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At Christmas I wrote a column, “All I Want for Christmas Is My Health Back,” and discussed the problems of wheat and the benefits of expunging wheat from your diet.

To recap briefly, today’s wheat contains three compounds not found in ancient wheat – amylopectin A, which produces autoimmune disease, a large fluffy starch particle that contributes to diabetes, and gluteo-morphine, which binds to opiate receptors in the brain literally making wheat an addictive substance resulting in overeating.

I gave out 40 copies of Dr. William Davis’ book, “Wheat Belly,” with the comment that this was one of the most important books written on health and wellness and that every doctor and patient should read it.

Here are the results:

One book recipient was a mother with an autistic 20-year-old daughter, and an 8-year-old son with digestive problems. The eight-year-old was the one short person in a tall family. The mother went wheat-free considering the possibility that the autism was a combination of wheat intolerance and the vaccinations that preceded the mental changes. She did not expect to see changes in the older autistic child who is high functioning, but because the brain is still developing somewhat at that age, she felt it to be a good idea. The profound change was in the 8-year-old, who had been having cramping and intermittent diarrhea. Suddenly his abdominal pain stopped, the bowel movements normalized, and now, several months later he is shooting up onto the growth chart. The difference is so great that the child himself never wants to eat wheat again, recognizing that any infraction doubles him over in pain and precipitates diarrhea.

She passed her book onto a teacher who had been treated for years by multiple gastrointestinal specialists for Crohn’s disease. The woman had been treated with steroids and other medications and had long fought obesity.

The book giver’s admonition was, “Why not? You have nothing to lose.”

The teacher read the book and went wheat-free. Within a month, all bleeding from her bowel stopped, she had lost weight and felt healthy again. She asked her doctor to test her for gluten (wheat) intolerance, but he refused saying, “You don’t have that.”

Later, she asked him again, and because the results of wheat abstinence were so profound, he relented and tested her. Her test was positive even though she is not the classic medical profile of gluten enteropathy. Physicians expect to see thin people who get diarrhea when ingesting wheat and whose bowels show “flattened villae,” the classic pathologic changes associated with celiac disease (wheat/gluten intolerance). She had none of these things but was profoundly affected by wheat ingestion.

An OR nurse’s 2 1/2-year-old grandson had long standing abdominal discomfort and was not thriving. He had been taken to multiple physicians without a diagnosis to explain the constant symptoms. As a result of the book and discussions in the OR, the nurse suggested to her daughter that she make her grandson wheat-free, with the same admonition, “Why not? You have nothing to lose.”

Within a week all symptoms were gone.

A contractor at the hospital read his book, and although he didn’t feel he was sick in any way, he went wheat-free for wellness reasons. Within three months he had lost 22 pounds and four inches off his waist without changing his workouts or consciously changing anything else in his diet.

And finally me. I went wheat-free in December 2012. Since that time I have gone from a size 12 to a size 8, losing 10 pounds but adding muscle. I did that without any change to my workout routine or other conscious eating changes. I don’t have the desire to snack. My appetite is much less, and I simply cannot eat as large a meal as I did before. I was never a big bread eater, and generally limited wheat products, but it was the total abstinence that made the difference – probably by stopping the activation of the brain opiate receptors that cause food craving.

One doctor said he was impressed with the book, but had not completely eliminated wheat in his diet, but so far no big shock waves from my colleagues. I, on the other hand, feel like Dorothy when suddenly she saw colors in Oz. The world is making sense to me. I have started seeing the correlation between illness and wheat ingestion, as my sickest patients are the ones who profess to be “big bread eaters.”

Wouldn’t it be something if after years of research, billions in dollars and millions of pages of journal paper, we discover the simple truth that getting wheat out of our diet eliminates most diseases of Western civilization? It could be that easy.

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