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A Lay Review of the AACCI “Analysis”

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Bob Niland

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Posted: 12/7/2016 11:07:43 AM
Edited: 12/7/2016 1:06:30 PM (2)
A Lay Review of the AACCI “Analysis”

A Lay Review of the AACCI “Analysis”

Edition: 2016-12-07
Originally posted to Wheat Free Forum: 2013-06-23

Temporary Note:
This content is now mirrored on Cureality,
due to Wheat Free Forum going off-line for
several days on or about 2016-12-03
For Cureality non-subscribers, the discussion
threads are still open at WFF.

Note: This article is maintained for historical purposes, as Dr. Davis' current position on nutrition and health is captured in the 2014 book Wheat Belly Total Health. The AACCI site appears to no longer host the PDF of the paper being responded to here. Their page redirect goes into an apparently infinite loop. You may be able to find the PDF on various internet archives.

In September 2012, the grain industry*, via the Plexus publication of the American Association of Cereal Chemists International (AACCI), [formerly] at:
published “Wheat Belly - An Analysis of Selected Statements and Basic Theses from the Book” by Julie M. Jones.

* By “grain industry”, I mean the processors, packagers, chemists, geneticists, lobbyists and academics with financial ties to these. I don't mean the wheat growers, local elevators, or even the machinery manufacturers. All of the latter are generally unaware of what's been going on, and what's about to happen.

Wheat Belly Blog readers periodically rediscover this AACCI paper, and wonder if it makes any valid points (it doesn't). This Review was written so that we can direct such questions to answers. It was originally posted on Wheat Free Forum (WFF) because it was far too long for a WBB Reply, and there was no appropriate thread to attach it to, and would be easier to find and search on WFF. It was even too long for a single WFF reply, although it is a single page as now hosted on the Cureality forum. I have left numbered footnote cites in the quotes.

Dr. Davis has not directly responded to this AACCI paper, and seems unlikely to. If that's because he considers it to be so inept as to not to be worthy of a response on its merits, I concur. But like spurious negative feedback comments in an eBay seller's record, leaving it unanswered can confer a gravitas it does not actually possess. So, I got curious and decided to examine it.

Those interested in how robust the WB arguments are, may thus want to read the AACCI paper and my review of that “Analysis”. The AACCI paper may represent the best that grain advocates can come up with to answer Wheat Belly. If so, their case is not just weak. I don't see any case at all.

While this AACCI publication, and the Analysis article, are not aimed at the general public, the article may be cited in blogs and other publications. It may be postured as a “rebuttal”, “refutation” or “debunking” when referenced. It is no such thing.

AACCI may have been expecting professional readers to take note of the Analysis, but perhaps not to deeply examine it. If they trouble to read it carefully, grain industry professionals may be shocked. Lay readers might be intimidated by the formal language and impenetrable cites. I'm a lay reader (who did not chase down the cited references, for reasons that will become apparent). Let's see what a lay reader thinks.
Only 1 footnote (above). I promise.


About the Plexus publication in its own words from that period:
“The online network of CFW Plexus offers a broad range of opportunities for advertising and sponsorships. Beyond traditional online and print advertising, CFW Plexus also plans to launch a Product Showcase to feature information about new products and services available in the cereals and grains market.”
This may be a marketing and lobbying publication, and not a dry journal of dispassionate discourse on public health. The articles are not necessarily peer-reviewed.

The Analysis article is cast as a scientific style paper. It's a general principle in scientific discourse that one counters a defective scientific argument with correct data and logic, and not by ad hominem (discrediting the author). But, as you'll see, this Analysis paper works hard to discredit itself, and the present “debate” is not merely scientific. It is more a case of a huge industry, selling what may well be a human toxin as food, and whose very existence is threatened by a popular book. This is frankly economics vs. public health. We need to follow the money, and consider the players, to understand what's afoot.

Wheat Belly was published in August 2011. It was not the first book/paper/article to identify the hazards of gluten-bearing grains, nor the first to advocate a low-carb diet. It may have been the first to do so comprehensively, and is pretty clearly the first to become a best-seller, and a persistent best-seller at that. The grain industry could afford to ignore the earlier efforts. They've evidently decided they can't ignore Wheat Belly. It took them just over a year to obtain the “Analysis” response. Why so long? Waiting to see if WB was just a fad? Couldn't find anyone willing to write it? I wonder.

Conflicts of Interest

Readers of the WB book or blog already know who Dr. Davis is: he's a cardiac physician whose WB initiative promises to dramatically reduce the demand for his specialty, and the practice of acute care generally; not usually an auspicious medical career strategy. He has published several books, and operates several websites. The financial incentives, if any, for the WB initiative seem somewhat risky at best. No critics raise it as an issue, to my knowledge.

Dr. (Ph.D.) Julie M. Jones is, in the article, identified only as being from St. Catherine University, St. Paul MN.

A quick search finds that she is a board certified and Licensed Nutritionist, and a professor of nutrition in the Department of Family, Consumer and Nutritional Sciences at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. She is a scientific advisor for the Joint Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition for the University of Maryland and the US Food and Drug Administration. She is a scientific advisor to the carbohydrate committee of the International Life Sciences Institute. She is on the scientific advisory panel for the Grains Food Foundation and Chartwell. She is on the General Mills speaker's bureau, speaking to health professionals nationwide. She has co-organized conferences on whole grains. She is Chair of the AACCI's Whole Grains Working Group.

None of this was disclosed in the article, which would be fine if she were just countering a similar article by Dr. Davis in the Journal of Esoteric Endocrinology.

Was Dr. Jones compensated for the article? Does her department get industry grants and funding? Does she receive other compensation as an advisor, and was any of that at risk had she declined to author the article? None of this is disclosed or disclaimed.

And professionally, what's at stake for Dr. Jones? What have her advocacies been on grains? What is her role in the prominence of grains in the USDA “MyPlate”? Part of her professional focus is food safety. What if her “food group” is inherently a hopeless human toxin? If the central thesis of Wheat Belly is correct, has her entire career been a fundamental error, with needless and catastrophic consequences for public health? Can Dr. Jones afford, in all senses of the word, for the WB theses to be correct?

OK, so who am I then? I'm a follower of the Wheat Belly blog. This review was unsolicited. I was not compensated in any way for authoring it. (2015 Update: 2 years after authoring this review, I entered a professional relationship with Dr. Davis, wherein I handle routine questions on his blog. This review was not authored in contemplation of that happening.)

I read Wheat Belly when a family member independently discovered wheat sensitivity and was looking for wheatless recipes in a book store. I found WB compelling, follow the recommendations, and haven't looked back. We own a small farm, and are wondering how to re-purpose our former wheat ground. I [was] work[ing] in the agricultural machinery business [now retired]. I expect that if the WB theses are correct, or consumers merely think they are, a cultural diet shift is going to dramatically change the market for my former company's products, and in ways that are going to be financially and technically challenging.

I have not quoted the AACCI paper in its entirety, primarily due to space considerations. Much of it is actually non-responsive to each topic at hand. I encourage the reader to find it, down-load it, and view or print it, Have your copy of Wheat Belly at hand too.

The Analysis

Discussion Legend

Topic - and Point - identify sections of the paper. The “Points” are almost entirely restatements, in Dr. Jones words.

Quotes from the Analysis are prefaced with JJ: (for Julie Jones). Doing this was a bit of work, because the AACCI web PDF is encrypted, and has Content Copying set to Not Allowed. Although setting no-copy is often unintentional in PDF generation, it could be construed as a ploy to allow the public to read the article, but frustrate discussion and comment on it. So there may be some transcription errors in my quotes.

Dr. Jones, alas, rarely uses exact quotes from the Wheat Belly book, and entirely fails to identify WB page numbers. So we are usually left reading her characterization of what the book says (which I often found to be misleading, inaccurate or completely false). In one case, I couldn't figure out what she was referring to at all. If my comments seem snarky at times, thank Dr. Jones for provoking that.

BN: leads my remarks.
DD: leads stand-alone quotes from Dr. Davis work.

“Wheat Belly - An Analysis of Selected Statements and Basic Theses from the Book”

The title of the article says “Selected”, and that's not surprising, as the alternative would be to quote the entire book or paraphrase sentence-by-sentence.

The opening paragraph declares:
JJ: “… a variety of the positions discussed in the book will be analyzed using scientific literature by first stating Davis' point and then providing an analysis of the point. The statements can be divided into four categories:
1) those which are based on good, sound nutrition science;
2) those that are controversial, i.e., there are studies supporting both sides of the issue;
3) those that are theory, i.e., they have no data to support or refute them; and
4) those that run counter to widely supported data reported in the scientific and medical literature.”

BN: OK, she's going to nitpick just the text. Fair enough.

But notice what is entirely absent in the approach:
The AACCI had a year to work on this. They could have run simple, easy, inexpensive experiments. They could have asked volunteers to try the WB approach to diet. The author could have personally tried it. Either no testing was done, or the results were “unsatisfactory”, and left unreported.

Point: Obesity

BN: Dr. Jones initially concurs, and actually fleshes out Dr. Davis' general claim with supporting numbers, for example:

JJ: “The obesity rate has increased 214% since 1950 (2).”

BN: The critique of the selected point then moves on to a nitpick.

JJ: “However, the implication that women did not exercise is not fully accurate, in that Davis does not mention that lifestyles in general were much more active in the 1950s….”

BN: When I first read this, my first thought was: what is Dr. Jones up to here? This point wasn't even worth arguing. Women were also more likely to be at home in the '50s, a further confounding factor Dr. Jones neglects. Was she being paid by the counter-claim, no matter how weak?

Point: Elimination of wheat from the diet is the “holy grail” of weight loss.

BN: The first three sentences, not quoted here, are flat out agreement with Dr. Davis. Dr. Jones then builds a straw man, and throws in some fallacious logic for good measure:

JJ: “While it is true that such diets have been shown to cause more rapid weight loss than other diets in the initial 6 months following such a regimen, they do not result in greater weight loss over time and result in more dropouts than other diet types that are more balanced and do not eliminate entire food groups.”

