Wheat: How About Against the Grain, and Zero Servings Per Day?

Time to recycle an image from a couple of years back. Now just let that sink in a bit. Gotta love what the combination of wheat leading to visceral fat accumulation does to estrogen levels in men.

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Man Boobs and Wheat Bellies

While I've not yet read Dr. William Davis' NYT bestselling book, Wheat Belly, I've read a few reviews and notably, one quite extensive review just posted by Dr. Michael Eades. I really liked the insight and juxtaposition of these two paragraphs:

Stephen Budiansky, author of one of my favorite books, Covenant of the Wild, describes how domestic animals formed a pact with humans in which the animals traded a period of safety and survival for their lives. Had this covenant not been made, it is highly likely – virtually a certainty – that cows would now be extinct. Big, slow, stupid and tasty, had they not been amenable to domestication and entered into the covenant with their domesticators, cattle would have been hunted to extinction long, long ago. But they did – however unwillingly – make the covenant and so exist by the tens of millions today. The deal they cut was a phenomenal deal for cattle as a species, but not a particularly good deal for the individual cow when the time comes to pay up at slaughter.

Homo sapiens entered an almost mirror image of this same covenant when they domesticated cereal grasses.* We gave up our independence and mobility for the promise of a constant and plentiful food supply. But, as with our covenant with domestic animals, there is a catch. And this time it’s with us. Humans emerged from this deal with the short end of the stick. In the same way as did cattle, we made a good-for-humans-as-a-species/bad-for-the-individual-human trade. Like it or not, we traded the health of the individual human for the overall good of mankind and the development of civilization.

How about that? I think it's right on the mark and makes a lot of sense.

Dr. Mike goes on to describe the diet of the ancient Egyptians: high in wheat; just the sort of diet that would be prescribed today by the USDA Food Pyramid, as well as the preponderance of dietitians and nutritionists.

Unfortunately, according to Eades, mummified remains and their artwork don't really paint a rosy picture of dietary health: "the ancient Egyptians were often fat and were riddled with heart disease, dental caries, bad periodontal disease and no doubt diabetes and hypertension." Sounds like modern America.

It's also clear from this review that Dr. Eades has undergone a change in his perspective vis-a-vis a complete emphasis on carbohydrate underlying modern dietary and health problems, including obesity. This is something the Paleo folks have been talking about for a good long while, particularly in view of the healthfulness of many primitive populations with very high carbohydrate consumption -- but with no wheat or other grains in their diet.

And the figures cited on grain consumption are unbelievable, but at the same time, cause me to relax a bit over having that burger with a bun now and then, or a few slices of pizza. According to figures obtained from the Kansas Wheat Commission, the average American consumes the wheat equivalent of a loaf of bread per day. Well, when you consider the breakfast cereals, the baked whatever from Starbucks as a snack, the sandwich for lunch, another afternoon snack, pasta for dinner along with bread to scoop it all up, then Hot Pockets in front of the TV at 10PM, it's not such a stretch. Add in the unnatural omega-6 consumption from the industrial seed oils in everything, then heap on 20-30 teaspoons of sugar on all of it, and you've got yourself a perfect storm.

Well those are just the highlights, so I encourage you to read the whole review if you haven't already. Also, Tom Naughton, producer, director and Fat Head behind Fat Head, The Movie, has a thorough review up as well.

~~~

Moving on to Dr. William Davis and his book -- and some of the interesting, humorous and telling things that have happened -- the book sits currently at #7 in all books on Amazon and #1 in three separate health & science categories. And, and, and...it also hit #5 on the NYT Bestseller list in the Advice & How-To category.

...And this did not make the wheat & grain industry happy. So, doing what any upstanding industry would do, they unleashed the whores. Specifically, the Grain Foods Foundation. Ms. Ashley Reynolds is the one they got to hike up her skirt.

Don’t be fooled by catchy terms like “wheat belly” and “bagel butt”….a fad diet is still a fad diet, no matter how you dress it up. That’s exactly the story behind the new book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health that was released today.

In his book, cardiologist William Davis asserts that wheat consumption is solely responsible for Americans’ health ills and that cutting wheat from our diets is the cure-all solution to conditions like obesity, diabetes, celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Cutting out one specific food is not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous. Omitting wheat entirely removes the essential (and disease-fighting!) nutrients it provides including fiber, antioxidants, iron and B vitamins.

Besides this, the advice dished out by Dr. Davis is completely counter to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the gold standard of scientifically-sound nutrition advice. The Guidelines call for the average healthy American to consume six one-ounce servings of grain foods daily, half of which should come from whole grains and the other half from enriched grains. Wheat is the basis for a number of healthful whole and enriched grain foods including breads, cereal, pasta and wheat berries that provide valuable nutrients to the American diet and have been shown to help with weight maintenance.

So, let common sense prevail. When it comes to nutrition advice, look to the real experts and remember that weight control is all about one key equation: calories in must equal calories out.

Most of that is just too vapid, too stupid, too pandering, too cutesy to even comment on. Feel free to dissect it in comments if you like. I can hardly get through the thing without laughing and losing my train of thought. Here's Dr. Davis' response.

What's particularly funny about the link, above, is that there are 113 comments so far, and many, many by people who see right through Ashley Reynolds' bullshit. Here's a great sampling of some of them.

And who remembers my Nutrition Density Challenge: Fruit vs. Beef Liver, where it took a full 5 pounds of fruit to roughly equal the nutrition in 4 ounces of liver? How about we do one real quick like, beef liver vs. bread? Yea, because then we'll have earned the right to refer to Ashley Reynolds as the lying, whoring abject moron that she is and c'mon, face it: that's what you've been wanting me to say all along, isn't it?

So let's see, I'll use bread as a surrogate for that grain equivalent of one loaf per day. Poking around various breadweb sites, looks like about 1,400 calories. So let's compare the nutrition in 1,400 calories of beef liver with that of 1,400 calories of bread, since, you know, 'grains contain vital nutrients and you'll be absolutely fucked if you don't get your six servings per day.'

And OK, since not everyone likes beef liver, we'll do it for 1,400 calories of salmon as well.

Now, before we get started, let's get a bead on just how ignorant this "registered dietitian" is. Says she: "calories in must equal calories out." That's like saying "a day must equal 24 hours." It says nothing about how you spend your day, nor various hours within it in activities, sleeping, etc. In terms of body composition, the calories in/out balance says nothing about how hormonal regulation accounts for fat accumulation, expenditure, hypertrophy, respiration, heart rate, body temperature and a whole host of other complex and integrated functions that in total are in balance.

OK, you can click on the images to enlarge to full size. The numbers at the top of each bar represent the % of RDA. The bars with the two horizontal hashes at top are those that are off the charts, but here, it is particularly important to look at the numbers, to get an idea of how far off the chart they are.

Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 43 09 PM
1,400 calories of bread, about a loaf
Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 43 28 PM
1,400 calories of beef liver, nature's multivitamin
Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 45 13 PM
1,400 calories of salmon

Now of course, nobody's going to eat the roughly 30 ounces of liver or salmon needed to get to 1,400 calories, but you could eat a 4th of either of them and still break bread and leave it on its ass. And we also aren't even touching on the aspect that most of the "nutrition" in the grains are in the minerals, and grains have high levels of phytic acid that bind to minerals, preventing their absorption.

Cut back on the liver and salmon, add in some leafy greens, maybe some starchy veggies, add some fruit in there, maybe some nuts and eggs and you will always, always blow grains out of the water, and you'll do it every time. No exceptions. It's not even close. Grains are poverty food, plain and simple. Are you that poor?

Alright, enough already. I'll let Denise Minger put the final nail in the wheat coffin. Feel free to link up other wheat grinding posts elsewhere.

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Comments

