A book on my perpetually growing, never-ending, “to read” list for years that I just now got around to reading. And wow, was this an eye-opening, sobering read indeed.
I used to tout the belief that, while bread wasn’t great for you, it was sugar that was the ultimate evil. Sugar is horrible for your health. That truth still holds. But on reading this, I learned that wheat is the food to avoid at all costs.
At least, if you wish to remain disease free, age well, not gain tons of weight over the years (and no, exercise will not keep wheat related weight gain off), nor have neurological issues, diabetes, or heart disease.
I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn how awful wheat is for both our physical and mental well being. It was a bit depressing (because who doesn’t love pasta?), though mind-blowing, and thus, an incredibly important read to say the least.
One crucial clarification. That old adage, “everything in moderation”? It doesn’t apply here. Wheat isn’t one of those things you can just enjoy on occasion, with no health consequences. Wheat is a food that, anytime even a bit of it enters your system, it wreaks havoc and sets in motion all the damage I will now describe below. (Think of this as a Cliff Notes version of “Wheat Belly” ;-)).
First off, wheat raises ones blood sugar more than any other food. More than a candy bar, more than soda, you name it. Wheat is the number one offender for sending blood sugar levels into the stratosphere.
Why is this a problem?
When glucose levels rise, insulin is released to help take care of the glucose, as too much glucose in the blood is toxic. The higher one’s blood glucose after eating, the greater one’s insulin levels, and as a result, the more fat is deposited on our bodies.
This is why, say, eating an omelet with veggies and cheese causes no increase in blood sugar and thus, no glucose is released, which ultimately means no fat added to the body. As opposed to say, just two slices of whole wheat bread, which actually increases one’s blood glucose to incredibly high levels, ultimately triggering insulin and thus, the growth of fat over the long term.
What is more worrisome: eventually your body can become resistant to insulin.
The more foods you eat which continually spike your blood sugar and cause a release of insulin to rush out and save the day? Eventually, your insulin can actually stop working. You essentially wear out the system through overuse. This is when one gets diabetes. And it is totally and completely one’s own doing, based on what they choose to eat.
Triggering high blood sugar repeatedly and/or over sustained periods also causes fat to accumulate. And exercise cannot alter this. It’s an inevitable result of the chemicals interplay in one’s body when consuming wheat. The consequences of which tend to be especially visible in the abdomen, resulting in what the book calls “wheat belly.”
The bigger a person’s wheat belly, the poorer one’s response to insulin. Since the deep visceral fat of the wheat belly is associated with poor responsiveness to insulin, demanding higher and higher insulin levels. A situation that leads to diabetes.
As a side note, this has little to do with gluten. Gluten is the protein that ultimately binds together dough. It’s what gives the dough its elastic texture. Gluten isn’t wheat though. Many people do not understand this distinction. They assume that gluten-free is healthy, safe, and a non-wheat of sorts. And that gluten and wheat are both “bad” and interchangeable. This is inaccurate.
A critical note on gluten-free foods. People often feel as though replacing their usual bread products with a gluten-free version is “healthy” and the ultimate no guilt swap. Not so fast.
Most gluten-free foods replace wheat with cornstarch, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch. These still trigger the same glucose spike-insulin response that wheat does. Even more alarming, they are among the few foods that increase blood sugar even more than wheat does!
So gluten-free foods are equally problematic to wheat if they contain any of the starches listed above.
With that said, wheat itself (gluten aside) is one of the single most destroyers of one’s health over time. And this can happen at any age. Some people begin seeing devastating effects on their health as a result of wheat consumption in their forties or fifties. Others experience it as early as their twenties or thirties. You cannot possibly know when such will emerge.
If you remove it from your diet, this ceases the entire domino effect of eating wheat, triggering blood sugar to rise, the spike in glucose, and then the release of insulin to counter-act such. If you cut out wheat, no visceral fat is accumulated over time (which leads to inflammation, diabetes, and a whole host of other diseases). And then no wearing out of one’s system occurs, which often happens quicker then we think.
By eliminating the diet-dominating, blood sugar increasing food of wheat, we can drop our blood sugar levels, lose visceral fat (wheat belly), and free ourselves from the risk of obesity, pre-diabetes, and diabetes.
But. There are more dangers of wheat, and they are not small ones by any means.
Wheat also disrupts the bodies pH levels to significant degrees, resulting in almost certain weakening of bones. And, taking calcium supplements to counter-act the problem is no more effective at reversing this bone loss than randomly tossing some bags of cement and bricks into your backyard is at building a new patio.
Modern eating patterns create a chronic acidosis that leads us to osteoporosis, bone fragility, and fractures.
The prevalence of arthritis leads us to believe that this is an unavoidable accompaniment of aging. Not true.
Joints have the potential to serve us for eight or so decades of our life…until we ruin them with excessive acidity and inflammatory molecules, such as what we obtain from eating wheat.
Wheat also ages you horribly. AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products) is an important term to know. The higher the blood sugar, and the longer blood sugars remain high, the more AGEs will accumulate and the more organ damage results.
All it takes is a little extra blood sugar, just a few milligrams above normal, and you have AGEs doing their dirty work and mucking up your organs.
Wheat gives you heart disease. The book goes into depth about this process, which wheat causes directly.
It messes with you on a neurological level, making ones thinking murky and muddled. Eating wheat has even been proven to increase symptoms of schizophrenia. On the flip side, people with schizophrenia who cut out wheat, a significant degree of them experienced a decrease in symptoms and some, their symptoms even vanished altogether.
That point aside, wheat can actually damage your brain. Yes, I will say that once more. Consumption of wheat can actually damage your brain. This can reveal itself in dementia, seizures, and more.
Wheat destroys your skin, causing acne and inflammation of the skin. All manner of skin conditions often vanishes on cutting wheat from one’s diet. It also ages you considerably, making skin more wrinkled and less radiant.
Wheat is also highly addictive. Triggering a boost in feel-good brain chemicals. Many people literally reporting feeling addicted to bread and wheat. Some even going through mild depression for a couple of days initially on cutting it out. This, of course, keeps you eating routinely, and more, of this health destroying item.
This is just some of what you will learn within “Wheat Belly,” in a nutshell. Much of the text above was lifted directly from the book.
This is a crucial, life altering, and worthwhile read. If you desire living your healthiest life, a long, able-bodied, healthy and happy, disease-free life, then this book is one you should make a point to read.
Your diet and quality of life largely depend on it.