Will you survive Wheat Belly?

Dietitian Kristi King reviewed Wheat Belly for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), full text here.

Among her comments:

” . . . there is very little guidance as to what are appropriate substitutions during meals, therefore, one who does not review this diet with a registered dietitian could potentially set themselves up for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D just to name a few.”

“Review this diet with a registered dietitian”? Is she serious? This is indeed consistent with the agenda that the Academy has been pursuing for many years, trying to make dietary advice the exclusive province of registered dietitians. (Witness the lawsuit waged against North Carolina Paleo blogger, Steve Cooksey, by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition. I’ve also talked to several dietitians who formerly played important insider roles in the Academy: They all described efforts to legislate making dietitians the ONLY people legally able to provide dietary advice.)

As is often the case with the dietary community, the response lacks real insight and understanding of the issues. Ms. King’s primary concern with the Wheat Belly arguments seems to be potential for nutritional deficiencies. Is this any merit behind this claim? Will we all suffer nutritional deficiencies that impair health by eliminating wheat?

Of course not, provided you replace the lost calories of wheat with truly healthy foods, such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, meats, poultry, fish, etc. If you do something stupid and replace calories with energy bars, tortilla chips, instant soup mixes, or gluten-free foods made with junk carbohydrates cornstarch, rice flour, potato starch, or tapioca starch, then, yes, there may be deficiencies long-term. But not if you rely on real, single-ingredient foods.

Let’s take her claims of deficiencies one-by-one:

B vitamins–B vitamins, such as riboflavin, folates, niacin, thiamine, B6 and B12, are plentiful in foods such as meats, nuts, and seeds. For example, 4 oz of chicken breast provides nearly 6-fold more vitamin B6 than two slices of whole wheat bread, 4 oz of tuna over 10-fold more. Folates are important B vitamins with 261 mcg in 1 cup cooked spinach, 41 mcg in two eggs, 90 mcg in one cup of fresh avocado, compared to the 50 mcg in two slices of whole wheat bread. Similar analyses can be done for every other B vitamin with the same result: Intake is the same or, more often, increased minus wheat.
Vitamin D–This is an absurd criticism, as most wheat products have zero vitamin D. The occasional fortified products tend to provide something like 40 units per serving, a relatively trivial quantity, usually of the non-human form, ergocalciferol (D2), not the more effective human form, cholecalciferol (D3). Humans were meant to obtain vitamin D from sun exposure, but modern lifestyles of wearing clothes covering the majority of skin surface area, indoor living, combined with the expected loss of ability to activate vitamin D in the skin, create deficiency in the majority of modern people, especially as we age. Modest quantities of vitamin D can be obtained through consumption of fish (e.g., 154 units cholecalciferol in 3 oz canned tuna, 900 units cholecalciferol in 6 oz salmon), and egg yolks (82 units cholecalciferol in 2 eggs). In other words, it is almost impossible to obtain sufficient vitamin D as cholecalciferol from the diet. You can get some sun, though the yield in vitamin D diminishes as we get older, or take truly meaningful doses of vitamin D supplementation as cholecaliferol, or vitamin D3, to make up for the habits of modern life, e.g., 6000 units per day, a dose sufficient to raise 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels to the 60-70 ng/ml range (150-175 nmol/L). Whether or not a few wheat-based products contain some ergocalciferol can make a difference . . . well, that’s pretty dopey.
Calcium–On the surface, Ms. King is absolutely correct: Calcium fortification of breads, for instance, can provide 300-400 mg calcium. Compare this to the 180 mg in a cup of cooked broccoli, 240 mg in a cup of cooked spinach, 125 mg in a cup of arugula, 200 mg in an ounce of most cheeses. So calcium from wheat products might indeed make an important contribution to total daily intake . . . but NOT if restoration of vitamin D is factored in. Correct common deficiency of vitamin D and intestinal calcium absorption is substantially increased; see Heaney et al for one such study. In other words, this notion that everybody needs to obtain 1200 mg total calcium per day needs to be reconsidered in light of the new vitamin D data that suggests something like 600-800 mg calcium per day may be more than enough. And note that calcium supplementation is also being increasingly associated with increased heart attack risk, e.g., this large German study.

The important issues of gliadin-derived exorphin/opiates and their varied mind effects, the high glycemic potential of amylopectin A, the alterations introduced into wheat germ agglutinin that make it a powerful intestinal toxin, the allergies being generated by new forms of alpha amylase inhibitors–ALL ignored. I’d love to hear the Academy’s rebuttal/defense of these issues.

As I often expect from dietitians, NONE of these sorts of deeper insights are discussed or entertained, just a bland recitation from the perspective of traditional dietary dogma. She did not bring up the “fiber deficiency” argument, so that is something I will tackle in an upcoming Wheat Belly Blog post. Don’t worry: You will not be fiber-deficient!

Let’s not forget that, of the 2.4 million years humans have inhabited earth (if we date the appearance of Homo species to the transition between largely herbivorous Australopithecines to omnivorous Homo habilis/rudolfensis), we have consumed grains for 0.4% of that time, a mere blink on the evolutionary timeline of adaptation to life on earth. Those first grains, of course, were wild grains, not the stuff of agribusiness.

This entry was posted in Wheat Belly counterattacks. Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to Will you survive Wheat Belly?

  1. Boundless says:

    > As I often expect from dietitians, NONE of these sorts of
    > deeper insights are discussed or entertained, just a bland
    > recitation from the perspective of traditional dietary dogma.

