Wheat Belly

Despite the fact that my love of food brought me to this research, some of my findings are pushing me away from the foods I’ve always loved. During a conversation with some family friends in New Orleans over genetically modified foods, I was begged to read Wheat Belly, a book that our family friends claimed had changed their lives. I borrowed the New York Times Bestseller and took it with me on a beach vacation to New Jersey, hoping that I would have some valuable time on the beach to knock out a few books on my list. Despite the novels emphasis on weight loss, there are some scary truths hidden in these now sand-ridden pages. In Wheat Belly, cardiologist William Davis details the changes that science has brought to modern wheat over the past fifty years, namely changing the fourteen-chromosome wild grass that our bodies are used to into a forty-two chromosome dwarf-sized excuse for wheat that is unable to survive in the wild without human intervention. This new wheat, he argues, is uniquely responsible for causing harms to our digestive system, blood sugar, pH, skin, heart and brain. This new “wheat” grew out of an effort by Dr. Borlaug in hopes of relieving world hunger by manufacturing a wheat that produced a higher yield (hence the shorter “dwarf” stalk). The scary evidence is that this new genetically modified wheat was introduced to the public market without any human or animal testing. It is only now, as celiac disease is on the rise (fourfold over the past fifty years) that individuals are beginning to question the potential complications that this “wheat” brings. I’m having a difficult time eating all the pasta dishes that I learned how to while in Berkeley! I hope that soon this book will go along with Food Inc., Fast Food Nation, and The Jungle into the category of information that managed to influence my diet but then eventually allowed it to return to normal. Part of research is reading the other side of the argument, even if that means not being able to stomach a hamburger for a few days. What is fascinating though, is the criticism that the author brings to our praised notion of “eat more healthy whole grains”. By claiming that the obesity problem in America is a result of this fake “wheat” that we are eating, Dr. Davis’ assertion mocks the advice of the American Heart Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Wheat Belly may not be the Bible as moms are praising it to be, but it certainly adds another lens with which to look at the death of the agrarian lifestyle and obesity in America.


  1. jkfsummer2012 says:

    The use of genetically modified food is definitely a relevant issue especially considering that the world population is currently estimated to be a little more than 7 billion. With a growing population and fewer resources available increasing yield is necessary to feed the world population. While I do believe that researching the effects of the consumption of genetically modified food is important before releasing it to the pubic, I also believe that the use of such food might be necessary to prevent millions of deaths from starvation. Although I have not read this book, I have read articles in favor and against the use of genetically modified foods. Obviously more research needs to be done to conclusively determine whether the consumption of such foods have harmful effects.

  2. Your project in general seems really fascinating, and a lot of fun. One aspect of nutrition that I’ve been thinking about and that you seem to touch on, is exactly HOW healthy we can be. There seems to be more and more evidence that a lot of the foods that we eat, including wheat, are harmful to our systems. So how do we navigate all of these warnings in order to find the best possible diet for our bodies? Or at what point do we give up to a certain extent, and maybe focus more on moderation/balance.