Archive for September, 2011
Here are more “this is what we’re up against” items from the news sent to me by readers:
The Diabetic Diet
By the diabetic diet, I of course mean a diet that will help you become a diabetic … even though that’s not quite what the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse had in mind when designing it.
In case you somehow overlooked it among the many other federal health agencies, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NCD) is a division of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which is a division of National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Ya know, I think what would really improve the nation’s health (NH) would be to add a few more layers (FML) to the federal government’s health bureaucracy (FGHB). After all, they’ve done such a bang-up job (BUJ) reversing obesity and diabetes over the years.
Anyway, here’s how NCD (a division of NIDDK) is telling people to eat to manage their diabetes:
Healthful eating helps keep your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, in your target range. Physical activity and, if needed, diabetes medicines also help. The diabetes target range is the blood glucose level suggested by diabetes experts for good health. You can help prevent health problems by keeping your blood glucose levels on target.
So far, so good. But what exactly is the target glucose level suggested by experts?
Target Blood Glucose Levels for People with Diabetes
Before meals: 70 to 130
1 to 2 hours after a meal: less than 180
Well, there you have it, folks: Diabetics should aim for post-meal glucose levels that are well into the “diabetic” range. I guess that “if needed, diabetes medicines also help” statement is more like a prediction than a suggestion. Of course, you pretty much have to set high blood sugar targets when your recommended diet looks like this:
Choose this many servings from these food groups to have 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day:
- 10 starches
- 4 vegetables
- 5 to 7 ounces meat and meat substitutes
- 2 milks
- 4 fruits
- up to 5 fats
Ten starches and four fruits. Good luck keeping your blood sugar below 180 if you’re already battling diabetes or pre-diabetes. For the diabetics who are more visually oriented, the NCD (a division of NIDDK) provided this helpful graphic as well:
Well, I can see why they grouped fats and sweets in the same category. They have nearly opposite effects on your blood sugar, but the important thing is that they both have an S and a T in their names. Put a couple more letters in between those, and you can spell out what I think of the advice handed out by NCD (a division of NIDDK).
Heart UK’s Ultimate Diet Plan
Britain’s equivalent (I guess) of the American Heart Association refers to itself in press releases as Heart UK – UK’s leading cholesterol charity. I was of course pleased to see that description. There are millions of people around the world who can’t afford foods high in cholesterol, and I’m all in favor helping them out. I’ll happily donate 100 dozen eggs.
Unfortunately, it turns out the cholesterol charity is anti-cholesterol, and they’re promoting a diet to lower cholesterol levels. Here’s their plan to “revolutionize heart health in the UK”:
Step 1 – Motivational behaviour strategies to drive dietary success and reverse negative consumption patterns.
Here’s the behavior strategy you need to adopt: go to the pantry and throw out everything that includes sugar or white flour. Then walk to the fridge and find some meat and eggs. Cook the eggs and meat and eat them. Then you’ll feel motivated.
Step 2 – Reducing saturated fat without compromising on treats and taste. Swapping a chocolate éclair for a hot cross bun is not life changing but the 93% saturated fat drop makes the life-saving recommendation to drop our saturated fat intake so much more achievable.
So a chocolate éclair is the key to avoiding heart disease, is it? Next you’ll be telling me to eat soy.
Steps 3, 4, 5, 6 – A pick ‘n’ mix of four cholesterol-busting foods!
- Soya foods e.g. soya milk and yogurt alternatives
- Products with plant sterols/stanols e.g. Alpro soya plus milk alternative, cholesterol lowering spreads, cholesterol-lowering yogurts.
- Soluble fibre from oats, other whole grain foods and beans and pulses.
They should’ve listed “nuts” last -– as a polite commentary on everything above it. Still, one out of four ain’t a bad hit-to-miss ratio for the typical do-gooder health charity. (I’m assuming the nuts weren’t roasted in some horrible vegetable oil.) As for the soy, absolutely, go for it … because what the world needs now is more men with boobs –- they’ll be more understanding when their daughters start puberty.
I must say, though, I can’t help but wonder why Heart UK – the cholesterol charity is so high on soy milk.
The UCLP Ultimate Teaching Tool is available to all health professionals free of charge. The UCLP has been funded by an educational grant from Alpro soya UK.
Boy, it’s really generous of Alpro soya UK to provide health professions with free literature recommending Alpro soya UK products to their patients. But if they were really smart, they’d team up with whichever company finally manufactures the manssiere.
Over the Counter Lipitor?
Surprise, surprise … now that the patent on Lipitor is due to expire, Pfizer is hoping to sell the stuff over the counter.
Selling a version of the drug to consumers without a prescription would allow Pfizer to retain some of the $11 billion in annual revenue that Lipitor has been generating.