  1. We established the relationship with cows, so much so that for many people the only red meat they eat is from a cow.

    Likewise, we established a relationship with grains, so much so that most of the typical American’s calories are derived from soy, wheat, and corn.

    The point is food groups don’t exist in nature, the idea of a food group is a human construct to allow them to partition foods for discussion, analysis, etc.

    If we had found a tree which yielded something close to grain’s level of production from the same level of effort, we wouldn’t have the grains food group. We’d have the bark food group. It doesn’t matter if it’s good for you or not, we’d be told to eat our healthy whole barks.

    So when people talk about food groups, and how you need X servings of grains, ask them how much tree bark you should eat? It’s a food group. I just said so.

    And until they can grasp this level of conversation, they’ll be stuck in the mistaken belief that they are making informed choices while they poison their bodies.

    I’m up for some salmon, some liver, perhaps some onions and sweet potato with it. I don’t give a flying f*** at a rolling donut what food groups those actual foods come from.

  2. wow, never knew that about the Egyptians!

  3. Alexandra says:

    Great post.. I think that once word gets out that wheat causes man-boobs, there will be countless men dropping their grain consumption.
    I finished reading Wheat Belly today, I enjoyed Dr. Davis’s writing style and way of explaining complex science.

    I love liver in the form of pate’ but I haven’t bought any lately because they all seem to contain wheat. Does anyone know a brand that is wheat free or possibly a recipe I can try?

    • Alexandra, unless you are particularly sensitive or, eat it all the time, I would just chalk it up to contamination. The benefits you get in terms of nutrition likely far outweigh anything else.

      This is about getting better and better, not purity and perfection. Of course, the best way to go is make your own pate. I have not done that but I will. I think that’s the ideal way. Pate is ecellent smashed into celery, and any number of other crunchy delivery devices.

      • I prefer pate on slices of crisp cucumber, also like wrapping it in a slice of ham or mild salami along with maasdam and a dollop of pesto.
        Mixed 50/50 ish with melted butter served warm spread on a rare steak is awesome too.

        Add it is very easy to make and cheap considering how good it is.

    • Alexandra, US Wellness meats has awesome liverwurst and braunschweiger: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Categories.bok

      That’s my favorite way to get organ meats. Haven’t quite mastered the art of cooking them myself – always a disaster!

    • Alaxandra, goose,beefor lamb liver, a little wine, sugar,soy…smoke in I little chief, blend with humas and a bit of lemon juice yummy healthy pate

    • We eat a lot of paté and I do a lot of cooking, but for some reason it never occurred to me to make my own. I dunno why, I just thought it had to be made by French nuns and pixie dust or something, but I just looked it up and it seems pretty straightforward. The reality is that if liver is going to be eaten around here it is most likely to be in the form of paté (or breaded with ketchup for the kid, I admit I do keep flour around for the occasional indulgence).

      I’ll eat the cheap stuff with preservatives and fillers if I’m feeling stingy and/or don’t wanna make the deli run. I figure the benefits outweigh the negatives.

    • All the store-bought have lots of suspicious ingredients, but actually Braunschweiger in the pre-sliced form had the least bad ingredients in it, aside from not being grass-fed. Tastes okay too. It’s either Farmer John or Jimmy Dean brand. Trader Joes used to have a good one encrusted with pepper but I haven’t seen it in a while. I’ll ask next time I’m there.

    • I would soon go broke buying patte as opposed to making it myself!

      Beef liver patte:
      http://farmlet.co.nz/?p=199

      Be sure to eat it on celery dipped in butter for the extra decadence!

  4. Dave Kraus says:
  5. Vacuous drivel! I’m not even pissed that she is defending wheat, we need a serious debate about the claims made by wheat advocates and skeptics alike. But this is the worst defense I have ever seen, as Richard so easily pointed out. I could do a hundred times better than this dumb nutritionism. Where’s my paycheck? I have very little integrity, really. Grain Foods Foundation, if you are reading this, please reply with your e-mail address and I will contact you about my future employment. Hope to hear from you soon.

    *bling bling*

    • I’m glad you commented with that sound offer, and I’m sure you would do an excellent job.

      I’m going to assume you”re a male and further, I’m going to to deflect any criticism over my whore metaphor and in particular, hiking up her skirt.

      I mean, now that you’ve offered to grab your ankles for money. :)

      • Sarah Madden says:

        Calling this woman a whore is insulting. Whores carry out an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, the last thing they need is to be compared to women like this.

      • Sarah, you remind me of how much I love my commenters.

        I’ll be boring, since I’ve already used this line, but throw the girl a bone. Make sure it has marrow in it.

      • Exactly whores are useful, politician is a far more offensive term.
        Give me a whore over a politician any day, my wife agrees!

  6. Samantha Moore says:

    “…we’ll have earned the right to refer to Ashley Raynolds as the lying, whoring abject moron that she is and c’mon, face it: that’s what you’ve been wanting me to say all along, isn’t it?”

