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“”Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors.
William R. Davis (1957–) is an American cardiologist, cholesterol denialist, low-carb diet advocate and anti-wheat campaigner, best known for his stance against modern wheat which he believes is a "chronic poison".
Davis advocates the elimination of all grains from the American diet. He has been widely criticized by medical experts for making false assertions about wheat, unsupported by scientific evidence.
“”There is no good evidence that wheat causes disease or weight gain, but actually very good evidence that WHOLE grains are health promoting. Wheat Belly links wheat to just about any ailment you can imagine. If you follow this diet you will exclude many nutritious foods for no reason. The diet is also very low in carbohydrates, which might be a problem if you are an endurance athlete.
|—Public health scientist Sheila Kealey on William Davis.|
Davis has authored Wheat Belly, which became a New York Times bestseller in 2011. Davis believes that by eliminating all grains from the American diet there will be "transformations" in health. He argues that modern wheat has killed more people than all wars combined and is the cause of many diseases and ills including arthritis, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, Crohn's disease, obesity and schizophrenia. The medical community rejects these views due to lack of evidence. Medical experts pointed out that the book made false assertions, made statements that were not backed up by case studies and misrepresented scientific data. Physician Paul A. Offit noted that the book does not have a "shred of evidence" proving the authors contentions correct.
Physician Yoni Freedhoff commented:
The kindest way for me to describe Wheat Belly is as the Atkins diet wrapped in one physician's broad sweeping, yet not particularly well backed up by evidence theory, that wheat's modern genetic modifications are responsible for the majority of society's ills. The harshest would be that Dr. Davis has eschewed his medical responsibility to ensure that the information he conveys to the public while wearing his MD hat is firmly supported by and grounded in science (or at the very least point out when a view is highly preliminary and theoretical), and instead, uses his MD platform to push his own personal theory onto a trusting, vulnerable, and desperate public, as nearly irrefutably factual and scientific.
Davis has stated that modern wheat is "created by genetic research in the '60s and '70s" leading to the inclusion of a protein in our wheat called gliadin. He claims that everybody is 'susceptible' to this gliadin protein as it "binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year." Gliadin is present in all wheat lines and in related wild species but there is no evidence it has addictive properties. A 2013 review in the Journal of Cereal Science, concluded "we consider that statements made in the book of Davis, as well as in related interviews, cannot be substantiated based on published scientific studies."
According to Davis:
When we eat wheat, the gliadin gets broken down into polypeptides, which are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind with certain opiate receptors. Because of the nature of these opiate receptors, gliadin doesn't cause pain relief or euphoria, it causes addiction and appetite stimulation. It's a very, very unique kind of opiate.
His idea that wheat has addictive properties is not supported by scientific evidence. Joe Schwarcz, a chemist at McGill University commented that "opioid peptides" are produced when some foods are digested. But just because they can bind to opiate receptors in the brain doesn't mean they produce a morphine-like effect."
Davis has asserted that ancient wheat varieties are superior to modern varieties in reducing disease. This has also been disputed. A 2018 study concluded that "given the limited number of human trials, it is not possible to definitely conclude that ancient wheat varieties are superior to all modern counterparts in reducing chronic disease." A 2012 study also found that α-gliadin was present in two varieties of ancient wheat (Graziella Ra and Kamut) at greater amounts than modern wheat and the ancient varieties were therefore not recommended for celiac disease patients.
Davis has authored Undoctored: Why Health Care Has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor, 2017.
- Wheat is an opiate. William Davis.
- Modern wheat a "perfect, chronic poison," doctor says
- Wheat Belly author goes even further in campaign against grains, saying seeds of any grass are no good
- Wheat Belly arguments are based on shaky science, critics say
- Jones, Julie. (2012). Wheat Belly—An analysis of selected statements and basic theses from the book. Cereal Foods World. 57 (4): 177–189.
- Nutrition & Health “Experts” You Shouldn’t Trust
- The Smoke and Mirrors Behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain
- War On Science: Gluten-Free Madness Needs to End
- Fred JPH Brouns; Vincent J van Buul; Peter R Shewry (September 2013). Does wheat make us fat and sick?. Journal of Cereal Science. 58 (2): 209–215.
- William Davis Interview
- Against the Grain. The New Yorker.
- Diet Book Review: Wheat Belly. Yoni Freedhoff.
- Dinu et al. (2018). Ancient wheat species and human health: Biochemical and clinical implications. J Nutr Biochem 52: 1-9.
- Are Ancient Durum Wheats Less Toxic to Celiac Patients? A Study of α-Gliadin from Graziella Ra and Kamut by M. Stella Colomba & Armando Gregorini (2012) The Scientific World Journal Article ID 837416. doi:10.1100/2012/837416.