Who is Dr. William Davis and why is he saying such nasty things about “healthy whole grains”?

By way of introduction in this new blog, here’s a little bit about me:

If you want the usual “eat this to be heart-healthy” line, then don’t call me.

You won’t get any endorsements of new drugs for weight loss or cholesterol lowering, or gushing commentary on the newest defibrillator or heart transplant device from me. What you will get is plain talk about the largest dietary blunder ever made on an international scale: Cut your fat and eat more healthy whole grains.

There is a germ of truth in this whole grain disaster: Whole grains are indeed healthier than white flour products–just as filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes. So should you smoke more Salems in place of your Marlboros? I don’t think so!

Since 2004, I have served as Medical Director of the heart disease prevention and reversal program, Track Your Plaque, an international meeting-of-the-minds to generate a collective effort to find better solutions to the scourge of heart attack and heart disease. In an effort to assist people, as well as my patients, reduce blood sugar–high in over 80% of people nowadays–I asked them to eliminate wheat, including whole grain products, based on the simple fact that wheat products increase blood sugar more than nearly all other foods. The unexpected result: Incredible weight loss; relief from acid reflux and the gas, cramping, and diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome; increased energy, more stable moods, and deeper sleep; relief from arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis; dramatically improved cholesterol values; reduced blood pressure and inflammatory measures, and on and on. It became clear that this was no coincidence. This was real. And it was all due to eliminating this thing being sold to us called wheat.

‘Cause it ain’t wheat. It’s this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, but genetically and biochemically lightyears removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago. We have geneticists and agribusiness to thank for this transformation from 4 1/2-foot tall “amber waves of grain” to the 2-foot tall semi-dwarf genetic variant now sold to us in the guise of “healthy whole grains.”

The unexpected results I witnessed in my heart disease prevention program led me to believe that these observations applied to more than my patients and online following. This was a widespread societal problem. It became clear that “wheat” consumption was responsible for an incredible amount of the human illness, obesity, and suffering we are all witnessing on an unprecedented scale. So I wrote Wheat Belly.

So Wheat Belly represents the distilled experience and lessons I’ve learned over these last several years, lessons learned by accident in my quest to help solve the dilemma of heart disease. And, by the way, I hardly ever see any heart attacks any more.

I am a 1985 graduate of the St. Louis University School of Medicine and the Ohio State University Hospitals for training in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases. I even trained in advanced cardiac catheterization techniques and coronary angioplasty in the Case-Western Reserve University system in Cleveland, Ohio. But I’ve essentially left that training in the dust of new-lessons-learned, including this incredible wheat-free world I’ve stumbled into.

I practice preventive cardiology–hardly a stent in sight!–in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I base my practice, writing career, blogging and other activities. I live with my beautiful and triathlon-crazed wife, Dawn; my University of Wisconsin-Madison attending son, Bill; my professional tennis player daughter, Lauren; my still-figuring-out-what-to-do-with-his-life 13-year old, Jacob; and my two unruly and barely tame Boston terriers. And, no, there are no bran muffins or pretzels in the cupboard.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Brian Adrian

    Three years ago a routine stress test indicated that one of my arteries was 70% blocked. I was taken aback at the time because I had always been very active, but didn’t realize how little I knew about nutrition. Both my Doctor and cardiologist said that there is nothing you can do but take aspirin and lipitor. They both told me that you can’t remove plaque from arteries and just hope for the best. Needless to say I have learned a lot since then. I went carb-free three years ago and have never looked back. They only other advice they gave me was to follow the Canada food guide that recomends 7 to 10 servings of grains a day. Three years later I wanted to do another follow up stress test to see where my blockage stood and was told that there was no point since I refused to back on statins. Since you are not willing to do the only thing that might help you (statins) what is the point in doing another stress test. Too man Doctors and cardiologists are stuck in outdated concepts of health and heart disease. Cholesterol causes heart disease and there is nothing you can do about plaque. But, you have to stand your ground as they really want to push the drugs.