However, a nonprescription version would not be available immediately after the patent on Lipitor expires because Pfizer would first have to convince the Food and Drug Administration that consumers could take the drug without a doctor’s supervision.
That’s a bit like worrying that heroin addicts may shoot up without a drug-dealer’s supervision.
An over-the-counter version of Lipitor would no doubt be welcomed by insurers because it would cost less.
I can see the advantage there. Ruining your muscles and your memory shouldn’t be expensive. You’ll need to save as much money as possible to pay for the walkers and the Alzheimer’s care.
In the past, the F.D.A. advisers have been concerned that over-the counter versions of statins could not be used safely, that some patients who did not need the drugs would take them.
I’d be worried about that too. It’s much better to have doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs to people who don’t need them.
Since high cholesterol is a symptomless condition, consumers would not know whether the drug was working without having their cholesterol checked periodically.
Don’t be silly … of course consumers will know if the Lipitor is working. They’ll wake up in the morning and say, “Holy crap, my muscles and joints are killing me! It must be the … the … Honey, what’s the name of that stuff I’ve been taking?”
MSN – the More S@#$ Network
MSN Health is, in my opinion, one of the worst offenders when it comes to handing out lousy dietary advice. Here are a couple of gems from a recent online article titled Get a Grip! 9 easy ways to help lower your cholesterol right now:
5. Double cholesterol whammy. Dietary cholesterol can elevate your blood cholesterol levels, but saturated fat has an even worse effect. However, the two are often found in the same foods, including meat, butter and full-fat dairy. So by limiting your intake of foods rich in saturated fat, you’ll also help reduce your intake of cholesterol.
Even Ancel Keys, the Grand Poopah of Lipophobes, admitted that dietary cholesterol has no effect on the cholesterol level if your blood. As for saturated fat, yes, it will raise your cholesterol … specifically, your HDL and your large, fluffy LDL. Those are both beneficial.
9. Check for tropical oils. Lots of products are now “trans-fat free” but in some cases, these fats are being replaced with saturated fats, such as palm and coconut oils. You may have heard that palm and coconut oils do not negatively affect cholesterol levels, but the research isn’t conclusive and palm kernel oil contains 80 percent saturated fat. Instead, look for products that use polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol.
Hey, now there’s a technique all the bad scientists can applaud: if a study doesn’t show what you want it to show, simply label the results as “inconclusive.” I’ve got news for you: if palm kernel oil and coconut oil did raise cholesterol, the results of those studies would be conclusive.
The Coconut Oil Supermodel
At least someone who spends a lot of time in her underwear knows not to fear coconut oil.
When a Victoria’s Secret runway model confesses her beauty secret, women will undoubtedly listen. Coconut oil is the new buzz in the beauty world, and now it’s been revealed that supermodel Miranda Kerr swears by it. She says that her shiny hair, perfect skin, and svelte body are the results of healthy living and daily use of this good oil.
Miranda Kerr, who famously bounced back to her pre-baby body just weeks after giving birth to her first child with actor Orlando Bloom, confesses in Daily Mail that her beauty secret is coconut oil. The supermodel says she dilutes the oil either in green tea or drizzles it over salads to keep her glowing. “I’ve been drinking it since I was 14 and it’s the one thing I can’t live without,” she tells Daily Mail.
For everyday beauty, coconut oil can be used as an all-over moisturizer, hair conditioner, and as a gentle eye make-up remover.
We’ll just pause here for a moment so the men in the audience can enjoy the idea of a Victoria’s Secret model using coconut oil as an all-over moisturizer.
Okay, guys, that’s enough. Naturally, the anti-saturated-fat hysterics had to reply to Ms. Kerr’s beauty advice:
US experts yesterday warned against consuming large amounts of coconut oil after Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr said the high-fat oil was the key to her clear skin, shiny hair and trim figure.
The World Health Organization has also warned the oil could contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease if taken to excess.
Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the oil will not give you the body of a supermodel.
It won’t? Rats! I’ve been sitting here spreading coconut oil all over myself hoping to look good in a bikini next summer.
“I can’t say I’d want people consuming lots of coconut oil. You should use it sparingly,” Ayoob said. “You want to cut back on saturated fats in your diet. I don’t know what benefit it would have for weight management because it has just as many calories as any other fat.”
Well, allow me to explain to you, Ayoob the Boob: the type of fat in coconut oil –- medium-chain triglycerides — is actually difficult to store in your adipose tissue, so you tend to burn it off instead. It’s also good for your mood and helps curb your appetite.
Kerr’s dose of four tablespoons a day adds up to about 460 calories, which Ayoob said was too much saturated fat for most people. “She’s getting two and a half times the amount of saturated fat I would recommend for a person consuming 2,000 calories per day,” he said.
