What’s Up With Wheat?

Where would a curious person look first? Why, Wheat for Dummies, of course. Okay, it is not actually called that. The book’s title is Living Wheat-Free for Dummies by Rusty Gregory, and we look at a few random chapters.

The author, along with Alan Chasen, offers an essay titled “A Brief History: What’s Wrong with Wheat?” which begins by asking readers who were sentient before the 1960s if they remember so many overweight and obese people being around in those days. They probably didn’t know anyone with diabetes or dementia, either. Somehow a leap of logic is made that, in this scenario, blames it all on wheat.

The trouble is that science had its say in a way that many subsequent scientists believe to be “misguided,” and concerned governments perhaps jumped on the bandwagon too enthusiastically, by promoting wheat and other grains, and at the same time vilifying dietary fat.

Now (according to one school of thought), thanks to decades under those policies, 45 out of every 100 Americans suffers from at least one chronic disease condition, leading the author to remark, “The ramifications for telling an entire country how to eat can be enormous, especially if the recommendations are wrong.”

For one thing, humans cannot fully digest wheat, so it starts to ferment, causing gas and bloating. It elevates the level of zonulin, exacerbating leaky gut syndrome. Wheat is one of the eight most prevalent allergens, and as we have seen, allergens and addictors are often the same foods.

Wheat quickly converts to sugar, which boosts the body’s insulin level and is said to cause cellular inflammation — in everyone, not just those who have specific problems with wheat, or gluten from other grains. Then, because the blood sugar level drops, there is hypoglycemia.

And what about obesity? According to the essay (which, again, only represents one point of view):

Eating wheat creates “sneaky fat” — the kind that sneaks up on you when you think you’re doing everything right. It could just be the wheat — especially refined wheat. Refined wheat is a high-glycemic index food that causes your blood sugar to spike. That makes your body produce insulin, which, by the way, is often referred to as the “fat-storing hormone.”

“Your Body’s Response to Eating Wheat” explains the metabolism of fatty acid storage, and how insulin clears the glucose from the bloodstream, and the drop causes fatigue, brain fog and moodiness, which is hypoglycemia — an indication that “the body isn’t utilizing fat for energy and is too reliant on carbohydrates for fuel.”

Carbohydrates in wheat, according to this theory, cause these spikes and valleys. The proposed solution:

Taking in the same number of calories in the form of fat elicits a slower and steadier blood sugar response that allows insulin to do its thing normally and lets stored body fat provide energy for hours on end. Satiation is achieved.

Numerous studies have indicated that, like sugar and salt, fat is an ingredient that makes junk food fattening, as well as irresistible and sometimes addictive. But then, it was revealed that, back in the day, scientists were bribed to declare sugar innocent of any blame for obesity and other health problems. This resulted in the demonization of dietary fat. This theory, which many regard as a hoax, prevailed for decades. In some quarters it is believed that perhaps some of the accusations leveled against fat are not entirely justified.

As Jerome Groopman phrased it in “Is Fat Killing you, or is Sugar?” in The New Yorker:

[…] fat has been making a comeback. Researchers have questioned whether dietary fat is necessarily dangerous, and have shown that not all fats are created equal…. In some quarters, blame for obesity and heart disease has shifted from fat to carbohydrates.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A Brief History of What’s Wrong with Wheat,” Dummies.com
Source: “Eight Reasons Why Wheat May Not be Good for Anyone,” Dummies.com
Source: “Your Body’s Response to Eating Wheat,” Dummies.com
Source: “Is Fat Killing you, or is Sugar?,” NewYorker.com, 04/03/17
Photo credit: Jay Reed on Foter.com/CC BY-SA

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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