    • Dr. Davis

      Sadly, Brian, your doctors were inexcusably ignorant.

      This is getting off topic from our Wheat Belly discussions, but I would urge you to look at the many discussions I’ve had in both my Track Your Plaque website and Heart Scan Blog that discusses these issues.

  2. beefwalker

    I’m keen to learn why you say whole grains are better, as people like Robb Wolf, Tim Ferriss, Mark Sisson et al say that whole grains are even WORSE than the processed white stuff, as the bran which is present in a greater proportion in whole grains is riddled with anti-nutrients and protease inhibitors and is behind all sorts of issues, including gut permeability, protein malabsorption and gut flora dysbiosis. Basically, they’re saying we shouldn’t eat any grains. Your thoughts?

    • Dr. Davis

      I think you mistake me for somebody else, Beef, as I NEVER said that whole grains are better!

  3. Janice


    • Barbara

      This comment is in reply to Janice. No grain flour is suitable. Use nut, seed and bean flours intead.
      My first posting wound up in wrong place.

      • > My first posting wound up in wrong place.

        CAPTCHA timeout, I’ll bet. See the tips to avoid disconnected replies, linked from my username above.

  4. ChessaRose

    I was just perusing Dr. Davis’ book, “Wheat Belly”, and looking at some of the recipes and his advice on sweeteners used etc. I was wondering why Agave Nectar was not mentioned as an alternative sweetener to use? I have read that it is a low-glycemic sweetener, however, this statement has been challenged. It seems to depend on who’s article you are reading – an advocate for or opponent against Agave Nectar. I do use it, sparingly and infrequently, but wanted to know if it could be used in some of the recipes? Another question I have is why Quinoa flour is not mentioned as a flour alternative? It is high in protein and fiber as I understand the information on it and as a person concerned with using rice flours because of the arsenic levels found in a vast majority of rices (Consumer Reports testing) it is diffucult to find alternative flours to use that are wheat- or gluten- free. I have read some gluten-free cookbooks that use bean flours, mostly garbanzo bean, but both my husband and I have problems when we eat garbanzo beans so I do not want to use this alternative. And finally, I noticed that baking soda is used in the baked goods recipes and salt is called for in other recipes which I find disheartening because as a nation we consume way too much sodium. My husband and I never use added salt in any cooking or eating and rarely eat out because most prepared foods, whether restaurant, deli, supermarket hot food bar (even our local natural/organic food store), packaged or prepared foods, have way too much sodium. Wheat may indeed be a major contributor to health issues, but I believe that another huge problem in this country is the amount of salt (sodium) that is added to foods. Dr. Davis, being a preventive cardiologist should have included some comments about sodium in addition to the wheat and low-carb information in his book and cookbook. Dr. Davis is tackling wheat and the Mayor of New York City is tackling sodas, but who is lobbying for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the sodium in food. If you think wheat is bad and is found in odd items (i.e., gum, toothpastes, ketchup, etc.) then just try and find food products without added salt in some form. As an example, Almond, Rice and Soy milks are often recommended as dairy-free alternatives, but guess what, all brands I have researched have salt in the ingredients list! Why? I do realize it is used as a food enhancer, but having given up salt in our cooking, my husband and I actually get to enjoy the flavor of the food we are eating and not the ‘enhanced’ flavor of saltiness. We have been able to find some conscientious companies who offer their products with no added salt and we also eat many whole foods we prepare ourselves without added salt. Just one restaurant entree, including salads, can have as much as 2300mg of sodium in it which is almost twice the daily recommended amount of 1200mg by the AHA. And watch any cooking show on TV and the chef/cook is always adding a ‘pinch’ or ‘dash’ of salt which appears to be a teaspoon or more most of the time. I have also heard some chefs/cooks/cookbook authors say that using kosher or Sea salt is better than ‘regular’ salt because of added minerals, but salt is salt and the sodium level is not different. So again, I would ask Dr. Davis why he did not include at least a short message about sodium in his book and offer suggestions in his recipes that the added salt was at least optional and also offer the alternative of sodium- and aluminum-free baking powder in his recipes?

