The perfect Frankengrain

Pretend I'm a mad food scientist. I'd like to create a food that:

1) Wreaks gastrointestinal havoc and cause intractable diarrhea, cramps, and anemia.
2) Kills some people who consume it after a long, painful course of illness.
3) Damages the brain and nervous system such that some people wet their pants, lose balance, and lose the ability to feel their feet and legs.
4) Brings out the mania of bipolar illness.
5) Amplifies auditory hallucinations in people with paranoid schizophrenia.
6) Makes people diabetic by increasing blood sugars.
7) Worsens arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
8) Triggers addictive eating behavior.
9) Punishes you with a withdrawal process if you try to remove it from your diet.

I will develop a strain that is exceptionally hardy and tolerates diverse conditions so that it can grow in just about any climate. It should also be an exceptionally high yield crop, so that I can sell it cheaply to the masses.

Now, if my evil scheme goes as planned, I will then persuade the USDA that not only is my food harmless, but it is good for health. If they really take the bait, they might even endorse it, create a diet program around it.

Dag nabit! Such a plan has already been implemented. Another evil food scientist already beat me to the punch. The food is called wheat.

Comments (25) -

  • Anonymous

    2/3/2011 9:03:26 PM |

    Interesting story from the UK:

    How can a fit, clean-living 32-year-old have a heart attack? For Martin the answer was in his genes. Like thousands he suffers from INHERITED high cholesterol

    "He was diagnosed with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), an inherited condition where the body cannot clear ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from the blood."

    His arteries were so clogged that he needed a triple heart bypass — where blood vessels are taken from elsewhere in the body, usually the chest and legs, and used to create a new route for the blood to flow around the blockages.

    An estimated 100,000 people in Britain are living with FH but don’t know it, according to a report published last week by the Royal College of Physicians.

    The condition could kill them at any moment.

    So how could an apparently healthy man have such dangerous levels of cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy ­substance produced by the liver from the saturated fat we eat.

    It plays a vital role in the function of cells and production of hormones and vitamin D.

    Once it has done its job in the body, it’s also the liver’s job to remove it. In healthy people, this happens automatically.

    ‘The liver has “finger receptors” that reach out and grab hold of “bad” LDL cholesterol particles as they pass,’ says Professor Steve Humphries, the new report’s author and director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Genetics at University College London.

    ‘Good’ HDL cholesterol travels to the ­arteries to help unblock them before it also goes back to the liver to be removed by another set of receptors.

    ‘Once inside the liver, the cholesterol gets broken down, sent to the intestines and is then passed out of the body,’ says ­Professor Humphries.

    ‘But in people with FH, these receptors don’t work properly, so the cholesterol builds up in the blood.’

    (With the more common form of high cholesterol, the problem is that the patient has too much LDL for the receptors to cope with.)

    Over time, cholesterol deposits build up in the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart and increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

    By the age of 55, if left untreated, half of men with FH will have developed heart disease, while a third of women with it will develop heart disease by 60.

    While most FH sufferers have heart attacks in their 50s and 60s, some, such as Martin, can be affected in their 30s and 40s — with no warning signs."

  • chaim

    2/3/2011 9:35:02 PM |

    what is better to use regular glutten bread or whole wheat?

  • Anonymous

    2/3/2011 9:55:31 PM |

    Doc Davis,

    I am a fan of your blog, follow it religiously and have commented many times. You provide great advice and we are all thankful for it.

    That being said it, the content has become repetitive. Wheat is unhealthy. It has many negative side effects. It hates puppies and kittens. And babies. We get it.

    I'd love to read more content about other health subjects.

    Please take this in the spirit it was intended.

  • chaim

    2/3/2011 10:09:57 PM |


    there are new ppl in this blog like me ,that did not reed all the posts

    For me ,it is a new thing as for many newcomers

    I never liked wheat, but I thought that was healthy

    We eat challah every Friday, my wife wanted to change it for whole wheat challah

    I dunno if to keep the same challah or to change for whole wheat

  • Dr. William Davis

    2/3/2011 11:47:58 PM |

    Hi, Chaim--

    Makes no difference. All the same.

    Hi, Anonymous--

    I hear you. However, as Chaim points out, there are usually several hundred new people here per day who still ask questions like "why no wheat?" So I re-explore some of the most common concerns.

  • terrence

    2/3/2011 11:56:37 PM |

    Dr Davis - I read your blog regularly, and have for a year or two now.

    I do NOT find your posts about the ills of wheat to be at all repetitive. What you have to say is always informative and often very funny.

