Each quarter the Cardio Wellness Center of St. Lukes Hospital in Kansas City hosts a Heart Healthy Happy Hour. I went to the most recent one, which included speakers Dr. James O’Keefe and Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly.
So I gotta get this off my chest before I tell you about the evening…When Wheat Belly first came out, I was asked by lots of folks what I thought about it. Most were asking because they were wanted to go gluten-free or grain-free to lose weight. I’ll contribute only one opinion in this post, and my opinion is this: If you are looking for a weight loss diet, gluten-free or grain-free may not be the solution. Store bought gluten-free counterparts of gluten-full products are often higher in calories and carbohydrates. It’s still possible to eat lots of processed crap that is labeled gluten-free. A gluten-free donut is still a donut. I’ve seen my share of grain-free products lately, including desserts and processed snack foods. Eaten in moderation, they are fine, but they are still a dessert or a treat. Whether intentional or not, Wheat Belly was promoted as a weight loss diet, one that simply required eliminating wheat. (If you read the book, you’ll know there is more to it than that, but the damage was done in the media.) I encourage whole, healthy foods for the majority of what we all eat and am not in total agreement with Wheat Belly. I still think it contains valuable information and is a good read for anyone who finds they need to eliminate gluten or all grains from their diet or for anyone who is interested in learning about the agricultural revolution of wheat.
Whew! I feel better already. Now, on to the evening.
The first speaker was Dr. James O’Keefe. He is very entertaining and shared engaging stories about his life, travels and family. He is also an equal opportunity offender, in a light hearted manner. Early on he mentioned that vegans are missing essential animal protein necessary to rebuild our bodies and later said that bacon is virtually the worst food that there is. Here are five tidbits I took away:
1. Don’t expect your doctor to do for you what you should be doing for yourself.
2. People who are always learning are happier and healthier.
3. People who have sex about four times per week with a steady partner are perceived to be 7 to 12 years younger than their actual age.
4. Run for your life…at a comfortable pace and not too far. Dr. O’Keefe suggested, “If you really want to do a marathon, go ahead and train up for it and do one…then cross it off your bucket list and get into exercise patterns that are more ideal for promoting overall health and longevity.” The suggestion was no more than 60 minutes of strenuous exercise a day.
5. You might make a living from what you get, but you make a life by what you give.
1. Supplements important to our diets: Probiotics (on the short-term), Vitamin D, Omega 3, Iodine and Magnesium. He said other than the effects of wheat, one of the health issues he sees most is Vitamin D deficiency.
2. Wheat is in almost all processed foods and it keeps us hungry. (The suggestion was made that food manufacturers are aware of this and are putting wheat in food to increase food sales.)
3. Wheat bread is higher on the glycemic index scale than table sugar.
4. Say no to gluten-free, don’t buy products labeled gluten-free. (This was in reference to processed foods labeled gluten-free. Processed food is processed food, gluten-free or not.)
5. A big NO was given to wheatgrass or any grass that would typically be eaten by a ruminant. These were attributed to being as bad for us as any gluten-full grain whether the grain portion of the plant was being consumed or not.
At the book signing, I got the chance to ask Dr. Davis if he thought being tested for Celiac disease before eliminating gluten was essential. His answer: NO. (The picture below is us discussing this…) He said unless a person needs to have that label for their own peace of mind or unless they need the diagnosis for insurance purposes, he didn’t recommend it.*
I learned a lot from both of the speakers and hope you found at least one interesting bit of information here. Whether I completely agree with speakers like this or not, I always leave with some new nugget of knowledge that helps me on my journey to health.
*Dr. Davis is a medical authority, a cardiologist with a fancy degree. I am not, I’ve got no credentials and am just a gal living with Celiac disease. That said, I regret not getting tested prior to eliminating gluten and encourage others, as a friend, to at least get a blood test (even though it is not 100% accurate) before eliminating gluten. There can be other health concerns with Celiac disease that I think may be overlooked without a diagnosis. And from a genetic standpoint, it’s good to know as family members may also benefit from the diagnosis and seek their own medical care. Please read this (specifically the last Myth in the article) and this post from Shirley of Gluten Free Easily, where she shares Dr. Guandalini’s findings that the majority of those diagnosed with Celiac disease present with extraintestinal symptoms, not the gastrointestinal symptoms many expect. This gives me reason to hope anyone considering eliminating gluten and/or grains will get tested prior to elimination.