    • > … wondering why Agave Nectar was not mentioned as an alternative sweetener to use?

      It is, as a “never use”, due to fructose content. Use the site search for “Goodbye Fructose” for more info.

      > I have read that it is a low-glycemic sweetener, …

      All the simple mono- and disaccharides, almost all the the ‘oses and the majority of the ‘tols are too high glycemic, promotional claims to the contrary notwithstanding. See:

      > … why Quinoa flour is not mentioned as a flour alternative?

      It was used in one or more of the recipes in the original WB book, but Dr. Davis has stated that he regretted doing that, and now discourages quinoa, due to carb load.

      > I noticed that baking soda is used in the baked goods recipes and salt is called
      > for in other recipes which I find disheartening because as a nation we consume
      > way too much sodium.

      Probably not an issue. Eating the WB way, some might need to add sodium.

      > … but who is lobbying for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the sodium in food.

      It may not be necessary, and there are bigger fish to fry: wheat, fructose, gratuitous soy, sugars generally, carbs generally, vile oils, GMO, glutamate, for example.

      Meanwhile, be your own lobby. Vote with your money. If the restaurant shows any hint of possible enlightenment, let them know why they lost a customer.

      • Barbara

        Yes! Thank you Boundless! Tell “them” if you can and most certainly vote with your feet and pocketbook!
        I would like to add that your food dollar stretches even further when veggies and un-processed meat/fish are the main expenditures. Baked items, take-out, pre-prepared, ready made with sauces, deli etc. are all very expensive. Add products sweetened with HFCS to your do not buy list as well. Make ice tea or lemonaide instead of soda and bottled sugary drinks. Another chunk of money is not spent.
        As time goes on, you will see less store shelf space devoted to these products since they don’t sell as well. Restaurants too will start preparing their own cold drinks instead of using those dreadful mixes if there are enough requests.
        As each and every one of us request healthier products, they will start to appear. Humans are cleaver at adapting and capitalism will provide a product we want.

        • Neicee

          Besides iced tea w/no sugar, I’ve been drinking aloe vera juice over ice with a squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice. It’s really refreshing.

    • Erica in RSA

      On a low carb diet you don’t retain excess sodium as you do when eating high carb. The warnings about severely limiting your sodium intake usually come from the same people who are advocating lots of so-called “healthy grains”. If you are eating low carb and you don’t take in sufficient sodium you can also lose potassium.

