Heart Scans: An Interview with Jimmy Moore

My friend, Jimmy Moore, of The Livin' La Vida Low Carb Show, posted this video of an interview I did with him.

I provide some background on how heart scanning came about and how it led to the creation of the Track Your Plaque program.

It reminds me how far we've come over the 8 years since the program got started. From its modest start as just an information resource to help people understand their heart scan score, to a comprehensive program that helps followers gain incredible control over coronary plaque and coronary risk that has now expanded to over 30 countries. High-tech heart procedures still dominate public consciousness, but the tremendous power of real heart disease prevention efforts are gaining more and more attention as each day passes.

Wheat Belly #5 on New York Times Bestseller list!

The New York Times just released its bestseller list due for release September 18th, 2011 . . . .

Wheat Belly is #5!! (That darned Jane Fonda woman elbowed me out for the #4 spot!

[caption id="attachment_4452" align="alignright" width="574" caption="Wheat Belly hits #5 on New York Times Bestseller List--in 1st week!"][/caption]

Interview with Jimmy Moore of Livin' La Vida Low-Carb

Here's my podcast interview with Jimmy Moore, host of the Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show. (If you want to fast forward to the interview, go to time marker 41:20 on the slidebar.)

In the podcast, I talk about how the Track Your Plaque program and its focus on lipoprotein testing, along with the need to reverse the incredible epidemic of diabetes and pre-diabetes, led to elimination of all wheat from the diet and the book, Wheat Belly.

An open letter to the Grain Foods Foundation

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


Ms. Ashley Reynolds
490 Bear Cub Drive
Ridgway, CO 81432
Phone: 617.226.9927

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)

Do you eat wheat? I thought so.

I'm itching to say that face-to-face to anyone from the wheat industry--agribusiness, baking, retail distribution . . . anybody. Because it's obvious; it's written on the face . . . and belly, and brain, and knees, and hips. And I believe I will soon have the opportunity.

Taking such a controversial stand in my new book, Wheat Belly, i.e., that wheat products, whole or refined, have NO ROLE IN THE HUMAN DIET whatsoever, was bound to provoke criticism and counterattacks. The wheat world has already taken a blow to the chin with the growing popularity of the (misguided) gluten-free movement and they're going to have to get into the business of media damage control.

Take a look at this press release from the Grain Foods Foundation:

RIDGWAY, COLO. — The Grain Foods Foundation has unveiled plans to counter media publicity attracted by “Wheat Belly.”

“Mullen, working with key members of the Grain Foods Foundation’s scientific advisory board, is addressing ‘Wheat Belly’ through proactive media outreach and its ongoing rapid response program,” said Ashley Reynolds, a Mullen account executive. “In particular, the public relations team will be contacting health and nutrition reporters at print and on-line media outlets, as well as editors at major women’s magazines to influence any diet-related stories that may be published in the coming months.”

. . . Ms. Reynolds, a registered dietitian, noted the author relies on anecdotal observations rather than scientific studies; wheat elimination “means missing out on a wealth of essential nutrients;” six servings of grain-based foods are recommended daily in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; healthy weight loss depends on energy balance rather than elimination of specific foods; and elimination of wheat products makes sense only for those with medical diagnoses such as celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

She said the group will lean on its scientific advisory board members to “discredit the book and ensure our messages are backed by sound science. “

Here's some of their starting salvos on their Six Servings Blog.

This reminds me of the fight with Big Tobacco in the '70s: "No, sir, we in the tobacco industry know of no research demonstrating that smoking is bad for health," complete with shots of tobacco executives puffing away on cigarettes.

So brace yourself for a fight. These people are protecting a multi-billion dollar franchise, not to mention their livelihoods and incomes. It could get ugly.

Wheat Belly explodes on the scene!

Wheat Belly is finally available in Barnes and Noble and all major bookstores nationwide! Also available at Amazon. Electronic versions for Nook and Kindle, as well as an audio CD, will also be available.

The notion of Wheat Belly got its start right here on The Heart Scan Blog and the diet developed for the Track Your Plaque program to conquer heart disease and plaque.

Chapters in the book include:

Not Your Grandma's Muffins: The Creation of Modern Wheat
Whence and where did this familiar grain, 4 1/2-foot tall "amber waves of grain," become transformed into a 2-foot tall, high-yield genetically unique plant unfamiliar to humans? And why is this such a bad thing?

