Sue Becker vs. Dr. William Davis

Background can be found in the previous post, which begins to explain whole-grain enthusiast Sue Becker’s dissatisfaction with Dr. William Davis’ book Wheat Belly, and in a post discussing the philosophy of the Bright Line Eating program. In brief, Dr. Davis is against all wheat, including flour, even if fresh. Becker is in favor of all grains, but against processed flour, and endorses only freshly milled flour. Bright Line is for all grains, but against all flour, including the fresh kind.

Becker’s job, as head of The Bread Beckers Inc, is to sell grain and baking equipment. Her mission is to make people understand how “common diseases that plague this nation are directly related to our consumption of processed flour.” So she is in partial agreement with the Bright Line philosophy (all flour bad) and opposed to Dr. Davis’ general ban on wheat, although they do agree on some other things.

In commercially milled whole wheat, Becker says,

The wheat bran is partially removed and the wheat germ and oil are completely removed. With the bran and germ’s removal a valuable portion of fiber is lost.

Why is it valuable? Because, says Becker, “fiber has been proven to slow the absorption of sugars released from carbohydrate digestion.” Fast absorption is undesirable, just as the Bright Line people say, which is why they are against all flour. (Interestingly, whole wheat kernels have quite a low glycemic index, and wheat in its whole grain form is a dish recommended by Bright Line Eating.)

Dr. Davis tells readers that the glycemic index of whole wheat bread is as bad as, or worse than, the glycemic index of table sugar. Becker argues that not all whole wheat bread is guilty of releasing sugar into the body too fast — only the kind that is processed to keep it stable and non-decaying until it reaches the customer. The commercially milled flour at its heart does not contain the entire components of the wheat kernel that Nature placed there to slow down absorption.

Supermarket whole wheat bread can’t be blamed, really, because the processing it must go through makes its inferiority inevitable. In other words, even the customers who spring for the whole wheat are buying bread made from flour whose most valuable nutrients are missing.

Everyone agrees that bread mass-produced at a centralized location cannot be made nutritionally optimal. It has to survive a lot of shipping and handling, a lot of environmental conditions and lag time.

Bread made the old-fashioned way, on the other hand, has a tiny shelf life and goes bad too soon. Factory production and long shelf life are mutually exclusive. Becker writes,

There is no such thing as healthy whole grains in the regular grocery store. The only way to get real whole grain bread and bread products is to make them yourself from flour that you have milled for yourself or from a reputable bakery […] that mills their own flour and adds no white flour to their products.

If people want good bread, they have to buy the raw ingredients from someplace like The Bread Beckers, and go to the trouble of grinding their own flour and baking the bread themselves. Their DIY bread has a much lower glycemic index than store-bought. But most Americans are not into artisanal baking. Like it or not, most Americans eat problematic bread.

Dr. Davis discusses how, in his personal health history, even freshly milled modern wheat has caused adverse results. Becker doubts this, because in her world, only factory-processed flour is bad, and freshly-milled is good. (And if Bright Line is correct, all flour is bad.)

Psychological effects

Dr. Davis teaches that wheat and other grains are potent appetite stimulants because of gliadin-derived peptides which act as opiates; blockage of the satiety hormone leptin; and the deleterious effects of Amylopectin A, none of which we will go into here. According to him, wheat-eaters experience more hunger and therefore consume more calories, so wheat = bad.

Becker, of course, says to go ahead and eliminate processed flour, always — but not grains. And because people cannot help but crave carbohydrates, she advises eating a lot of whole grains because this reduces the craving for sugar and simple carbs, satisfies hunger, and “fills you up.”

Once again bringing personal, anecdotal evidence into the same discussion where she has criticized the opponent as insufficiently scientific, she writes,

One thing I have found, again and again over the years, is that bread made from freshly milled whole grains is very satisfying. It does not make me want more, but it satisfies. Maybe this “mild euphoria” is a good thing.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Wheat Belly Fact or Fiction,”, 07/16/10
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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.
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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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