    Please do NOT stop posting about wheat.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    2/4/2011 12:18:28 AM |

    Bedside manners may not be Doc's strong point. Once he almost   insulted Frankengrain's Aunt Butter (newbies can scroll blog's Labels, click "butter" & view comments).

  • DK

    2/4/2011 1:08:28 AM |

    Any evidence for any of this? And I mean real and solid evidence, not a bunch of anecdotes.

  • revelo

    2/4/2011 1:13:15 AM |

    You still haven't explained why the traditional people of Sardinia and Crete were so long-lived and healthy in old age (shepherds carrying heavy loads up steep mountain trails at the age of 90, etc), despite eating huge amounts of wheat (we're talking upwards of 750 grams of wheat bread per day for an active worker). For poor folk, the diet was mostly wheat, olive oil and wine, plus fruits, nuts and vegetables in season. Those with some money supplemented with dairy products, fish and meat. The Cretans and Sardinians were notoriously healthy, but the other traditional people of the Mediterranean basin plus the mountains of central Asia were also quite healthy on this wheat-based diet.

    Note that I use the past tense, because now that most of these peoples have moved to the cities, they are all becoming obese and diabetic and plagued with heart disease and other ailments.

  • Dr. William Davis

    2/4/2011 1:57:14 AM |

    Hi, Revelo--

    I don't know for certain, but I suspect that they are consuming a different genetic strain, e.g., emmer or a different, non-dwarf, variant.

    Wheat is literally 25,000+ different strains. While the majority are quite destructive, there are likely a few less destructive forms. This is one of the reasons I discuss the appeal of einkorn.

    DK and others--

    The evidence for much of this is actually overwhelming. It will be fully articulated in my forthcoming book from Rodale, Wheat Belly,

  • Jim White

    2/4/2011 2:09:07 AM |

    Thanks for the tip on Einkorn wheat. I have now added pasta back into my diet. I had eliminated it due to the huge blood sugar spikes. After eating pasta made from Einkorn wheat my blood sugar tests 100-108 just one hour after eating.  Traditional durem wheat pasta was producing 140+ even 2 hours later. Plus it is good.

  • Amy Dungan

    2/4/2011 4:31:53 AM |

    This is great! I'll be sure to share with the doubters. Smile

  • Anonymous

    2/4/2011 5:55:10 AM |

    Here's what would be more helpful: what to eat once you swear off wheat?
    What are we supposed to do for carbs? Potatoes and rice are glycemic bombs, we're told. Corn doesn't belong in a human diet either. High fructose corn syrup is in absolutely everything. Too much fruit is no good.  Short of somehow becoming a traditional Inuit or living in the induction phase of Atkins the rest of my life, I'm at a loss for ideas. I allow myself some pizza each week and a nice bowl of breakfast cereal, but I'm not extravagant with wheat, yet I have a trigylceride level of 292, HDL of 35, even with fish oil and niacin, and three days a week in the gym.

  • Anonymous

    2/4/2011 8:12:46 AM |

    Anonymous, my own Triglyceride levels came down from 214 just a year ago (at some point they were in the 300s) to 89 just before Christmas. This was by seriously cutting down on all sorts of carbs, I.e, only minimal amounts of bread, pasta, rice, etc. Hilariously, the doctor commented: “but remember, you don't need to cut fat from your diet completely!”. I just grinned. Having said that, I know exactly what you mean. If you go out for food, it is virtually impossible to avoid refined carbs in huge amounts in just about any dish. If you prepare your own food, you will have to discard the bulk of your favorite recipes from the past, and focus on stews etc. It's not easy. Regards, neuroscan.

  • majkinetor

    2/4/2011 2:30:33 PM |

    There is lot of CH in vegetables.

    For instance, 100g of brussels sprout has around 4g of CH.
    Its so delicious when cooked for few minutes in olive oil and/or butter that you can easily eat around 300g per day which gives you 16g.

    Potato is good alternative. Its hi GI (and GL) but, high GI foods in small amounts don't rise sugar. Amount is important. One boiled potato for instance.

    Other stuff: carrot, black chocolate (75%++ cocoa), oat brans, cashews, cranberries.

    Those are extremely healthy foods with good amount of slow carbs.

  • Might-o'chondri-AL

    2/4/2011 4:32:03 PM |

    Hi Revelo,
    Twice here I've seen mention of Crete & Sicily intake. Those islands' heat and humidity foster unique symbionts.

    Temperature will influence the varieties of soil bacteria. Based on the prophylactic gastro-intestinal affect of Japan's Natto I'd look to a local strain of Bacillus subtilis found on the drying wheat stalks.

