Wheat bellies for everyone?

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First aired on Q (07/02/13)

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Wheat Belly has been on the New York Times' best-seller list for 40 weeks, and its author, Dr. William Davis, says eliminating wheat from our diets can help people lose weight and alleviate a host of other medical problems, like arthritis, asthma and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 

But many health authorities are casting doubt on the gluten- and wheat-free diet, including Timothy Caulfield, a University of Alberta professor of health law and science policy. 

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An important note, both men recognize the legitimacy of celiac sufferers and the absolute benefits of gluten-free eating for them. However, Caulfield cautions against the general public embracing the trendy diet.

"There's nothing magical about wheat. If there was something magical about it, it would pop out in the data," the self-described diet skeptic and author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness told Q's Jian Ghomeshi.

"Good long term studies tell us again and again that all diets perform about the same, which is lousy," said Caulfield. He said data has shown the best diet for health improvements is the Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains. 

Yet there's a rapidly growing body of anecdotal evidence that suggests the wheat-free diet works, said Davis, who said he hears from converts regularly raving about the health benefits they have experienced.

 "I'm not willing to wait for that 20 years to satisfy people like Mr. Caulfield and other critics."


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