Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular, with consumers declaring war on wheat for reason ranging from weight loss to allergies. But what should you eat instead? Dr. Mehmet Oz and his colleague Dr. Mike Roizen answered that question and also explained why eliminating gluten can be so helpful in a recent column. Plus: Get insights from Dr. William Davis on the dangers of wheat, and how banning it from your life can help you lose weight and benefit your well-being.
Three different categories of people can benefit from going gluten-free, say Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen:
- About 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease. An autoimmune disorder, it causes a reaction to gluten that damages to the small intestine and malabsorption of nutrients, and can lead to osteoporosis, brain fog and other complications. And the search for an accurate diagnosis can be difficult and painful. For an insightful, in-depth look at what involves and how to take control of your condition, we recommend the beautifully written new book by actress Jennifer Esposito: "Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again" (click for details).
- An estimated 18 million suffer from a gluten or wheat sensitivity that triggers headaches, tiredness, inflammation, joint pain and digestive discomfort. Some say that eliminating all grains can help reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases. For guidance on how to achieve that goal and what to eat instead, we recommend "Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great" by Danielle Walker.
- And even if you don't have a problem with gluten, experimenting with certain gluten-free foods can benefit your health and even boost weight loss. The key: Eat whole versions, not processed gluten-free foods that often have added sugar.
When it comes to weight loss, Dr. William R. Davis is one of the world's leading experts in how and why banning wheat is essential. He's the author of "Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health" and "Wheat Belly 30-Minute (Or Less!) Cookbook: 200 Quick and Simple Recipes to Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health."
In an interview with the Atlantic, Dr. Davis explained how wheat makes us fat.
Two slices of whole wheat bread increase blood sugar to a higher level than a candy bar does. And then, after about two hours, your blood sugar plunges and you get shaky, your brain feels foggy, you're hungry. So let's say you have an English muffin for breakfast. Two hours later you're starving, so you have a handful of crackers, and then some potato chips, and your blood sugar rises again. That cycle of highs and lows just keeps going throughout the day, so you're constantly feeling hungry and constantly eating. Dieticians have responded to this by advising that we graze throughout the day, which is just nonsense. If you eliminate wheat from your diet, you're no longer hungry between meals because you've stopped that cycle. You've cut out the appetite stimulant, and consequently you lose weight very quickly. I've seen this with thousands of patients.
And giving up the wheat provides benefits beyond weight loss, says Dr. Davis. You'll think more clearly and get relief from symptoms such as bloating and acid reflux.
As for the term "wheat belly," Dr. Davis refers to the belly bulge as well as "the fat around your internal organs. And as visceral fat accumulates, you risk responses like diabetes and heart disease," he warns.
Eliminating gluten in today's world isn't easy. Bread baskets routinely are brought to the restaurant table and birthdays are highlighted with enormous cakes, making those with conditions related to gluten feel like a misfit. But with the increasing awareness of celiac disease, more people are aware that saying "I can't eat foods with gluten" isn't just being a picky eater. Get information about a recent study regarding non-celiac gluten intolerance by clicking here.