What is a Wheat Belly?

Everyone is talking about the new book, Wheat Belly, written by Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He says that wheat grown today is not like the wheat your grandmother ate since it is genetically modified to produce a higher yield and is higher in protein and gliadin. He claims that gliadin binds to opiate receptors in our brain, stimulates appetite, and causes us to eat 440 more calories per day.

Gliadin is a protein found in wheat and the component in gluten responsible for celiac disease and wheat sensitivity. Wheat has been changed over time using classical plant breeding (it is not genetically modified using bacteria or viruses) and is now higher in protein than it was years ago. This may explain the increase in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

This research also says gliadin can act like an opiate, but does that translate into eating 440 more calories each day? I have seen way too much evidence for other things such as sugary drinks, foods high in sugar, fat, and salt (which makes us eat more), and the super sizing of portions, to think that our over-consumption of calories is due primarily to wheat.

Having said that, a lot of people seem to be sensitive to wheat nowadays. It makes sense to try cutting it out for 4 weeks for anyone with gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, or other health issues, to see it they feel better.

If you decide to try cutting out wheat, chose another grain that is not linked with problems or sensitivities. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a great option for a number of reasons. It is actually a seed, not a grain. It contains all the essential amino acids, making it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. It has a low glycemic index which means it does not make blood sugar go up too high. And it is versatile in that you can use it instead of rice with a meal or as a breakfast cereal with some walnuts, cinnamon, and milk or milk alternative. It’s a tasty option and cooks in only 10 minutes. Why not give it a try?

For more information on a wheat-free diet, see here.

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

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