The Trouble With Wheat #1: Redefinition of Obesity

December 20, 2011

The Trouble With Wheat #1:  Redefinition of Obesity 

 Reference:  Eric Westman, MD Duke University Weight Loss Clinic 

 We have always defined obesity as YOUR problem.  You got fat because you ate too much and were lazy!  That definition doesn’t get us very far because all of us are now fat.   I bet most of you don’t think of yourselves as lazy.  So, we come up with simplistic answers like, “you are fat, therefore, don’t eat fat”.  In 1978, our food guidelines from our own government came out with the biggest public health disaster in modern history.  We said to stop eating fat and stoke up on healthy carbs.   As many as you want.  

Our FDA said it so our Diabetes Association, our Dieticians, our American Heart association all chanted the same mantra.  You get fat because you eat too much fat.  And in the next thirty years, we all cut down on our fat, and got fatter. Someone needs to tell the Emperor that his clothes don’t fit!  In fact, that theory is dead wrong.  There is now an emerging consensus from both research on humans and population studies all around the world in “non-obese” populations that we get fat when we eat our unique, Western, wheat, and processed carb (including sugar) diet dominated diet.  I’m going to discuss this for a couple of newsletters, but first, we are going to start with a new definition of obesity and how you got there.  Then, I’m going to prove it to you!  If it’s outrageous and different enough, we’ll both learn something here.  So, bear with me and enjoy this ride. 

 Here goes.  # 1 What is obesity?  Dr Westman proposes that it is a disorder of excessive fat accumulation.  NOT overeating, NOT energy balance, NOT sedentary behavior.  You are accumulating fat because your hormonal response to the food you eat is all messed up by insulin sensitivity.  YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME! #2:  The PRIMARY DEFECT is in the body, NOT the brain.  Our fat tissue is tightly regulated with incredible sensitivity to our insulin levels.  That’s what’s messed up. Our bodies think we are hibernating for winter, and store calories willy-nilly. #3  OVEREATING and SEDENTARY behaviors are COMPENSATORY, not primary behaviors.  

We’ve had chicken and egg turned around.   We eat to keep up with our fat tissue accumulating fat.  We rest because we are exhausted, and don’t have the energy to exercise.   Your calories are all going to fat, and not to energy.  You get starving hungry so you eat again, and again, and again.  And when you eat wheat, you force yourself to release insulin, store more calories and get fatter. #4  THE CORE PROBLEM is that insulin is exquisitely capable of defining how much fat we either STORE or BURN.  Hence, if we force ourselves to secrete insulin, we lock up fat calories, and force ourselves to put on weight.   

We’ve had our strategies all backward because we based them on the concept that we simply have to eat less not realizing the incredible power of appetite to drive our behavior.  We have to change the food we eat to get away from the vicious circle.  And wheat sits at the center of that circle.  That’s just one of the problems with wheat.  There are more. We are doing it to ourselves, that we must admit.  But it has been upon the advice of all our experts from the FDA, to the ADA, to the American Heart Association to EAT MORE WHOLE GRAINs.  And that means eat more wheat.  Next week: a whole new world.  “The problem with wheat”. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  The bread of life.  Wheat is a problem.  It makes us sick.  It makes us fat.  It forces us to secrete insulin.  I will posit that obesity is chronically elevated insulin secondary to fat cells becoming too large, secondary to too much stimulation to store calories from processed food, of which wheat is the core problem.   You are no longer metabolically "obese" when your A1c is below 5.6, your CRP is below 1, your triglycerides are below 100 and your insulin is below 5.   Now that I have your attention, I’ll show you how in about 5-6 newsletters.  We will learn more about “the trouble with wheat”.   You got fat because the food we have invented in the 20th century is poisoning you in unique ways that play upon the core mechanisms of our metabolism.  You need to understand those mechanisms and how to get around it.  But it all starts with wheat. 

Pop Quiz

1.   Wheat is the staff of life, the food of the Bible, the core of our human food chain.  It can't be bad, can it?               Answer:  Pay attention and read this column again, and the next 6 weeks.

2.   According to Dr Westman, obesity is what?                  Answer: Excessive fat storage caused by insulin.

3.   What happens to your insulin and your weight if you stop eating wheat ?      Answer:  Stay tuned.  (Hint, you will lose weight)

4.   The hypothesis is that obesity is an endocrine disorder caused by our food supply?  T or F

Answer:  In a nutshell.   

 Written by John Whitcomb, MD  Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic, 17575 W North Ave, # 160 Milwaukee, WI 53045   262-784-5300