    I can BREATHE better! Thank you!

    • LOL, I wasn’t going to call her a whore, but I had no idea how much better I’d feel once some one else did. I’m so mean – it’s the last bit of wheat detox, I’m sure of it. I’ll be much nicer once it’s over.

  7. Giving up wheat also reduces the size of lady-boobs too, or at least it is for me. Hmm…

    • Curmujeon says:

      Not necessarily a bad thing. I think society’s over emphasis of the supersized breasts is disgusting. And women artificially supplement them too much and men and women think they look so good! I much prefer a well proportioned, well formed, quality bust to the monster udders that so many go gaga for these days.

      • Absolutely. Quality, not quantity.

      • Definitely not a terrible thing in my case. The only inconvenience is having to have clothing retailored to fit me properly.

        I teach boys. Gaping blouses and dresses is a poor way to motivate in the classroom to do anything that *has* to do with the curriculum…

    • Breasts also tend to shrink as women reduce their body fat % so it is not necessarily giving up wheat that caused the shrinkage, could be reduced body fat.

    • There’s simply no way I can pass up a woman talking about the size of her breasts without adding something puerile.

      After debating a number of childish responses I’m settling on this one: pics or it didn’t happen!

  8. I hear you!

  9. After 2 years of 100% wheat-free primal eating, I had been expecting a big boost in my HDL cholesterol in my annual health assessment as work, having been as low as the 30s. I finally got it!
    Total: 223
    LDL: 146
    HDL: 65
    Triglycerides: 58

    These numbers were expected, and I’m ecstatic to see them. My total cholesterol number on SAD was anywhere from 145 to 199 during the decade before primal, with very low HDL regardless of exercise (including several half-marathons). I am ignoring the bogus LDL number based on my own research on the best science, which clearly points to LDL in a standard test being at best misleading.

    I know T. Colin Campbell would shake his head looking at my numbers and wish me a steaming pile of wheat. Now that I have to drive by the anti-cheese billboard he and PCRM are putting up in Green Bay, WI, I am going to make sure to munch some cheese curds as I pass that steaming pile of misinformation.

  10. Oh, Richard. You really are my favourite “paleo guy” to read.

  11. Honestly- I think you’re being a little kind to wheat with your bread-liver/salmon comparison. What would it look like if you compared beef or salmon to 1400 calories worth of wheat- without the benefit of all the fortification required of flour. Without the added B vitamins and iron, bread would look even more pathetic! (I’d guess the calcium might be a result of enrichment as well, and the yeast used for bread might add some good B vitamins as well…).

  12. Dude,

    Possibly your best post ever.

    Excellent argument, full of facts and a little bit of fun.

    Me likey!

    Mark

  13. So now wheat is the evil food? First fat, then carbs, then fructose, now wheat. What are the odds that this is the magic ingredient making us fat? I doubt it, when there are wheat-based diets that work: http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Life-Diet-High—Carbs/dp/B002CMLQUW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317207550&sr=8-1

    It’s pretty funny to see people who laugh at the fat phobia fall for carbs, fructose and wheat within the timespan of a few years. I’ll refer to this post when the next fad comes along and have a donut now. :-)

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wAyYToauL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

    Brb writing a book on the magic obesogenic properties of lactose … it’s a sugar after all …

    • Just out of curiosity, what is your criteria for a fad? And yeah, lot’s of peopel in the paleo comunity would say lactose is not good for you. Not me, dairy makes up the largest part of my diet, but lots of people do.

      • Well, I mean all these theories that there’s this one food (or macronutrient) out there that’s the single cause of the obesity epidemic.

      • Ok, fair enough, I think I see where you are coming from. But the way I see it, the carbs/fructose/wheat thing is all one in the same. Now yes, plenty of people focus on JUST straight carbs. But, it seem to me all this has been an evolution of an idea. Carbs are bad. We look at the info, self experiment, discuss….starch is bad, repeat….processed carbs are bad,repeat, repeat, repeat, now we are down to wheat. We are, pardon the pun, separating the wheat from the chaff of ideas, seeing how it affects us as individuals, looking at the scientific studies, thinking outside the box, throwing out what doesn’t work, looking to evolution for clues. Wheat is the newest “fad”, because we realized, ok, cutting carbs helps, but it isn’t the whole story. We refine the idea down to grains, processed food, etc. In 3 years we might not give a shit about grains, because for most people on sites like this don’t look at this as a fad diet, we are trying to look at the evidence and see what works. We are headed in a direction, we may throw some things out, and focus on something new for awhile, but I don’t know if that makes it a fad or not, because we change focus as new info presents itself. I started down this road reading Atkins and The Zone. As I learned and read more, I ended up here. I think if I still subscribed to the theories of The Zone despite the evidence, I would be…..faddish?, but following the evidence as I see it is not what I would call a fad. But I could be wrong. Is the idea of one single cause of obesity, calories in/calories out a fad too?

