"The gliadin in today's wheat is a very powerful stimulant of appetite," says Davis, whose book is on Amazon's bestseller list. Visit wheatbellyblog.com for more information.
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Wheat is the world’s most popular grain but it’s also the most dangerous, triggering overeating and obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other ills, according to cardiologist William Davis, MD, author of the best-selling Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. What about whole or sprouted wheat? They’re just as bad, he says. Here’s why:
BN: Why is wheat so unhealthy?
WD: Wheat today has been crossbred to multiply yield and in the process, there has been a major change in a protein called gliadin, which is a component of gluten. The gliadin in today’s wheat is a very powerful stimulant of appetite, so much so that the typical person who consumes wheat eats, on average, between 440 and 800 more calories per day.
BN: Is this the same problem as gluten sensitivity?
WD: No, gliadin acts as an opiate and it stimulates appetite in people with normal digestion of gluten. However, most gluten sensitivity is really a gliadin sensitivity. You may or may not be sensitive to gluten in its totality, but you are likely sensitive to the gliadin component of gluten.When we eat wheat, the gliadin gets broken down into polypeptides, which are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind with certain opiate receptors. Because of the nature of these opiate receptors, gliadin doesn’t cause pain relief or euphoria, it causes addiction and appetite stimulation. It’s a very, very unique kind of opiate.
BN: What kind of addiction does gliadin cause?
WD: Addiction to wheat and stimulation of appetite for carbohydrates. If I have wheat, my appetite is generally not stimulated for salmon, but for more wheat and carbohydrate foods. Wheat is found in many surprising places—frozen entrées, soups, and candy, for example. The wheat is why you have people eating a whole bag of Twizzlers.
Nearly all people who say “I have a terrible sweet tooth,” are really addicted to wheat that stimulates their desire for sweets. Almost always, people who eliminate wheat lose that desire and their sense of sweetness is amplified. Things they used to think were tasty are now so sickeningly sweet, they can’t eat them.
BN: Do other grains cause similar problems?
WD: Gliadin is unique to wheat. However, rye has been crossbred so much with wheat that all the problems of wheat are also problems of rye. Other grains, such as millet, buckwheat, and rice, don’t contain gliadin, but these and other carbohydrates should be limited for another reason. We’ve created a mess by telling people, “Cut your fat, eat a lot of healthy whole grains,” and unleashed a host of processed carbohydrate junk foods. Two-thirds of Americans are diabetic or prediabetic and to reverse that, you have to restrict other carbohydrates as well.
Gluten-free flours such as cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch raise blood sugar even more than wheat, which raises blood sugar more than table sugar. In place of wheat flour, I recommend nut meals, flax seeds, and coconut flour, as these don’t cause surges in blood sugar that lead to diabetes.