Ah, well, if you don’t recommend saturated fat, that proves it’s bad for us. Sorry I didn’t recognize the logic in that sooner. I must’ve been distracted by the Ayoobs.
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Some weeks back, Robert Bradbury had me on his Gut & Bone Show for what we hoped would be a live streaming podcast. We ran into equipment and connection problems and ended up recording the interview later.
It’s now available on his site. My part of the show begins around 22 minutes in.
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You all (or y’all, as we say around these parts) submitted so many good questions for Wheat Belly author Dr. William Davis, we decided to make this a two-part Q & A. We’ll probably have part two ready early next week.
Fat Head: You’re a cardiologist by profession, and yet you just wrote an in-depth book about the negative health effects of consuming wheat. How did wheat end up on your radar? What first made you suspect wheat might be behind many of our modern health problems?
Dr. Davis: It started several years ago when I asked patients in my office to consider eliminating all wheat from their diet. I did this because of some very simple logic: If foods made from wheat raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods (due to its high-glycemic index), including table sugar, then removing wheat should reduce blood sugar. I was concerned about high blood sugar since around 80% of the people coming to my office had diabetes, pre-diabetes, or what I call “pre-pre-diabetes.” In short, the vast majority of people showed abnormal metabolic markers.
I provided patients with a simple two-page handout on how to do this, i.e., how to eliminate wheat and replace the lost calories with healthy foods like more vegetables, raw nuts, meats, eggs, avocados, olives, olive oil, etc. They’d come back three months later with lower fasting blood sugars, lower hemoglobin A1c (a reflection of the previous 60 days’ blood sugar); some diabetics became non-diabetics, pre-diabetics became non-pre-diabetic. They’d also be around 30 pounds lighter.
Then they began to tell me about other experiences: relief from arthritis and joint pains, chronic rashes disappearing, asthma improved sufficiently to stop inhalers, chronic sinus infections gone, leg swelling gone, migraine headaches gone for the first time in decades, acid reflux and irritable bowel symptoms relieved. At first, I told patients it was just an odd coincidence. But it happened so many times to so many people that it became clear that this was no coincidence; this was a real and reproducible phenomenon.
That’s when I began to systematically remove wheat from everyone’s diet and continued to witness similar turnarounds in health across dozens of conditions. There has been no turning back since.
Fat Head: You cite quite a bit of academic research in your book, but you also cite case histories from your medical practice. So, as a chicken-or-the-egg issue, which came first? Did you start noticing that patients who consumed a lot of wheat had more health problems and then go looking for the research to back up your suspicions, or did you come across research that prompted you to take notice of what your patients were eating?
Dr. Davis: The real-world experience came first. But what surprised me was that there already was an extensive medical literature documenting all of this, but it was largely ignored or didn’t reach mainstream consciousness nor the consciousness of most of my colleagues. And a lot of the documentation comes from the agricultural genetics literature, an area, I can assure you, my colleagues do not study. But I dug into this area of science and talked to people at the USDA and in agriculture departments in universities to gain a full understanding of all the issues.
One of the difficulties that partly explains why much of this information has not previously seen the light of day is that agricultural geneticists work on plants, not humans. There is a broad and pervasive assumption followed by these well-meaning scientists: No matter how extreme the techniques used to alter the genetics of a plant like wheat, it is still just fine for human consumption …no questions asked. I believe that is flat wrong and underlies much of the suffering inflicted on humans consuming this modern product of genetics research still called, misleadingly, “wheat.”
Fat Head: So after pinpointing wheat as a driver of various health problems, you started counseling your patients to eliminate wheat from their diets. What inspired you take the extra step – and it’s a big step – of writing a book?
Dr. Davis: What I witnessed in the thousands of people removing wheat from their diet was nothing short of incredible. When I saw weight loss of 70 pounds in six months, energy and mood surging, reversal of inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, relief from chronic rashes and arthritis — and the effects were consistent over and over again — I realized that I could not just let this issue pass quietly in my office practice.
Admittedly, the world is going to need more confirmatory data before wheat, or at least the modern genetically-altered version of wheat we are being sold, is removed from the world’s dinner plate. But the data that are already available are more than enough, I believe, to bring this information to the public for people to make the decision themselves. I liken this situation to living in a village where everyone drinks water from the same well. Nine out of 10 people get sick when they drink water from the well; all recover when they stop drinking from it. Drink from the same well, they all get sick again; stop, they get better. With such a consistent and reproducible cause-and-effect relationship, do we need a clinical trial to prove it to us? I don’t.