  14. Hey, boobs can also hang low if they aren’t resting on a shelf of belly fat. If it is the overall look you’re going for, having a tinier waist helps the most. Seriously, Ashley, anyone who still insists on playing the “fad” card deserves to be thrown out of the game.

  15. I appreciate Wheat Belly’s sentiment, but is anyone miffed that he doesn’t go far enough? I saw an interview with the author and he said maybe all these problems wouldn’t happen if we hadn’t genetically altered and hybridized the wheat. He’s not necessarily advocating no wheat, he’s advocating none of today’s modern wheat. Big difference.

    And I’m always surprised when anti-wheat folks don’t go further and see how other grains are just as damaging or deleterious.

    • Do you have a link to this interview? I have read his blog a bit, and I would find that odd, if that was really what he meant. Dr. Williams sounds pretty anti-grain from my reading. I think he may suggest that the genticly modified new stuff is worse, but only by degree, I don’t think he really belives elkorn and other ancient forms are fine for consumtion. Just my understanding of what he wrote though.

      • Dammit…you want sources? ;) I thought I had seen the comment in the interview with Tom Naughton (Part 2 of interview: , but alas, I’m not finding it again.

        The comment was something along the lines of if ancient wheat (einkorn) were available, then we might not be having these issues. Upon further reading, it seems he is more in line with lower carb consumption, saying that no one should eat more than a 1/2 cup serving of less-harmful grains like amaranth and buckwheat. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he’s not a fan of soaking grains. I’ve never understood eating something after a process that admits it’s something you shouldn’t be eating in the first place.

        I’ll keep digging and post it if I find it.

  16. I know to stay away from wheat products–though I’m not a Nazi about it, if I’m out at an Italian restaurant I might have some pasta, or if I’m served Roti I’ll eat it. However, I’m certainly not buying it and cooking it at home, and or eating sandwiches/wraps for lunch.

    Now we all agree wheat is bad. There seems to be uncertainty y on 1. Other grains. Are rice and oats just as bad in terms of acid, celiac diseases, etc? 2. I take it that potates, sweet potatoes, squash, etc are relatively fine?

  17. “Now of course, nobody’s going to eat the roughly 30 ounces of liver or salmon needed to get to 1,400 calories”

    Hey now, I just ate 2 pounds of salmon last night for dinner. Fast and feed baby.

  18. Ooh! Ooh! Me! I love fat and protein.. grains are just HORRID.
    My blog covers this too – http://doesnojustice.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/the-importance-of-fat-an-ancestral-survival-mechanism/

    Thank you for sharing all this information: the world is in a HUGE state of affairs with nutrition and diet. We just want the right answers.. and I truly believe we will get there with Paleo.

Trackbacks

  1. BomberFit for Tuesday September 27th, 2011 | Bomber Athlete says:

    [...] WHEAT BELLY (click here to read the rest of the article and to see the wheat belly) Stephen Budiansky, author of one of my favorite books, Covenant of the Wild , describes how domestic animals formed a pact with humans in which the animals traded a period of safety and survival for their lives. Had this covenant not been made, it is highly likely – virtually a certainty – that cows would now be extinct. Big, slow, stupid and tasty, had they not been amenable to domestication and entered into the covenant with their domesticators, cattle would have been hunted to extinction long, long ago. But they did – however unwillingly – make the covenant and so exist by the tens of millions today. The deal they cut was a phenomenal deal for cattle as a species, but not a particularly good deal for the individual cow when the time comes to pay up at slaughter. [...]

  2. [...] It's a fucking red herring, and here's why, pulling up part of this from the archives: [...]

  3. [...] Among the many hacks we do in this Paleosphere, pushing out crap food in favor of real, nutrient dense food has to be the biggest bang for the buck. As I've blogged before but is hard to overemphasize, nutritional density counts for Big Lots. For review: 4 ounces of liver vs. 5 pounds of mixed fruit. And a loaf of bread vs. an equal caloric intake of beef liver or salmon. [...]

  4. [...] What I want to do going forward is to take a sensible, thoughtful, skeptical, and flexible approach to this whole thing. I'm not prepared to "slam paleo" or excise it from my writing vocabulary; but instead, continue to seek out synthesis among various approaches to a decent diet and exercise regimen. For instance, I'm not sure when it was that Anthony Colpo updated his The Fat Loss Bible, but I do believe it must have been pretty recently, because Chapters 11 and 12 read like one of the best short introductions to paleo eating I've ever seen. Combined with his "calories count" and quantitative approach to fat loss and lean sparing, that book is a real gem in my view. Most particularly, his emphasis on nutrient density are very much in line with my own, when I posted my nutritional density challenges for liver vs. fruit and liver or salmon vs. bread. [...]

  5. [...] There are only a few "super foods," and liver tops the list. Bread—or any grain product—is far from any such list. [...]

  6. [...] Calorie for calorie, beef liver has thousands of times more nutrition than "fortified" bread [...]

  7. [...] naturens multivitamin, något som Richard på “Free the animal” gärna bevisar om och om [...]

  8. [...] that's damn nutritious bread…uh, eggs and low PUFA nuts. Here, compare it to the common shit people eat. Well, so, I'm declaring this a real [...]