BN: Dr. Jones made no effort to compare and contrast (much less actually test) long term compliance and/or sustained weight loss on unspecified low carb diets vs. the WB recommendations. WB is different. I've been on it nearly two>years (now over five), and followed the blog for that long. I'm not seeing any indication of compliance or sustained weight loss issues. Many low carb trials fail to exclude gluten-bearing grains, which Dr. Davis has identified as both addictive and appetite-stimulating, and which I would thus expect to make compliance a needless challenge. See Glycemic Confounding below.

The unspecified “entire food group” is presumably My Plate grains and amounts to a begging_the_question fallacy. Grains are only a food group to USDA dietary masterminds, and their unwitting victims. Grains need to be removed from the official diets. That they are currently featured there may be evidence of unsettling politics, but is hardly supporting evidence to the contrary. Grains might be a “food group” for some ruminants, but not humans.

Point: Elimination of wheat from the diet is associated with disease cure and mitigation.

JJ: “The reductions in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome cited fit with weight loss (5), while Davis' attribution that disease mitigation was due to wheat removal is not supported.”

BN: Note: “not supported” is apt to be ambiguous to the lay reader (it was to me). It could mean “has no data one way or the other”, “data is scarce”, “is contradicted by the data”, or “I didn't find the supporting data satisfactory on this point”. If the lay reader assumes that “not supported” means “not true”, well, that might be a serendipitous bit of academic smoke.

JJ: “Reduction in calories and loss of weight by any method is the number one recommendation of diabetes associations around the world (8,9).”

BN: What a fascinating sentence; it starts with a straw man fallacy, then makes a tacit admission that the WB recommendations result in weight loss and diabetes relief. The fallacy is due to the fact that WB does not recommend calorie reduction or restriction. So why does a WB compliant diet usually result in reduction of caloric intake? Dr. Jones doesn't seem interested in that.

JJ: “Other claims that the elimination of wheat from the diet reduced disease are interesting, …”

BN: Not interesting enough for a suggestion of further research, apparently. Here we have a cheap cure at hand for a wide variety of ailments, but because the library stacks aren't bending under the weight of supporting raw data, we can dismiss the anecdotes. New discoveries usually have no supporting data in the stacks. Chronically ignored discoveries might have that data, but then, they are chronically ignored by the scientific establishment.

JJ: “…but in the end are simply testimonials.”

BN: Prior to 1982, claims that 70-90% of ulcers were caused by bacteria and cleared by antibiotics, were also “simply testimonials”. If you think that academics are any less likely to be denialist today than during historic health horrors, you are mistaken.

BN: Glycemic Confounding
A challenge for those proposing to critique Wheat Belly is the sorry state of what appear to be contrary data. Implicit in the WB macronutrient recommendations is an indictment that 99% of the human race is following an incorrect metabolic diet (full-time glycemic). Most existing nutrition trial, survey and outcome data is about glycemic diet. Guidance teased out of that data may be at best misleading. At this moment in history, it's true, there may be insufficient statistical data on grain-free low-carb to satisfy committed glycemic advocates. In some areas, like nutritional ketosis (NK) during pregnancy, for example, there is reportedly almost no data. We're breaking new ground here. We'd like to correct/avoid the same ailments as the official diets, but the official diets don't seem to work, and may even be causing the problem. Dr. Jones is not helping with our digging, and seems convinced that no gold is to be found. How many more will be maimed and killed before satisfactory data reaches her in-basket? Which of her statistics do you want to be?

JJ: “Studies show …”

BN: Translation: “Biased analysis, of flawed data, from entirely unrelated trials, leading to incorrect interpretation shows…”. I did not dig into the cites here, because I suspected they are all confounded by glycemic diets. They may also have other problems that will take more time to dissect than this AACCI paper merits. And as, you'll see, Dr. Jones can't even correctly restate WB arguments, so I have low confidence that her interpretation of her own cites is accurate.

JJ: “In terms of improvement in physical performance, there are only testimonials and popular press books such as the recent book authored by tennis player Pierre Dukan.“

BN: This statement may just summarize our status, and makes no real argument. It's early. Athletes are still fine-tuning low-carb and/or nutritional ketosis. Many are failing to recognize the peculiar hazards of grains, so the anecdotes require close examination.

Point: central obesity

JJ: “The facts Davis presents about central obesity are true and warrant concern. What is not true is that wheat causes this condition and that elimination of wheat will cure this condition. It is well documented that no one food or food group is responsible for VAT. …” … and then cites a study that I won't chase down.

BN: Straw man: the quote above materially misrepresents Dr. Davis, who says, on page 9 of WB (hardcover, my emphasis):
DD: “That's right: Diabetes in many cases can be cured - not simply managed - by removal of carbohydrates, especially wheat”.

The present AACCI paper makes no assertion that the cited study was even able to isolate results that were entirely grain free, or isolate low-carb results. If someone else wants to dig it up and analyze it, I have no problem being mistaken.

Point: The proliferation of wheat products parallels the increase in waist size.

JJ: “Although the association may be true, this is an example of the misuse of correlations to imply causation.”

1. Straw man. Dr. Davis didn't imply causation.
2. If the WB theses are correct, they should match the historical record. This is not about causation. This is about a look at data that could falsify the theory. Falsification does not occur.

JJ: “Davis does not report the more important information from the USDA-ERS paper (19), however, which notes “A big jump in average calorie intake between 1985 and 2000 without a corresponding increase in the level of physical activity (calorie expenditure) is the prime factor behind America's soaring rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes…. Consumption in 2000 was 12 percent, or roughly 300 calories, above the 1985 level.”.

BN: The presented quote practically discredits itself, although diggers can go hunt that down if they like. No question is raised about what caused the “big jump”. They apparently just blame the victims for not making a corresponding big jump in exercise to compensate for it.

Point: Whole-wheat bread has a glycemic index of …

JJ: “Whole-wheat bread does have a GI higher than table sugar.”

BN: Well hello. That's a jaw-dropping admission. Just how long have you known this, grain industry? When were you planning to warn us? I'll call these “confessional moments” as we hit them in the paper.

JJ: ”One aspect of GI that is frequently misunderstood is that the measure is often used to compare very different amounts of food. Fifty grams of sucrose or glucose (approximately 3 table-spoons) would yield fifty grams of available carbohydrate. Fifty grams of available carbohydrate from whole-wheat bread is much more than fifty grams of bread since bread is not all carbohydrate, and all the carbohydrate is not available. Thus, it would take 144 g of whole-wheat bread (5.1 slices at 28 g per slice) or 111 g of white bread (3.9 slices) to yield 50 g of available carbohydrate.”

BN: The above is 100% straw man, and frankly appears to be deliberately intended to mislead a lay reader into thinking that it takes 5 slices to do what Dr. Davis claims it takes 2 slices to do. Dr. Davis has never claimed that bread equals sugar gram for gram, and his point was not “has as much available carb”; it was “raises blood sugar as much as”.

Point: The starch in wheat is different …

JJ: ”Davis states that while wheat has an A structure, bananas and potatoes have a B structure, and legumes have a C structure.”

BN: This looks to me like a misrepresentation. On page 33 of WB, Dr. Davis says “… amylopectin A, is found in wheat”. He didn't say that wheat is only A, or the A is unique to wheat, as she contends later. Ditto for the other foods.

JJ: ”Root starches such as cooked potato and taro are also readily converted to blood glucose. Furthermore, some cereals bred to have higher amounts of amylose, such as high-amylose wheat or maize, are digested slowly (20) and may actually not be digested at all, becoming resistant starch instead.”

BN: And WB recognizes this, and classifies foods based on their actual blood sugar consequences, not just on the type of carbs they contain.

JJ: “Type A starches are not unique to wheat, as Davis implies, but are found in most cereals and have branch chain lengths of =23-29 glucose units.”

BN: I wish she had quoted exactly what Dr. Davis said to lead to that asserted implication, because I can't find it.

Point: The relationships between blood glucose, insulin response, and GI, …

JJ: “Davis' statements regarding the relationships between blood glucose, insulin response, and GI are inaccurate and misleading.”

BN: “inaccurate” apparently means: I found a few products that were exceptions to the general rule.
“misleading” apparently means: The truth about wheat may lead you away from grains.

JJ: “Whole-wheat bread consumption does produce the same glucose response as white bread consumption. This statement by Davis is accurate; …”

BN: Another confessional moment.

JJ: “… however, most users of the GI and glycemic load (GL) are unaware that the amount of bread is different. It takes more whole-wheat bread than white bread to obtain the same glucose response. Although it is also correct that whole-wheat breads have a higher GI than a candy bar such as a Mars or Snickers bar, as previously mentioned the GI compares 50 g of available carbohydrate, which is about 4 slices of whole-wheat bread and about 2.5 oz of Mars bar, so the volume of food is different.”

BN: I'm not sure Dr. Davis ever specified the exact size of Mars Bar, and Dr. Jones now neglects to tell us how much of a bar 2.5 oz is. Is she actually disputing the Davis numbers, or just trying to make it appear so?

JJ: “In addition, there are several factors involved in available carbohydrate levels, including the fat content of the food, which impedes amylase activity; other components such as nuts, a naturally low-GI food; and the rich phenolics and antioxidants in the chocolate, which lower the GI of the candy bar.”

BN: Do antioxidants lower GI? A quick search suggests that high GI impairs antioxidant capacity.

JJ: “In short, because the calories and nutrients delivered by the two products are so vastly different, it is not possible to make a direct comparison that is meaningful. It should also be pointed out that not all whole-wheat breads yield higher GIs; for example, some sourdough whole- wheat breads (23) have a GI < 56, which is the value quoted for a Mars bar.”

BN: Evidently Dr. Jones is having a problem understanding some part of:
DD: “Eating 2 slices of whole wheat bread increases blood sugar more than a candy bar.”

BN: The message, however, is not lost on those who were avoiding candy bars for health reasons, but heretofore had assumed that whole wheat bread was “healthy”.

JJ: “Pasta does have a lower GI than bread because the dense structure of the pasta impedes amylases from readily accessing the carbohydrate and, therefore, does not increase blood sugar rapidly (24).”

BN: Agrees with Dr. Davis, but goes on to wallow in dogma:

JJ: “Davis implies there is a problem because the pasta delivers glucose over a longer period of time. However, slow, steady delivery of glucose into the bloodstream is considered advantageous because it avoids large swings in blood sugar.”