This is going to be a long, hard battle in the public arena. Wheat comprises 20% of all human calories. It requires a huge infrastructure to grow, harvest, collect seeds, fertilize, herbicide, process, and distribute. This message is going to potentially hurt the livelihoods of thousands, perhaps millions, of people who are part of the infrastructure. It reminds me of the battles that were fought (and still being fought today) when it became widely accepted that smoking cigarettes was bad. When people within the tobacco industry were asked how they could work for a company that destroyed people’s health, they replied, “I had to support my family and pay my mortgage.” The eliminate-all-wheat-in-the-human-diet argument that I make will hurt many people where it counts: right in the pocketbook. But, personally, I am not willing to sacrifice my own health, the health of my family, friends, neighbors, patients, and the nation to allow the incredibly unhealthy status quo to continue.
Fat Head: The more of the book I read, the more I found myself thinking, “Wow, I knew wheat was bad for us, but it’s even worse than I thought.” Did you have the same reaction while researching the book? Were you surprised at how many physical and mental problems wheat can cause?
Dr. Davis: Yes. I knew wheat was bad from the start of this project. And there were times when I wondered if I was missing something, given the unanimous embracing of this grain by agribusiness, farmers, agricultural scientists, the USDA, FDA, American Dietetic Association, etc. But the opposite happened: The deeper I got into it, this thing being sold to us called “wheat” appeared worse … and worse, and worse, the farther I got.
I am mindful of the “For a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail” trap we can all fall into, but when you see disease condition after disease condition vanish with elimination of wheat, you can’t help but become convinced that it plays a crucial role in hundreds, literally hundreds, of common conditions.
Fat Head: You described in your book how today’s wheat is the product of energetic cross-breeding. Is cross-breeding inherently bad? Doesn’t cross-breeding take place in nature all the time?
Dr. Davis: Yes, it does. Humans, along with all plants and animals, are the product of cross-breeding or hybridization. Love, sex, and cross-breeding make the world go ‘round and make life interesting. The problem is that these terms are used very loosely by geneticists.
For example, if I subject wheat seeds and embryos to the potent industrial poison sodium azide, I can induce mutations in the plant’s genetic code. First, let me tell you about sodium azide. If ingested, the poison control people at the Centers for Disease Control advise you to not resuscitate the person who ingested it and stopped breathing as a result —just let the victim die—because the rescuer can die, too. And, if the victim vomits, don’t throw the vomit in the sink because it can explode (this has actually happened). So, expose wheat seeds and embryos to sodium azide and you obtain mutations. This is called chemical mutagenesis. Seeds and embryos can also be exposed to gamma irradiation and high-dose x-ray radiation. All of these techniques fall under the umbrella of hybridization or, even more misleading, traditional breeding techniques. I don’t know about you, but cross-breeding among the humans I know doesn’t involve slipping each other chemical poisons or a romantic evening in the cyclotron to induce mutations in our offspring.
These “traditional breeding techniques,” by the way, are markedly more disruptive to the plant’s genetics than genetic engineering. Americans are up in arms about genetically-modified (GMO) foods (i.e., the insertion or deletion of a single gene). The great irony is that genetic engineering is a substantial improvement over “traditional breeding techniques” that have gone on for decades and are still going on.
[Note from Tom: I tried talking my wife into stepping into a cyclotron with me on our honeymoon. She told me to stop drinking the champagne and go to sleep.]
Fat Head: I met you in person over a year ago, and you’re a very lean guy, so I was surprised to learn from the book that you used to carry around your very own wheat belly. Describe the differences between you as a wheat-eater and you now, both in terms of your physique and your health.
Dr. Davis: Thirty pounds ago, while I was still an enthusiastic consumer of “healthy whole grains,” I struggled with constant difficulties in maintaining focus and energy. I relied on pots of coffee or walking and exercise just to battle the constant stuporous haze. My cholesterol values reflected my wheat-consuming habits: HDL 27 mg/dl (very low), triglycerides 350 mg/dl (VERY high), and blood sugars in the diabetic range (161 mg/dl). I had high blood pressure, running values around 150/90. And all my excess weight was around my middle—yes, my very own wheat belly.
Saying goodbye to wheat has helped me shed the weight around the middle; my cholesterol values: HDL 63 mg/dl, triglycerides 50 mg/dl, LDL 70 mg/dl, blood sugar 84 mg/dl, BP 114/74—using no drugs. In other words, everything reversed. Everything reversed including the struggle to maintain attention and focus. I can now concentrate and focus on something for so long that my wife yells for me to stop.
All in all, I feel better today at age 54 than I felt at age 30.
Fat Head: How has learning what you now know about wheat and other grains changed your medical practice?