    I wouldn’t want to be a dietician just now (or any medical professional with lesser status than MD). They dare not deviate from the dogma, lest they incur the wrath of their guilds, and their associated MDs and clinics.

    The smart ones, upon grasping the full (and professionally horrific) implications of Wheat Belly, may quietly counsel their clients to read the book and decide for themselves. They probably elect to shut up publicly for the time being, until the prevailing wind shifts.

    But those continuing to dole out the deadly dogma in full public view need to be challenged.

    • Jsh says:

      I have been on the diet for 9 months my Homocysteine has went up with each blood work.
      Homocysteine Started out at 11 intermediate risk
      3 months later 12
      4 months later 13
      Would this be normal? I eat nuts,eggs,green beans, beans and broccoli and take fish oil
      I started a multi-vitamin a month ago.

      • Dr. Davis says:

        Normal, no. Odd, yes.

        I don’t have an explanation without further data. Have you had MTHFR testing? Thyroid testing?

  2. Jsh says:

    I had several test but I do not believe it was called MTHFR testing.
    (Cardiopathology and Cardiometabolic, Lipids, Lipoprotein Particles and Apolipoproteins, Inflammation/Oxidation, Myocardial stress, Lipoprotein Genetics, Metabolic, Sterol absorption and Synthesis Markers, Thyroid, liver, Electrolytes, CBC, Omega-3/6 and other fatty acids ) and several others

    My Lipoprotein Genetics came back high for heart disease and diabetes risk 3/4

    Thyroid 8/2012 1.71 3/2013 1.76

    Total Cholesterol 8/2012 164 3-2013 115
    LDL-C 8/2012 79 3-2013 48
    HDL-C 8/2012 54 3-2013 51
    Triglycerides 8/2012 174 3-2013 63

    Lipoprotein Particles and Apo lipoproteins
    My LDL-P (nmol/L) 8/2012 1215 3-2013 569
    Apo B (mg/dL) 8/2012 76 3-2013 51
    Apo-A-1, HDL-P, HDL2 all came in optimal range on 8/2012 but Apo-A-1 and HDL2-C came in the intermediate risk level on the second/third test.

    Lp-PLA 2 8-2012 204 3-2013 192
    Hs-CRP 8-2012 1.9 3-2013 0.9
    Fibrinogen 8-2012 468 3-2013 384

    Insulin 8/2012 13 3-2013 6
    Free Fatty Acid 8/2012 1.04 3-2013 .53
    Glucose 8/2012 91 3-2013 78
    HbA1c(%) 8/2012 6.0 3-2013 5.6
    Est. Average Glucose 8/2012 125.5 3-2013 114.0
    Homocysteine 8/2012 11 3-2013 13

    Homocysteine also concerns me as my uncle on my Dad’s side had Alzheimer’s . Could going wheat /gluten free cause this up tick? It was a little high to start with? Started B vitamins in April 2013.
    See By Jerome Burne 21 May 2013

    • Neicee says:

      tsh, I believe the B vitamins are some of the best things you can do for a great state of mind and memory. There are many studies for Alzheimer’s being dependent on sugar as well. What eventually converts to sugar – carbohydrates. Dr. Davis is on track with no massive studies needed. Once I started taking a slew of B’s, got off the wheat/carbs, and doubled the amount of D3 it was like a light bulb came on. The funding for needed studies is never going to happen unless someone can patent a drug and cash in on the $$$$. I speak from experience, my mother-in-law has been in a facility for the past four years, and the only thing she’s wanted to eat has been wheat products and sugar and simply sits there without eating if she doesn’t get it.

      • Jsh says:

        Are you concerned about taking a large amounts of B’s ?

        • Neicee says:

          TSH, I take a large variety of the B vitamins, but rarely exceed the RDA. I have taken more B6/B12/folate than normal and have not had a problem.
          I enjoy eggs/homemade sausage in the morning then a handful of nuts in the afternoon as a snack, then chicken/fish/shellfish/and good beef for dinner – along with a salad with 6-8 different raw veggies and one or two cooked veggies. I’ve been liberal with the coconut oil or evoo and butter in cooking. I never get hungry in between meals. I love how my energy levels maintain all day.

        • Orlenda says:

          B vitamins are water soluable-so you excrete what you body doesnt use in your urine….it isnt really stored like fat soluable vitamins are (A, D, E, and K vitamins are fat soluable). At most..you might just end up wasting your money if you take more than your body needs…

  3. Jsh says:

    My apologies for the numbers and dates — I had them separated better but for some reason it posted different.

  4. Jsh says:

    Reviewing these test results — I was tested ! MTHFR C/C
    Not sure what this means

  5. Trisha Lynn says:

    I watched the hour+ Wheat Belly seminar over a month ago, and immediately cut wheat out of my diet, mostly due to my concerns about it’s ‘dangers’, and also because I’ve had undiagnosed (IBS?) stomach/intestinal issues for years. Since eliminating wheat, all stomach issues have gone away, which I am very happy for. I’ve also lost the last few stubborn pounds I was carrying, but that’s not surprising I’m eating less carbs. Other than that, I continue on a healthy, organic diet with all foods in moderation, including healthy carbs, and I feel GREAT. I’m also often told I look 20 years younger than my age, which I believe is a benefit to healthy eating, and lifestyle.

    As for the Wheat Belly diet, I have continued to research anything that I am concerned with or have questions about – because I do not believe one should accept something as ‘gospel truth’ just because it is coming from a medical professional, scientist, etc. It is up to each of us to read, research, and decide for ourselves what is right, and then take responsibility for our own choices.

    ~ Trish