The University of Chicago Celiac Center’s Facebook page contained this response to my CBS This Morning interview from a Dr. Stefano Guandalini:
I was quite surprised to see that CBS news would provide unquestioned credibility to Dr. Davis, the author of Wheat Belly, on CBS This Morning on September 3rd, with no knowledgeable physician on the program to present a more accurate, balanced viewpoint on such an important issue as the role of wheat in nutrition and disease.
The assertions made by Dr. Davis (a cardiologist, not a nutritionist nor a gastroenterologist) are not grounded in fact, let alone any evidence-based research. Gliadin a new protein? Gliadin proteins are major components of gluten and their existence has been known since Dicke and Van de Kamer studied wheat in the 1940s. It is not a new protein created by genetic modifications; and it is indeed a poison, but only for those with celiac disease. Gliadin an opioid that binds to the brain? Sure this is a stunning statement. What is the evidence? Aside from an obscure article that appeared almost 30 years ago reporting an opioid-like activity for some gliadin fractions, nothing else is available in the literature and certainly no data are there to show any binding to the brain.
There is enough confusion around celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and the issue of who benefits from a gluten-free diet (only those with wheat allergy, celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I might add). Regrettably, CBS This Morning has added to the confusion and did a disservice to its viewership to allow such questionable information be portrayed as fact.
I have no ties at all to the wheat industry, nor do I have any interest in “protecting” it. My interest, as a physician and specialist in celiac disease lies only in protecting my patients and the public from those who would perpetuate unsubstantiated health claims as fact.
Stefano Guandalini, MD
Professor and Chief, Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology
University of Chicago
Founder and Medical Director, Celiac Disease Center”
This is the nonsense that comes from an “expert” in celiac disease, the very same people who advocate that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to consume gluten-free foods made with cornstarch, rice starch, tapioca starch, and potato starch.
Here’s the problem: It’s NOT about gluten, nor is my primary concern people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivty. I am primarily addressing the other 90% of people who have problems with:
1) The new forms of gliadin–Dr. Guandalini is correct on one account: Gliadin is not entirely new–it’s the forms of gliadin (the amino acid sequences) that are new. But we should not be surprised at his ignorance of this well-documented fact, as he would only know this if he were to read the agricultural genetics research and/or talk to agricultural geneticists. The gliadins of 2012 are NOT the gliadins of 1960, nor are they the gliadins of the 19th century, the Bible, or of pre-Biblical times.
2) Shall we ignore the opiate effects of the new gliadin proteins that stimulate appetite to consume 440 more calories per day? This has nothing to do with celiac disease nor gluten sensitivity. It just makes us eat and eat and eat, makes us hungry much of the day, and makes a major contribution to the diabetes and obesity epidemic. The very same new and unique gliadin proteins also cause behavioral outbursts in children with ADHD and autism, paranoia in schizophrenics, mania in bipolar illness, and food obsessions in people with susceptibilty to bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. None of these people have celiac disease. Exposing his ignorance, Dr. Guandalini claims that only one study documented this effect 30 years ago. He must have missed the other several hundred studies, the very same studies that have explored the area of opiate/opioid brain receptors that has culminated in an FDA application for naltrexone, the opiate-blocking drug, for a weight loss and appetite-reducing indication.
3) How about the direct intestinal destruction wrought by the lectin protein in wheat, wheat germ agglutinin? Unlike the indirect immunologic activation triggered by gluten, wheat germ agglutinin directly damages the intestinal lining. That’s why experimental animals fed purified wheat germ agglutinin develop extensive destruction of the lining of the small intestine. And what about the Trojan horse effect of wheat germ agglutinin that allows foreign substances to gain entry to the bloodstream, likely underlying the activation of immunologic and inflammatory diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, polymyalgia rheumatica, and Sjogren’s disease? None of these people have celiac disease.
4) And what about the high glycemic index of wheat products that explain why two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar? High blood sugar is followed by high blood insulin, the cascade that leads to insulin resistance, visceral fat accumulation, inflammation, and diabetes–no celiac disease required!
5) Shall we ignore the explosion in wheat allergies in children, likely due to the unique alpha amylase inhibitors of modern semi-dwarf wheat? These kids get rashes, diarrhea, asthma and other allergic phenomena–none have celiac disease.
In other words, I’m sure Dr. Guandalini is a very nice guy and means well. (“Protecting his patients”? Don’t know what the heck he’s getting at there.) But I fear he has blinders on and has fallen for the nonsense that whole grains like wheat are good for you and only pose a problem to people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Nope, sorry. Get your nose out of the gastroenterology books and open your eyes to the changes introduced into the entire plant. You will find that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are only a small part of the problem. I am sure he is doing a capable job in “protecting his patients” from gluten. But I am talking to the other 90% of the population that he chooses to ignore and consign to a lifetime of wheat consumption.
Want wisdom on wheat? Don’t ask a celiac expert, because he will likely tell you to eat it. Wheat elimination is not only for the gluten-sensitive. Wheat elimination is for EVERYONE.