Dr. Davis: It has catapulted success in helping people regain health into the stratosphere. Among people following this diet, i.e., eliminate wheat and limit other carbohydrates (along with the other heart-healthy strategies I advocate, including omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with fish oil, vitamin D supplementation to achieve a desirable 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 60-70 ng/ml, iodine supplementation and normalization of thyroid dysfunction), I no longer see heart attacks. The only heart attacks I see are people whom I’ve just met or those who, for one reason or another (usually lack of interest) don’t follow the diet. A priest I take care of, for instance, a wonderful and generous man, couldn’t bring himself to turn down the muffins, pies, and breads his parishioners brought him every day; he had a heart attack despite doing everything else right.
This diet approach, though it seems quirky on the surface, is extremely powerful. What diet, after all, causes substantial weight loss, corrects the causes of heart disease such as small LDL particles, reverses diabetes and pre-diabetes, and improves or cures multiple conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to acid reflux?
Fat Head: You’ve seen hundreds of your own patients become cured of supposedly incurable diseases after giving up wheat. Describe one or two of the most dramatic examples.
Dr. Davis: Two people are on my mind nearly every day, mostly because I am especially gratified about the magnitude of their response and because I shudder to think what their lives would have been like had they not engaged in this diet change.
I describe Wendy’s story in the book, a 36-year mother and schoolteacher who had nearly incapacitating ulcerative colitis; so bad that, despite three medications, she continued to suffer constant cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding sufficient to require blood transfusions. When I met Wendy, she told me that her gastroenterologist and surgeon had scheduled her for colon removal and creation of an ileostomy bag. These would be lifelong changes; she would be consigned to wearing a bag to catch stool at the surface for the rest of her life. I urged her to remove wheat. At first, she objected, since her intestinal biopsies and blood work all failed to suggest celiac disease. But, having seen many amazing things happen with removal of wheat, I suggested that there was nothing to lose. She did it. Three months later, not only had she lost 38 pounds, but all the cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding had stopped. It’s now been two years. She’s off all drugs with no sign of the disease left—colon intact, no ileostomy bag. She is cured.
The second case is Jason, also described in the book, a 26-year old software programmer, in this case incapacitated by joint pains and arthritis. Consultations with three rheumatologists failed to yield a diagnosis; all prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication, while Jason continued to hobble around, unable to engage in much more than short walks. Within five days of removing all wheat, Jason was 100% free of joint pains. He told that he found this absolutely ridiculous and refused to believe it. So he had a sandwich: Joint pains rushed right back. He’s now strictly wheat-free and pain-free.
Fat Head: Your patients are lucky – you’d rather change a patient’s diet than write a prescription whenever possible. Unfortunately, you’re in the minority. As I recounted on my blog recently, a co-worker’s wife was finally cured of her pounding headaches when an acquaintance suggested she stop eating grains. She’d been to several doctors who merely prescribed medications. So … why are so few doctors aware of how grains can affect our health?
Dr. Davis: I believe healthcare has detoured towards high-tech, high revenue-producing procedures, medications, and catastrophic care. Too many in healthcare have lost the vision of helping people and fulfilling their mission to heal. While that sounds old-fashioned, I believe it is a bad trend for healthcare to be reduced to a financial transaction bound by legal constraints. It needs to be restored to a relationship of healing.
I believe that many in healthcare have also been disenchanted with the ineffectiveness of dietary advice. Because dietary “wisdom” has been wrong on so many counts over the past 50 years, people have become soured on the ability of nutrition and natural methods to improve health. From what I’ve witnessed, however, nutrition and natural methods have enormous power to heal—if the right methods are applied.
Fat Head: Do you hope your book will educate more doctors on the topic, or is this one of those situations where the public will have to ignore their doctors and educate themselves?
Dr. Davis: Regrettably, many people will read the message in Wheat Belly, experience the life-changing health and weight transformations that can result, then they will then tell their doctors, who will declare their success “coincidence,” “mind over matter,” “placebo effect,” or some other dismissal. Many of my colleagues refuse to recognize the power of diet even when confronted with powerful results. That can only change over a very long time.
Thankfully, more and more of my colleagues are beginning to see the light and not look for the answer in drugs and procedures. These are the healthcare providers that I hope will emerge to assist people as advocates and coaches in conducting an experience like that described in Wheat Belly.
Fat Head: If more doctors were informed of the issues you wrote about in Wheat Belly, do you think they’d change their dietary advice, or is the “fat is bad, grains are good” mentality too ingrained in the profession?
Dr. Davis: There is absolutely no question that the “fat is bad, grains are good” argument will persist in the minds of many of my colleagues for many years. However, I believe if they were to read the arguments laid out logically in Wheat Belly, they would first come to recognize that “wheat” is no longer wheat but an incredibly transformed product of genetics research. Then they would begin to follow the logic and understand that the long menu of problems associated with consumption of modern “wheat” begins to explain why we’ve all been witnessing an explosion in common diseases. That’s when I hope we all hear a collective “Aha!”
