Book Review: Wheat Belly
So to continue on with my New Year’s resolution, (yes, I’m sticking to it,) I listened to the audiobook Wheat Belly by William Davis.
I chose this book because I know that wheat has a negative impact on my own waist line and energy level. I have reduce my consumption of wheat but I have trouble completely eliminating it from my diet. I was interested to learn some of the science behind what wheat does to the body and to hopefully get some tips on beating the wheat cravings. Unfortunately, these expectations were not really met by Davis’ book.
Firstly, I found the health claims Davis makes a little far-reaching. Davis claims wheat consumption causes everything from celiac disease to asthma to rheumatoid arthritis to neurological impairment. I’m not sure I believe that every ailment we face is caused by wheat consumption alone, although I have no doubt it causes some. I have a Masters in history and as part of my schooling I was taught never to trust the ‘single cause’ theory, (e.g. events in history, science, health, etc. rarely have one single cause.) Perhaps that is the source of my mistrust of Davis’ thesis.
Another difficulty I faced was following the science Davis presented through all the jargon. This book used more medical terms than I’m used to and in an audio format it was confusing. I couldn’t keep track of the definitions of Glyadin, lymphocytes, advanced glycation end products, oxidated responses, and amylopectin A, just to name a few. Maybe I should have been taking notes? I simply couldn’t keep track.
- Eating wheat is an extreme sport. Really? This seems like just another of the foods that are banned from diets as deadly one month and then embraced as a health hero the next. Now, I think that reducing our consumption of wheat is good for our health. However, Davis’ alarmist approach turned me off and made him seem less credible.
- Davis returns several times to the idea that eating a Snickers bar is less harmful than eating a piece of whole wheat bread. Really neither is a good choice. I believe in making my diet healthier overall, rather than just removing one ‘bad’ food.
- Davis claims that people on wheat free diets can endure 72 hours of fasting with minimal discomfort. This seems like a ridiculous thing to suggest. Why would anyone need to fast that long for dietary reasons?
- I have no doubt we are not fully aware of what genetically modified foods do to our bodies. However, I resist the sense of panic imbedded in this book by the constant listing of diseases and symptoms. These lists were repetitive and boring to sit through.
- In chapter eight I was appalled when Davis personified wheat as an abusive husband. I was insulted by this glib use of violence against women to prove a point. This was the closest I came to turning off this audio book for good. This type of shock tactic does not work on me and I think many readers would have a problem with this section.
- Finally, there was an implication that every other medical professional was clueless when it comes to wheat. Davis makes some good points but he’s not the only professional addressing the impact of wheat on the body. It would serve him well to be a little less inflammatory.