More on being wheat-free

Reducing or even eliminating the wheat in your diet can dramatically enhance the phenomenon of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the evil process that lies behind low HDL, high triglycerides, small LDL particles, and VLDL and IDL. It’s also the process that makes us tired after meals, heightens inflammation that raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and caner. Insulin resistance is the culprit behind the bulge hanging over some 100,000,000 American belts.

Show me a person with a protruding abdomen and I’ll show you a bread lover, or some other form of wheat.

Why do I pick on wheat so much? Many of you among the more nutrition-minded would point out that wheat is just one group of food items among many other high-glycemic index foods, i.e., foods that yield a vigorous surge in blood sugar (glucose), followed by a sharp decline. Wheat enjoys the high-glycemic index company of corn, rice (white and brown), potatoes, among others.

I pick on wheat because, for most Americans, wheat is 90% of the high-glycemic index problem. (I’m assuming you’ve at least eliminated or dramatically reduced highly-processed sweets like candy, cookies, soft drinks, cakes, etc. That’s a no-brainer.) It’s not uncommon to have a wheat-based product with every meal, a wheat-based snack, 7 days a week. But few people have corn products (i.e., corn starch products) three times a day. Or rice three times a day.

Wheat has traded places with saturated fat sources as the chief scourge of diet. In 1985, we had dinners of spare ribs, cheeseburgers, French fries, and butter on our mashed potatoes. Hardly anybody eats that like anymore, at least amongst the web-savvy set.

Wheat has assumed the previous exalted role as chief scourge as a consequence of the low-fat consciousness of the 80s and 90s. It has since ballooned in importance in diet and, as a result, skyrocketed as a cause of obesity, insulin resistance, and coronary plaque growth.

What if you're already slender and have none of the above issues, especially small LDL particles? Then don't sweat the wheat issue.

Note: My comments on being wheat-free should not be confused with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. These are allergies to wheat gluten that, if undiagnosed, wreak havoc on health to extremes. This phenomenon is separate and distinct from the far more prevalent issue I’m discussing.

Comments (5) -

  • Anonymous

    4/22/2007 12:35:00 AM |

    You're wrong about corn.  There are ingredients made of corn in almost everything that comes in a box or cellophane even a lot of cans.

  • Dr. Davis

    4/22/2007 3:08:00 PM |

    You're absolutely right. What I should have said is starch derived from corn.

  • Anonymous

    4/23/2007 1:05:00 PM |

    Are you recommending eliminating *all* wheat or only wheat in the form of flour?  Wheat in its whole form (not to be confused with whole wheat flour) is packed with all kinds of heart-healthy vitamins, fiber, and protein.  From what I understand, it's flour from *any* grain that can be the bad guy.  Thank you for your blog.  I love it!

  • Dr. Davis

    4/23/2007 5:48:00 PM |

    I generally gauge the intensity of your effort in reducing/eliminating wheat products by the severity of patterns. If, for instance, HDL is 37, triglycerides 330--severe abnormalities--a very serious effort at reducing wheat products is in order. If your HDL is 45, triglycerides 110, then a modest effort can be all that is required. So, it depends.

    You're also right on the nutrient issue. There are indeed many healthy nutrients in grain products. But if over-reliance on wheat has made you overweight, diabetic, with the entire spectrum of blood distortions, you can still get all the fiber and B vitamins from other sources.

  • Anonymous

    1/5/2011 7:18:18 PM |

    "Reducing or even eliminating the wheat in your diet can dramatically enhance the phenomenon of insulin resistance. "

    Don't you have that reversed? I certainly don't want to enhance insulin resistance!