Whistleblowers wanted

So something happened to wheat in the 1970s during the efforts to generate a high-yield strain that required less fertilizer to make a 24-inch, rather than a 48-inch, stalk. Multiple other changes occurred, including changes in the structure of gluten, changes in wheat germ agglutinin, changes in alpha amylase (responsible for wheat allergy) . . . to name a few.

But chief among the changes in wheat were changes in the gliadin protein molecule. We know, for instance, that the Glia-alpha 9 sequence, absent from traditional wheat, can be found in virtually all modern wheat. This is likely the explanation underlying the four-fold increase in celiac disease over the past 50 years, since Glia-alpha 9 predictably triggers the immune reaction that leads to the intestinal destruction characteristic of celiac disease.

But modern wheat also stimulates appetite . . . not a little, but a lot. The introduction of modern high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat was accompanied by an abrupt increase in calorie consumption of 440 calories per day, 365 days per year. This is because modern gliadin in wheat is an opiate. But this opiate doesn’t cause a “high” like heroine; it causes appetite stimulation.

Big Food companies, commanding tens of billions (not millions, but billions, or 1000 millions) of dollars of revenues per year, employ some very smart food scientists. Among their many responsibilities, food scientists are charged with observing the eating behavior of humans who eat their products, often conducting taste tests and trials to observe eating behavior. (Anyone read Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating? Great stories of food experiments with human subjects.) Surely food scientists noticed that, somewhere around 1985, appetite was enormously triggered by consumption of crackers, breads, pretzels, bagels and the multitude of other test products made of wheat making entry into the marketplace. After all, the business of food scientists is to observe eating behavior.

So why didn’t they sound the alarm? Why didn’t we hear food scientists declare “We think there’s something wrong in some of the new foods we are creating. Specifically, it appears that foods created from the new high-yield strains of wheat are triggering appetite substantially”?

Perhaps they couldn’t, being employed by Big Food companies with a need to maintain proprietary inside information. Or, perhaps they said something like “Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anybody! Let’s just put it in . . . everything!” How else can we explain the fact that, in the 1970s, wheat was only in primary wheat-based foods like breads, cookies, and cakes, but now wheat is in everything: It’s in canned and instant soups, salad dressings, licorice, granola and candy bars, virtually all fast food . . . you name it, wheat’s there. (Remember: Big Tobacco did precisely this kind of thing when they used to dope their cigarettes with higher nicotine content to increase addictive potential. As with many things wheat, tobacco showed us in how many ways big corporations can bend products and issues to their own agenda, your health be damned.)

Unfortunately, this is just my speculation, given the incredible and difficult-to-explain ubiquity of wheat. So I’m hoping to identify a whistleblower, someone from inside the walls of Big Food, preferably back in the 1980s when this phenomenon got underway. If you have such insights, please post a comment here, anonymously if you prefer.

In other words, it would be priceless to be able to prove that, not only did food scientists in Big Food know about the appetite-stimulating effects of modern wheat, they used this knowledge to increase revenues.

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107 Responses to Whistleblowers wanted

  1. Connie says:

    Hi, just wondering if I need to be off of all gluten to reap healthy benifits, or can I just stay off of Wheat? Thanks, Connie

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Unless you have celiac or gluten-sensitivity, wheat-free is the essential. However, rye seems to share many of the same adverse effects, so it is worth avoiding. Strict gluten-avoidance for those of us trying to minimize appetite stimulation, for example, is not as important.

  2. Joni says:

    I watched a documentary titled “The Future of Food” made in 2001. It explained the Monsanto effect of seed engineering making Roundup Ready crops and how that all evolved into the seeds we have today. It was frightening.
    My news station did a report on the Wheat Belly Diet yesterday and ended with the statement from the Wheat Association stating “there were no genetically modified wheat crops in the United States”. Tell that to the farmers in North Dakota (based on the documentary information).
    It is an extreme situation that scares me. I’m doing all I can to change my food habits.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Joni–

      The “no genetically modified wheat crops” comment makes me laugh.

