How the 7 dwarves make you fat and sick

Seven dwarves puppets
Wheat is the most consumed grain on earth. We eat wheat products for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and especially at snack time. Thanks to the marriage of science and modern genetic engineering, we no longer have need of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, because now we have all of them rolled into this single plant.

I read a lot of books on diet, nutrition and health. But in 2011 the only book I read from cover to cover was “Wheat Belly” by William Davis M.D.

Dr. Davis, a preventive medicine cardiologist from Milwaukee, brilliantly chronicles the parallel explosion of our nation’s wheat consumption with the current obesity crisis. He jumps right into discussing how it relates to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and celiac disease. Additionally, he thoroughly explains how wheat is accelerating the aging process and is responsible for a number of distressing psychological symptoms because of its ability to cross the blood brain border and bind to brain cells.

I picked up my copy of Wheat Belly after attending a foraging course at the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. The course marked an end to my Irish sabbatical and I decided to indulge in all the bakery items I usually avoided. I had a scone AND brown bread for breakfast and then two pieces of scrumptious flatbread pizza for lunch. They were delicious.

I sat down to watch the afternoon cooking demonstration of our foraged bounty. Darina Allen is my idol. Here I was living out my dream of attending a class in her cooking school. But I could hardly keep my eyes open. In my stupor the only thing I could think about was how much I wanted to eat the chocolate hazelnut cake she was making. Despite my uncomfortably full stomach, I was experiencing full on snack attack cravings.

After an hour my nose began running like a faucet and I developed a headache. I turned to my companion and complained that I thought I was getting a cold, my first in years. To my irritation she giggled. Maybe I should follow the advice I give out so freely, she said. Perhaps I was reacting to the wheat.

Sheila had given up wheat completely because of my suggestion that it was causing aches and pains in her body and joints. After six months wheat free. she had not only said good-bye to pain but also to almost 50 pounds of excess fat—most of it from her middle. During this six months, stopped her gym subscription and didn’t count calories. Still, the pounds had poured off. She told me she was recommending a new book called Wheat Belly.

I was skeptical that my sniffling came from scones. But I ordered the book, opened it, and didn’t put it down until I finished. As I flipped off the Kindle switch I felt a stab of empathy. I was thinking about all the bad news and lifestyle proclamations I had made over the years to various clients and patients. It was time to swallow my own medicine—and believe me, it didn’t taste like a Cinnabon.

Wheat, at least the modern facsimile of wheat, just isn’t compatible with wellness. In the story of Snow White, the princess falls into a coma after biting into the poisoned apple. The dwarfs try everything to revive her to no avail. They place her in a glass coffin where she sleeps, oblivious to the world, until Prince Charming awakens her with a kiss.

In my memory that kiss was all about romance and passion. The reality is that Prince Charming didn’t knock Snowy’s socks off; he dislodged that poison apple. In the modern version it would be apple pie. And I needed to spit out that crust for good, because it’s unlikely any prince is going to come along and do it for me!

Musing on Snow White, I realized the seven dwarves possessed characteristics associated with wheat consumption. Except Dopey, they were all stocky or fat, even though they labored hard every day.

Let’s take a look at each dwarf and see how wheat and gluten actually mimic their personalities.

It seems that the fattest of the dwarfs, Happy, might be benefiting from the fact that wheat make exorphins. Most of us have heard of endorphins, those feel-good hormones made inside your body that give you a runner’s high. Exorphins bind to the same opiate receptors in the brain, and act like a narcotic, producing euphoria but also addiction, cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Happy isn’t happy when he doesn’t have his wheat. In fact then he turns into…

Wheat is an intense appetite stimulant. That’s why they give you bread for free in restaurants. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, because sandwiches have fillings. Once we get the bread we’re willing to buy anything to scratch the itch of food preoccupation. Of course, eating lots of carbohydrates stimulates insulin, and that shifts our bodies into fat storage mode. We go on calorie restrictive diets to lose weight. Because we are still in fat storage mode as we diet, we feel decidedly grumpy. Restricting calories when you’re in fat storage mode often results in binge behavior, especially at night, when you can’t go to sleep because your hunger is clawing at you. Nothing like a box of cookies to make you nice and…

We have all heard of carbohydrate coma, and nothing induces it more dramatically than wheat. Wheat proteins cross the blood brain border and influence activity of neurons. Brain fog, persistent fatigue and profound lethargy are common side effects of wheat consumption. For a growing percentage of the population, the neurological effects of wheat consumption can be permanent and devastating. To be blunt, wheat can actually make you…

Wheat doesn’t affect just your thoughts and behavior. In the past decade, medical science has begun to understand that celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, is much more prevalent than we previously thought. This disease affects about 1 percent of the population, but only 3 percent of those affected have been diagnosed! The incidence has accelerated with a fourfold increase in the last 30 years. Celiac disease, which was once a diagnosis reserved for children and young adults with emaciation and diarrhea, is now called the “great imitator.” It often presents with or mimics other autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease and diabetes. More than half of those with celiac disease have no symptoms at all — until they get irreversibly sick.

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can damage the brain and nervous system, causing dementia, balance loss, migraines, peripheral neuropathy, ADHD and autism symptoms. It can present with incontinence or an inability to control the bladder.