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Here are some recent emails I’d like to share. I’ve edited them down a bit, but otherwise they’re exactly as they arrived in my inbox. Since most of the text in this post is from the emails, I’m flipping my usual rule for quotes: the emails I’m quoting are in black text; my comments are in maroon text.
Nutrition for Preschoolers – email from Andrea
I have worked in education my whole life, and just had the opportunity to spend a day observing in a local daycare and preschool. It is run by careful, goodhearted, conscientious people — who are dead wrong. If you’ve got time, the story is below.
I spent the day in a preschool class for 3- and 4- year-olds. The children came in between 7 and 8 in the morning after a breakfast that, according to the 18 children I talked to, was made of starch and sugar, maybe with some skim milk, but usually juice. By the time they got to class, their blood sugar was tanking and their moods were already affected. But that’s okay! We gave them skim milk and sugar cookies for a snack at 9! They were hyperactive until they crashed and the behavior problems stacked up.
At noon they were fed skim milk, tater tots, canned peaches in heavy syrup, and a sandwich made with white bread, plastic cheese, and a slice of bologna. They crashed shortly after. Fortunately, it was nap time, which was two hours. They needed it, but were groggy, unhappy, and very, very difficult on both ends of their nap. Of course, they got another snack once they were all up. This time it was fruit juice, crackers, and cupcakes!
They got to go out for playground time after their snack, and they ran around like crazy for the first half hour, all manic fun. The second half hour was filled with minor scuffles, complaints of tummy aches, and lots of crying. After playground time, it was just a blur of teacher yelling “no” or “sit down” and the children screaming, crying, and pitching fits. I finally had my fill and concluded my visit around 5, spoke with the Director, and was free at last!
What I learned from my experience–other than that I will never, EVER be a preschool teacher–was that these kids’ bodies and minds were being horribly abused. Their “bad” behavior was either hypoglycemic grumpiness or hyperactivity. There were minor issues with discipline, but the root problem was lack of good nutrition.
What hope do children raised in such environments have? Children deserve better care. And I am not blaming the daycare. It was a good place, with good people and a stellar reputation. They do their best and keep the kids as well-behaved and cared-for as possible. They are doing their jobs and following the rules. The rules must change, because they are killing us all.
Amen, Andrea. As a father of two girls, I can assure you that even kids who live on a near-paleo diet can throw temper-tantrums and become scatter-brained now and then … but it’s now and then. When we allow our girls to eat sugar and other junk on special occasions, we pretty much count on a crash or a meltdown occurring within the next hour. As one of the doctors pointed out in The Sugar Trap, after the sugar causes a blood-sugar crash, you’re not talking to a functioning brain anymore — you’re talking to a spinal cord.
Almost 60 pounds lighter in four months – email from Alex
I’ve been heavy since 3rd-4th grade. I remember my doctor, during my high school physical, saying “You know you’re big right?” and, in my opinion, being a little rude. I have tried several times to lose weight and each time I’ve only been able to stay motivated for a week or two and never really lost anything.
On Saturday 3/19/2011, my sister and her husband were over for a movie night. They suggested your movie (because they had seen it once already and liked it) but at the time we decided to go for something a little lighter and I decided I’d watch it later instead. Well, long story short, they left, and at about 3:30 am Sunday my eyes were closing and I said “Oh, I should watch Fat Head.” I started watching and didn’t have any trouble staying awake. At that point I told myself I would change my eating habits. My wife and I woke up the next morning around 10 a.m. and the first thing we did was watch your movie again. She agreed it was great and that we should start eating better.
Well, here we are in early July and my wife and I are still staying strong. We have completely changed our eating habits and lifestyles. I follow what you did in the movie by cutting my carbs and keeping them around 100. I’ve also moved away from sugary and processed foods in general. I currently weigh 199.3lbs and I’m still losing 1-3 lbs/wk. I went from stretching a XXL shirt to make it fit to comfortably wearing a large, and from being tight in size 44 x 32 pants to comfortably wearing 38 x 32s. Among other things, we’ve taken up running, regularly dancing using our Wii, and now have learned to enjoy things such as yard work. We are planning on running our first ever 5k in Sept and, while I don’t have much hope of placing or anything yet, I have confidence I’ll do pretty well.
I hope you don’t mind my long-winded email, I just figured you probably would like to hear good feedback and I definitely wanted to thank you.
I don’t mind at all, Alex.
Alex was kind enough to send some pictures of his progress. The first pictures, when he weighed 256, are a little fuzzy, but you get the idea. Look at him now at 199 pounds. How’s that for an impressive body transformation?
