Review: “Wheat Belly” by William Davis

Thumbs up for Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis. Health.

Another book I wish I could make everyone I meet read. (“Hey you! You with the acne! And you, who’s tired all the time! And you with the IBS! Take this book – please!”) I bought this book initially because it seemed to contain some information about the genetic changes wheat underwent some decades ago, a topic I was interested in due to rumors that some gluten-sensitive Americans could eat wheat in Europe without ill effects. Well, it did cover the topic of modern wheat hybridization in depth; Europe vs the US wasn’t touched on but that’s okay, because frankly the extent of the information in the rest of the book was sufficient to tip me over the edge from “I’ve seen some data that make me think wheat is not healthy” to “DON’T FREAKING EAT WHEAT IT IS BAD BAD BAD whether you are gluten-sensitive, have outright celiac disease, are asthmatic epileptic diabetic overweight have heart disease thyroid problems or appear to be in perfect health.” Wheat Belly is the best discussion I’ve ever seen of wheat’s horrific effects on insulin (and thus weight), appetite, the brain, the skin, you name it. There was so much information in here I’d never seen before. I was impressed after reading just one chapter. I fell in love when the author had a sidebar with graphs from Denise Minger. But for me, the best paragraph was one near the end. Backstory: When I was 22 I had long, frequent déjà vus – several a day – that would turn into panic attacks, which is ridiculous because I am the least panicky person I know. As Wikipedia says, “The strongest pathological association of déjà vu is with temporal lobe epilepsy.” I wasn’t officially diagnosed as having TLE, but the déjà vus went away when I started taking an antiepileptic, which kind of says it all as far as I’m concerned. And here you have it, the final nail in my personal wheat coffin:

Gluten sensitivity can also show itself as seizures. The seizures that arise in response to wheat tend to occur in young people, often teenagers. The seizures are typically of the temporal lobe variety – i.e., originating in the temporal lobe of the brain, just beneath the ears. People with temporal lobe seizures experience hallucinations of smell and taste, odd and inappropriate emotional feelings such as overwhelming fear for no cause, and repetitive behaviors such as smacking the lips of hand movements. A peculiar syndrome of temporal lobe seizures unresponsive to seizure medications and triggered by calcium deposition in a part of the temporal lobe called the hippocampus (responsible for forming new memories) has been associated with both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity (positive antigliaden antibodies and HLA markers without intestinal disease).

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