BN: Note the “is considered”, without even a cite in sight; an appeal to an unmentioned authority of some sort. This is fallout from the current “grazing” dogma, which apparently has adverse real-world consequences beyond mere chronic elevation of blood sugar.

JJ: “Further, there is a ready supply of glucose for the brain and for use by cells throughout the body.”

BN: More dogma from the sugar-frosted ivory towers of glycemia. Dr. Jones is presumably aware of nutritional ketosis (NK, or KD: ketogenic diet), and that brain and that body cells can operate either on glucose or on ketone bodies (it is now thought that the brain can operate on up to 60% ketone bodies, and it is known that the body can make all the glucose needed, even on a zero-carb diet), but for some reason she declines to even acknowledge NK. It may be that she confuses it for metabolic ketoacidosis (see later of this Review), as many still do.

JJ: “To state that an omelet causes no rise in blood sugar reveals a misunderstanding of the relationship between foods and their effects on blood sugar. Although it is true that foods that do not contain carbohydrate do not raise blood glucose to a significant degree, …”

BN: Here she is arguing about the non-difference between “no” rise and “non-significant” rise. I'll count that as a quibble, arising from the fact that WB is a popular book and not a scientific paper.

JJ: “…the ingestion of protein can impact blood glucose by causing insulin release and through its digestion produce amino acids that are glucogenic.”

BN: Semi straw man: I don't think WB gets into glucogensis of protein at all, and I'm not sure it needs to. But the point is interesting, if somewhat self-defeating. If glucose from protein is significant, and cells have to have only glucose, why would we need the aforementioned pasta carbs?

JJ: “Further, stating that an omelet does not raise insulin is incorrect. All food proteins stimulate insulin release (25), although not all stimulate its release to the same degree.”

BN: Is this arguing “no” vs. “insignificant” again? I can't tell. It does raise a separate interesting question that I don't know the answer to: Is it a problem if some food provokes an insulin response without actually causing a corresponding rise in blood sugar?

JJ: “Foods such as milk, which has a very low GI, have a great capacity to stimulate insulin release through the release of incretin hormones and the presence of insulinotropic amino acids.”

BN: Semi straw man: this is a major reason WB is cautious on unfermented dairy (page 180).

JJ: “Whole-wheat bread does yield higher blood sugar than kidney beans or potato chips for several reasons. First, beans are a great source of dietary fiber, some of it soluble, which lowers blood glucose response. Second, the carbohydrate in beans is less available. Potato chips have a lower glycemic response than whole-wheat bread because they contain more than 35% fat, and fat impedes amylases. Further, starch in potato chips has been cooked and cooled, causing the starch molecule in the food to crystallize and produce a lower glycemic response.”

BN: Another confessional moment. The above is disputing nothing.

Topic: Addiction and Mental Function

Point: Wheat is the “world's most destructive dietary ingredient, … exorphins …"

JJ: “Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that pepsin hydrolysis of wheat proteins can produce peptides that interact with opioid receptors (26).”

BN: Confirmation: the effect is real.

JJ: “However, the same NIH study that verifies Davis' claim about the production of such peptides from the breakdown of wheat also shows that other food proteins also produce peptides with the capacity to interact with opioid receptors (27). In other words, the claim that wheat is unique in this regard is incorrect.”

BN: Do these other foods produce them in comparable dosages at typical consumption levels? Is the effect the same? Is the effect altered on a low-carb grain-free diet? In other words, do the other peptides matter? No answer given. Anyone care to dissect the study?

JJ: “Further, the studies indicating wheat's possible opioid potential were conducted either in vitro or by feeding the preformed peptides (29), not the wheat itself. The authors of the 1979 NIH in vitro study conclude by stating that peptides derived from some food proteins may be of physiological importance, but that further studies must show that these peptides are absorbed and delivered intact to the various opioid receptors at dose levels that can have an impact (30). Experiments feeding wheat foods, not hydrolysates, must be conducted to determine the actual effects of peptides from gluten breakdown.”

BN: Yes, a real trial would be valuable. With what is now known or suspected about wheat, is it even possible to run an ethical trial today? Who wants to volunteer for the wheat-eating group?

JJ: “Some studies have also shown beneficial effects of these peptides. If available to the body, they have the potential to improve learning performance and to help control blood pressure (31-33).”

BN: OK, can we get them without the wheat? Will the FDA and DEA allow it? Or can we simply get the same benefits from an entirely different diet?

Point: Wheat opioids are so addictive they cause people to be unable to control their eating, and removal of wheat from the diet causes withdrawal.

JJ: “The control of eating and the onset of satiety are affected by many mechanisms, from physical feelings of fullness (distention) to neuroendocrine, psycho/emotional, social, and sensory factors. While some suggest certain foods, such as sugars and fats, are addictive, the subject is very controversial. Supporting evidence is weak and scarce, with no data on humans (30,34). Human data on withdrawal effects from foods or their components, except for caffeine, are nonexistent. There is no evidence to substantiate Davis' claims about withdrawal symptoms resulting from removal of wheat from the diet.”

BN: So if you had uncontrollable munchies before giving up wheat, then withdrawal symptoms, and now have no cravings, and only eat what you actually need, remember: that's not evidence of anything to Dr. Jones, who doesn't even propose that this be trialed. The results could be a problem, I suppose.

JJ: “In addition, Davis' claims that wheat causes uncontrollable overeating conflict with existing data, which show release of satiety hormones resulting from the ingestion of wheat. Proteins stimulate cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide 1 release, and wheat and pea proteins show a stronger ability than other sources to stimulate the release of both hormones (35). The ability of gluten to stimulate two satiety hormones calls into question Davis' claim that it spurs eating. In fact, some data suggest that consumption of proteins such as those in gluten may be a good dietary strategy for weight management (39).”

BN: OK, but what actual eating behavior accompanies “release of satiety hormones”. That non-denial denial is fully consistent with an outcome of:
“well Harry, we see the SH rises in these subjects, but they keep gobbling up all the pastries in spite of that”.
Note that Dr. Jones does not actually claim that eating wheat has no appetite effect, nor causes you to eat less.

Point: Wheat ingestion alters mood and causes mental “fogginess.”

JJ: “There is little data showing that wheat consumption alters mood or mental acuity.”

BN: Note that the sentence is not followed by “much data show the opposite”. It's apparently just a not-a-lot-of-data-either-way situation, to Dr. Jones.

JJ: “In a study with a small number of patients with celiac disease, gluten restriction failed to improve the neurological disability (36).”

BN: Note the change of topic: Dr. Davis speaks of wheat consumption. Dr. Jones speaks of gluten restriction. And this was a study, not a trial. Anyone care to dive into that one and see what the original experiments or trials were actually testing for, and controlling for, what else was in the diet, and what neuro function was measured.

So, if back when you were eating wheat, you could not read this AACCI paper without your eyes glazing over, but now you can see right through as if you had X-ray vision, that's not evidence of improved neurological condition due to wheat elimination.

JJ: “In contrast, increased serotonin is associated with a sense of well-being and elevates mood.”

BN: Until the craving starts in again, anyway. How did serotonin enter this discussion anyway? It's not in the WB book. It's derived from tryptophan, and wheat is not a major source of that. There's 2x as much in turkey, and 8x as much in eggs.

JJ: “Wheat biscuits added to the diets of malnourished Indian primary school-aged children actually improved cognitive ability (37).”

BN: Pick. Up. Jaw. Any kind of food would have had a similar result. This is probably the same late paleo faustian bargain that got humans into glycemic trouble in the first place. Sure, if certain death by starvation is the alternative, eat wheat.

JJ: “There is data suggesting that adding lysine to grain-based diets may reduce measures of anxiety.”

BN: Folic acid deja vu. If you don't eat wheat, you'll be folic acid and lysine deficient! Umm, wheat doesn't contain those. Wheat flour contains folates, but only because it was added, and at what net price to our health? How about we just eat actually healthy foods that contain those, or take supplements?

JJ: “Another study shows that the ingestion of many proteins, including wheat gluten, lowers tryptophan levels. However, wheat also contains carbohydrate, which causes insulin release and changes the ratio of tryptophan to other neutral amino acids, causing an increase in tryptophan and, thus, an increase in serotonin levels (39,40).”

BN: Ah, here's the serotinin hand waving. How about we just eat some eggs?

Wheat Breeding and Genetics

Point: Wheat is the product of genetic research, and today we are eating genetically altered wheat.

JJ: “Modern cultivated food plants are the product of thousands of years of plant breeding, and wheat is no exception. Breeding programs have enabled a number of positive outcomes in terms of plant yield, food quality, and nutritional value.”

BN: Note: “a number” - a tacit admission that not all outcomes are positive, as indeed they are not. Note that food safety is not on the putative list of positive outcomes.

JJ: “Wheat breeding is not, as Davis suggests, a new technology that has occurred since 1940, although efforts such as those by Norman Borlaug and others have resulted in significant advances.”

BN: Straw man. I doubt Dr. Davis suggests that wheat breeding per se is new. Accelerated breeding is new. Chemical and radio mutagenesis is new. Embryo rescue is probably new. These “non-GMO” techniques have introduced genetic changes that might take millennia in the wild, or might be flat out impossible. Dear grain industry, please show us the results of the long term food safety testing. You did do that, didn't you?

JJ: “In 1970 Borlaug won the Noble Peace Prize for his wheat and grain breeding programs.”

BN: Yasser Arafat also won that prize (which is granted through a process utterly distinct from the scientific Nobel prizes). I don't mean to equate Borlaug with Arafat, but I personally would be embarrassed to win the Peace Prize.
Fallacy: Appeal to authority
Grade: Fail

JJ: “Programs such as his produced grains with high yields that grow under a wide variety of conditions and help address world food supply challenges.”

BN: There is no dispute about this. What Borlaug did exploded the availability of wheat as a food, but was that actually a net benefit? Or did it turn a starvation crisis into a disease crisis?

JJ: “Despite the implication in the book, these varieties were produced using traditional plant breeding techniques.”

BN: Translation: “traditional” See:
WORSE than Genetic Modification
Dr. Jones has an opportunity here to elaborate on the grain industry's definition of “traditional breeding techniques”, but declines to do so. If you assume that it means merely controlled pollenization and annual selective breeding, you'd be mistaken, and the industry has no apparent desire to enlighten you.

