Body Ecology, Inc.

Do You Have a Wheat Belly?

Wheat belly is a term that describes what is otherwise known as visceral fat. Who gets wheat belly? Well, certainly those who eat wheat. (1) And what exactly is wheat belly? Wheat belly is another way of saying “beer belly” or belly fat.

Essentially, it is a special kind of fat tissue that wraps around the organs in the abdominal cavity, like the kidneys, the intestines, the liver… you get the idea. What makes this fat tissue so interesting is that wheat belly fat, or visceral fat, is an endocrine organ all on its own.

Wheat Belly Fat Releases Hormone Signals

A lot of science has done the work to show that visceral fat, the fat surrounding organs in the abdominal cavity, is very much like any other gland in the endocrine system.

  • This means that visceral fat produces it own hormones and messages.
  • Other organs that release hormone signals are glands such as the ovaries, testes, pancreas, the adrenals, and the pituitary gland in the brain.
  • Visceral fat is not the same as subcutaneous fat, which sits just beneath the skin.
The messages and signals released from fat tissue are pathogenic. Which means that many of the messages promote disease.

So, not only is visceral fat cumbersome, it is also dangerous! We now know that visceral fat:

  • Can’t get rid of that extra belly fat no matter how hard you try? It may be caused by wheat belly, pro-inflammatory visceral fat that promotes disease!

    Controls signaling related to appetite.

  • Generates insulin resistance, which is a prerequisite to Type II Diabetes. (2)(3)
  • Increases sensitivity to pain. (4)
  • Inhibits muscle growth. (5)
  • Releases pro-inflammatory messages.

What is interesting about pro-inflammatory messages that are produced by visceral fat is that they take part in what is known as a viscous cycle. In other words, inflammation that originates in visceral fat tells the body to make more fat! (6) (7)

How Modern Wheat Differs from Traditional Wheat

As Dr. William Davis points out in his book, Wheat Belly, the grain of our ancestors is not the same stuff that you will find on any supermarket shelf. Even specialty stores would be hard-pressed to carry anything made with the grain that commercial modern wheat originally came from. Dr. Davis explains that the wheat of today:

  • Is actually a mixture of a grain called einkorn and wild grasses.
  • Is the result of human genetic modification, which in 50 years produced 25,000 varieties of wheat.
  • Is nothing like the wheat that has been used historically.

What makes the wheat of today so doughy, elastic, and sturdy a crop are years of genetic hybridization bent on increasing crop yield, cutting expenses, and resolving world hunger. It is important to note that today’s wheat is only sturdy when cultivated with fertilizer and under human supervision. In the wild, this wheat would not survive. (8) It is also important to get the gist of Dr. Davis’ message:

  • Today’s wheat is largely responsible for what we call the obesity epidemic and several other degenerative diseases related to visceral fat, such as high blood sugar, heart disease, and dementia.
  • Signs of aging, skin disorders like acne and rashes, arthritis, bouts of depression and anxiety, seizures, and gut disorders, including celiac disease, can all be attributed to modern day wheat.
  • A serving of whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than table sugar.
Newsflash: Whole wheat has a higher glycemic index than a Snickers bar.

The fact that wheat has such an incredibly high glycemic index pretty much turns the whole USDA Food Pyramid upside-down. It means that you won’t get complex carbs that slowly release sugar from pasta or a slice of bread. Let’s break this down:

  • Table sugar is made of simple sugars, and these are easily absorbed.
  • Wheat, on the other hand, even whole grain wheat, is modern day wheat. Which mean it has been engineered over the last 50 years.
  • All modern day wheat may indeed be classified as a complex carb.
  • But the complex carbohydrates in wheat are mostly amylopectin A.
  • Amylopectin A is highly digestible.
  • In fact, digestion of amylopectin A begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase, which accounts for the incredibly high glycemic index of wheat.
Sometimes removing wheat isn’t enough to lose the wheat belly.

Gut dysbiosis plays a key role in the inflammatory cascade and in poor health. It is important to understand the delicate balance of microflora in the gut.

  • Understanding modern wheat and the role it plays in degenerative disease is clearly an important piece of the puzzle.
  • We must educate ourselves about why all forms of wheat, even whole grain and organic, are inherently dangerous.
  • Wheat belly, or visceral fat, is a sign of inflammation often related to a number of other health conditions.
  • Controlling visceral fat and inflammation is a unique process.

Take the steps and the time to balance your inner ecosystem with foods that heal the gut and that decrease the inflammatory cascade.  The Body Ecology Core Program was developed after 30 years of research in order to combat the health issues caused by impaired digestion.

What to Remember Most About This Article:

Wheat belly is otherwise known as a beer belly or visceral belly fat. This visceral fat surrounds the organs in the abdominal cavity and is similar to any other gland in the endocrine system. Wheat belly produces its own hormones and messages that are pathogenic and promote disease.

Modern day wheat that has been genetically modified contributes to this belly fat. Believe it or not, whole wheat has a higher glycemic index than a Snickers bar! But eliminating wheat from the diet may not be enough to get rid of wheat belly. It begins with balancing your inner ecosystem to heal the gut and prevent inflammation caused by belly fat.

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  1. Davis, William (2011-08-30). Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. Rodale. Kindle Edition.
  2. Gabreily, et al. Removal of visceral fat prevents insulin resistance and glucose intolerance of aging: an adipokine-mediated process? Diabetes. 2002 Oct;51(10):2951-8.
  3. N. Barzilai, et al. Differential responses of visceral and subcutaneous fat depots to nutrients. Diabetes. 2005 Mar;54(3):672-8.
  4. The differential contribution of tumour necrosis factor to thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia during chronic inflammation. Inglis JJ. Arthritis Res Ther. 2005;7(4):R807-16. Epub 2005 Apr 12. 288.
  5. TNF-related weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) is a potent skeletal muscle-wasting cytokine. FASEB J. 2007 Jun;21(8):1857-69.
  6. Miguel Otero, et al. Leptin, from fat to inflammation: old questions and new insights, FEBS Letters, Volume 579, Issue 2, 17 January 2005, Pages 295-301, ISSN 0014-5793, DOI: 10.1016/j.febslet.2004.11.024.
  7. Fat produces proinflammatory factors that stimulate its own growth. Endocrinology of adipose tissue – an update. Fischer-Pozovsky P, Hormone Metabolism Research 2007 May;36(5):314-21.
  8. Shrewy PR. Wheat. J Exp Botany 2009;60(6):1537-53.

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  • AD'Angelo

    Indeed a Mars bar does have a lower GI than wheat or most other reason why I believe we are better to eat more like those who are diabetic.
    Nothing makes me cringe more than watching someone chomp away on a dry, rice cake, erroneously believing it helps them to lose weight.

  • Marc Drops

    Good synopsis of Dr. Davis's book. I read it and think it will have greater appeal to a society looking for a way reverse obesity. Following Davis's diet suggestions as outlined in his previous book I lost some 30 pounds. The diet works folks. You simply have to try it, experience it, and enjoy it.

  • thunder

    Can celiacs safely consume gluten without triggering silent inflammation when their gut flora is optimized and they regularly consume fermented foods?
    How does the GI of wheat compare to dextrose? We know that fructose has a lower GI than dextrose but fructose is not better.
    Studies find that aerobic exercise is more efffective at attacking visceral fat than resistance training. When conbined, they are great at lowering subcutaneous fat.

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