An Open Letter to the Grain Foods Foundation

Readers: Please feel free to reproduce and disseminate this letter any way you see fit.

 

To:

Ms. Ashley Reynolds
490 Bear Cub Drive
Ridgway, CO 81432
Phone: 617.226.9927
ashley.reynolds@mullen.com

Ms. Reynolds:

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)

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Lee Asbell

    Dr. Davis:
    I’ve just completed your book and must thank you not just for writing it, but for being willing to step up to the plate and fight for what is right. I am quite certain the firestorm that will follow “Wheat Belly” and you, will not be pretty. For the millions of us who so despereately need the information in this book, please keep up the good work.

  2. Jackie

    Hi Dr. Davis!
    Happy to have found your blog and will be buying your book. Have you made any connections with wheat and gout specifically – I know it is considered a type of arthritis but it has some unique characteristics.
    Thanks,
    Jackie

    • Hi, Jackie–

      No, I know of no specific and documented relationship. But the reach of wheat is so deep that I wouldn’t for a moment doubt that there is one.

      Sometimes, given the general reluctance to examine the relationship of this thing called “wheat” with human health, it’s wise to first assume there’s a connection, then eliminate it to assess the effect.

    • PJ

      My understanding is that gout may be caused primarily by high fructose corn syrup. I have no doubt tho that wheat can exacerbate any condition. I think it’s best to eliminate both from your diet, regardless of your health status.

      • Thanks, PJ.

        Yes, fructose is metabolized to uric acid. It has essentially replaced a meat-rich diet as a major contributor to increased precipitation of uric acid, i.e., gout.

  3. Go, Dr. D!
    When I mentioned to my publisher that all the diabetic cookbooks on the market included recipes with lots of “healthy” whole grains — aka blood sugar bombs — my editor asked “Is it safe to say that’s because there are nutrients in whole grains you can’t get any other way?” My answer was a flat-out “no.” I have looked it up repeatedly; nutritional analysis is part of my job. There IS NO NUTRIENT IN WHOLE GRAINS, much less in wheat, THAT YOU CANNOT GET IN OTHER, MORE WHOLESOME FOODS. Period.

    As for fiber, whole grains are only a good source of fiber when compared to refined grains. Compared to vegetables, nuts and seeds, or even good dark chocolate, whole grains are a poor source of fiber.

  4. Ah, Dana, you’ve put your finger on a crucial issue:There is NOTHING in the human diet that is lacking when you eliminate this Frankengrain being sold to us called “wheat.” Nothing.

    All the nutrients obtained from wheat can be readily obtained from non-wheat foods. The “need” for “healthy whole grains” is pure fiction.

  5. Ha! Frankengrain is a fantastic word I am now taking up.

    I wanted to thank you, Dr. Davis; it was your blog that convinced me to ditch my occasional “cheats” or low carb wraps because my thinking they caused no harm… was wrong. And after seven years of low carbing quite happily, dropping all grains has caused me to lose a further 5 pounds effortlessly, and dramatically improved the arthritis pain in my hands. I went from needing aspirin to get to sleep to “Gee, they feeling like they are healing!”

    Also, just finished the book on my Kindle; loved it! Such a fun read alongside such a dark subject. I’m going to be getting the “dead trees edition” so I can pass it around to everyone I know.

  6. Hi, Were–

    “Dead trees edition.” That’s funny!

    Yes, low-carb alone is insufficient. It should be wheat-free, then low-carb.

    People who go only low-carb but permit this Frankengrain to stay in the diet boobytrap their health and weight loss efforts. Wheat-free first!

  7. Jim C.

    Great open letter doc! Considering what has been happening on Facebook, looks like you may finally get the chance to beard the lion in his den. Hopefully we will all get to see the transcript of that debate.

  8. Betsy J

    Saw your article in Woman’s World and bought the book yesterday. Interesting read so far, can’t wait to try some recipes!
    Low carb has been the best thing to happen to me, my mom saw an article abt Dr Atkins (shortly before he passed), so I thought – yeah – another diet fad but thought I would give it a try. I get in to one of my moods (quite often) and eat whatever is available or make bad food choices when eating out, so by the 3rd – 4th week- I am so miserable. Staying motivated is the key, but why wouldn’t I be… this is the only eatiing plan that works for me… no more heartburn (several times a day), no shakes (pretty much daily), and I don’t get headaches when low carbing. So that should be motivation enough !
    Gluten free items are pricey and some are quite carb-y, but there are other choices out there and I am bound and determined to do my homework. Hopefully the hubs will end up dropping a few pounds as well ! He has gained abt 45 pounds since he has been on steroid meds – not all of the weight gain is from that, but it doesn’t help the situation.
    Between your book and Dana C’s Hold the Toast website, I am determined to get back into shape and re-think my eating habits. A big thank you to you both.
    Much success to you !

    • Thanks, Betsy!

      Steer clear of gluten-free, by the way, until the industry figures out how to do this right and not sell you what are, in effect, jelly beans.