JJ: “Currently, there are no commercially available, genetically modified wheat varieties sold.”

BN: No dispute there either, although Dr. Davis is often falsely accused of claiming the opposite, usually implicitly, by clever people making unqualified statements just like that quote. Articles that rely on this AACCI paper often lead with this particular straw man. I do note the qualifier “Currently”. Thanks for the ominous warning.

Point: There are currently 22,000-25,000 varieties of wheat, which are all the result of human intervention, …

JJ: “ … Following Davis' logic, most of the foods we eat, not just wheat, have the potential to put us at risk, since nearly all of the food crops grown today are the product of plant breeding. He also implies that the new varieties and the proteins they express are either unique or in some way harmful.”

BN: And she stops at that point. No argument. No refutation. No discussion. So presumably, she assents: yes, the proteins may be unique, and yes, they may be harmful.

Point: Dwarf wheats now comprise 99% of the wheat grown worldwide, and their safety has never been tested on humans or animals. He claims that agricultural scientists scoff at the idea that hybridization could generate hybrids that are unsafe for human consumption.

BN: Dr. Jones says nothing in this section to contradict the above (which may or may not accurately characterize Dr. Davis' position).
I call another assent.

Point continues: He states that 5% of the proteins are unique, meaning they are found in neither parent. He further claims that this unexpected genetic rearrangement results in altered proteins with potentially toxic effects.

BN: Dr. Jones goes on to say nothing that denies the risk of toxic effects:
Another assent.

JJ: “Short-straw, naked wheats have been readily adopted by farmers around the world because more wheat can be harvested from less land with fewer inputs. A short straw is a particularly desirable trait in that it makes the seed head less likely to lodge (a condition where the heavy head falls to the ground and remains unharvested), thus preventing loss of grain during harvest. In a world with an ever-increasing human population that is searching for sustainability, the requirement for fewer inputs and the need for less land is vital.”

BN: I was going to omit that quote as non-responsive, but it's revealing in its own way. Note that none of it addresses the topic, so why was it included? Was it perhaps threatening the reader with starvation if they eschew wheat? Was it correcting an earlier industry gaffe, outside the paper, on why farmers adopted semi-dwarf hybrid wheat?

JJ: “In addition, plants can only express proteins they have the DNA code to produce. Creating a unique protein requires a mutation of the DNA or RNA. Environmental conditions can cause or inhibit the expression of certain proteins, but it cannot code for proteins that aren't in the genome; …”

BN: This is not addressing any dispute.

JJ: “… thus, hybridization of wheat does not create unique proteins (41).”

BN: Hello? Use of the word “thus” does not convert an incomplete string of elementary tautologies into a logical proof. So how is it that modern wheat expresses proteins different from einkorn, if only “traditional” breeding methods have been used?

Mutations occur. They occur naturally because parents aren't clones, through errors in replication, environmental factors, background radiation, etc. This causes offspring to have different DNA/RNA vs. parents. In the natural world, it's a slow process, and any fragile offspring usually don't get to pass it on. In the wheat lab, chemical and high-dose radiation mutagenesis can produce larger (if more severe and more random) variations, and more quickly. Fragile embryos can get artificial assistance to survive to reproductive age. What kind of proteins are thus expressed? Largely unpredictable, I'm thinking, and often radically different from the ancestor plants. Toxic? Well, that is the question, isn't it. We need only see those long term food safety test results.

Point: Ancient wheats such as einkorn contain 28% protein compared to average protein contents of 12-15% in modern wheats. Further, ancient wheats did not cause the symptoms that new varieties do.

JJ: “The USDA World Wheat Collection shows an approximately threefold variation in protein content (from 7 to 22%), with about one-third of this under genetic control and the remaining two-thirds controlled by environmental conditions (42).”

BN: “variation in protein” in what? ancient wheat? modern? What's her point, and is it a point without a point? And is the USDA WWC the optimal reference for heirloom wheat? Finally, notice that no response is given to the claim that ancient wheats didn't cause the symptoms that the new varieties do.
I'll call one quibble and one assent.

Topic: Celiac Disease

Point: Celiac patients lose weight when they eliminate wheat from their diet.

BN: This borders on academic fraud. Dr. Davis does not say this. He says that celiac patients may lose or gain weight after wheat removal, depending on factors like whether they were malnourished and underweight before going wheat-free. It is this kind of misrepresentation that persuaded me that chasing down Dr. Jones' cites would be a waste of time (in addition to the likelihood of glycemic confounding).

JJ: “Numerous studies have shown that adults and children with celiac disease who stick to a gluten-free diet have higher BMIs than those who do not (43-46). This is due in part to the highly available starch in diets based on tapioca, potato, and corn starches. The average gluten-free diet yields 6 g of dietary fiber per day, compared to the 12-15 g/day of average Americans and the recommended 25 g/day for women and 38 g/day for men.”

BN: Translation: I reject your reality and substitute my own.
Dr. Jones decides to ignore Dr. Davis' Mayo study, which yielded weight results, and substitute her own, which speaks of BMI. Her apple does not automatically contradict his avocado.

I'm also going to assert that, just like the rest of us, the weight outcomes for wheat-free celiacs are going to be heavily influenced by what they eat instead. So the whole argument here is a quibble in a bowl of quinoa.

Point: Glutenins have been selected by plant breeders, and these proteins in the D genome of wheat trigger celiac disease.

JJ: “Breeders do select for a number of characteristics in wheat. These include increased yield, disease resistance, tolerance to drought and other agronomic conditions, improved nutrient content through measures to increase total protein or the amino acid lysine, and improved breadmaking quality.

When talking about breadmaking capability, Davis is correct in stating that glutenins are sought for their desirable properties. The presence of certain high molecular weight (HMW) glutenins helps to produce higher volume and other desirable baking properties (47). Studies have shown that immune system T cells do react to the deamidated breakdown products of HMW glutenins (48).”

BN: An assent there.

JJ: “However, data are needed to test Davis' assertion that these proteins trigger more reactions than those of ancient wheats or even wheat varieties from 50 years ago.”

BN: To borrow a line from Dr. Strangelove (an hour before doomsday): “Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until all the facts are in.” You out there in the public can keep eating wheat, getting fat, getting sick, and dying early, until we have unambiguous data.

JJ: “Also, as mentioned previously, certain gliadins are found in higher amounts in modern wheats.”

BN: Oh, do tell. She doesn't.

JJ: “There are a few studies that indicate that some older diploid varieties are less likely to cause symptoms. One study showed distinct differences in intestinal T-cell responses to diploid species versus tetraploid and hexaploid species (49). Specifically, protein fragments equivalent to the immunodominant 33mer are encoded by alpha-gliadin genes on wheat chromosome 6D and are absent from the gluten in diploid einkorn (AA) and even certain cultivars of tetraploid (A ABB) pasta wheat. One recent paper (41) looked at celiac disease-associated epitopes and found that one, the glia-a9 epitope, was higher in modern compared to domestic (landrace) varieties. The glia-a20 epitope was lower.”

BN: Another confessional moment? I read this as: yes, modern wheat might trigger celiac.

JJ: “Although Davis seems to argue against wheat breeding, it may be possible to use breeding to block various reactions that lead to celiac breakdown of the villa and the sequelae of adverse effects and symptoms (50).”

BN: “seems to argue” seems made up to me. My guess is that Dr. Davis thinks, as I do, that further tinkering with the wheat genome is a waste of time, not just because the modern crop is beyond rehabilitation, but because making it into a safe and desirable human food would turn it into yet another genetic alien further distant from triticum aestivum than t.a. is removed from einkorn, and flat out not “wheat”.

“it may be possible” is apparently addressed to the actual target audience of Plexus, and/or to whoever commissioned this paper, if anyone. Folks, the grain industry thinks they can bio-engineer their way out of this poison pit. Well, good luck with that. Excuse me if I decline to join the focus group taste-testing the result.

Point: The incidence of celiac disease has increased four-fold over the last 50 years. This finding is related to the fact that celiac-triggering proteins are expressed at higher levels in current wheat varieties than was found 50 years ago.

JJ: “Celiac titers in blood samples from recent U.S. Air Force recruits were compared by Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Joe Murray and colleagues (51) with stored blood samples taken from recruits more than 50 years ago. The analysis shows that 0.2% of recruits had the gene in 1950 compared with 0.9% of recent recruits, which as Davis reports is a quadrupling of the incidence rate. Data from Finland also show an increase from 1 to 2% or a doubling of the rate of celiac incidence in that population (52). Part of the reported increase may be due to better identification and awareness of the disease, as well as a myriad of other dietary, immunological, and environmental changes.”

BN: A confirmation of Dr. Davis data, and note: dead silence on the cause-effect claim. I'll call an assent.

Point: Celiac patients show increased cancer rates.

JJ: “People with celiac disease have a higher risk for developing lymphoma and small bowel cancers, but most studies have found no higher risk of colorectal cancer. A case-control study showed that celiac disease is not associated with an increased risk of colorectal neoplasia (53). A recent review suggests that cancer risks are lower than was once thought (54).”

BN: A concur which then goes off the rails into a quibble. And no discussion of the situation that 90% of celiacs (the undiagnosed) are in, not to mention the acutely gluten-sensitive non-celiacs.

Aside: Here's a cultural slap in the face: Phenylketonurics, who comprise only 0.007% of the population, get a warning on all products containing aspartame. What warning is on wheat products for the 6% who are undiagnosed celiac or acutely non-celiac wheat-sensitive? Dr. Jones doesn't go there.

Topic: Other Diseases and Allergens

Point: Wheat is a source of allergens.

JJ: “The role of wheat as an allergen is not news, as bakers asthma has been known since Roman times, and wheat is categorized as one of the “Big Eight” allergens, i.e., the most common allergens in Western countries.

Many wheat proteins can cause allergic reactions. Allergies frequently are related to seed storage proteins, and thus, glutenins are the most frequent allergens. However, gliadins, particularly g-gliadin, result in the most severe allergic reactions. The w-5 gliadin is responsible for wheat-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis and may be the offending protein in the wheat allergies of young children (55-58). In addition, there are also allergies to albumins, globulins, and enzyme inhibitors. (Interestingly, late introduction of grains such as wheat and rye and other solid foods into the diet has been found to be responsible for greater allergic sensitization in young children[59].)”

