When I got invited to “experience wheatlessness” at the kickoff dinner for Dr. William Davis’ upcoming Wheat Belly Live Canadian tour, I jumped at the chance. Off I went to 7 Numbers restaurant on the Danforth to join a bunch of fellow bloggers, including my GFF Lisa Cantkier from GlutenFreeFind.com, for a grain-free dinner and to meet the good doctor in the flesh.
If there’s anybody out there who hasn’t heard of Dr. Davis, here’s the lowdown: A Milwaukee cardiologist, Dr. Davis felt compelled to share the stories of his many patients who made one change to their diets—they ditched the wheat—and turned their health around. His wheat-free patients were seeing their ailments—from gastrointestinal issues to high blood sugar to diabetes to depression and anxiety to asthma to joint pain—disappear. As a result, many were able to ditch their medications as well. So Dr. Davis wrote the book Wheat Belly, which became so popular that it wound up a #1 New York Times bestseller. With a huge following (more than 78,000 Facebook fans, many of whom share their stunning stories of transformation), Wheat Belly has gone from an international bestseller to a movement being embraced by people all over the globe!
Now Dr. Davis is taking Wheat Belly on the road across Canada to educate people about how this shift in their diet can change their lives. It’s not a simple shift for everyone, as many people are “addicted” to their daily bread and other wheat-containing products and reluctant to give them up. Indeed, Dr. Davis argues that the changed components of modern wheat stimulate appetite, making us want to consume more wheat products! But the wheat-free lifestyle is about more than just abstinence; it’s about understanding the food we eat and our relationship to it. Wheat Belly has sparked a reconsideration of the conventional notion to “eat more healthy whole grains.” This is something I admire Dr. Davis for: He questions and challenges conventional dietary advice. And, apparently, for good reason.
I’ve read the book and certainly found it compelling but to hear Dr. Davis speak in person is to hear a man speak passionately about what he has witnessed firsthand in his own practice and beyond. And it’s pretty powerful stuff. There is something profound about anecdotal experience; its role in health care should not be underestimated. Before my daughter was diagnosed with celiac and I started the Gluten Free Garage, I worked in the HIV field, as an editor at POZ magazine, the leading publication for people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Back in the early days of AIDS, before the science existed, anecdotal information was a crucial part of the puzzle, as it was the only thing that clinicians and researchers had to go on. Dr. Davis puts his money where his mouth is: As part of his ongoing research to document the adverse health effects of wheat, he has founded the Wheat Free Research and Education Foundation, to fund research and provide education and information to the public.
For what it’s worth, in my experience giving up gluten, I’ve seen my own wheat belly shrink considerably and my asthma symptoms have improved so that I haven’t had to use my puffer in months. At the media dinner, Dr. Davis, looking lean and fit himself, sat at our table and answered our questions. We all got to talking about diabetes and Dr. Davis said something that triggered an “aha” moment for me: Type 1 diabetes is a disease of wheat consumption, and adult onset type 1 diabetes is almost always celiac disease. My grandfather had type 1 diabetes…little lightbulbs were going off in my head and I’m still digesting much of what Dr. Davis said.
I’m excited for the opportunity to hear more food for thought when the Wheat Belly Live tour hits Toronto on November 1st. Dr. Davis will be joined by holistic nutritionist Julie Daniluk, author of Meals that Heal Inflammation. For a taste of Dr. Davis and his Wheat Belly findings, check out this recent interview he did with Julie.