Dr. William Davis has published a new book, Wheat Belly, which has drawn some panicky criticism from the Grain Foods Foundation. He has published an open letter to the Grain Foods Foundation, and given permission for his readers to re-publish it, so I am including the entire letter here. It is a well-written rebuttal to a bunch of folks who serve as an illustration of the saying “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” (Upton Sinclair)
Ms. Ashley Reynolds
490 Bear Cub Drive
Ridgway, CO 81432
I am writing in response to the press release from the Grain Foods Foundation that describes your effort to “discredit” the assertions made in my book, Wheat Belly: Lose the wheat, lose the weight and find your path back to health. I’d like to address several of the criticisms of the book made in the release:
” . . . the author relies on anecdotal observations rather than scientific studies.”
While I do indeed have a large anecdotal experience removing wheat in thousands of people, witnessing incredible and unprecedented weight loss and health benefits, I also draw from the experiences already documented in clinical studies. Several hundred of these studies are cited in the book (of the thousands available) and listed in the Reference section over 16 pages. These are studies that document the neurologic impairment unique to wheat, including cerebellar ataxia and dementia; heart disease via provocation of the small LDL pattern; visceral fat accumulation and all its attendant health consequences; the process of glycation via amylopectin A of wheat that leads to cataracts, diabetes, and arthritis; among others. There are, in fact, a wealth of studies documenting the adverse, often crippling, effects of wheat consumption in humans and I draw from these published studies.
“Wheat elimination ‘means missing out on a wealth of essential nutrients.’”
This is true–if the calories of wheat are replaced with candy, soft drinks, and fast food. But if lost wheat calories are replaced by healthy foods like vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, meats, eggs, cheese, avocados, and olives, then there is no nutrient deficiency that develops with elimination of wheat. There is no deficiency of any vitamin, including thiamine, folate, B12, iron, and B6; no mineral, including selenium, magnesium, and zinc; no polyphenol, flavonoid, or antioxidant; no lack of fiber. With regards to fiber, please note that the original studies documenting the health benefits of high fiber intake were fibers from vegetables, fruits, and nuts, not wheat or grains.
People with celiac disease do indeed experience deficiencies of multiple vitamins and minerals after they eliminate all wheat and gluten from the diet. But this is not due to a diet lacking valuable nutrients, but from the incomplete healing of the gastrointestinal tract (such as the lining of the duodenum and proximal jejunum). In these people, the destructive effects of wheat are so overpowering that, unfortunately, some people never heal completely. These people do indeed require vitamin and mineral supplementation, as well as probiotics and pancreatic enzyme supplementation.
I pose several questions to you and your organization:
Why is the high-glycemic index of wheat products ignored?
Due to the unique properties of amylopectin A, two slices of whole wheat bread increase blood sugar higher than many candy bars. High blood glucose leads to the process of glycation that, in turn, causes arthritis (cartilage glycation), cataracts (lens protein glycation), diabetes (glycotoxicity of pancreatic beta cells), hepatic de novo lipogenesis that increases triglycerides and, thereby, increases expression of atherogenic (heart disease-causing) small LDL particles, leading to heart attacks. Repetitive high blood sugars that develop from a grain-rich diet are, in my view, very destructive and lead to weight gain (specifically visceral fat), insulin resistance, leptin resistance (leading to obesity), and many of the health struggles Americans now experience.
How do you account for the psychologic and neurologic effects of the wheat protein, gliadin?
Wheat gliadin has been associated with cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, gluten encephalopathy (dementia), behavioral outbursts in children with ADHD and autism, and paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations in people with schizophrenia, severe and incapacitating effects for people suffering from these conditions.
How do you explain the quadrupling of celiac disease over the last 50 years and its doubling over the last 20 years?
I submit to you that, while this is indeed my speculation, it is the changes in genetic code and, thereby, antigenic profile, of the high-yield semi-dwarf wheat cultivars now on the market that account for the marked increase in celiac potential nationwide. As you know, “hybridization” techniques, including chemical mutagenesis to induce selective mutations, leads to development of unique strains that are not subject to animal or human safety testing–they are just brought to market and sold.
Why does the wheat industry continue to call chemical mutagenesis, gamma irradiation, and x-ray irradiation “traditional breeding techniques” that you distinguish from genetic engineering? Chemical mutagenesis using the toxic mutagen, sodium azide, of course, is the method used to generate BASF’s Clearfield herbicide-resistant wheat strain. These methods are being used on a wide scale to generate unique genetic strains that are, without question from the FDA or USDA, assumed to be safe for human consumption.
In short, my view on the situation is that the U.S. government, with its repeated advice to “eat more healthy whole grains,” transmitted via vehicles like the USDA Food Pyramid and Food Plate, coupled with the extensive genetic transformations of the wheat plant introduced by agricultural geneticists, underlie an incredible deterioration in American health. I propose that you and your organization, as well as the wheat industry and its supporters, are at risk for legal liability on a scale not seen since the tobacco industry was brought to task to pay for the countless millions who died at their product’s hands.
I would be happy and willing to talk to you personally. I would also welcome the opportunity to debate you or any of your experts in a public forum.
Wiliam Davis, MD
Author, Wheat Belly: Lose the wheat, lose the weight and find your path back to health (Rodale, 2011)