  9. Jeremy

    I hate reading stuff like this, because it makes me realize how unhealthy I’ve been eating. I was diagnosed as a Type 2 Diabetic about 2 years ago, and was able to follow a very Atkins-esque type diet for a while, but have recently fallen back off of the wagon. Thanks for all the info you provided, maybe it will add to the mounting pile of information that should motivate me to get back on the right track.

  10. JoeD

    Why not eliminate ALL novel foods introduced since the agricultural transformation 10,000 years ago in the middle east? 10,000 years sounds like a long time, but is recent in our evolutionary history. Eat like a Paleo man, eliminating all grains, dairy, and modern oils (corn, soybean) and processed food. Instead eat vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, fruit, nuts, classic oils (olive, coconut). Fast sporadically as cavemen didn’t always get three meals a day. Excercise playfully, giving up the agricultural/industrial era mundane workouts and jogging. Instead, chase your dog or children around, or take long walks and randomly sprint up hills. Read Arthur DeVany’s book, the New Evolutionary Diet. http://arthurdevany.com/categories/20091026.

  11. jorge

    ok. im gonna try it. have been increasingly sicker for years and this makes alot of sense. just bought the ibook. arthritis, gut problems, depression. if i give it a month will i see any results? i do believe the frankengrain is addictive. it seems to change into candy in my mouth. like i cant stop eating it. thanks doc. for going against the evil money empire!!!

    • Hi, Jorge–

      Yes, indeed: If wheat is the cause, you should experience marked improvement within days to weeks. It sure sounds like a collection of wheat problems.

      • jorge

        hey doc, this is amazing.! even my so called “doctor” would take 2 days to respond to me!!! im so grateful for this chance to maybe get better and want to again thank you for doing what you are doing.i read an article i think in life extention magazine? that was an exerp from your book last week 9/10 or so. this past week ive eaten no wheat or processed carbs or alcohol. i lost 7 lb by 9/15! however my craving for carbs is tremendous so yesterday i got some ryecrisp crackers and had 4 w/ cheese. guess what? 2 hrs later even after a very healthy veg/salmon soup dinner i get hunger, acid , cant sleep , sweats, and horrific joint pain. all of which seemed to go away this week prior to the ‘fall from the wagon’. i bought the ibook yesterday as well so you see it wasnt a totally bad decision type day.this is all so unbelievable. like a bad movie. could it really be true that most of the health problems we face is due to being poisoned with food, knowingly or not? very compelling evidence! i look foward to finishing the book, sticking to the advise, and for sure i will keep you posted. im sure ill have some questions for you. also i will try to post a before photo as soon as i figure out how to do it. jorge

  12. John Howell

    I have recently decided to eliminate as many GE foods as I can identify from my diet and from the feeds of my farm animals. It seems from reading reviews of and excerpts from your book that only 1% of wheat worldwide is not GE. If I understand correctly, this would make all (or possibly most) ORGANIC wheat raised in USA to be GE (because the seed was GE even before it was grown by organic methods). If my conclusion is not correct , how would I be able to distinguish GE wheat from non-GE wheat ( apparently I cannot rely on organic classification as a guarantee that the wheat is not GE) ? Would I recognize non-GE wheat by its height in the field (ie. 4 ft tall instead of 2 ft tall) ? When I described your book to my feed supplier, he said that the 2 ft tall wheat was developed before genetic engineering was developed. So he thinks that the height of the plant is not an indication of its GE identity. Apparently I cannot depend on the farmer or seed company to identify GE wheat since they do not acknowledge that their breeding methods are genetic alterations.

    What test or criteria can I use to guarantee for myself that wheat which I buy is indeed non-GE, since the wheat industry is being elusive in its breeding methods?

    • Hi, John–

      Actually, NO wheat is genetically-engineered or genetically modified, so your feed supplier is correct. But this is a word game played by the geneticists.

      Wheat has been the recipient of “traditional breeding methods” involving hybridization, backcrossing, as well as bizarre practices as chemical mutagenesis, gamma irradiation, and high-dose x-ray radiation to induce mutations. Yes, “traditional breeding methods.”

      Tall wheat is likely a cultivar that originates from strains that precede the proliferation of semi-dwarf. However, while it may be better, it won’t be good.

      • John Howell

        1. I thought that the point of your fourth question above (in the open letter) was to expose the fact that the wheat industry is being either disingenuous or dishonest when they decline to identify current wheat as being GE, since their methods of breeding are the same as those used normally for other GMO products. If I understand this correctly, shouldn’t you and I call currently grown wheat GE even if the wheat industry does not call it such (shouldn’t you and I refrain from playing “word games”)?

        2. If tall wheat “originates from strains that precede the proliferation of semi-dwarf”, wouldn’t it precede the development of currently grown wheat (whether currently grown wheat is GE or otherwise)? If it is not from the same stock as the wheat you have described in the book, why would it not be as nutritious (“good”) as wheat was 200 years ago?