I'll call that a swarm of confessional moments, unless I missed the Surgeon General's warning on the bag of flour.

Point: Wheat is associated with and may be a major cause of schizophrenia.

JJ: “It is true that schizophrenia admissions during World War II decreased, as observed by Dohan (60). Dohan (60) theorized that this decrease correlated with decreased wheat consumption and postulated links between wheat, celiac disease, and schizophrenia. Part of the theory suggests that wheat ingestion affects tight junctions and reduces the gut's capacity to prevent the entry of exogenous substances, thus allowing the development of schizophrenia and other mental conditions (61).

It is also known that schizophrenia incidence increases with a combination of any autoimmune disease and a history of severe infections (62). It is thought that the antibodies produced can impact the brain. In some studies a subset of schizophrenia patients showed elevated gliadin antibodies (63). However, anti-gliadin immune response and anti-TG2 antibody or HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 markers seen in celiac patients were not found in individuals with schizophrenia (64).

A comprehensive review looking at the connection between gluten and schizophrenia showed that gluten withdrawal resulted in a drastic reduction or full remission of symptoms - but only among a small subset of schizophrenia sufferers (65,66). Thus, in a small subset of schizophrenia patients removal of wheat might be helpful but would not be the miracle cure described by Davis.”

BN: Another flurry of confessional moments, followed by a blatant straw man. Dr. Davis does not, to my recollection, or browsing in the book just now, contend that wheat removal is a miracle cure for all schizophrenics. The message that I took from that section of the book was that wheat removal is likely to provide some relief, in many cases, and is easily worth trying. Dr. Jones makes no recommendation. So, I surmise, she wants you to keep popping your pills (and eating wheat) until all the facts are in.

Point: Wheat is the cause of autism and is associated with worsening symptoms or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

JJ: “Case reports and other narratives suggest there may be a link between autism and celiac disease (67-70).”

BN: Note the changing of subject, from wheat to celiac. This could be deliberate, or subconscious. Until quite recently, grain advocates would not acknowledge that their product was a hazard to anyone but celiacs. So their Pavlovian response to any discussion about wheat and toxicity may be that only celiac/gluten issues are on the table.

JJ: “However, data are scarce. With regard to autism, there is only one randomized clinical trial. Its findings were nonsignificant and were summarized in a Cochrane review (the gold standard for reviews), which states there is a need for large randomized-controlled trials (71). Fasano, a noted celiac researcher, and a staff of gastroenterologists, pediatricians, dietitians and nurses at the Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore, MD, suggest that although the gluten-free, casein-free regimen advocated as a “treatment” for autism is one of the most popular diets its popularity may stem from its low cost compared with other “treatments.” The data in the scientific literature showing the efficacy of gluten-free, casein-free diets is inconclusive (A. Fasano and Center for Celiac Research staff, personal communication, 2011).

Similarly, studies examining associations between wheat and hyperactivity in humans are lacking, even though sensitivity to a number of foods, including wheat, has been suggested in a number of case reports on ADHD. Studies with very small numbers of subjects show no improvement in ADHD symptoms with a gluten-free diet (42). In fact, one study showed a worsening of behavior with a gluten-free diet.”

BN: More “wait until all the facts are in”. Dig if you like, but expect to find high-glycemics confounding what few results are available. And note the condescending tone above resulting from the fact that a GF diet is a low cost treatment. Got an autism or ADHD challenge at your house? The WB recommendation is:
DO try this at home (eliminate wheat, go low carb).

Point: The increase in celiac disease parallels increases in other diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

JJ: “Celiac disease incidence has increased, as has the incidence of other autoimmune diseases. There are a number of theories about this phenomenon, ranging from factors in the environment and oxidative stress to the “hygiene theory” and changes in the gut microbiome. In addition, there is an increased likelihood of all autoimmune diseases in patients with any other autoimmune disease. Family members appear to share a genetic susceptibility predisposing them to these diseases or autoimmune diseases in general.”

BN: Confirmation of Dr. Davis data, with further rambling that responds to claims not made.

Point: The risk for type 2 diabetes is 20-fold higher for celiac patients. Children with celiac disease are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes and 20 times more likely to have antibodies to wheat.

JJ: “There is a relationship between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes (72). The risk for type 1 diabetes is 5- to 20-fold higher in celiac patients than in the general population (73,74).”

BN: I'll record that as a quibble.

Point: The elimination of wheat gluten causes the incidence of [Type I] diabetes to decrease from 64 to 15% in genetically susceptible mice.

BN: I added the [Type I]. This is from the inset on page 113 of Wheat Belly.

JJ: “Removal of wheat gluten from the diet of non-obese diabetic mice has been found to reduce the rate of type 1 diabetes. Davis mentions that such studies have not been done in humans.”

BN: A data confirmation.

JJ: “However, in one study with children elimination of gluten from the diet of high-risk children (first-order relatives of subjects with type 1 diabetes) did reduce IgG gliadin antibody titers, but specific autoantibodies associated with type 1 diabetes were not affected (75). The 5 year follow-up showed that gluten elimination did not in fact delay or prevent the development of type 1 diabetes. As a result, the existing data do not fit Davis' claim that removal of gluten from the diet will reduce the incidence of diabetes (76).”

BN: That's pretty close to libel, or merely egregious white paper incompetence. In the context of T1D, Dr. Davis makes no claim that eliminating wheat will reduce T1D, but that “it's a question that truly needs answering”. His focus is on testing for celiac in pre-disposed families. And the closing “incidence of diabetes” again fails to distinguish T1D and T2D, which might falsely lead the casual reader to think that removing wheat has no effect on T2D.

JJ: “Furthermore, in a cohort of children at risk for type 1 diabetes exposure to cereals, including wheat, before 3 months or after 7 months of age resulted in a significantly higher risk for the appearance of islet cell autoimmunity than exposure to cereals between the ages of 4 and 6 months (77). Thus, early or late first exposure to gluten may have an impact on development of auto-immune diseases. Breastfeeding at the time of gluten introduction appears to impact disease outcomes.

There is, however, some concerning data about type 1 diabetes and gluten. In a small sample of type 1 diabetes patients, mucosal inflammation was observed in jejunal biopsies, and there was a deranged mucosal immune response to gliadin in vitro (78).”

BN: This looks like two more confessional moments to me.

Point: Nobody becomes diabetic by gorging on the wild boar they have hunted, berries they have gathered, or wild salmon they have caught. Ancient cultures such as the Natufians had no diabetes.

JJ: ”First, there is no data on the incidence of diabetes in cultures such as the Natufians. The problem for most ancient cultures was getting adequate calories to support their calorie-demanding lifestyles. Although rare, overweight did occur, so they may have had the factors associated with the predisposition of persons to type 2 diabetes. Further, the average lifespan was quite short, so people did not live to the ages at which type 2 diabetes is most prevalent. Finally, too much of any food, wild boar included, can cause overweight and abnormalities in blood lipids and glucose.”

BN: The WB book does not have any references regarding the Natufians and diabetes (WB page 97), but then, Dr. Jones doesn't provide any either. I'm not personally familiar with how diabetic inferences might be teased out of the fossil record and ancient pictographs. So, without further data, I'll call this tentatively undecidable, and probably academic, as those peoples are all now dead, whatever the cause. Of more interest might be the experience of 20th and 21st century primitive, uncontacted and culturally low-carb populations, but Dr. Jones doesn't go there.

Point: Zonulin regulates intestinal tight junctions, and gliadins trigger zonulin release.

JJ: The signaling protein zonulin controls the opening and closing of tight junctions between the cells of epithelial and endothelial tissues such as the intestinal mucosa, blood brain barrier, and pulmonary epithelia. It is thought that gliadin allows the release of zonulin, accounting for its role in leaky gut associated with autoimmune diseases.”

BN: Confessional moment.

Point: Rheumatoid arthritis has been cured with removal of gluten from the diet.

BN: More misrepresentation: what Dr. Davis actually said (WB page 128): “Perhaps it's a stretch to suggest that wheat gluten was the initial inciting cause of the arthritis …” and “In my experience, arthritis unaccompanied by celiac antibodies often responds to wheat elimination”. Do you trust Dr. Jones paraphrasing? I don't.

JJ: “Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease with periods of remission. A study of food intolerance in nearly 350 people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that the number of people reacting to gluten was not different from the numbers in the normal population (79).”

BN: Dr. Jones didn't respond to Dr. Davis cited (vegetarian) study, but lofted her own. I haven't studied her study, but would need to check it for glycemic confounding at least.

JJ: “Furthermore, among first-degree relatives of celiac patients, rheumatoid arthritis was not significantly increased, although juvenile forms of arthritis were increased. In contrast to Davis' claim, in one study a fermented wheat germ extract actually reduced the need for arthritis medication (80).”

BN: Dr. Davis specifically excluded celiacs from his conjecture about arthritis, but Dr. Jones drags them back in as useful straw men.

JJ: “Weight loss is also known to decrease the adverse effects of arthritis, so some reports of rheumatoid arthritis patients being “cured” may be due to weight loss.”

BN: Even if I concede the point on cause and effect here, what's causing the wheat-free weight loss again?

Point: The human body prefers an alkaline diet, which is obtained from fruits and vegetables and makes it more difficult for osteoclasts to dissolve bones, to an acidic diet.

JJ: “First, there is much controversy about the need for a diet that is alkaline to prevent osteoporosis. However, even if this is true, Davis' recommendations are inconsistent. He eschews grains because they produce acid, …”

BN: False. Dr. Davis eschews grains due to their payload of other, more serious stealth toxins. The acid just incrementally adds to the payload. When reading the book, I took it as just another charge on the rap sheet.

JJ: “… yet he recommends … which are also acid producers, and bans foods such as … that are high in alkali-producing compounds.”

BN: What I take from WB is that the various foods are encouraged or discouraged primarily based on toxin load, carb load, fat type and other factors more significant than Ph. Ph doesn't seem to be a major focus of the dietary recommendations. The new Cookbook, for example, includes macronutrient data, but not Ph.

Point: Animal protein increases IGF-1 production and helps with bone growth, while gluten causes bone resorption.

