Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wheat Belly

I was disappointed by this book.
It falls pretty squarely in the standard genre of "Do this one special thing PS Don't eat junk food"-diet books / programs that American doctors seem so fond of. And the diet he recommends people is pretty much lacto-paleo, primal diet - which is okay by me but if he had just mentioned that then all his readers would have a much easier time finding more recipes.
Apparently his reading of various studies was superficial enough for him to get several things wrong. Especially about going gluten-free and losing weight. You can find a critique here.

Okay, with that out of the way there were things I found interesting. For example I thought celiac disease was always accompanied by intestinal distress but apparently that's not the case. Good to know. But while 1-2% of the population being celiac is a lot (apparently about 1 in 10 are undiagnosed) that still leaves 98-99% of the population without celiac. Reading the book I get confused about what has to do with gluten grains in general and what has to do with celiac disease specifically.

There are things about this book I just don't get. When discussing whole grain vs refined grain he fails to mention that the epidemiological data that shows benefits from whole grain is based on populations that either ate one or the other - there's no comparison between grain and no grain - and the whole grain products available back then were oats and rye. Probably rolled oats and whole, soaked, sourdough rye black bread (not what Americans usually call rye which is a white, wheat bread with miniscule rye amounts). There wasn't any whole grain pasta and fake, whole grain, wheat bread. And even if you could have found some back then, not enough people were eating it for it to have impact on the hypotheses drawn from the epidemiological data. So he fails to point out the most damning evidence against wheat. At least he does mention Denise Minger and I think he must reference what she found in the China Study data: that wheat was the greatest predictor of disease and mortality of all the foods recorded in the China Study. And when people in China didn't eat wheat they replaced it with rice. So while the energy density is lower in cooked rice than in bread it probably isn't the tiny difference in carbohydrate intake that changed the statistics dramatically.
There are studies that can't find much difference between refined and whole grain. I should probably link more than one study here but I'm tired and can't be arsed.

William Davies means well but he comes off as narcissistic and unoriginal. The books is a bit boring at times, confusing at others (not that my writing is amazing but it's free and it hasn't been through an editor - heck I barely remember to edit it myself). Do not want.

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