Saturday, 9 February 2013

Prevention magazine and a "Wheat Belly"

So today while at Shoppers Drug Mart I saw two magazines at the counter that I decided to pick up: Prevention magazine and a special "PreventionGuide" about cutting wheat from your diet.  The Prevention magazine had a "walk off 12, 20, 30 lb" line on it that interested me and I was curious about how cutting out wheat could result in weight loss, so I bought both for a total of $11 (which I think is a lot for two little mags, but if they change my life for the better what's $11?).

The walking plan sounds doable, I would just have to find time in my schedule to do it.  It amounts to walking for a half hour 5 times a week at differing paces (fast, brisk and challenging) with two rest days.  I mean it's not like my schedule is so busy that I can't set aside a half hour to an hour for walking, it's just a matter of making it a habit.  I have a co-worker who walks from Victoria Park station all the way to Bathurst station to get to work each day which takes her an hour and 45 mins (obviously she's thin).  If she can take the time to walk that much and still have energy to work a 6 hour shift, I should be able to find time for 30 min walks since I only work 3 days a week.  Again, it's just a matter of doing it.

The other book I bought because it echoed a thought I had recently.  Not long ago I read that cats don't have the digestive ability to break down grains, but those same grains are commonly used as fillers for dry cat food (the same is true for dog food, but cats are obligate carnivores so it's worse for them).  Because of this, cats eating foods with grain fillers can become obese.  While our cats are otherwise happy and healthy with the food we've been giving them (Purina Cat Chow Hairball Control), they have both become overweight.  So I did some searching and found that Blue Buffalo foods have the first FIVE ingredients of their dry food as meat, and no wheat or grains that cats can't digest.  Great!  Andrew is going to buy some tomorrow so we can try it out.  The reviews I've read for the food have all been really positive, so I have high hopes for this food since it will cost us double what we have normally been spending (but really, $50 a month is not going to break the bank).

Well, while thinking about the wheat -> obesity for cats, it dawned on me that even though humans are omnivores, we are not altogether that different from cats.  After all, we share 90% of our DNA with our feline friends.  Maybe the fact we use wheat as a filler in our own diets is leading to obesity (in addition to factors like sedentary lifestyles). The argument the book is making is that the wheat we eat these days, having been selectively bred for higher yields, is not the same type of wheat even our grandparents ate (more or less) and it's leading to obesity.  The main argument being made is that consumption of wheat -- even if it's whole wheat -- leads to more consumption of amylopectin A which the book says is not much different from dipping your spoon into a sugar bowl.  It even says that eating two slices of whole wheat bread is no better than eating a sugary candy bar, because it causes the same spike in blood sugar levels.  This increased exposure to high blood sugar levels triggers insulin (which the book says is the hormone of fat storage).  Therefore, if you eliminate wheat, you eliminate the amylopectin A, which causes you to revert back to a normal weight.

So here is what I have discovered through a standard web search (I use for what it's worth):
- Amylopectin is a soluble polysaccharide and highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants. It is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose. (Wikipedia)
- Any references I'm finding to amylopectin A are from paleo diet or wheat belly websites.  I'm having trouble finding the science behind the claim of this polysaccharide specifically and how it's any worse than the starch found in other carbohydrates.  If it's no better than the starch in potato or corn, why not cut those out as well?
- Insulin regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body.  Without getting into huge detail, it sounds like it's indirectly linked to the creation of fat in the body.

Obviously that's not much from a 5 minute web search, but it does generate questions about the science this guy is referencing.  I might have to pick up his book to get the full details and get a thorough understanding of where he's getting his data (and see if I agree).  So far, it sounds like the conclusion we should be drawing is more along the lines of a paleo diet or a similar carbohydrate free diet.  Certainly eating more fruits and vegetables and lean meats and fewer carbs isn't a BAD health decision.  You will eat less, feel more full, and be getting fewer empty calories.

More research is required.


  1. What I don't think is wise is severely restricting carbs. Our brain needs them for energy, and if you restrict your carbs too much then brain no think good. Honestly I feel the best diet is eating in moderation. Have some lean meats and eat some carbs and exercise.

    1. The thing is that grains are not the only sources of carbohydrates. If you eat fruit, you will get more than enough sugar (which is what all carbohydrates are broken down into). Moreover, fruit contains more nutrients and less sugar than eating just carbs. Beans also provide a source of carbohydrates as well as a source of protein. So it's totally possible to have a healthy lifestyle without the grains our world has come to depend on so heavily (corn, wheat and rice).