JJ: “IGF-1 does indeed help with bone growth. However, although there are some studies that show that diets high in animal protein help with bone mineral content and density (81,82), others show that diets high in animal or meat protein are associated with loss of bone mineral and density (83,84). Two studies cited by Davis do not actually support his claims.”

BN: I haven't chased down either the WB cites, or those here. Do so if you like, readers. By this point, I had learned that Dr. Jones' restatements of what other people say are not to be trusted, unless they are direct quotes, in context.

JJ: “One shows that there should be more vegetable foods and fewer animal foods consumed for optimum bone growth (85). The other (86) shows that the “vegetable protein gluten does not appear to have a negative effect on calcium balance despite increased urinary calcium loss.” (There is some concern that Western diets increase IGF-1 and may increase the incidence of some types of cancer [87].)””

BN: I'm not sure what to make of these remarks. So where is the spilled Ca coming from? And with the emerging news about glucose and cancer, any IGF-1 link is probably irrelevant.

Point: Dietary carbohydrate, especially carbohydrates from wheat, result in advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are involved in the disease complications of diabetes and cause everything from dementia to erectile dysfunction. Less glycation slows aging. Levels increase with increased inflammation.

JJ: “AGEs are considered biomarkers of aging and are associated with several degenerative diseases. AGEs form at higher levels in people with prediabetes and diabetes. They can build up in any tissue and can cause complications when they do. Davis correctly notes that ingestion of too much of any carbohydrate has the potential to do this. He also correctly notes that AGEs increase as inflammation increases, as occurs with most disease and chronic conditions. Although some data show that low-GI carbohydrates are associated with lower production of AGEs (88), fructose, despite its low GI, can also cause AGEs - a point Davis makes in his book.”

BN: Data confirmation

JJ: “However, there is no basis on which to single out wheat.”

BN: And Dr. Davis doesn't single out wheat on AGE. Dr. Jones made that up. The book also counsels against fructose with equal fervor on the AGE issue, and closes the topic by advising a diet low in “some foods that trigger AGE formation more vigorously”. AGE is just another charge on the rap sheet.

JJ: “… Further, the diets Davis advocates, which are high in meats, also increase AGEs. … Thus, Davis' recommended diet, which is high in animal products and excludes wheat products, does not fit with the existing data on AGEs.”

BN: So in the references Dr. Jones is relying on, what were the cooking temperatures? WB, on page 141, addresses this is issue of AGE and meat directly. Cook in water. Avoid high temps.

Point: Wheat causes small, dense very damaging LDL particles.

BN: Dr. Davis didn't say that. Dr. Jones made it up. Dr. Davis (WB page 151) blames “… carbohydrates. Chief among the carbohydrates? Wheat, of course”, and later (WB page 159) says: “Dramatic reductions in small LDL particles can be accomplished by eliminating wheat products, provided your diet is otherwise healthy …”. Wheat isn't singled out on small LDL, it's just the leader of the gang. Recall that unlike other comparably fast carbs, it's also addictive and appetite stimulating.

JJ: “Diets high in carbohydrate do increase small dense, atherogenic LDL particles. However, diets containing recommended carbohydrate levels and preferred fats result in the more desirable large LDL particles.”

BN: Why not just reduce the small LDLs? Not addressed.

JJ: “In addition, the carbohydrates in wheat do not cause a size change in LDL particles any more than any other carbohydrate type.”

BN: Straw man. Dr. Davis never asserted that.

JJ: “Weight loss and exercise are the best way to decrease small, dense LDL particles (90).”

BN: And how does WB compare to My Plate on weight loss? Not addressed. The “exercise” I read as: blame the victim.

JJ: “The key to managing the ratio of large to small LDL particles, especially in the overweight or those with metabolic syndrome, is to make certain there is adequate n-3 fatty acids in the diet and to focus on a diet that contains moderate levels of carbohydrate, such as the Mediterranean diet (90,91).”

BN: This seems to imply that high small-LDL is OK as long as high large-LDL is present. I suspect that's not true. “moderate” is unspecified mantra.

Point: A re-analysis of Colin Campbell's data shows it to be biased and that coronary heart disease (CHD) is related to wheat flour consumption.

BN: This is the Minger re-analysis (WB page 160).

JJ: “… The China Study (92). … There are several problems with Davis' claim that the data are biased. First, re-analysis would be difficult, and any re-analysis should be subject to the rigors of the scientific review process.”

BN: That's actually Minger's re-analysis, and Dr. Jones declines to even mention Minger.

JJ: “Second, rice, not wheat, is the dominate staple in most areas of China, so it is not possible to draw conclusions about wheat from these data.”

BN: I see a chart that is specifically “wheat flour”. Why didn't Dr. Jones call it into question?

JJ: “Third, there are a number of studies showing the advantages of plant-based diets (93).”

BN: Unresponsive.

Point: Elimination of wheat cures acne and related disfigurations, other skin problems, and alopecia areata. … When Bantus move to the West, they develop acne. …The high GI of sucrose and wheat in doughnuts and cookies causes acne.

JJ: “This type of deductive reasoning is troubling. There are many problems with such logic and conclusions drawn from it.”

BN: Except that anyone with acne can run a very simple, no risk, low cost experiment to see if the high correlation is causality in their case, and get results in days or weeks (and re-challenge if they dare). Once again, DO try this at home.

JJ: “First, there is no documentation that Bantus have no acne. Moving to the West means many dietary and lifestyle changes, so it is simplistic to say that wheat is the only change that matters. When many move to westernized countries, they gain weight and usually eat more red meat, fat, and total calories.”

BN: Note that Bantus were only one of seven groups that Dr. Davis identified as being acne-free on the native diet. Why did Dr. Jones pick on the Bantu reference to hang her “wait until all the facts are in” complaint about scarce data?

JJ: “In terms of dietary carbohydrates, GI, and acne, the few studies that exist fail to show a relationship between these (94).”

BN: I can imagine how well controlled that data is. I'm willing to be mistaken.

JJ: “In terms of documented evidence, there is one reference in Med-Line ( that appears when the search terms are “wheat” and “acne” (searched in January 2012). The data in this study actually show that compounds in wheat seed may protect against acne (95). Two entries appear when the search terms are “gluten” and “acne.” These references refer to dermatitis herpetiformis, the type of dermatitis associated with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Searching for “dermatitis” and “wheat” results in 270 references related to associations with allergies or gluten intolerance.”

BN: Were those isolated compounds from wheat seed? What else was in the diet? I read the rest of that as “darn, I can't quickly find solid data to refute Davis”.

This is also the first use of the phrase “gluten sensitivity” in her responses. This is new for the grain industry in the last two years. Prior to that, they would only acknowledge celiac as a problem. Now they only admit to gluten as a potential problem with wheat. Acute non-celiac wheat sensitive doesn't yet exist for them, and all the other highly-correlated chronic conditions that vanish with the wheat, and recur harshly on re-exposure, are apparently mere anecdotes, of no particular interest.

So what advice does Dr. Jones have going forward on this? Doesn't even suggest more study or trials. Again, the WB advice is: DO try this at home. You will shortly learn if Dr. Davis is correct.

Nutrition Considerations

Point: “Wheat deficiency” is a condition that develops when wheat is removed from the diet and results in ….

JJ: “Wheat deficiency” is a term newly coined by Davis. Diets that eliminate wheat may indeed be lower in calories since the limitation of wheat intake severely curtails overall food intake, automatically limiting food choices and calories because wheat is a component in so many foods.”

BN: Utterly false, but let me translate the “lower in calories” anyway. It means:
“The grain industry has managed to contaminate so many products
with this toxin that there's almost nothing left for you to eat [evil cackle],
and your little dog too”.
WB is not a calorie-restricted diet, so how again does that result in weight loss? This household has plenty to eat, thank you very much.

JJ: “There is no data suggesting that wheat elimination, in and of itself, causes people to eat less.”

BN: So for all you book, blog and forum readers who had exactly that experience: ditch wheat, eat less, loose weight, crave nothing; bid adieu to health problems, just remember - the grain industry says your results are not “data”, and you shouldn't be relying on your "anecdotal" personal real life experience to guide your eating choices, even if you've accidentally or deliberately challenged it by re-consuming wheat, and had a nasty reaction.

Point: No nutritional deficiency will occur if you stop consuming wheat, wholegrains, and other processed foods. The American Heart Associations recommendation for whole grains is “NONSENSE, absolute, unadulterated, 180-proof, whole grain nonsense.”

JJ: “It is true diets without wheat can be nutritious.”

BN: Major confessional moment. This means, dear munchers, that wheat does not need to be in the USDA My Plate, spoken by an actual steward (if not an architect) of that official dogma.

That said, there's an attitude seen in the following “analyses” that seems to suggest that Dr. Jones is convinced that readers will take the subtitle of the book, “lose the wheat”, to heart, and then ignore everything else the book has to say about what you replace it with.

JJ: “The verb “can be” is used because wheat-free diets, like all diets, need to be carefully constructed. Unfortunately, the average gluten-free diet contains only 6 g of dietary fiber per day (96). This is considerably lower than the 25-38 g/day recommended by the Institutes of Medicine. In addition, a number of benefits are associated with cereal fiber. For Western diets, wheat and its bran are the main sources of cereal fiber, so the elimination of all wheat products makes meeting fiber requirements more difficult.”

BN: Straw man. The WB recommendation is massively not an “average gluten-free diet”. Fiber is not limited. The recipes typically contain at least 6 grams per serving, and Dr. Davis declares as below …

Point: The replacement of wheat with vegetables and nuts can result in an increase in fiber intake.

JJ: “Vegetables and nuts are important sources of fiber, but fiber intake depends on dietary choices. Substitution of 1 oz of nuts or a serving of carrots for two slices of whole-wheat bread provides about the same amount of dietary fiber, but a serving of greens (1 cup of raw spinach) provides much less fiber.”

BN: Translation: if you care about what you eat, then you have to care about (pay attention to) what you eat. I think I can handle that. But notice - no dire warning that wheat-free is automatically, or even at high risk of, being low-fiber.

Point: Foods fortified with various vitamins would not be required if people eliminated wheat and processed foods and consumed real foods.

