Healthier Without Wheat – Redux

May 17, 2010

In an earlier post, I mentioned having attended a talk given by Dr. Stephen Wangen, author of Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance.

Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance.

In that post, I said I’d follow up after having completed the book, so here’s the post I said I’d write.

The short summary is it should be an eye-opening book for anyone. Dr. Wangen has taken up this issue in a previous book entitled The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution as well in his clinical practice where he has become a ‘go-to’ person for those with wheat allergies, gluten intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Given I’ve been on the dietary fringe for some time, it’s easy for me to underestimate the extent to which this book pierces deeply entrenched notions about what’s ‘good’ and ‘healthy’ for you. Think about it, this book essentially makes the assertion that this staple of life (bread of life) should be treated more like a toxin and should only be consumed as a last resort, given its metabolic effects on the body.

As is often the case with books written by clinicians in active practice, it has more then its fair share of testimonials/case studies. While I understand this approach appeals to lots of people and makes the whole thing less dry for most, I skip over most of them. But they’re there for you if you want them.

Found his explanation of the origin of cereal grains and the differences and commonalities among them fascinating. He includes a ‘family tree’ of grains that include all the ones we find in common use today: wheat, oats, corn, rice, spelt, etc.

Having known very little about IBS, celiac disease and the like, it was enlightening to have him clearly delineate the differences among these conditions and state categorically that these ‘conditions’ only persist as long as you consume the offending item (wheat or gluten as the case may be).

The only major issue I had with the book is the repeated reference to an extremely wide range of symptoms that might lead you to consider whether you might have an allergy/intolerance. There were instances where, after I read the list, I wondered what adverse condition was left out. So that’s where I’d include a gain of salt. He also spent a lot of time describing the diagnostic methods he uses to make a determination as to what might be at the root of issues you’re seeing. Got a sense that these sections were more directed at his peers whose patients might pick up the book and ask their doctor’s about it. Wouldn’t want to leave out stuff that would clearly show you knew what you were doing since the book is likely to wind up in the hands of other physicians either directly or indirectly.

So, the bottom line is it is well worth the read if you or someone you care about has issues with wheat or gluten. It is also of interest to those who are not so wedded to our revered food staple (bread) that they might be considering giving it up to better their health.


4 Responses to “Healthier Without Wheat – Redux”

  1. miller canning Says:

    i wish they’d have written about this decades ago. i have celiac and could have avoided so many issues!


    • KMT Says:

      It must be extremely frustrating, I know. Seems like the wheels never turn quite fast enough to be of maximum benefit.

      I hope you have an opportunity to pick up the book. It’s well supported by research and clinical practice and more people need to understand the detriments of gluten specifially and grains more broadly in my opinion.

      Take care, Millier.


  2. Tracey Says:

    I hear more and more about this. We’re going to start Elliot on a gluten-free diet this summer and it’ll be interesting to see how the diet affects his autism. Thanks for sharing, it’s very timely.


    • KMT Says:

      Glad you found this post useful, Tracey. I’d highly recommend at least a phone consult with Dr. Wengan. Therea aren’t many people taking his approach and I’m convinced it’s on the verge of becoming more mainstream.

      Avoid the rush! 🙂


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