The calorie-equation freaks will no doubt insist that Alex lost weight because he consumed fewer calories than he burned, and of course that’s true – I’ve never claimed otherwise. But as he explained in the email, Alex tried losing weight many times before and failed. So there are two possible explanations: 1) For most of his life, Alex didn’t have the character to stick with a diet, but suddenly developed character after watching Fat Head, or 2) The diets Alex tried before caused him to ended up feeling starved so he gave up, while the low-carb diet allowed him to eat less without feeling hungry and fatigued, so he stuck with it.
I don’t think it’s a matter of character. I think it’s a matter of biochemistry. The “character” part of it is in being willing to give up the foods you like once you realize they screw up your biochemistry.
A biologist changes her mind – email from Lorraine
The last week of April I was home – bored and depressed. This was the usual night for me since I put on over 60 pounds. I would just sit on my couch watching movie after movie. Luckily, I discovered your documentary on Netflix. April 27th was the night you changed my life.
I was always a thin child, but in my junior year of high school I gained about 40 pounds. After being teased and bullied for my weight gain, I resorted to unsafe diet pills (ephedra) and over-exercised (approximately 1-2 hours a night). I’m embarrassed to admit that I even resorted to throwing up on occasion.
I lost the weight and went back to 110 pounds, but I was tired, hungry, weak, and experienced heart palpitations. I wasn’t aware of this at this time, but I could have caused severe damage to my heart. I was able to maintain my weight for two years, but it was a constant struggle. I received my A.S. in nutrition and dietetics, and thought I knew it all — calories in/calories out, fat is bad, salt is bad, meat is bad, and so on. Our entire curriculum was based on the guidelines set forth by our government.
I eventually had a change of heart and went to pursue my B.S. in biology. Over the course of four years, I slowly but surely regained the weight and then some. I started a new diet almost every two weeks, but always failed. I wrote down everything I ate and counted every little calorie to make sure I consumed 1200-1400 calories a day. I worked out approximately 6 days a week. I just gained more weight. I had never felt so frustrated in my life, because I knew exactly how much I was eating. I began to accept the fact that my thin days were over and I was just meant to be a heavy woman.
By April 2011, I was 25 years old and 171 pounds. I was depressed, antisocial, and I just wasn’t my normal self. I gave up on living. I missed birthdays, social events, vacations, and New Years Eve parties because I did not want my friends to see how big I had become. Additionally, I turned down dozens of dates. I knew I couldn’t be in a relationship if I didn’t love myself. I lost two years of my life in hiding.
And then I watched your film. I couldn’t believe it, because it went against everything I had learned in school. Being a biologist, I checked and rechecked a lot of the research in your film. I studied the pathways of the hormones and other metabolic processes. I couldn’t believe how all this information is just simply ignored. I ordered some of your recommended books such as Atkins, “Good Calories Bad Calories,” and “Protein Power.” I studied the low-carbohydrate lifestyle as if it were a college class. I realized that all the calorie-counting in the world would have never helped me. I was addicted to carbohydrates and I had no idea.
I followed the Atkins diet because I needed some guidelines to get me started. At the time, the low-carb lifestyle was a new concept to me. Now I write to you a little over 4 months later and 33 pounds lighter. I am 138 pounds and still dropping. I went from a size 14 to a size 6. I graduated with my biology degree in May and a new lease on life. I was able to lose 33 pounds without feeling hungry, weak, or resorting to unhealthy dieting methods. I am no longer depressed and chronically bloated. I don’t count calories, I have more energy, and I am no longer starving myself to lose weight.
It is because of you that I am living my life like a 25-year-old should. I am confident and happy. I still have more weight to lose; however, this is the first time in my life I can confidently say that I know I can lose the weight and keep it off forever. Now I work full-time as a secretary and a research assistant in a lab. I am currently shadowing a physician, and I applied to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. Four months ago I dreaded going to my interviews, but now I actually look forward to them. I hope to one day be a successful PA with a family of my own.
I have never written anyone before, but I needed to tell you my story. I know you must get e-mails like this all the time, and I don’t expect a reply. I just needed to thank you from the bottom of my heart. God bless you and your beautiful family.
God bless you too, Lorraine. Good luck with your career – and enjoy those new clothes!
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Not surprisingly, the U.S. grain industry isn’t happy with Dr. William Davis and his just-released book Wheat Belly. The Grain Foods Foundation responded to the book with a press release and a blog post explaining why we all need grains to be healthy. Here are some quotes from their blog post.
Don’t be fooled by catchy terms like “wheat belly” and “bagel butt”….a fad diet is still a fad diet, no matter how you dress it up.