        3. I don’t mean to quibble with you on these matters. I am trying to develop a clear understanding of what you are describing so that I know how to respond to the situation as it actually is.

        • Hi, John-

          Yes, it is a word game to a degree.

          However, the techniques are quite different. Gene splicing, the technique used in “genetic engineering” or “genetic modification,” is much more precise and is, in effect, potentially more benign than “natural breeding methods” like, say, chemical mutagenesis. Now, please, don’t view this as a defense of genetic modification. But I find it ironic that there is so much criticism of genetic modification but virtually none of the methods that fall under the laughably loose category of “natural breeding methods,” techniques that have gone on for decades and are still going on.

          So modern wheat is not the product of genetic modification, but of “natural breeding methods,” a less precise collection of practices that have far greater potential for shifts in the genetics of the plant.

          Sorry, but I don’t understand point number 2. And the nutritional content–proteins, fats, polyphenols, fiber–of modern wheat is not in question, only the deleterious effects.

  13. Charles Burke

    I have been wheat and grain free for about ten years as well as low carb. I am 69 years in age, still work every day in the logging industry, have no diabetes, arthritis, am at my high school weight; basically nothing wrong with me except my hair is gray and not a lot left. Ten years ago, I was eighty pounds overweight,and had the symptoms of diabetes. My health is unique among my siblings who are obese, diabetic. and have arthritis. One brother has already passed from diabetic complications. I have tried many times to share what I had learned with them, but to no avail; I was told that I ate weird.

    Thank you for writing your book; I am almost through reading it the first time. Hopefully, you book will allow many my age to continue to enjoy life to its fullest as I do.

    • Isn’t it sad, Charles, that despite the great example you set, family won’t believe you until they hear the message from somebody outside the family?

      Crazy humans! But keep up your good work.

    • Hi, Mike–

      It’s hard to ignore the old evidence of the cancer-association saccharine had.

      But saccharine itself shouldn’t raise blood sugar. However, note that many sweeteners are packaged with maltodextrin and it can increase blood sugar modestly.

  14. Keep fighting the good fight, Dr. Davis! You are a great voice for the people! Our health is important enough to lose the wheat and those that come bearing it! Because of your book, one of the hubby’s friends has removed wheat (he is T2DM), and the hubby (also T2DM) is working on it (slowly, but surely)!

    Thank you!

    • Thanks, Rachel!

      I am hoping to hear that both your husband and his friend are no longer diabetic by eliminating wheat from their lives. Let the wheat industry cry in their cereal!

  15. Lin Asnong

    Thanks so much, Dr. Davis! I heard you interviewed on CBC radio here in Canada recently and have already bought and read your book. Also, my sister bought her own copy and is reading it. It makes so much sense to me. The case against wheat and many other grains is very convincing, once you read about the stunning medical results once grain is eliminated.. My main goal is weight loss (hopefully 30-40 lbs.) to get back to where I want to be. But all these other health benefits will be a huge bonus, I’m sure! After 1 week wheat free, I’ve already lost 4 lbs. and feel fantastic. So happy to have started on this journey – please keep up the good fight no matter what . Now to convince my husband and start him working on his spare tire. : )

  16. Candra Huston

    Dr. Davis,
    Thank you.
    Your book was recently recommended to me by one of my naturopaths and I devoured it (excuse the pun) on the flight to my mother’s house for Christmas. Although she is a die-hard “I can’t live without my bread and pasta” kind of woman, she is not unwilling to consider that her problems with the natural physical deterioration and aging process are wheat-related. We had many conversations about wheat and wheat-related illnesses. My sister-in-law picked up your book and wouldn’t give it back because she realized that her fibro myalgia and psoriasis would probably subside if she gave up wheat.
    I have long known that I do much better with a lack of wheat in my diet: clothes fit better, I sleep better, I’m not sleepy and sluggish–I feel better overall–but fell off the bandwagon after recently getting married to a “meat and potatoes” man who loves his bread and pasta. The return of joint pain, IBS symptoms and, needless to say, looking more puffy and doughy than an otherwise healthy woman should at age 52 was apparently not enough to convince me that I needed to make a change. Reading about what elevated blood sugar and visceral fat does to your organs did, however. It scared the living daylights out of me.
    Your book gave me the game plan for getting things back on track and I LOVE THE RECIPES. I also love nuts, dark chocolate, avocado and artisinal cheeses. How convenient! Now, if I can sneak your Wheat-Free Pizza (in a repurposed pizza box) in for dinner one night soon and my husband endorses it, I will have won a small battle.
    Pray for me,
    Candra Huston

    • Thanks for the feedback on the recipes, Candra.

      Stay tuned for the pizza crust that I will post that better resembles a crust you can actually hold.

  17. Espy.

    Dr. Davis

    Thank you, for all the information you share in your Book., And I’m so excited to share the recipes with people I know. Your Book is like my Bible, now.!