar. Even all of the processed gluten free foods are terrible for you! They may prevent a flair up of your celiac disease but they’ll still give you diabetes.
We can call all of these different symptoms by different disease names but at the end of the day, when one system is malfunctioning it is the start of a domino effect that leads to all systems failure. The only truly safe way to fuel the body is with vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, herbs, spices and fresh water. Anything else is probably a hindrance to the system and should be an every once in a while thing. Gluten and gluten containing products (which is predominantly wheat in the US) should never be eaten if wellness is the goal.
I hope you’ll read Wheat Belly if you’re interested in health and nutrition, and maybe try a little experiment by cutting out gluten for a month, see if you notice any positive changes. Leave me your thoughts, comments or experiences with gluten free diets or disease caused by gluten below. Have you read the book? What was your biggest takeaway?