Friday, May 10, 2013

Could Wheat be a Contributing Factor to Diabetes, Obesity, and Other Illnesses?


Barb Goshorn RN MSACN“The Nurse Nutritionist”

Yes it could, according to Dr. William Davis, author of the New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly. According to Dr. Davis, the wheat we eat today is not the same wheat our grandmothers used for baking in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, Minnesota geneticist Norman Borlaug (nicknamed the “Father of the Green Revolution”), hybridized wheat. This hybridized form of wheat is dwarf, high-yielding, and reaches maturity quicker. The yield is ten times greater per acre than traditional wheat! Is it any wonder farmers preferred this high-yield dwarf hybrid? By 1985, 99% of the wheat grown in the United States was this genetically modified hybrid.
The USDA and food pyramid recommends 6-11 servings of grain per day with no distinction between complex and simple carbohydrates. (In 2010, the food pyramid was changed to “my plate” but continues to encourage large amounts of grain consumption). The glycemic index of a slice of this new hybridized wheat is 72, higher than sucrose, which is 59. Therefore, eating cereal or a bagel for breakfast, two slices of bread or a wrap at lunch, pretzels for a snack, and pasta for dinner leads to continual spikes in blood sugar. When blood sugar rises, the hormone insulin is released and this continual spike contributes to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, insulin triggers the storage of fat, predominately visceral (or belly) fat. Belly fat and insulin resistance are precursors to weight gain, diabetes, and all the inflammatory diseases including heart disease, arthritis, allergies, osteoporosis, and cancer.
Dr. Davis maintains eliminating or reducing wheat consumption can improve many of the “life style” diseases people in America suffer from today. In addition, it isn’t as difficult as it would first appear. There are many grains that can be substituted for wheat. These include millet. Quinoa, amaranth, and rice. Remember though, gluten free doesn’t mean calorie free. Although the USDA, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association all endorse a high grain diet, Dr. Davis (a cardiologist), does not believe a healthy diet needs to include grains. He advocates a diet of “real food” including vegetables, fruit, lean beef, eggs, wild caught fish, olives, and nuts. Regardless if one includes grains in their diet or not, Dr. Davis believes going wheat free is important in decreasing many of the diseases Americans are experiencing today. I couldn’t agree more!