Reactions to wheat and gluten are not rare, and they are on the rise. But you don’t have to have celiac disease to get “dopey.” Unfortunately, the inflammatory effects of wheat on our hormones and cardiovascular system mean you are going to spend a lot of time with another of the seven dwarves…

Wheat has a profound effect on blood sugar. Eating two slices of “healthy” whole wheat bread can increase blood sugar more than 6 spoonful’s of sugar. The glycemic index measures how much insulin is secreted in response to certain foods. The GI of whole wheat bread is 72; a snickers bar is 41. Wheat-based product, which constitute of huge part of SAD (the Standard American Diet), are causing big swings in blood sugar and insulin. A big gush of insulin will cause blood sugar to drop quickly. This produces a backlash of hypoglycemic symptoms such as shakiness, nausea or headache. Even if you eat the cardboard container it won’t give you enough fiber to counteract these kinds of blood sugar swings. Over time they lead to insulin resistance, and with dramatically increasing frequency, Type 2 Diabetes.

Wheat also has a general inflammatory effect, causing arthritis-like symptoms and general body aches and pains in many people. Of more concern are wheat proteins. Benign fat globules are converted to the dangerous and inflammatory low density lipoproteins or LDLs, the real culprit in arterial plaques and heart disease.

It’s frightening to see these potential dangers. Modern wheat has undergone a dramatic genetic transformation, but because it is still wheat it isn’t tested for safety. We should have learned our lesson with the trans-fats. But it will be hard for people to accept that modern wheat isn’t a staple of life which supports the weak and hungry but a weapon that can be used to strike us down.

The new wheat produces proteins that stimulate allergies. Gluten also makes the intestines more permeable or leaky, which allows substances that are safe inside the gut to get into the blood stream, provoking the typical allergic response we see in…


Many of my clients go on an elimination diet and stop eating wheat for a month. Then, when they eat wheat again, they often experience the itchy eyes and runny nose common to hay fever sufferers. If this sequence of events happens to you and results in symptoms such as a general sick feeling, strong food cravings, allergy symptoms or a stomach ache, I strongly encourage you to get tested for gluten sensitivity. These tests are improving all the time, so please check my website for the most recent information.

Gluten sensitivities don’t just give you red eyes and nose—they can make your whole face red just like…

Gluten sensitivity can give you all kinds of splotches and skin rashes. Even more upsetting is that the excess blood sugar spikes, which result from eating wheat and other carbohydrates, cause AGEs or Advanced Glycosylation End products. And guess what? AGEs are very aging to the face and the body. If you don’t want to have to conceal your face with a beard like Bashful — or resort to the cosmetic wizardry of surgery, laser treatment or makeup — you might want to cut out the wheat.

And don’t think I am just talking about the snowy white flour of white bread. The whole grain dark breads still have all the same characteristics—just like the new ethnic Disney princesses, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tiana, aren’t really that much different from Snow White, the first Disney princess.

It really comes down to production. In 1937, when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves became the first full-length animated film, it required four years and two million drawings and paintings. It cost $1.4 million to produce — unbelievable then — and was called “Disney’s Folly.”

Technology has changed wheat dramatically since 1937. The new dwarf strains are making us fat and sick, but they are much cheaper to manufacture. Technology also allows animation to be done much faster and cheaper. On the other hand, Princess Fiona and Shrek seem to be sporting wheat bellies!

It isn’t just that the wheat is different. Because it is hyper-addictive, we are also eating a lot more of it. Americans have become wheataholics. We are eating 26 pounds more of the stuff per person per year than we did in 1970. According to Dr. Davis:

“If national wheat consumption is averaged across all Americans—babies, children, teenagers, adults, the elderly—the average American consumes 133 pounds of wheat per year.”

That’s more than half a loaf per day! Someone out there is consuming my share, too!

Modern wheat has been genetically altered to increase yield and increase yielding (how easily the grains or seeds fall off the head). Modern strains of wheat are unable to grow without industrial agricultural inputs, such as nitrate fertilization, and extensive pest control.

Dr. Borlaug, “the father of the green revolution,” is the Minnesota geneticist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. His dream was to end world hunger. He engineered a dwarf wheat that has exploded production. The wheat crop in China alone increased eightfold in less than 20 years.

According Dr. Allan Fritz, a professor of wheat breeding at Kansas State University, the modern dwarf wheat now accounts for more than 99% of wheat grown worldwide. Since 1955, there has been a ten-fold increase in the rate of wheat yield improvement per year. This is not your grandma’s wheat.

In the 1980s, government health associations began advising us to cut fat and cholesterol from our diet and replace it with “healthy grains.” The USDA food pyramid recommended a staggering 11 servings of grain a day! They say that fat through the lips goes straight to hips. Unfortunately, it’s not about whether your bread is buttered. Wheat in the form of bagels, bread or beer expands our bellies with every bite.

The gluten is gonna get you. For most Americans, the gluten is from wheat products. We consume very little rye, barley, spelt and triticale. Much wheat goes into snack products and processed food because the profit margin is so high. Ingredients cost only pennies. Kraft alone has experienced a revenue increase of 1,800 percent since the fat warnings of the 1980s really took hold. The company is making almost $50 billion a year, mostly from products composed of cheap wheat and corn paste flavored and colored with chemical additives.

It’s time to wake up from our stupor and dislodge the poison apple. There are even worse things out there than obesity, despite the fact that many Americans would prefer to have cancer than to be obese. The reality is you can very likely avoid both by removing wheat from your diet completely and permanently. If you can’t do that, cut way back.

It’s time to get the bread out., Theresa Nesbitt and her publications provide general information on health and wellness. This general information is not a substitute for health advice and medical care from physicians who know you. Please talk to them before making significant changes in your lifestyle. Complete Terms of Use and Disclaimers