Dr. William Davis (Cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly)
Hi Everyone, Jason’s turn to write a short post.
I was recently in attendance at Dr. William Davis’s second Halifax presentation and would love to provide a short synopsis of his work. As a cardiologist in practice he has always been interested in treating the cause of disease and not masking problems with medications. This is our philosophy as well, especially as it relates to pain and dysfunction. He started his presentation talking about mammals and what each of them would need to eat in order for them to have ideal health and how different mammals have a different nutritional requirement. For example, a lion needs meat and a cow needs grass, switch their diets and both animals would not be able to survive. So what is the ideal human diet? Well there are a million books, a million experts and a bunch of scientific studies proving one model and disproving another. He explained how the consumption of grains started roughly 10,000 years ago but our genes were not designed or ready for this shift. He feels we have been given very bad nutritional advice when government, agencies and experts say to watch fat but eat your healthy whole grains (ie: wheat).
In his first book Wheat Belly, he goes into detail about all of the issues that wheat can cause in the human body. For some people (like me) that enjoy detail, I appreciated his use of examples and clinical experience with real patients. He has different chapters in the book explaining several health issues including heart disease, diabetes, weight loss, joint issues, autoimmune diseases and more. Tonight, he offered a very short synopsis of what happens when we consume grains and especially wheat. One issue is blood sugar and he makes a point that 2 pieces of whole wheat bread have a higher glycemic index that a Snickers bar. High blood sugar leads to an excessive insulin response. Over time this is what contributes to type 2 diabetes, belly fat, and increased levels of inflammation in the body.
Another issue which can affect our own immune systems is the lack of digestion of certain proteins in wheat and other grains. When our bodies cannot completely digest a protein such as the wheat protein gliadin, it can affect the lining of our intestines causing them to be “leaky”. When this happens, other proteins and particles cross into the blood stream and our body will mistake it as a threat and mount an immune response. This is what happens in some cases with autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Phytates are chemicals that will block absorption of positively charged minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium. He stated grain induced iron deficiency is the 2nd leading causing of iron deficiency world wide. If you are having iron issues, this is a possible source. We see many patients that respond well to magnesium supplementation for muscle cramps, poor sleeping, etc. What about addressing this potential cause of magnesium deficiency?
He is also very clear to not replace wheat with high starch gluten-free items. While they may be “less bad”, it does not make them healthy. These items are high in corn starch, potato starch and corn which can also create havoc for our blood sugar and digestive systems.
After removing grains from the diet, he feels the next most powerful step we can make is to optimize our vitamin D levels. He is also very supportive of having optimal gut flora (found in probiotics and fermented food), which often takes some time to rebuild. He is a huge supporter of omega-3 fish oil and specifically endorses the brand we carry, Ascenta. These recommendations would mimic our basic supplement philosophy and we carry these items at the clinic.
So what can you eat? REAL FOOD. Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and organic butter should be staples. Vegetables should also be a staple. We recommend 8 servings or 4 cups/day. Be careful with excessive fruit intake for blood sugar reasons. Excessive fructose is not ideal for most people. Wild fish, grass fed beef, free range chicken/eggs are quality sources of protein. Nuts and seeds are great snacks and additions. We limit dairy intake and he would advise the same (use with caution as it can also create an immune response in many people).
I will likely be doing Saturday afternoon or Wednesday evening seminar to fill in some of these details and to help with implementation. If you are interested, please message us or email firstname.lastname@example.org and your preference of Wednesday evening from 6-9 or a late Saturday afternoon from 2-5pm.
Yours in health,
Dr. Jason Plotsky