Cataracts, Wrinkles, and Dowager's Humps: Wheat and the Aging Process
If you thought that bagels and crackers are just about carbs, think again. Wheat consumption makes you age faster: cataracts, crow's feet, arthritis . . . you name it, wheat's been there, done that and brings you one step closer to the big nursing home in the sky with every bite.

My Particles are Bigger than Your Particles
Why consuming plenty of "healthy whole grains" is the path to heart disease and heart attack and why saying goodbye to them is among the most powerful strategies around for reduction or elimination of risk.

Hello, Intestine: It's Me, Wheat
No discussion of wheat is complete without talking about how celiac disease and other common intestinal ailments, like acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, fit into the broader concept of wheat elimination.

Here's a YouTube video introduction to the book and concept posted on the YouTube Wheat Belly Channel. Also, join the discussions on The Wheat Belly Blog and Facebook. Have that last bite of blueberry muffin, because I predict you won't be turning back!

Good fat, bad fat

No, this is not a discussion of monounsaturated versus hydroxgenated fat. This is about the relatively benign fat that accumulates on your hips, rear end, or arms--the "good"--versus the deep visceral fat that encircles your intestines, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and heart--the "bad."

And I'm not talking about what looks good or bad. We've all seen the unsightly flabby upper arms of an overweight woman or the cellulite on her bulging thighs. It might look awful but, metabolically speaking, it is benign.

It's that muffin top, love handle, or wheat belly that encircles the waist, a marker for underlying deep visceral fat, that:

--Increases release of inflammatory mediators/markers like tumor necrosis factor, leptin, interleukins, and c-reactive protein
--Is itself inflamed. When examined under a microscope, visceral fat is riddled with inflammatory white blood cells.
--Stops producing the protective hormone, adiponectin.
--Traffics in fatty acids that enter the bloodstream, resulting in greater resistance to insulin, fat deposition in the liver (fatty liver), and increases blood levels of triglycerides
--Predicts greater cardiovascular risk. A flood of recent studies (here's one) has demonstrated that larger quantities of pericardial fat (i.e., visceral fat encircling the heart, visible on a CT scan or echocardiogram) are associated with increased likelihood of coronary disease and cardiovascular risk.

You can even have excessive quantities of bad visceral fat without much in the way of fat elsewhere. You know the body shape: skinny face, skinny arms, skinny legs . . . protuberant, flaccid belly, the so-called "skinny obese" person.

Nobody knows why fat in visceral stores is so much more evil and disease-related than, say, wheat on your backside. While you may struggle to pull your spreading backside into your jeans, it's waist girth that is the problem. You need to lose it.

You could take vitamin D or . . .

You could take vitamin D and achieve a desirable blood level of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (I aim for 60-70 ng/ml), or you could:

--Take Actos to mimic the enhanced insulin sensitivity generated by vitamin D
--Take lisinopril to mimic the angiotensin-converting enzyme blocking, antihypertensive effect of vitamin D
--Take Fosamax or Boniva to mimic the bone density-increasing effect of vitamin D
--Take Celexa or other SSRI antidepressants to mimic the mood-elevating and winter "blues"-relieving effect of vitamin D
---Take Niaspan to mimic the HDL-increasing, small LDL-reducing effect of vitamin D
--Take naproxen to mimic the pain-relieving effect of vitamin D

So, given a choice, what do most doctors choose? Of course, they choose from the menu as presented by the sexy sales representative sitting in the office waiting room. These medications, of course, are among the top sellers in the drug world, taken by millions of Americans and not just one at a time, but several per person.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, the panel of volunteers charged with drafting a Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin D, says that you are already getting enough vitamin D, so don't bother taking any supplements and continue to wear your sunscreen. Wonder whose side they're on?

I continue to be impressed that many of the conditions that plague modern people are little more than deficiencies peculiar to modern life, such as vitamin D deficiency, or the result of the excesses of modern life, such as consumption of sucrose, fructose, corn, and "healthy whole grains."

I take 8000 units of gelcap vitamin D and haven't felt better.

More lipoproteins zero!

A few posts back, I talked about how more people are showing us zero lipoprotein(a) and zero small LDL. That was about 4 weeks ago. By then, I had seen 3 people with zero values on both.

