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These days, gluten is at the center of many people’s dietary dartboards — with too few actually understanding what the stuff is or why they’re giving it up. (For the record, gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye). In addition, the rising popularity of diets such as Paleo, Bulletproof, and even Atkins has more of us turning our backs on grains and reorienting our eating habits to emphasize higher protein and healthy fat sources.
One of the voices at the forefront of this grain-and-wheat-free movement is William Davis, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and best-selling author of the Wheat Belly series of books. His latest, Wheat Belly: 10 Day Grain Detox, is a primer on his eating philosophy, updated with new research and replete with recipes and meal plans. It aims to give readers a taste of the benefits of forsaking grains in just 10 days — promises that range from weight loss, to improved cardiovascular health, to salvation from autoimmune diseases (a class of disorders including multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and Type 1 diabetes, advancing to unprecedented rates in Western society).
Now, with the review of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans currently underway, there is more scrutiny surrounding what we’re being told to eat (low-fat instead of full-fat foods, with an emphasis on whole grains). The pushback from consumers and experts such as Davis and investigative journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, is fueled by the fact that recent estimates indicate that nearly half of all US adults are diabetic or prediabetic.
Yahoo Health talked with Davis about the science behind his recommendations to ditch grains altogether:
Because [some cardiologists] drank the Kool-Aid called “healthy whole grains.” Let me explain: Studies demonstrated that if you replace something bad (white flour products) with something less bad (whole grains) and there is an apparent health benefit — and there is: less weight gain, less heart disease, less Type 2 diabetes, less colorectal cancer — then the conclusion drawn is that a lot of whole grains must therefore be good.
But that is fundamentally flawed logic. The next question should have been: What is the effect of complete elimination of all grains, white and whole?The answers will not be found in those same epidemiological studies, but this question has been addressed in many clinical studies that demonstrate weight loss (not less weight gain), reversal or dramatic improvement of Type 2 diabetes in most instances, reversal of autoimmune conditions, and other benefits.
Further, much of the conventional, favorable view of whole grains is based on cholesterol testing — a crude and outdated form of testing that should have been eliminated decades ago. There is a modern, more detailed, more sophisticated means of assessing the metabolic causes of cardiovascular disease called “advanced lipoprotein analysis.” These methods break the particles in the bloodstream down by size, quantity, and other characteristics — a far more accurate method of assessing the character and number of the lipoprotein particles that cause heart disease. If you perform such analyses, you will quickly learn (and clinical studies have demonstrated) that fat intake has virtually nothing to do with causing cardiovascular risk (except for hydrogenated fats) and that grains and sugars are incredibly powerful causes.