      • ChessaRose

        My Goodness! Agave Nectar – Bad! Any -ose – Bad! Quinoa – Bad! Grains in general – Bad! HFCS – Bad! Oils – Bad! Soy – Bad! Other doctors and lifestyle change advocates have said that: Beans/Legumes – Bad! Fruit – Bad! (the sugar and carbs in fruit -Bad!) Potatoes – Bad! Carrots – Bad! Any starchy vegetable – Bad! Fat is too high, carbs are too high, sugars are too high! While I do not generally disagree that some of the substances above are inherently not good to consume in excess, and that includes sodium/salt (and I don’t care what type of diet you are eating; low carb or whatever), the lists of what humans should not be eating grows ever longer; that which we can not consume at all or only in very low amounts. So the question begs to be asked just what are people supposed to be eating? Perhaps one day humans may evolve into epiphytic creatures like the Ressurection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides) which gets its water and nutrients from rain and dust. But until that happens, we must take in nourishment. Granted, a lot of **** is out there, and a person has to be very cautious about what they put in their bodies (as well as on their bodies) but it gets more than a ‘little’ aggravating and annoying when it appears that healthly eating advocates can give people a long laundry list of what not to eat but can only offer a few “truly, healthy alternatives”. Don’t eat apples! Okay, I’ll have an orange. Oh but wait, says one advocate, the citric acid is……… what? You guessed it – Bad! Okay, I’ll eat blueberries. Oh now just wait a minute! Blueberries have good anti-oxidants but are high in sugar and carbs say someone else so guess what? Blueberries – Bad! Okay, I’ll eat a rice cake with almond butter. Oh now wait a minute again. That rice cake is a grain and high in carbs and not to mention the arsenic that might be in it (see Consumer Reports article) and I am sure someone out there won’t want me eating the almond butter for some reason or other too. The point is people keep getting lists of what not to eat but no realistic, plausible guidelines on what is okay or beneficial to eat. And before any one makes a conclusion as to my eating habits – I haven’t stepped into a fast food place in decades, I rarely eat out, my beverage of choice is RO filtered water from my own unit, I buy organic for the bulk of my food and if I can not find something organic I generally don’t buy it, I buy local produce when possible, USA produce next and only after very careful consideration do I buy even organic produce from any foreign country. The main point is this, in my opinion, the WB thing is basically a low carb diet that puts the Bad label on wheat. Others over the years have named rice, potatoes, bananas, and anything else that has a “high carb load” as the Bad substance. Do I agree with the basic premise that GMO’s are bad? You betcha! And I have written my state representatives to support bills and amendments that require food labeling of all foods, fresh and processed, with not only if they contain GMO’s but also for the country of origin. And for “Boundless” who doesn’t seem to think it “may not be necessary” to concern oneself about sodium I say this. If you want to change the way our food is grown, produced, processed, what precisely goes into it, and the general food safely of the food supply, whether it is sugars, oils, sodium, GMO’s, glutamates or whatever, then you may want to reconsider what surely is “necessary”.

        • Dr. Davis

          You know, Chessa, so many of your uncertainties would be quickly cleared up by simply reading the book.

          • ChessaRose

            Dr. Davis,
            I am sorry you infer from my comments that I have “uncertainties”. I can see how one might infer this by my comments regarding health advocates always providing information on what not to eat as opposed to what to eat. I assure you I have no uncertainties as to this regard in my personal life as what to and what not to eat. I stand by my opinion, however, that there are far too many health advocates out there that say eliminating this and that and the other to lose weight, be healthy, get rid of all that ails you. For me, it is hard to regard the general informaiton as any thing more than a new trend. I am by my own admission a sceptical person. For a little clarification, long before I ever heard of your book, I read an article by a woman with arthritis who said she always feels more pain after she eats bread so she avoids it. Since I too have arthritis, most of my family members had or do have it, I too gave up bread: all wheat products. This was not really all that many things because my husband and I do not eat a lot of baked goods as a general rule anyway and I am a very dedicated nutrition label reader (I make it a rule not to consume any products with chemically sounding names or items with more than 8 ingredients, any thing that says hydrogenated or ends in an -ose, etc.). We went wheat/baked goods free for several months. I felt no difference in my arthritis pain nor did I lose any weight. We still do not eat a lot of wheat/ baked goods, etc. just as a personal lifestyle choice. So, like I said, I am always sceptical when any new trend emerges regarding THE ONE food you must eliminate to “fix” your health. Too much or too little of anything can lead to health problems. I personally believe we are very complex organisms and that we need to work more towards balance and moderation in all aspects of our lives – physically, spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. I will read your book in its entirety, as opposed to the skim I already did. I doubt, and here comes that scepticism again, I will become a convert or devotee.

          • > … that there are far too many health advocates out there …

            Yup, and the dissonance means that vast majority of them are clearly incorrect. Each individual, once realizing that the official diets are probably also incorrect, is entirely on their own in deciding what to do about this.

            > … it is hard to regard the general informaiton as
            > any thing more than a new trend.

            Sooner or later someone will hit upon a framework for an ideal human diet. Those who care about health and longevity will switch to it. That will look like a trend, until, as with non-smoking, it just ceases to be trendy and just becomes normal. Is WB onto that ideal diet? I don’t know, but I haven’t seen anything more promising.