Well, it's now up to 9 people: 9 people who have achieved zero lipoprotein(a) and zero small LDL. These are people who started with typical lipoprotein(a) values of 150-300 nmol/L and small LDL values of 1000-2000 nmol/L, both substantial.

I still don't know how many people or what percentage can expect to show such extravagant results. But the sharp increase over a relatively brief period of time is extremely encouraging!

Diet: One size does NOT fit all

Heart Scan Blog reader, Frustrated, posted this comment:

Dr. Davis,
I have spent the last 5 months eating a diet that completely eliminated all wheat products. It was very low carb, and consisted of relatively high protein (eggs, grass fed beef, grass fed raw cheese, oily fish, chicken), good level of olive oil, walnuts, fish oil (3 mg per day), raw vegetables, little bit of fruit. So I had good amount of monounsaturated fat as well as saturated fat from eggs and grass fed products.

My recent NMR showed:
LDL-p. 2,800
Small LDL particle 1700
Small HDL particle 20
HDL-C 40
LDL-C 114
Trigs. 224
Total chol 208

So I was disappointed. Where have I gone wrong? No wheat and sky-high LDL-p and 1700 small LDL particles.

This is indeed unusual. I see this perhaps 5 or 6 times over a year's time, while thousands of other people show the usual expected respone. I don't have Frustrated's lipoprotein panel prior to starting the diet, but I'll bet the starting panel was similar to this "after" panel.

The overwhelming majority of people who follow a diet like the one described--no wheat, limited carbohydrate, grass fed beef, fish, chicken, vegetables, limited fruit--obtain extravagant reductions in small LDL, increased HDL, and reduced triglycerides. So why did Frustrated end up with such disappointing results, values that potentially provide for high risk for heart disease?

There are several possibilities:

1) He/she is in the midst of substantial weight loss. When labs are drawn in the midst of weight loss, stored energy is being mobilized into the blood stream. This energy is mobilized as fatty acids and triglycerides which, upon entering the blood stream, cause increased triglycerides, reduced HDL, chaotic or unpredictable small LDL patterns, and increased blood sugar sufficient to be in the diabetic or pre-diabetic range. This all subsides and settles down to better values around 2 months after weight loss has plateaued.

2) Apo E4--If Frustrated has one or two apo E4 genes, then increased dietary fat will serve to exaggerate measures like small LDL despite the reduction in carbohydrates, LDL particle number, and triglycerides. This is a tough situation, since small LDL particles and high triglycerides signal carbohydrate sensitivity, while apo E4 makes this person, in effect, unable to deal with fats and dietary cholesterol. It gives me the creeps to talk about reducing fat intake, but this becomes necessary along with carbohydrate restriction, else statin drugs will come to the "rescue."

3) Apo E2 + Apo E4--It's possible that an apo E2 is present along with apo E4. Apo E2 makes this person extremely carbohydrate-sensitive and diabetes-prone with awful postprandial (after-meal) persistence of dietary byproducts, alongside the hyperabsorption of fats and dietary cholesterol from apo E4. This is a genuine nutritional rock and a hard place.

4) Other variants--There are probably a dozen or more other genetic variants, thankfully rare, such as apo B and apo C2 variants, that are not generally available for us to measure that could influence Frustrated's response.

5) The low-carb diet is not truly low-carb--Frustrated sounds like a pretty sharp cookie. But it's not uncommon for someone to overlook a substantial source of carbohydrate exposure that triggers these patterns. Fruit is a very common tripping point, since people generally regard unlimited fruit as a healthy thing. This does not seem to be Frustrated's problem. Others indulge in quinoa, sweet potatoes, millet or other carbohydrate sources that look and sound healthy but, in sufficient quantities, can still trigger this pattern.

6) Other--Hypothyroidism, kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, hypercortisolism and some other relatively rare conditions are worth considering if none of the above apply.

Anyway, that's the list I use when this peculiar situation arises. If obvious weight loss is not the culprit, the next step is apo E testing. However, the wrong response is to reject the low-carbohydrate notion altogether and just limit fat, since this typically leads to uncontrolled small LDL, high triglycerides, and diabetes. It can often mean limiting carbohydrates while also limiting fats. Just as with the combination of apo E4 with Lipoprotein(a), I lump many of these patterns into the emerging world of genetic incompatibilities, genetic traits that code for incompatible metabolic phenomena.