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Dr. William Davis wages wheat-free war for weight loss: 'Wheat is an opiate'

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Want to lose weight and feel great? You can do it by giving up wheat from your diet, cardiologist Dr. William Davis told CBS News on Dec. 30. Together with investigative reporter Michael Moss, he discussed why that universal grain just may cause so many problems when it comes to weight and health.

Wheat stimulates the appetite, according to Dr. Davis, author of "Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health." He goes one step further, contending that manufacturers put wheat in processed foods to cause cravings.

Wheat is "inflammatory, raises blood sugar and it has its own built-in opiate – and this opiate drives appetite,” he said. “It’s in everything now - it’s in virtually all processed foods – I would argue it’s there on purpose to drive appetites."

Agreeing with him: Moss, author of "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us." And Moss is concerned about those products labeled gluten-free, manufactured to omit wheat while sometimes adding more sugar and salt as a result.

"Gluten-free has become the new organic, natural, artisan, added calcium- these sort of health watching come-ons that are on products that are still loaded with salt, sugar, fat," warns Moss.

"So, if you’re looking to diet, it’s becoming even more treacherous to find products that are truly healthier for you.”

And, says Dr. Davis, not only do you need to be cautious of those gluten-free products: Thanks to the addictive nature of wheat, prepare for withdrawal pains when you ban the bread.

“Five days or so of misery, nausea, headache, cravings, etc – you get through it,” he declared. “Everyone survives and you feel absolutely wonderful and the weight for the majority of people melts off.”

So what should you eat? Dr. Davis and Moss concur that unprocessed foods score high on the scale for health and weight loss.

"Maximize vegetables and whole fruits” in your diet, said Moss. And he recommends shopping carefully.

“When you look at the grocery store, spend more time on the perimeter where the produce is and be really careful when you walk into the center of the store - looking at shelves at eye-level – that’s where they put the most sugar, fat products.”

In addition, Dr. Davis said he recognizes people seek convenience. Just be careful about products that replace wheat with food starch such as tapioca.

"Nobody should be eating those things because they raise blood pressure, have all these consequences for health including weight gain," he noted. He's created a new wheat-free recipe book that focuses on ease of preparation to address the need for convenience: "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."

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