            > We went wheat/baked goods free for several months.
            > I felt no difference in my arthritis pain nor did I lose
            > any weight.

            Did you also go low carb, specifically free of added sugars?

            > We still do not eat a lot of wheat/ baked goods, etc.

            Sugar needs to be driven to low levels. Zero isn’t necessary or even possible. Wheat, however, needs to be driven to 0.0000. Any amount of it allows the sabotage to continue. This requires some attention to detail, because so many processed foods are contaminated with wheat, or sugars, or both.

            > … sceptical when any new trend emerges regarding
            >THE ONE food you must eliminate to “fix” your health.

            WB isn’t about “one food”, although it appears that way to anyone who hasn’t gotten past the cover. It is advocating a very low carb, high fat (and specific fats) approach, and is cautionary on a large number of food topics.

            It’s also not hypothetical. The general advice given on this blog is: try it for at least 3 weeks, and see what happens. It’s about concrete near term results.

            > Too much or too little of anything can lead to health problems.

            Fatally false. Grains generally (not just modern techno-wheat) can be driven to zero permanently in the human diet with no harm, and major benefit.

            > I doubt, and here comes that scepticism again,
            > I will become a convert or devotee.

            It’s not a cult or religion. You can’t join it or tithe to it. It’s about real outcomes in real life. The choice is yours. You’re betting your life on that choice.

  5. Marguerite

    Several years ago a French baker told me he couldn’t get american flour to work in making French breads here in the states so he ended up importing his flour from France.

  6. Patricio Munoz

    I’m trying to get the book in spanish, is it available? and what’s the title in spanish?

    • Dr. Davis

      No, sorry, Patricio: no Spanish edition yet. 18 languages, including Portugues, but not Spanish (oddly).

      • Boundless

        Of course, there’s the fine distinction of continental Spanish vs. Latin American Spanish, and in the latter case, I should think that there would be enough US domestic demand for Rodale to just commission a translation on their own.

        • Esteban

          Serìa la revoluciòn Patricio!! te imaginas a los grandes cosorcios panificadores como la Bimbo que invaden todo Mèxico, America Latina y ahora España y USA perdiendo millones de pesos por dejar de efermar a tantas vìctimas de su poderosa mercadotecnia? La FAO ahora nos considera a los mexicanos como los màs obesos del mundo, y sabràs que no es exactamente la tortilla de maiz, si no toda la tortilla de harina, galletas, pastelitos y pan dulce. Empecemos en casa y contagiemos la idea. Volvamos a nuestras raìces de la sana comida mexicana.

      • Kiara

        How about your book transalated in Italian? …if so, how can I get my hands on a copy?. I would like to gift a friend with it….a friend who is clinically convinced that she can eat and drink whatever she desires, as long as she has her little pills besides her.

        Thank you for your reply.

  7. Susie

    In response to ChessaRose…..YES – we hear conflicting reports every day about what is good for you and what is bad for you. One day coffee is bad and the next it is good, same with eggs, milk, fish, fruit, etc. we will never be able to change that – because everyone has an opinion and tests can be run and subsequently reported on that support whatever position someone is trying to push. One thing is certain – whole foods – in the most natural state – will always be the best FUEL for our bodies. That is the lesson learned from Dr. Davis’s book. And this is something that I believe we all intuitively KNOW…but we are products of our environment. We live in a world where processed foods are pushed on us everywhere we turn. I know so many people who have raised there kids on Mac-N-Cheese, Hot Dogs, Chicken Fingers and fast food. It is no surprise that obesity is at an all time high. Adopting a WB lifestyle just makes sense! I do not view the book as a FAD DIET……it is really not a diet at all. It is a way of life. I control what food goes into my body and I choose whole natural foods as much as possible and the reward for doing same is feeling GREAT! I shop the perimeter of the grocery store, grow my own garden, buy local produce when I can, buy farm fresh eggs from a local farmer. I do not need to read labels anymore because the things I buy are in their natural state – there is no need for a label on an avocado! It’s an avocado! Whenever someone finds out that I am WHEAT FREE the first question they have is “What do you eat if you don’t have bread, pastas, crackers, etc.?” My response is ‘ I eat the good STUFF”! The stuff that you would put between 2 slices of bread or that you would serve on top of pasta. Those wheat-infested foods are like book covers…….I’d rather read (and EAT) what is on this inside more than just the cover. I feel like I have been dieting all of my life….and now finally I AM NOT! It is such a liberating feeling.

