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The Wheat-free lifestyle


July 2013

Dr. William Davis says nixing wheat in your diet will result in a healthier lifestyle.

With better than one in four Wisconsinites considered obese, weíre no strangers to the beer belly. But the wheat belly?

Wheat is the culprit in weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other maladies, according to Dr. William Davis, a local interventional cardiologist. His book, "Wheat Belly," laid out the argument for a wheat-free lifestyle; it became a No. 1 bestseller on the New York Times list in 2012 and spent nearly a year on the list.

"None of this stuff falls into the conventional world," admits Davis. "The American Heart Association says, ĎCut your fat, cut your cholesterol and eat healthy whole grains.í Itís advice that is at best ineffective and at worst causes heart disease."

Davis has practiced for 21 years, many of which were spent giving his patients the standard instructions. He sent them for tests. He performed angioplasties and heart catheterizations. And then he decided that the health care system was based on "a revolving door of repetitive procedures that are highly profitable."

According to Davis, routine blood work doesnít tell the whole story. He prefers more advanced cholesterol tests that most doctors donít order. Such tests can disclose small LDL particles ó not just the overall LDL ratio. These particles increase the risk for heart disease; their production is triggered, Davis says, by amylopectin A, the dominant complex carbohydrate in wheat.

Small LDL particles arenít the only hazard of consuming wheat, Davis says. He cites links to rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, acid reflux disease, asthma and even depression. Wheat is said to increase appetite. And then thereís diabetes, because "very few foods have a greater ability to raise your blood sugar than wheat products," says Davis.

Wheat is found in unexpected places ó ice cream, canned soups, cake frosting and potato chips, to name just a few. So, going fully wheat-free means reading labels carefully. Merely reducing wheat in the diet isnít enough, Davis adds, because small LDL particles continue to be triggered for one to two weeks after wheat consumption.

The wheat-free diet includes meat, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. The first five days are "quite miserable," says Davis. The payoff comes as the body begins to oxidize fat ó a process that takes about four weeks.

In addition to "Wheat Belly," Davis authored "Wheat Belly Cookbook" earlier this year and founded an interactive website called "Track Your Plaque."

Meanwhile, he is closing his medical practice in Wauwatosa this summer to focus on speaking, writing and projects for two wheat-free research foundations. Noting that food companies spend billions lobbying the federal government, he says, "We operate in the shadows of the Goliaths that control the message. I see it as my mission to help people understand that what youíre being told is often wrong."

Visit M Magazineís website, to find two wheat-free recipes from Davisí "Wheat Belly Cookbook."

What about carb-loading?

Generations of endurance athletes have gorged on spaghetti the night before a race to get the fuel to go the distance. "Nonsense," says Davis. "Primitive humans didnít carb-load, but they could outrun any modern runner." He suggests cooked sweet potatoes and fresh fruit (natural carbohydrate sources) and GU (an energy gel that does not contain wheat), but only immediately prior to and during an event.


This story ran in the July 2013 issue of: