Summary (from the publisher): Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100 million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.
After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle. Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.
As someone interested in a healthier diet, I’ve been looking into different opinions on carbs (which have always been my downfall). I don’t think they’re all bad for you, as some Atkins/Keto followers would have you believe. But I do believe in the nutritional differences between, say, a bowl of oatmeal and a brownie. Duh. Davis’ book seemed like another interesting piece of the puzzle. Going in, I didn’t have a firm opinion one way or the other about wheat. It was part of my diet and I do have an image of it being “healthy”, but I wasn’t exactly a champion of the grain, nor did I go out of my way to avoid it.
I have to say I was surprised by all the negative aspects of wheat Davis presents in this book. I had no idea that what we use today is so genetically different than wheat used in ancient times. I also had no idea that wheat was used in so many different products, including non-bread/non-bakery items where you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to find it (think soy sauce or licorice). So if nothing else, Wheat Belly is making me take some longer looks at food labels (something I haven’t been doing much of recently).
Where this book turns a bit controversial (at least for me) is when Davis concludes that so many health problems stem from consuming wheat. Not over-consumption, mind you. Just simple consumption in any amount. I am naturally averse to extremes like this, and can’t believe — unless in cases of serious medical side-effects — that anyone would have to give up any and all wheat consumption just to be thin, fit, and healthy. Sure, wheat belly, I can buy that. Spikes and subsequent crashes in blood glucose levels…makes sense. But Davis goes even farther than that, and blames wheat consumption for everything from joint pain to skin problems and heart conditions. This is where he sort of lost me, but I kept reading anyway.
The rest of the book was filled with case studies, examples, and research that are intended to prop up Davis’ position. In this way, he makes a fairly convincing case; however, it would have been very helpful for Davis to discuss some counterpoints and show why those opposing views are wrong. He didn’t really do that, except to basically say: “Americans have been eating wheat products for 50 years and now there’s an obesity problem. Let’s cut out the wheat and watch the pounds melt away.” There could be plenty of other causes for the obesity epidemic besides wheat!
I thought a lot of the information presented in Wheat Belly was eye-opening and useful. I was already on my way to cutting out most (but certainly not all) wheat products from my diet, and this book will likely serve as another catalyst in making the switch. I’m in no position to speak directly to the medical or scientific aspects of what Davis presents here, but at least he cites his sources and some of his conclusions seem to make sense. I give this book 3 stars out of 5.