An excerpt from the Wheat Belly Revised & Expanded Edition:
Have you ever come home from the grocery store with a fresh container of milk, opened it and immediately realized that it was bad—sour-smelling, curdled, unfit to drink?
Feed it to the cat? Probably not. Lighten your coffee? I don’t think so. Pour it down the sink—yeah, that’s the ticket. Or maybe go back to the store with some of the curdled remains and ask for your money back.
That is what your reaction to conventional dietary advice should be. You should wrinkle your nose at the bad smell that emanates from advice that creates an astonishingly long list of health problems, from eczema to obesity, from plantar fasciitis to colon cancer. Blessed by food manufacturers, extolled by dietitians, occupying the most visible eye-level shelves in grocery stores, elevated to top of the list of foods to include in every meal by most doctors, consensus dietary opinion has gotten us into a heap of trouble, an epidemic of bulging bellies, insulin injections, toxic drugs for autoimmune conditions while waddling, limping, or riding scooters in XXL pants and dresses, a situation unprecedented in human history.
Should we accept the common judgement that the largest epidemic of chronic health issues in history is due to laziness, sloth, moral weakness, failure to tally calories in and calories out, mysterious and unidentified viral infections as is often done by the medical community . . . or might official dietary advice itself be the cause?
Something big—really big—was sparked with the release of the original Wheat Belly book. I believe it helped restore a sense of smell to the public, helping many to realize that there indeed was something wrong in diet that, despite long-term blessings from “official” sources of dietary wisdom, created a stink that you couldn’t shake off, no matter how many times you plugged your nose. It might have been seven-grain, organic, and rich in fiber, but there was so much wrong following the dictates of conventional advice, even followed to a T. (It prompted people to quote Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” after doctors admonished them for gaining weight, experiencing higher blood sugars, and feeling awful while following a diet low in fat and rich in “healthy whole grains.” “You need to try harder,” they’d be told. If not insanity, at least blatant irrationality.)
Several years and millions of readers later since the original Wheat Belly book was released, it has become clear that our species made a huge blunder: seeds of grasses, i.e., wheat and its genetic cousins, do not belong in the human diet, let alone promoted as healthy or necessary, any more than you should invite Harvey Weinstein to your eighties night party—there’ll be nasty long-term consequences to pay for a night of one-sided titillation. You can’t eat the leaves, stalks, or husks of grasses—then why should we be able to consume the seeds?
Not eating this thing called wheat, celebrated by virtually all who offer dietary advice, is a revelation as big as recognizing that trafficking humans is a bad idea or that enslaving populations for cheap labor is not right. You think I’m pushing the comparisons too far? As you get into this book, I predict that you will soon recognize how deep, disabling, and prevalent the consequences of consuming wheat are for us, enslavement really not that far off. It’s not just a matter of avoiding gluten or reducing calories. Like the lion whose lifestyle you disapprove of because you watched it tear open the abdomen of a wildebeest, then consume its liver, intestines, and heart and then, out of disgust, you replace its diet with kale and spinach—you’ll have a dead lion in short order. Restoring the human diet to its natural state, one programmed into our genetics, is like giving the lion another serving of wildebeest: it is lifesaving. Recognizing the fundamental error we made as a species by viewing the seeds of grasses as food is just as big a mistake, but one that we have barely started to recover from with wheat and related grains comprising 70% of all worldwide human calories. This is no small economic matter, either. Think of all the farmers, millers, bakers, food companies, dietitians, and multinational Big Agribusiness conglomerates that play a role in an industry created around this awful collection: seeds of grasses misconstrued as food. Undoing this mistake will be messy.
Wheat Belly began as my modest effort to help people with heart disease stop relying on the revolving door of angioplasty, stents, and bypass surgery. The lifestyle that evolved from this effort did indeed bring a halt to chest pain and heart attacks, converting my procedural practice into one that was purely preventive with virtually no need for heart procedures or hospitals. But it proved to accomplish far more than that. Drugs to reduce blood sugar or blood pressure? Gone. Drugs for acid reflux or diarrhea? Flushed down the toilet. Statin drugs with all-expense-paid trips to Orlando for the prescriber? Phooey. These efforts evolved into a comprehensive program that addressed a long list of common modern health conditions, from excess weight to type 2 diabetes, from autoimmune conditions to irritable bowel syndrome, along with hundreds of others. The explosive success of this approach, not just in heart disease, but in so many other areas of health, means that the world of nutrition and health will never be the same.