That’s why I’m no longer on a low-fat, grain-based diet. What a stupid fad that was. Granted, I’d love to think avoiding the grains that make us fat and sick is the hottest new fad, but I’m pretty sure getting a tattoo on your (bagel) butt is still comfortably in the lead.
That’s exactly the story behind the new book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health that was released today.
Actually, the story behind Wheat Belly is that wheat (especially today’s genetically modified wheat) pretty much sucks from a health standpoint.
As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What exactly is “too good to be true” about telling people they’ll have to give up a food that makes up a major portion of their diets – a food many of them love? Dr. Davis has had people leave his office in tears after telling them they couldn’t handle wheat and needed to stop eating it. I doubt many of them were thinking, “Well, this is just too good to be true!”
Cutting out one specific food is not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous.
Really? So if I cut refined sugar from my diet, that would be dangerous? I’m a dead man walking.
Omitting wheat entirely removes the essential (and disease-fighting!) nutrients it provides including fiber, antioxidants, iron and B vitamins.
Ahhh, that would explain why humans became extinct during the hundreds of thousands of years we didn’t consume wheat. Thank goodness those friendly aliens came to earth, planted wheat fields, then resurrected human life from some DNA samples they’d kept frozen.
Besides this, the advice dished out by Dr. Davis is completely counter to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the gold standard of scientifically-sound nutrition advice.
Last time I checked, the gold standard in research consisted of randomized clinical studies in which the data actually supports the investigators’ conclusions. But if you folks want to re-define “gold standard” to consist of observational studies that often contradict the very advice they’re cited to support, be my guest … although I’d consider that more of a tin standard.
The Guidelines call for the average healthy American to consume six one-ounce servings of grain foods daily, half of which should come from whole grains and the other half from enriched grains.
So the government agency whose mission is to sell grains is telling us to eat grains. Well, that’s all the proof I need.
Wheat is the basis for a number of healthful whole and enriched grain foods including breads, cereal, pasta and wheat berries that provide valuable nutrients to the American diet and have been shown to help with weight maintenance.
Can’t argue with that one. Wheat will definitely help you maintain your weight … at, say, 40 pounds above where you’d like to be.
So, let common sense prevail. When it comes to nutrition advice, look to the real experts and remember that weight control is all about one key equation: calories in must equal calories out.
Use common sense? Look to the real experts? I thought you said you wanted us to listen to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee! Make up your minds already.
The good news is that there were dozens of comments on the post, nearly all of them negative, with many citing examples of how eliminating wheat caused health problems to vanish. Others pointed out that the Grain Foods Foundation didn’t actually dispute any of the science in Wheat Belly, which is true.
Dr. Davis wrote his own reply a few days later, which you can read here. As in the book, he made his arguments with logic and science. That prompted another reply by the Grain Foods Foundation:
Over the weekend we received a number of comments in response to our previous post, Our Perspective on “Wheat Belly” and we’d like to take a moment to address them.
Then why didn’t you? The rest of your post doesn’t answer any of the many criticisms leveled by people who left comments.
First, your comments weren’t being ignored. Comments on this blog are reviewed before they appear to prevent the posting of spam or profanity. There was no attempt to censor this feedback – our team was simply enjoying the long holiday weekend.
I’ll bet it was kind of depressing to enjoy a long weekend, then go to work on Tuesday and read dozens of comments left by people who basically kicked your bagel butts.
Second, there were comments questioning GFF’s funding sources. The Foundation is funded through voluntary donations from private grain-based companies and industry associations. However, any nutrition information we share is rooted in sound science and reviewed by independent nutrition experts from our Scientific Advisory Board.
Yes, I’m sure if your advisory board discovered, say, that celiac disease is five times more prevalent now than 50 years ago, they’d inform you immediately so you could bang out a press release announcing that you’ll stop producing mutant wheat.
Finally, some of you question the merit of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are the gold standard of nutrition guidance in America.
The only reason we question those guidelines is that there’s nothing scientific about them, as even one of the committee members later admitted.
They are the most comprehensive review of the existing literature and are updated every five years to reflect new research. Every recommendation we share is based on these Guidelines. It is the most credible information available and we will continue to rely on them for our recommendations.
Let’s see … a government agency whose mission is to sell grains releases new guidelines every five years telling us to eat lots of grains … boy, I’m just stunned that the Grain Foods Foundation would continue to rely on the USDA for dietary advice.
So here’s how I’ve got it on my scorecard: Dr. Davis landed a flurry of punches in the form of hundreds of studies and dozens of case histories from his own medical practice. The Grain Food Foundation’s only counter-punch was to remind us that the USDA recommends eating grains.
If this were a fight, the ref would’ve stopped it halfway through the first round.
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