To lose weight, consider that visceral fat – what has come to be known as “wheat belly” – produces its own hormones. This means the squishy stuff around the center of the body is actually working as an additional gland, barking out orders to the rest of the body, most of which are directives to create more fat. This additional set of instructions can be confusing and create a body “ecosystem” that is not in balance.
Also known as “beer belly,” visceral fat/wheat belly is not the same as subcutaneous fat, which sits just beneath the skin. It is the fat that accumulates around middle organs like the stomach, liver and intestines. Weight loss can occur when either type of fat is lessened.
Obese people carry both kinds of fat, subcutaneous and visceral. Besides the obvious aesthetic issues and health threats, the striking thing about visceral fat is that it actually has become another gland in the body. It secretes hormones into the body that act on the immune system, thus creating even more fat to store. All of this conspires to produce low-level yet chronic inflammation throughout the entire body and this can be the cause of various autoimmune disorders.
Today’s wheat (which is far different than that of our ancestors) takes much of the blame for today’s obesity epidemic, says Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly. Other diseases related to visceral fat, he says, include dementia, high blood sugar, and heart disease. One serving of whole wheat bread (not to be confused with whole grain bread) carries a higher glycemic load than table sugar. A Snickers bar reportedly has a higher glycemic index whole wheat.
According to anti-wheat belly proponents, much of the difficulty in weight loss has not so much been because we are eating more wheat, but that today’s wheat has been highly engineered over the last 50 years and is simply not what it used to be. It is the result of extensive hybridization, a process which has outpaced the human ability to adapt.
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig PhD, researchers with the Weston A. Price Foundation, found that sprouted grains can be a help because they have a lower glycemic index than grains that have not been sprouted. The enzymes in sprouted grains break down many of the grains’ normally harmful ingredients, such as gluten. Look for the “Ezekiel” type breads.
What can be done: Sprouted grain may be “not as bad” but researchers agree that the elimination of all wheat is most helpful. This means bread, pasta, cereal, and scores of commercial food products. Avoid all products containing wheat, they say, and also those with rye, barley, oats, and spelt.
Dr. Davis warns it will not help weight loss if the grains above are simply replaced by products advertised as “gluten-free.” He suggests that a change in body composition requires a fundamental change in diet and thus lifestyle. It turns out that products promoted as gluten-free can invoke the same blood sugar response as gluten. Such gluten-free, but nevertheless not helpful, ingredients include seemingly innocuous starches, such as rice, corn, potato, or tapioca.
For weight loss and general health Davis and others recommend a diet dominated by vegetables, low-glycemic fruits such as berries, apples and oranges, raw nuts, plant-derived oils such as olive, avocado and coconut, humanely raised meat and eggs, and full-fat cheese.
The following are suggested to be removed from the diet: sweet foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, sugar or sucrose, along with salt, soda, beans, dried fruit, fruit juice, and white potatoes. Not surprisingly, in order to lose weight and lose the wheat belly, fried foods and cured meats are to be eliminated and wheat-brewed beers are definite no-nos.
By Gregory Baskin