JJ: “Fortified foods, except those with folate, would not be required if people ate foods that follow a dietary pattern recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate. However, only 3-8% of the population follows the USDA MyPlate guidelines (97,98).”

BN: I'll put that down as a qualified no contest.

JJ: “Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other dietary surveys do not support Davis' claim. Fortified foods contribute significantly to diet quality (99).”

BN: Straw man. Those results are based on typical America diets, I'd guess, and have no relation to the WB dietary recommendations.

JJ: “Those eating fortified breakfast cereals meet more of the nutrient requirements than those who eat noncereal breakfasts or no breakfast at all and show other better health endpoints (100,101).”

BN: What if we ate the add-ins, and left the cereal in the box? Why do we have to consume your poison to get needed nutrients? And comparing cereals to no food at all is just laughable.

Dr. Davis' point is that we can get all we need from “real” food, but we have to be deliberate about it. Dr. Jones appears to be advocating: let the industry handle that for you. Swallow the advertising, and the wheat, and we'll see that you get enough vitamin X.

JJ: “Contrary to the implication that processed foods impede the attainment of a nutritious diet, they in fact enable many to procure a nutritious diet. There are numerous examples of the use of frozen fruits and vegetables and other foods that can be combined to create an economical, sustainable diet. Removing processed foods from the diet does not necessarily mean the diet chosen will be balanced or healthy.”

BN: “processed foods impede the attainment of a nutritious diet” is (once again) not a quote from Dr. Davis, who merely points out their hazards. My experience is that it is possible for a processed food to be healthy, and I expect the choices of such to expand, but right now, the default presumption is: guilty until proven innocent by rigorous cross-examination of the NF panel.

Then we get yet another straw man. Are not frozen, otherwise unprocessed veggies “real”, as recommended by Dr. Davis? What wool is being pulled here? We close with yet another vague warning about dietary heresy (yet no concern is raised about the 92% non-compliance with MyPlate).

Point: Folates in foods are superior to folic acid added to fortified foods. A handful of sunflower seeds, 1 cup of spinach, or 4 asparagus spears yield more folate than most breakfast cereals.

BN: More misrepresentation. Dr. Davis says “natural sources may be superior”. Dr. Jones also neglects to mention Dr. Davis' advice for certain people who still need supplements.

JJ: “Folate naturally occurring in foods often needs to be deconjugated by an enzyme in the body. The capacity to do this varies from person to person. Thus, free folate is actually better absorbed than folate in many foods (102). Even though the foods Davis mentions contain more folate than cereals, the folate may be less well utilized when in the bound form found in vegetables.”

BN: It's true that Dr. Davis didn't mention the above, but then …

JJ: “In addition, many individuals unfortunately do not eat folate-rich foods. The per capita consumption of spinach is 1.9 lb/year (103) and that of asparagus is 1.6 lb/year (104) or <1 oz/day for each of them. Obviously, most Americans do not get their folate from vegetables.”

BN: Most American are eating wheat, too. The goal of WB is to change all of that, but Dr. Jones seems to think, but doesn't say, that you'll just drop the wheat, and ignore the rest of the WB message.

Point: Elimination of wheat from the diet enhances absorption of B12, folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium since gastrointestinal health increases.

JJ: “This statement is true only in the case of people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.”

BN: Let me restate how I actually read that: “I can only allow this statement to be true in the case of people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.” Note the implicit denial that there could be any problems with wheat other than gluten. And what Dr. Jones will probably never admit, is that all humans are wheat-sensitive, it's just a matter of degree and decades.

JJ: “For those with a normal gut, …”

BN: Recall that back at the zonulin topic Dr. Jones confirmed that gliadins cause leaky gut - no dispute, no debate, no discussion of the implications. This means, in the present topic, that the wheat-eating gut is not a normal gut, entirely apart from gluten effects. Connect your own dots, Dr. Jones.

JJ: “… the absorption of minerals can be impaired by the phytate in grains, but there is also phytate and oxalate in the foods Davis recommends.”

BN: Yep. Dr. Davis has said that this is a “pick your battles” matter.

JJ: “Eating vegetables, legumes, and nuts can also impair mineral absorption. B12 is found only in animal products or fortified foods. Fortified cereals are a major source of B12 for those who are vegetarians.”

BN: This is not a disputed matter, but I've left the quote in for the benefit of vegetarian and vegan readers. B12 is one of your challenges on a grain-free, low carb diet.

JJ: “Furthermore, wheat is being considered as a possible vehicle for further fortification with B12 (105). In general, foods that are fortified have been chosen because they can provide nutrients to a target group.”

BN: Translation: we're going to fix our product if it's the last thing we do.
Tip: don't waste your time.

Point: Fasting is a powerful tool for weight loss. It decreases blood pressure and improves insulin.

BN: Once again, Dr. Jones restatement materially misrepresents what the book actually says (WB page 199). Weight loss is only one, and not the first, benefit listed, and the inset goes on to say that it's an “ordeal” if you are a wheat eater, and causes “little or no discomfort” if you aren't.

JJ: “Fasting is usually not recommended as a method for weight loss because most dieters fail to maintain weight loss long term.”

BN: Because they are eating your product when they aren't fasting, Dr. Jones.

JJ: “Furthermore, fasting is particularly problematic for those with diabetes or other diseases where blood sugar must be controlled. Ketones produced from the breakdown of fat can cause the body to go into a dangerous condition called metabolic ketoacidosis.”

BN: Yes, Dr. Davis might have cautioned about that, on that page, but he didn't raise the topic in the context of diabetes, and I would expect that anyone with a diagnosis of diabetes has already been counseled about DKA. I do wonder if Dr. Jones knows the difference between NK and DKA - many physicians don't. If she doesn't, she's a woefully uninformed (i.e. typical) nutritionist. If she does, that would suggest more sinister motives.

JJ: “In his statements about fasting, Davis adds an aside that wheat eaters find fasting painful, while nonwheat eaters fast regularly. Such statements have no basis in fact.”

BN: So all you wheatlesss-bellyers, low-carbers and keto explorers who report exactly what Dr. Davis describes: your experience doesn't count as fact. Dr. Jones doesn't tell us if there is contrary data, or scarce data, or that there will never be facts to support Dr. Davis, another “wait until all the facts are in” situation I suppose.

Point: Reduce intake of all carbohydrates, including alternative and gluten-free grains, even though they do not produce opioids.

JJ: “The same experiment indicting gluten also indicated that gluten-free grains do not produce opioids. The same in vitro NIH study showing that wheat produces opioids showed that rice and soy also produce these peptides, but there is still no information on the effect of these peptides in vivo.”

BN: Dr. Jones does not argue with the low-carb recommendation. She then addresses the opioid issue with two entirely contradictory statements, and ends with another implicit “wait until all the facts are in” for good measure. I can't tell what to make of those two sentences, and Dr. Jones isn't helping. In many ways, this whole analysis reads like a freshman term paper, written in a hurry by someone who was partying all term, instead of burrowing in the stacks.

Point: The range of vegetables consumed should be expanded to allow for the consumption of nearly unlimited amounts of vegetables of many types. People are encouraged to enjoy a range of tastes and textures and add a wide variety of vegetables to their diet.

JJ: “This is sound advice that concurs with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, USDA MyPyramid, and USDA MyPlate recommendations, as well as a wide variety of public and private efforts such as the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Most nutritionists are trying to trumpet this important message to all segments of the U.S. population.”

BN: A concur.

JJ: Fruits should be included in the diet but far less liberally than vegetables because they are too rich in sugar that raises blood sugar. Further, available fruits in North America are treated with herbicides, fertilized, cross-bred, gassed, and hybridized.

BN: Misrepresentation. The book (WB page 207) says “But fruit, especially herbicided, fertilized, cross-bred, and hybridized fruit, has become too rich in sugar.”

JJ: “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend slightly more vegetable intake than fruit intake, so there is some agreement with Davis' statement. However, there is no agreement with his reasoning regarding the sugar content of fruit. While it is true that all sugars have the capacity to raise blood sugar, research shows that the inclusion of fruit actually improves the quality of a diabetic diet (106) and reduces incidence of metabolic syndrome and related conditions (107).

BN: “fruit actually improves the quality of a diabetic diet”
compared to what, and how is “improves” defined? I wouldn't be surprised if an ounce of fruit sugar, delivered by fruit, might be less toxic than an ounce of a pure granulated sugar (assuming the same fructose load), just because the fiber will slow the blood sugar rise. So we have another straw man.

JJ: “As to Davis' statements about the production of fruit in the United States, it is interesting that he makes such claims only about fruits and not vegetables, as both types of produce can receive the same types of treatments.”

BN: Presumably Dr. Jones makes this observation of alleged inconsistency because she entirely missed Dr. Davis' point on WB page 207 (and the Point summary above is consistent with this diagnosis).

Point: Minimize heat injury while cooking foods and never deep fry foods.

JJ: “It is recommended that frying as a method of food preparation be used sparingly because of the amount of fat it adds to the diet and its potential to produce AGEs.”

BN: A concur.

Point: Eat 1-2 servings of full-fat cheese per day, but limit cottage cheese, yogurt, and dairy other than cheese.

JJ: “For most adults, 2 or more servings of dairy per day are recommended, and cheese and other dairy products is one way to meet recommendations for dairy and obtain the calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin they contain. Most dietary guidelines recommend consumption of low-fat cheeses, however, because full-fat cheeses may be high in both saturated fat and calories.”

BN: Wheat Belly's message is that “Most dietary guidelines” are incorrect, that “saturated fat” is irrelevant (especially on a low carb diet), and that “calories” intake is largely irrelevant and self-regulating on a low-carb grain-free diet.

JJ: “The call to limit cottage cheese and yogurt does not have much literature to support it.”

BN: But some, apparently.

JJ: “In fact, there are several reviews of numerous studies that show the importance of milk and fermented milk products such as yogurt in the diet (108,109).”

BN: In what kind of diet again? If I dug, I would not be surprised to find ambiguous, possibly misleading conclusions being teased out of the high glycemic noise.

Point: Soy foods, as well as all foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), should be avoided. Roundup-ready soybeans compared with regular soybeans cause alterations in liver, pancreatic, intestinal, and testicular tissues, which can be directly shown to be caused by DNA rearrangement at the insertion site. Foods containing GMOs contain altered proteins that have toxic effects.

