Name that food 13. October 2009 William Davis (30) What common food can:• Cause destructive intestinal damage that, if unrecognized, can lead to disability and death? • Increase blood sugar higher and faster than table sugar?• Trigger an autoimmune inflammatory condition in the thyroid (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)? • Create intestinal bloating, cramps, and alternating diarrhea and constipation, often labeled irritable bowel syndrome? • Trigger schizophrenia in susceptible individuals? • Cause behavioral outbursts in children with autism?• Cause various inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, dermatitis herpetiformis, systemic lupus, pancreatic destruction, and increase measures of inflammation like c-reactive protein?• Cause unexplained anemia, mood swings, fatigue, fibromyalgia, eczema, and osteoporosis?The food is wheat. Yes, the ubiquitous grain we are urged to eat more and more of by the USDA (8-11 servings per day, according to the USDA food pyramid), American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, and the American Diabetes Association. Wheat is among the most destructive ingredients in the modern diet, worse than sugar, worse than high-fructose corn syrup, worse than any fat. What other common food can result in such an extensive list of diseases, even death?Celiac disease alone, a severe intestinal inflammatory condition from wheat gluten, affects an estimated 3 million Americans (Celiac Disease Foundation). The medical literature is filled with case reports of deaths from this disease, often after many years of struggle with incapacitating intestinal dysfunction and the sufferer's last days plagued by encephalopathy (brain inflammation). What happens when you remove wheat from the diet? The majority of people quickly shed 20-30 lbs in the first few weeks, selectively lost from the abdomen (what I call “wheat belly”); blood sugar plummets; triglycerides drop up to several hundred milligrams, HDL increases, LDL drops (yes, wheat elimination is a means of achieving marked reduction in LDL cholesterol, especially the small, heart disease-causing variety); c-reactive protein plummets. In addition to this, intestinal complaints improve or disappear, rashes improve, inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis improve, diabetes can improve or be cured, and behavioral disorders and mood improve.Along with the ill-fated low-fat dietary advice of the last 40 years, the advice to eat plenty of "healthy whole grains" is responsible for untold disease and suffering. Yes, if you start with a fast food and junk diet and replace some of the calories with whole grains, you will be better off. (That was the logic--the Nutritional Syllogism--of the studies that established the benefits of whole grains over processed, "white" grains.) But eliminate wheat grains and health takes a huge leap forward. And, no, there is no such thing as wheat deficiency--B vitamins, insoluble fiber, some protein--can easily be replaced by other foods.