  8. Ron

    I read Wheat Belly and also the critique in Cereal Foods World by Julie Jones of St. Catherine University. Both seem to make some valid points. I have visited Italy annually for the past few years and made observations of my own that relate to this discussion. There are very few obese people in Italy even though bread and pasta are staples of their daily diet. My understanding is that Italians are healthier then we are in large measure due to their diet. So my question is this: if the wheat in Italy is essentially the same as we have here, and it is the cause of so many ills for Americans, how can this discrepancy be accounted for? I would be interested in Dr. Davis’ response if he is reading this board.

    • Dr. Davis

      Please peruse this board, Ron, for the many times this has been discussed.

      The wheat of Italy is not entirely the same, as it is different in different regions. There are a number of reasons why the Italians do not express as much of the obesity aspect, but they are indeed experiencing explosions in celiac disease, intestinal “gluten intolerance,” diabetes, and many other wheat-related conditions.

    • Tony

      High prevalence of celiac disease in Italian general population.
      Volta U, Bellentani S, Bianchi FB, Brandi G, De Franceschi L, Miglioli L, Granito A, Balli F, Tiribelli C.

      Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Cardioangiologia, Epatologia, Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, Università di Bologna, Italy.

      The worldwide increase of celiac disease prompted us to assess its prevalence in the Italian general population. The 3483 inhabitants of Campogalliano were tested for immunoglobulin A anti-endomysial antibodies. Twenty subjects showed antibody positivity and duodenal biopsy detected typical mucosal lesions of celiac disease in 17 of them; the remaining three cases had a normal villous architecture, but the finding of increased gamma/delta intraepithelial lymphocytes in all and the heterodimer DQA1*0501, DQB1*0201 in two of them was consistent with potential celiac disease. Only one patient had an overt malabsorption syndrome, characterized by diarrhea, weight loss, and severe weakness. In eight subjects atypical symptoms of celiac disease, such as dyspepsia and depression, were present, whereas the remaining subjects were silent. Celiac disease was more frequent in younger age groups. Our cross-sectional design study demonstrates that celiac disease prevalence in the Italian general population is 4.9 per 1000 (95% CI 2.8-7.8), increasing up to 5.7 per 1000 (95% CI 3.5-8.8) with the inclusion of potential cases.

      Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11478502

      • Ron

        My question relating to the recent “explosions” in Italy in celiac disease and the other wheat related conditions referred to, particularly in the young, is this: if there are indeed variants in wheat types in Italy which are different from our Frankenwheat in the US, which Dr. Davis attributes most modern wheat based diseases to, then what could the cause of the increase in these disease conditions in Italy be attributed to? Could this be the leading edge of a potential epidemic due to Frankenwheat slowly encroaching on the Italian fields?

        • Tony

          Could this be the answer?
          Italy’s average wheat production is 7,478 TMT. Average consumption is 11,256 TMT, giving Italy the rank of thirteenth in the world for average consumption. Italy is the third largest importer of wheat in the world, importing an average of 6,371 TMT. Italy’s average wheat exports are 2,718 TMT, ranking Italy as the ninth largest exporter of wheat in the world.
          Source: http://www.spectrumcommodities.com/education/commodity/statistics/wheat.html

          By the way Gary Taubes speculated that one possible reason for the difference in the obesity rates could be due to the fact that the French and the Italians consume about 1/2 of the amount of sugar the Americans do.

