PHOENIX -- Could "healthy whole wheat" be making us as a nation not only fat, but sick? It's the central question posed by the controversial bestseller book "Wheat Belly."
Laurie May Brown is learning a whole new way of cooking and eating. A new way that doesn't include wheat isn't easy. But the decision to stick with avoiding the gluten in wheat that bothers her is. She eliminated it from her diet in July after reading "Wheat Belly" and consulting with a naturopath. Since then, she said "I make everything from scratch. Nothing processed. No sugar."
According to the book's cardiologist-author, Dr. William Davis, she is on the right track. "Wheat Belly" continues to generate legions of fans and critics with his conclusions that the "healthy whole grains" we are urged to consume as part of a balanced diet are "incredibly destructive genetic monsters." He claims hundreds of his patients have lost weight and recovered from everything from arthritis to asthma, from acid reflux to ADHD.
Laurie May's story reads like one out of his book. She was healthy until turning 50 five years ago and landing in the hospital with severe stomach pain that was ultimately diagnosed as ulcerative colitis, a serious autoimmune diseases. "For five years, I've felt awful -- tired, depressed, everything ached all the time," she said. "I felt sick all the time."
In frustration, and after many doctor visits and prescribed drugs, Laurie May reluctantly decided to try a Phoenix naturopath. Dr. Toni Vaughn said she sees a lot of people like Laurie May who just don't feel well and consider her office a last resort. Often, the first step is an elimination diet, which removes the foods that most often bother people. According to Dr. Vaughn, "The ones that are at the top of the list: wheat, dairy and gluten, soy, sometimes sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, eggs. So, the common allergens."
Dr. Vaughn said the most common culprit is the gluten in wheat. Even registered dietitian Patti Milligan agrees many people may be unaware that what's wrong with them may be related to wheat. Milligan said "Symptoms like bloatedness, even like a brain fog, a general fatigue, even though you sleep, you don't feel that good, your energy dips through the day. Sometimes it can even show up on skin conditions."
Laurie May, meantime, spent a tough 17 days on Dr. Vaughn's elimination diet, feeling even worse than before. Finally, she started to improve. Now, she said she feels like a different person. Her all-over joint pain is gone, along with her digestive problems and her blood pressure is down. Plus, she has the energy to do the things she used to before her health crash five years ago. "There's no going back for me," she said, adding she truly isn't even tempted to eat food with wheat in it. "My husband said 'I'm so glad to have my wife back!'"
To read more about "Wheat Belly" check out Dr. Davis' blog: