Wheat and the Distorted Views of William Davis

William Davis, a cardiologist, author of Wheat Belly, claims that “modern wheat is a perfect chronic poison”. He claims that modern wheat causes diabetes, inflammation, heart disease and high blood pressure and that eliminating wheat will cure these problems.

Davis recommends the avoidance of foods such as corn, rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, beans and potatoes, even though they do not contain wheat or gluten.

Davis’s inconsistencies would be amusing if they did not have such serious health consequences.

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The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat – A Review

Alan Levinovitz is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at James Madison University, Virginia.

His book, The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat, “takes on bestselling physicians and dietitians, exposing the myths behind how we come to believe which foods are good and which are bad—and pointing the way to a truly healthful life, free from the anxiety of what we eat.”

Whilst the book was fascinating in describing how easily it is for society to be deluded about food issues, the book adds several misconceptions of its own.

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Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune condition

Autoimmune diseases are a group of sinister diseases where the immune system attacks the body that it was designed to protect.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the smaller joints, such as those in the hands, feet and wrists, although larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected. According to the Health Direct website, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known.

You may be surprised about what is known.

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Dairy, Gluten and Autism

Autism is defined by a set of behaviours. Key symptoms are: an extreme introversion; social indifference; stereotyped repetitive behaviours; language problems; problems with hygiene; temper tantrums; in some cases hyperactivity; irrational fears; decreased but fluctuating insensitivity to pain.

At 2010, the rate of autism at age 8 was 14.7 per 1,000 which is 1 in 68. Boys are 4.5 times more likely to be affected than girls—rate for boys is 1 in 42 compared with 1 in 189 for girls.

Rates of autism have been rising dramatically. The 2010 rate is: 29% higher than the preceding estimate of 1 in 88 children in 2008;  64% higher than the 2006 estimate of 1 in 110 children; 123% higher than the 2002 estimate of 1 in 150 children.

Black children are affected at a rate 14% higher than Hispanic children and white children affected 45% more than Hispanic children.

The association of autism with severe gastrointestinal problems has been documented since the 1990s.

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The Nature of Food Allergies

Food allergies have become a major concern with parents, health practitioners and school administrators. However, the estimates of prevalence of allergies varies widely.

A commonly accepted definition is an “adverse immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food and is distinct from other adverse responses to food, such as food intolerance, pharmacologic reactions, and toxin-mediated reactions.”

However, most people are not going to make such a fine distinction between food allergy and food intolerance. Non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (NCGS) does not cause an IgE response so with this definition it not classed as a food allergy.

Dairy, in particular, cow’s milk and gluten, wheat and grains are commonly avoided as a result of concerns about food allergies.

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What is the Problem with Wheat and Gluten?

Gluten-free foods is a huge industry. It is estimated that approximately 2% of the US population, that has not been diagnosed with celiac disease, is consuming a gluten-free diet.

The CSIRO reports that, “ as many as 1 in 10 Australian adults, or approximately 1.8 million people, were currently avoiding or limiting their consumption of wheat-based products. Women were more likely to be avoiding wheat than men. The survey also revealed that over half (53%) of those who were avoiding wheat were also avoiding dairy-based foods.”

There is an increasing awareness of the importance of gut flora and its role in health.

People who embark on glute-free diets frequently have significantly impaired health outcomes due to changes in gut bacteria.

At one clinic in Rome, only 30% of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were sensitive to gluten.

At another climic, in Maryland USA, only 6% of those suffering from IBS were affected by gluten.

It is apparent that digestive problems are much more complicated than they first appear.

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The Pioppi Diet

The Pioppi Diet is a book by the London cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, an Irish film-maker.

Pioppi is a small village on the Tyrrhenian Sea which is located on the west coast of Italy. It is approximately 150 km (90 miles) south of Naples. Ancel and Margaret Keys resided here for over 25 years. Martii Karvonen of Finland and Jerimiah Stamler of the USA are other well-known medical researchers who resided in the village.

Malhotra is a keen high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet advocate and is desperately trying (unsuccessfully) to merge this opinion into a distorted view of the Mediterranean diet.

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