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Old 09-27-2011, 09:44 AM   #1
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Default Wheat Belly

The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. » Wheat Belly

We traded a diet based primarily on fat and protein with a little carbohydrate thrown in from roots, shoots and tubers for one centered predominantly on carbohydrate. The main source of the carbohydrate was cereal grains, chiefly ancient forms of wheat, the predecessor of the wheat that now occupies a large part of the human diet everywhere. Ancient forms of wheat didn’t do our forebears a lot of good, and, according to Dr. William Davis’s new book Wheat Belly, the modern forms of the grain do us even less good.
Wheat is the primary grain used in U.S. grain products. Approximately three-quarters of all U.S. grain products are made from wheat flour.

More food is made with wheat than any other cereal grain.

U.S. Farmers grow nearly 2.4 billion bushels of wheat on 63 million acres of land.

About half the wheat grown in the United States is used domestically.
As Dr. Davis tells it, the hybridization of wheat came about in an effort to improve yield, which is now about tenfold greater per acre than it was a century ago. Older strains of wheat were taller and more prone to damage from wind and rain. And

When large quantities of nitrogen-rich fertilizer are applied to wheat fields, the seed head at the top of the plant grows to enormous proportions. The top-heavy seed head, however, buckles the stalk. Buckling kills the plant and makes harvesting problematic. A University of Minnesota-trained geneticist…is credited with developing the exceptionally high-yielding dwarf wheat that was shorter and stockier, allowing the plant to maintain erect posture and resist buckling under the large seed head. Tall stalks are also inefficient; short stalks reach maturity more quickly, which means a shorter growing season with less fertilizer required to generate the otherwise useless stalk.
Dr. Davis writes that modern wheat is approximately 70 percent carbohydrate by weight. The carbohydrate is in the form of a starch called amylopectin A.

The most digestible form of amylopectin, amylopectin A, is the form found in wheat. Because it is the most digestible, it is the form that most enthusiastically increases blood sugar. This explains why, gram for gram, wheat increases blood sugar to a greater degree than, say, kidney beans or potato chips. The amylopectin A of wheat products, “complex” or no, might be regarded as a supercarbohydrate, a form of highly digestible carbohydrate that is more efficiently converted to blood sugar than nearly all the other carbohydrate foods, simple or complex. [Italics in the original.]

But what about the much vaunted whole grains. Won’t ‘whole grain’ bread or wheat products be better? Not according to Dr. Davis:

…the degree of processing, from a blood sugar standpoint, makes little difference: Wheat is wheat, with various forms of processing or lack of processing, simple or complex, high-fiber or low-fiber, all generating similar high blood sugars. Just as “boys will be boys,” amylopectin A will be amylopectin A. In healthy, slender volunteers, two medium-sized slices of whole wheat bread increase blood sugar by 30 mg/dl (from 93 to 123 mg/dl), no different from white bread. In people with diabetes, both white and whole grain bread increase blood sugar 70 to 120 mg/dl over starting levels.

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