    Humidity will influence the varieties of mycotic (fungi) strains post-harvest grain is exposed to. Rural storage isn't hermeticly controlled conditions.
    Based on human prophylactic gastro-intestinal affect of Japan's Koji (Amazake)I'd look for fungal mycellium of a local Aspergillus strain.

    Swine, whether kept as pigs or feral boars, expose country folk to non-symptomatic helminths (worms). Human immune system modulates away from auto-immune response in reaction to them. I'd look at the swine Whipworm species interaction.

    Robust rural 90 year olds are gaunt and conditioned. Carbohydrate based diets facilitate this by producing triglycerides to send out from the liver. In between the muscle cell's, and not fat, these are stored as di-acyl-glycerides.

    A genetic/epigentic determined copy number variation of an enzyme influences our ability to convert "di-" back into tri-acyl-glyceride (triglycerides). The muscle then "burns" this on site for a lot of energy. My 2000 decade co-villagers relied on tubers (carbohydrate); one reputedly closing in on 100 years regularly walked many kilometers.

  • thehurricane

    2/4/2011 6:59:00 PM |

    That pretty much sums it up...  I love this blog.

  • thehurricane

    2/4/2011 7:01:03 PM |

    It might be repetitive but he does update his blog EVERY day... this in addition to being a doctor, husband, parent.  The fact is that wheat really is so destructive and addictive for some people that it's worth repeating every day.  
    Keep at it Doc and I am looking forward to your book!

  • Patricia D.

    2/4/2011 7:50:30 PM |

    Regarding the connection between Urinary incontinence and wheat ...

    A connection has also been noted between Vitamin D3 deficiency and urinary incontinence.  There was a study from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y from March 2010:

    I began to optimize my VD3 levels late in 2009 and this was one of the first benefits I realized - within a few months this situation had improved dramatically for me.  

    Then we started to cut way back on our wheat consumption in the fall of last year.

    It would be hard at this point for me to determine that having cut back on wheat is also having an impact - but there has been no obvious improvement.  Perhaps complete wheat elimination would have a more telling effect - but I do feel my situation now is near normal, whereas before it was an inconvenient problem of considerable concern.

  • Patricia D.

    2/4/2011 8:02:49 PM |

    I know Dr. Davis did some baking (experiments) with Einkorn wheat.  I've found a few other sites for "heirloom wheat" flours ....
    Anson Mills:
    and ...
    Kamut: Ancient Grain in Modern Times:

    ... and I'm sure there are more.

    These grains also predate the dwarf wheat mutant, and I wonder if anyone here has any experience with these flours?

    I now consider that cutting back on wheat consumption is a lifestyle choice for us and we won't be going back.  But I do occasionally bake a cake, or use a bit of flour to thicken a sauce, and sometimes bake bread.  

    I would like to have an alternate flour in the house that I feel comfortable cooking with.

  • paleoish

    2/5/2011 1:10:12 AM |

    Dr Davis, you have the patience of a saint to humour anonymous coward(s). I DO like reading the reminders of how bad wheat is, because people like me with ambiguous symptoms may or may not ever get a diagnosis of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. My last wheat cheat involved blood, so it's very possible that I have CD, but I dread the diagnostic process. Either way, it is emotionally draining to swim against the tide! Your posts help keep me on the straight and narrow.

    Doc, are there any references or further info on the issue of wheat triggering bipolar manic episodes? I'm having a major "a-ha" moment over this one. I'd love to read more about it. I've been reading your blog and that of Dr Emily for a while, and I don't recall seeing any info on that. Pardon me if I missed it.

  • Kevin

    2/5/2011 8:18:07 PM |

    I can't give up wheat products.  Because if this website I've drastically reduced my intake but haven't been able to make a total break.  Dr D's continual wheat-is-bad theme is pushing me toward my goal.  I do not want him to change this web's focus.  Without it I'd probably revert.  


  • skcubrats

    2/9/2011 2:26:15 AM |

    Aren't corn and soybeans just as bad?  I thought he was going to end up with corn.  Remember, 95% aren't eating enough whole grains!  Zero is enough for me!

  • Josh

    2/9/2011 2:51:15 PM |

    Chaim -

    Shalom!  If you make your own hallah try to find some emmer or einkorn and see if that helps.

    If not try making sourdough, since at least the phytic acid is removed by the fermenation.

    It is possible that many Jews are not as sensitive to wheat since we have been eating it for a long time (of cource that was einkorn and emmer).

    Keep in mind you only need to eat a cbeya to wash with a bracha and czayit to bench on.  That's 2oz of bread - really not such a big deal if you're not eating wheat the rest of the week.

    I will also point out that Abraham served cream, butter, and organ meats to his guests.