BN: On this politically hot topic, I expect to see a grain industry consultant at full battle stations.

JJ: “Reviews on this topic do not necessarily reach the same conclusions as those in the review cited by Davis (110). In contrast, the review conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) draws the following conclusion about genetically modified (GM) plants with improved agronomic characteristics like herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance (111): “The majority of these experiments did not indicate clinical effects or histopathological abnormalities in organs or tissues of exposed animals. In some cases adverse effects were noted, which were difficult to interpret due to shortcomings in the studies.” In vivo nutrient bioavailability for a range of GM plants was not significantly different from that of isogenic non-GM lines and commercial varieties. Further, the EFSA analysis discusses the problem of applying methods designed for testing the toxicity of microconstituents to whole foods derived from GM plants. In many cases large amounts of the food administered according to standard toxicity methods leads to nutritional imbalances and overfeeding. Thus, some of the reports of adverse effects may not be due to GM foods, but rather to disordered diets.”

BN: My lay person opinion on this: ambiguous results from the high-noise glycemic diet framework. Re-run the tests in a low-carb grain-free context. If that, and long-term safety testing, appears to exonerate the GM crop, I might consider eating it.

Point: Allow ground flaxseed, but limit legume consumption to 1 cup (30-50 g) in order to not have an undo impact on blood sugar.

JJ: “Both flaxseed and legumes have a very low GI and have high levels of dietary fiber. Health professionals and dietary guidelines recommend increasing the intake of legumes as a source of fiber, protein, folate, B vitamins, and minerals, as well as for their ability to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar. Traditional medicine has long recommended beans for these benefits as well (112).”

BN: A concur.

Point: Avoid figs and dates because they have high GIs and are high in starches. Dried fruits should be consumed rarely or never.

JJ: “Dried fruits have a range of GIs. Like all carbohydrate-rich foods, their carbohydrates need to be considered by diabetics as part of a diet plan. Dried fruits are excellent sources of dietary fiber and help with laxation. They also contribute to mineral intake, including potassium, a nutrient of concern.”

BN: A concur.

JJ: “Data from NHANES actually show that those who eat dried fruits have better nutritional profiles and eat more fruits and vegetables overall (113). As a point of clarification, neither figs nor dates contain starches.”

BN: Glycemic confounding, followed by a non-responsive remark.

Topic - Summary

JJ: “Wheat Belly uses charges about the evils of wheat to tout the value of low-carbohydrate diets. While these diets have been shown to promote rapid weight loss in the medium term (6 months) and may be advantageous for individuals with metabolic syndrome and abnormal glucose tolerance, they have not been shown to be long-term solutions to obesity for most people.”

BN: This, once again, implicitly equates WB with unspecified low-carb diets, not even necessarily grain-free low-carb diets, and concludes with “wait until all the facts are in”. Having routinely misrepresented what WB recommends, and why continued compliance is easy, it's not surprising that the attitude leaking out here is “this will fail too”.

JJ: “In fact the diets with the greatest long-term success rates are those that include all the food groups, only in smaller amounts; recommend exercise four times per week; and offer solutions that are sustainable over the long term (114). A much larger proportion of people who keep weight off do so with diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and whole grains than those who follow other types of diets (115).”

BN: No effort was apparently expended to run a short trial with university staff or students, or to my knowledge, request any clinical results from Dr. Davis, which probably extend back several years now with his cardiac patients. Instead we get the same dogma that has either made the American belly, and public health generally, what it is today, or has totally failed to prevent it. If you do what you've always done, you're going to get what you've always got.

JJ: “It is quite probable that the strict removal of wheat from the diet would result in weight reduction, as wheat is incorporated into so many foods that its elimination would likely cause a significant reduction in calorie intake.”

BN: That sinister argument was addressed earlier.

JJ: “However, as with all weight loss plans, it is calorie reduction, not food groups omitted, that cause weight loss.”

BN: Begging the question again. Obstinate avoidance of the fact that WB does not propose calorie restriction.

JJ: “Based on the recommendation to eliminate wheat from the diet, the recipes suggested in the book are extreme …”

BN: If you are a high priest of wheat, you bet they're extreme.

JJ: “… and include items such as wheat-free pizza, which is described by the author as “not sturdy enough to hold in your hand.”“

BN: That particular challenge had been met by the time this paper was published. And I would never give WB recipes low marks for failing to precisely mimic popular dishes that were themselves major errors to begin with.

JJ: “Consumers, even dieters, need the sensory qualities of the foods they eat to meet a basic standard, and sensory dissatisfaction limits the long-term sustainability of a diet.”

BN: And the book was a great start on that. The new Cookbook delivers even more satisfactory mimics. This seems to be an argument of: You can't sell a personal computer. There's no software for it. And that's why, in 2013, computers are still found only in corporate back rooms. It's also consistent with: "Wheat based processed foods are very carefully designed and extensively tested to make you want more and more of them. Wheat snacks have a 50-year head start on wheatless. Try wheat products. Betcha can't eat {just} one."

JJ: “This book differs from other low-carbohydrate diet books in that it names wheat as the worst carbohydrate offender. Further, the book claims that wheat is a special problem because it forms an addictive peptide.”

BN: Not just, but Dr. Jones worked hard to ignore the other problems, since they don't fit the “only gluten might be a problem” posture of the industry.

JJ: “While wheat contains a number of proteins that form peptides that interact with opioid receptors in vitro, there is scant evidence that these are effective in vivo or in the human body. There is also little evidence to support claims that wheat causes the withdrawal-like symptoms associated with classic chemical addictions.”

BN: Translation: Please keep eating wheat until all the facts are in. Pay no attention to your difficulty in controlling your appetite, or your waistline.

JJ: “Davis also claims that elimination of wheat from the diet results in the cure of many conditions, from diabetes to rashes. Nearly all of the conditions he claims are made better by wheat removal are also improved by weight loss, so his attribution of improvement to wheat removal is overly simplistic and is likely an inaccurate deduction.”

BN: Translation: Keep eating wheat, but work on that weight loss thing (cackle). Yes, it's hard, but that's just because you're weak and don't exercise enough (snicker). Whatever you do, don't stop eating wheat and go low carb for a month to see if your multiple ailments go away. You might break the addiction cycle, and that would be bad.

JJ: “In Wheat Belly, Davis also points out the increase in the incidence of celiac and other autoimmune diseases observed recently. He associates this with genetic changes in wheat varieties and gluten quality.”

BN: Not just, there's also dosage to consider. We have the simultaneous problem that, in contrast to the period prior to runt wheat, refined wheat now contaminates the majority of prepared foods, which Dr. Jones clumsily acknowledges when she says things like “as wheat is incorporated into so many foods that its elimination would likely cause a significant reduction in calorie intake”.

JJ: “A. Fasano and his group at the Celiac Research Center in Baltimore list the latter reason as one of a number of possible causes for the increased incidence of celiac disease and possibly other autoimmune diseases. Possible causes include better detection and identification, genetic predisposition, the too early addition of gluten to infant diets and less breastfeeding, changes in baking procedures such as shorter fermentation times, greater addition of gluten to bakery products (especially due to increased interest in whole grains), the clean theory, i.e., that our lifestyles are too clean and are increasing autoimmune reactions, increased use of antibiotics, and changes in the micro-biome (gut bacteria) with changes in the diet and environment (A. Fasano and Center for Celiac Research staff, personal communication, 2011).”

BN: Translation: Fellow wheaties, we may actually have a problem with our product. In the meantime here's a new blame-the-victim gambit (over-cleanliness) to use. This is becoming a more widespread bit of It Can't Be The Wheat propaganda, under the name “hygiene hypothesis”.

JJ: “Wheat Belly makes assertions about changes in modern wheat varieties and blames these for many ailments. Plant breeders have met the call for higher yields with less inputs, making modern wheat varieties more “green,” and are prepared to feed a global population of 9 billion, which is predicted to be reached by 2050. Short-straw, low-input wheat and other crops like this will be necessary to meet environmental and population challenges. Suggestions that growers return to low-yield crops is not viable as a sustainable agricultural plan.”

BN: Straw man: Where does WB suggest returning to lower yield crops? It doesn't.

JJ: “For cereal chemists the book is provocative, making many assertions. We as an industry must work to ensure that we are up on current information and be constantly vigilant that changes in varieties and food products do not have unintended consequences. We also need to be able to counter unfounded theories and charges about wheat and wheat products with sound science and unbiased, critical reasoning.”

BN: Payload.
This is a big “uh oh” to the industry. And notice that the “unintended consequences” is very carefully phrased so as to not provide any hint of whether this thought has ever occurred to them before, or that they've ever done anything about it before.

JJ: “While some of the charges in the book are disturbing, a recent review on refined grains is reassuring. After a complete analysis (116) of 135 studies in the literature, the authors conclude that “The great majority found no associations between the intake of refined-grain foods and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, or overall mortality.”

BN: Translation: So keep on fooling yourselves with these studies from high glycemic scenarios.

JJ: “A few studies found that very high intakes might be associated with some types of cancers, but at moderate levels of consumption the risks were not significant.”

BN: So what was the supposed mechanism, Dr. Jones? The paper doesn't say.

JJ: “The totality of evidence shows that consumption of up to 50% of all grain foods as refined-grain foods (without high levels of added fat, sugar, or sodium) is not associated with any increased disease risk.” The review also affirms that eating more whole-grain foods remains an important health recommendation.”

BN: That's nice. It ends with a reverent, if self-delusional, chant of the dogma - from Chromosomes 14:42, I'd guess.

Final Score

I see multiple confessional moments, numerous concurs, confirmations and assents. I see a few quibbles, and a pervasive, disturbing level of misrepresentation.

Unless one or more of Dr. Jones' cites is on-point, correctly interpreted by her, controlled for glycemic confounding, and not impeached by biases or other flaws, I tally:
debunks: 0
refutations: 0
disproofs: 0
eagerness to actually test the WB theses: very close to 0

Whether you are a grain skeptic or a grain advocate, this AACCI Analysis is not what you might have assumed it was.

Bob Niland [disclosures] [topics]

Tags: AACCI,Julie Jones,Julie Jones,Plexus,Wheat Belly


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Thank you Bob!