Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Dr. William Davis, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Dr. Davis, cardiologist, and author of 'Wheat Belly' and 'Undoctored', discusses why wheat is inflammatory to the body.
William Davis - Part 1
William Davis: Thanks to some of the research being done by Dr. Fasano at University of Maryland, now at Harvard, is that the gliadin protein in wheat and related proteins in grains like the secalin in rye, the hordein in barley, and the zein in corn, he did magnificent detailed work to show that the intestinal cells, the tight junctions, the little barrier between cells is open, physically opened by the gliadin protein much like the cholera toxin, by the way. Cholera, of course, is fatal, and it causes horrendous diarrhea, gallons of diarrhea per day, and people die of [inaudible ] dehydration.
Well, a similar mechanism is exerted by the gliadin protein of wheat and related grains, and it opens the intestinal barriers. Now it doesn’t cause diarrhea, it can, but it allows entry of foreign substances such as gliadin itself, other components of wheat like wheat germ and gluten, fragments of gliadin, gliadin-derived peptides. It allows bacterial background products. A big one is lipopolysaccharide, which is a common breakdown product. It’s highly inflammatory if it gets in the bloodstream, and gliadin allows that to happen.
One of the consequences of the many different compounds that gain entry into the bloodstream and lymph system, etc., is their mimicry. There are things that get through that look something like human proteins. That human protein looks something like a protein say in the liver, you can get auto-immune hepatitis. If it looks like a protein in part of your pancreas, you can get auto-immune pancreatitis or Type I diabetes. It’s not responsible for all auto- immune diseases. No one quite knows yet what percentage, but it’s probably a very big number.
Judging by how many people who have established auto-immune diseases, and many people have several by the time, how many enjoy partial to complete remission with taking some basic steps like wheat and grain elimination. Vitamin D is also a very, very powerful factor, as is bowel flora. Judging by what we see and how many people reversed their auto-immune disease, I think that the percentage of people who have auto-immune diseases initiated by grain consumption is a very large number.
Jonathan: Dr. Davis, I’m curious when it comes to wheat. Today, it appears to me that it’s worse than ever. For me, it’s questionable looking back through history as to was it as bad or as toxic in the past or is it the ratios that was consumed? I’m personally led to believe that there’s things being done to the wheat today to either make it injurious, whereas, it wasn’t before or wasn’t as much, so what’s your take on that, and especially what do you see that’s being done to the wheat that is particularly harmful when it comes to auto-immunity?
William Davis: Well, it’s been clear for many years actually to the anthropologists who don’t really talk to us about nutrition very much, but they’ve known for decades, literally, that traditional strains of grains, particularly wheat, have had adverse effects on humans who consumed it. What happened, if you asked an anthropologist what happened to the first humans who consumed the seeds of grasses that’s wheat, in this case einkorn wheat. That’s the ancestral form of wheat that grew wild in the Middle East. What happened to those humans? Well, before the consumption of grains, tooth decay was almost unknown. One to 3% of all teeth recovered prior to the consumption of grains showed decay or abscess or loss.
When grains were added, 16 to 49% of teeth showed decay or abscess formation, and misalignment. Humans shrunk for a few centuries. Men, on average, five inches. Women lost three inches because of gain consumption is not nutritious, actually anti-nutritious. Something called phytates for instance that block nutrient absorption of grains, so this notion that you must eat grains for nutrition is complete nonsense. There was a doubling of knee arthritis. There was explosion in nutritional deficiencies, especially iron deficiency because you can see that in the bones. It’s called porotic hyperostosis.
In other words, consumption of grains, traditional grains, caused a lot of problems. If we now talk about modern grains, we now see that grains have been dramatically changed by geneticists, by agribusiness. Wheat, for instance, now is not the 4-1/2 foot tall traditional plant we think of. It’s an 18-inch tall, what’s call the high-yield semi-dwarf strain. It stands about knee high. It’s thick, short. It has very large seeds, a long seed head, and the farmers love it because it increases yield as much as 8 fold per acre compared to some of the traditional strains. Virtually, all modern wheat ... not all but virtually all modern wheat is now the high-yield, semi-dwarf strain of wheat. That’s very, very different.
There’s a whole catalog of changes introduced. Just the fact that it’s so different looking, of course, suggests it’s genetically different, but for instance, modern wheat has been enriched and wheat germ and glutenin. That’s a protein that’s indigestible to humans and it’s very toxic to the gastrointestinal track. The reason why it’s been enriched, that is the content increased, is because it’s a very effected pest-resistant protein. It keeps molds, bugs from eating the wheat plant, so farmers, geneticists, selected trains with high wheat germ and glutenin content, but it made wheat more toxic.
They choose strains that are richer in phytates because phytates likewise are pest resistant. Now its grains are much more rich in phytates, but phytates bind all calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, almost all in your intestinal track. That’s why we have a lot of iron deficiency anemia, zinc deficiency, magnesium deficiency, and inability to absorb calcium because of grain consumption. The gliadin protein, people say gluten, but a better way of thinking about grains is gliadin of, and gliadin is a component of gluten, but gliadin has been changed dramatically. It amplified its opioid effects. That is, gliadin can’t be digested by humans fully. It’s broken down into pieces. Those pieces bind to the human brain, the opiate receptors, and has peculiar effects.
In people with schizophrenia it causes auditory hallucinations, hearing voices. It causes paranoia. In kids with autistic spectrum disorder, it causes behavioral outbursts, and it reduces attention span. In people with a tendency towards depression, it triggers depression. In people with bi-polar illness, it can trigger the mania. In people with suicidal tendency, it triggers suicidal thoughts. In people with binge eating disorder, or bulimia, it triggers food obsession, 24 hour a day food sessions.
Now, in you and me who don’t have those conditions it only triggers appetite. It causes us to consume on average 400 to 800 calories more per day mostly in carbohydrate and junk foods, so the consumption of wheat perpetuates the consumption of wheat. It gives people this kind of, addictive need. You see those people who push each other out of the way at the All-You-Can-Eat food bar, those are grain eaters. The people who don’t eat grains are often indifferent, and don’t care to eat that much. Often forget to eat. I’ve gotten up in the morning, for instance, a little bit hungry. I think, why am I a little hungry? I forgot to eat dinner last night. Very common, or something like that. The contour of appetite changes dramatically when you get rid of the [gliadintride ] opioid peptides.
But modern wheat changed the gliadin protein. The gliadin is different. The gluten, the bigger protein, is also very different. Wheat germ and gluten has been enriched. Phytates have been enriched. There are numerous other changes that have been introduced to the modern wheat and related grains that amplified its toxic effects. Another effect is the use of herbicides, pesticides. Of course, at the top of the list is glyphosate. Glyphosate of course, is used in genetically modified, and that is genetically engineered corn and soy. Now, the agribusiness is very good at saying, “Well wheat is not genetically modified.” What they mean is no genetic engendering was used to insert or delete a gene. What they don’t tell you is much more intrusive.
Radical techniques were used to change wheat, such as chemical mutagenesis. The use of chemicals, gamma rays, or X-rays, to induce mutations. The problem, you can’t select your mutation. You just blast the thing, and you get dozens of hundreds of mutations. You do it over and over and over, and trial and error generate the strain changes you want. That’s what’s being sold now, so that modern wheat is the end product of numerous, rather radical changes in its genetics, but it yields more per acre, but it amplified all the toxic effects on humans. It took something that was not good for us, and had harmful effects, but amplified it dramatically.