Well what do you know?
I’ve been following Dr. Davis for a long time and have really applauded a lot of the work he was doing over the years getting really good results for people, primarily by getting them off wheat and getting their vitamin D levels up. The results often showed up in significant reductions in heart scan calcification scores. Davis is a cardiologist. Since I was pretty hardcore paleo at the time, it made a lot of sense, but I attributed that success mostly to the removal of grains period.
Then comes his book—Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health—and while I didn’t trash it, as did quite a few others, I just wasn’t interested in his theory that the chief problem with wheat was how it has been selectively bread over the centuries in order to produce varieties that render a greater yield per acre, are more resilient to pests, adverse weather, drought, etc. And besides, hadn’t we been reading how bad things were for the Egyptians, et al, with grains in their diets? So I just shrugged and thought well, nice theory, but the important part is to just get off the wheat and of course, that was the message he was sending overall.
Well, now it’s been put to the test. Hot off the presses in the British Journal of Nutrition. A double-blind, randomized crossover, which is basically gold-standard science. Basically, this means neither the research team nor the subjects know which wheat products they’re getting, they were randomized into which would be getting what when, and then after the fist intervention period, crossed over to the other wheat products while still not aware of which was which. What’s subtile but of super importance is that during the trial, some would be getting modern wheat and others, ancient, so as not to give any clues; such as, for instance, had they all been on one kind, then all on the other.
The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of a replacement diet with organic, semi-whole-grain products derived from Triticum turgidum subsp. turanicum (ancient) wheat on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and inflammatory/biochemical parameters. A double-blinded randomised cross-over trial was performed using twenty participants (thirteen females and seven males, aged 18-59 years) classified as having moderate IBS. Participants received products (bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers) made either from ancient or modern wheat for 6 weeks in a random order. Symptoms due to IBS were evaluated using two questionnaires, which were compiled both at baseline and on a weekly basis during the intervention period. Blood analyses were carried out at the beginning and end of each respective intervention period. During the intervention period with ancient wheat products, patients experienced a significant decrease in the severity of IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain (P< 0·0001), bloating (P= 0·004), satisfaction with stool consistency (P< 0·001) and tiredness (P< 0·0001). No significant difference was observed after the intervention period with modern wheat products. Similarly, patients reported significant amelioration in the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms only after the ancient wheat intervention period, as measured by the intensity of pain (P= 0·001), the frequency of pain (P< 0·0001), bloating (P< 0·0001), abdominal distension (P< 0·001) and the quality of life (P< 0·0001). Interestingly, the inflammatory profile showed a significant reduction in the circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, IL-17, interferon-γ, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor after the intervention period with ancient wheat products, but not after the control period. In conclusion, significant improvements in both IBS symptoms and the inflammatory profile were reported after the ingestion of ancient wheat products.
Translation: modern wheat (the control) rendered no significant change in reported IBS symptom discomfort; whereas, for the ancient wheat products the ‘P’ numbers are off the scale. The “worst” one is a 4 in 1,000 that it’s due to random chance. In general, anything under 1 in 20 is considered “significant” and not due to random chance. Finally, to bring it home—since they are relying on self reporting of symptoms here—they did blood work which showed significant reductions in the inflammatory profile on the ancient wheat products but not the modern ones.
I’d say that’s pretty convincing science and really explains one hell of a lot, if you ask me. Well done, Dr. Davis. Looks like you’re vindicated, though I expect the interests that be will find some way to either trash this study or bury it.
So now, I guess the only question remaining is that for those who simply can’t resist their baked goods, any companies out there using the ancient wheat? Also, where does barley and rye fit into this picture?
Update: In getting wind of this yesterday, among the emails was one Afifah’s Blog, which I put out on all my social media at the time. I just wanted to mention she may have been the first blogger to actually write a post and so go have a look. Really delightful blog design too, so browse it and if you like what you see and what she writes, give her some eyeball support, couldja? Here it is again.