      They are correct: Wheat is not “genetically-modified,” i.e., no gene splicing technology was used to modify wheat. Instead, all the changes introduced into wheat pre-date genetic modification. The techniques used to change wheat were crude, less predictable, less precise, far WORSE than genetic modification!

      Is that the best the Wheat Lobby can do?

      • Joni says:

        Thank you Dr. I can’t say I grasp how it all works, and am only half way through your book, but I can see the results of people messing with what God created and am making some serious changes in my diet now, and likely more by the time I finish the book. Thanks for making me more aware.

  3. sabrina says:

    I am now on a gluten/wheat free diet since march 2012.. my weight is 124, I excercise, drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. The problem is i get constipated, wondering if there is something i could take naturally to relive this.
    I also just recently lost my mother to cancer and im thinking if stress has something to do with my constipation??

    • em says:

      try a magnesium supplement like natural calm. works every time for me and added bonus: better sleep. i take some daily. good luck!

  4. torchsinger says:

    I am quite late to the comments here, but I wanted to note that you may find some of your answers to your questions in alumni magazines from America’s ag colleges.

    I attended Oklahoma State, and I remember past magazine issues where stories were done on wheat research being done by graduate students in the lab and in the experimental fields. Those stories may not have a lot of detail, but they might point you in the right direction.

  5. Sabine Smith says:

    I loved your book and have actually been gluten free since Summer of 2010. I was overweight and despite the gluten free diet, I did not loose a single pound. In December of 2011 I was told by a naturopath to also not eat dairy and corn and miraculously I dropped 40 lbs effortlessly in 3 months. I went from 210 to 170. I always wondered why that is and if corn has been modified in a similar way as wheat around the same time frame. Any ideas?

  6. Janine says:

    I would highly recommend anyone with constipation to try gong wheat free. I read on another website that the opiates in wheat will “paralyze” the bowel. I initially committed to a couple of weeks of wheat free, and that was enough to convince me. I won’t be going back to wheat. I buy gluten-free flour now and have found lots of good recipes – muffins, brownies, tea biscuits. I buy gluten-free bread. I find if I’m out somewhere and do a “wheat cheat” I’m still okay as long as I’m good at home on a regular basis. I mean, geez, I used to eat wheat probably five times a day. Anyway, for me, wheat free is constipation free. Yay!

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  8. BLF says:

    Are we talking about conventional wheat or organic wheat, because I don’t have any of these symptoms. I eat organic wheat and have no problems.

    • Boundless says:

      > Are we talking about conventional wheat or organic wheat, …
      Either. The difference between organic wheat and non-org wheat is about the same as the difference between organic and non-organic hemlock. The benefits, if any, of “organic”, are drowned in a sea of other toxins.

      > .. because I don’t have any of these symptoms. I eat organic wheat and have no problems.

      You don’t have any problems that you are aware of, or don’t have them yet.
      Give up wheat, 100% for a month, and see what happens.

  9. Rothbardeaux says:

    I was introduced to your book by Dr. Michael Eades who said “Wheat Belly is the book I wish I had written!” Coming from an author of several low-carb books, that was about the best recommendation imaginable.

    One great benefit of eliminating carbs for me is I don’t experience any heart burn or acid reflux. When I eat wheat products of any kind or sugar I experience terrible acid reflux. Funny, my Italian mother used to prescribe a dry piece of bread when I would complain of acid explaining, “it will soak up the acid.” That would always make it worse. Without wheat, acid reflux is a thing of the past. Why is that?

    Over the last 4 months I have consumed ZERO wheat, Zero corn products, and Zero sugar or other sweeteners (both natural and artificial). I’ve lost 12 pounds which is great, but my weight loss has completely stalled. Any suggestions for kicking it into high gear? I weigh 237 lbs. and my goal weight is 190.

    Thank you for an amazing resource.