          • Ron

            Gary Taubes probably has a point. In my recent travels I also noticed that Italians cook with much less salt then we do. They don’t seem to snack between meals (very few snacks available in stores) and there are not many fast food restaurants. In general though their meals seem to be substantial, with multiple courses, and wine is always served. They probably get more exercise than we do from walking (and tend to use bikes and scooters more than cars). Eating foods with less sugar and salt, less snacking, less fast food and more exercise results in less overall obesity. Interestingly my wife noted (she is Italian with many relatives who still live there) that the rate of obesity in Italy has DECREASED from 60 or 70 years ago (as more women joined the work force). But has the per capita wheat consumption changed significantly in that period of time? My suspicion is that it hasn’t.

  9. Maureen

    Wondering if trying this diet wil interfere with the absorption of a couple of meds… Lamotrigine and sertraline.
    Any thoughts? This combination works very weel, and don;t want to upset the apple cart… Any thoughts? THanks! Maureen

  10. Judy

    I have read your book but didn’t see much about Spelt except that it does contain gluten. Would this be a good substitute for wheat?

  11. Delores Cooper

    Wheat Belly book made sense to me. I have eliminated wheat from my diet and lost 10 lbs in 4 weeks. I also feel better and have much better blood sugar control. I am sticking with the no wheat plan. Thank you for your ground breaking work on this area of nutrition.

  12. Why are the recipes for microwave. Don’t think they are healthy. I d like to make them in a regular oven but need infor . I really like the book.
    Thank you

  13. Everyone's Different

    A totally random comment but, for what it’s worth, all i know is that after eliminating ALL wheat from my diet (and i used to eat loads of the stuff – bread, toast, pancakes, doughnuts, scones, crumpets, the list goes on…) i’ve lost:
    a) a weird skin rash that saw me suffering from 20 to 25 boil-like cysts up and down each of my shins, and
    b) about 10 kilograms – all without sacrificing chocolate, honey, butter, cheese, red meat, wine or large, satisfying meal-portions ;)
    It’s truly been a revelation! And, i haven’t had to exercise either – The weight has just fallen off! ( a good thing since i’ve suffered chronic fatigue syndrome for most of the last 20 years and gotten rather large thanks to the enforced sedentary lifestyle!) Don’t get me wrong, i could still do with losing some more weight but… I’m eating VOLUMES, have NEVER seen the inside of a gymnasium and, after my most recent check up, the doctor said both my good cholesterol and bad cholesterol were “excellent” and the results of my diabetes test (on blood taken after drinking glucose following a 15 hour fasting-period) were the same. No mean feat for a 38 year old smoker who has both cardiovascular problems and diabetes in her recent ancestry (yes, i know, i know… I plan to quit smoking soon…) Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not saying that ditching the wheat or grains is for everyone (heck, i still eat oats!)… However, for those who have genuinely tried everything else modern medicine has to offer (doctor’s diet, drugs, etc) and drawn a blank (like me), then wheat-free living may well be worth considering… Don’t dismiss it out-of-hand just because you’re lucky and can eat the stuff and stay heathy… Not all of us are so fortunate.

  14. Sarah

    Hi. I came across your website after previously learning about the harmful effects of wheat from a book called The Body Snatchers by Susan Reed (kind of a weird source to get this information from I know, but that’s nonetheless what happened). Anyway, I’ve been on a wheat-free diet for a while now and it has cured many ailments from digestive problems, low energy, insomnia, etc. And I’ve always been on the thinner side, but even so found myself looking healthier and losing that extra fat in unwanted places (*ehem* underneath the arms and thighs). Lately, I have been trying to turn my family towards a wheat-free diet and trading wheat pasta for rice pasta so we don’t have to fully give up the spaghetti and other pasta dishes which we love so very much. Glad to finally see a specialist who is advocating this enlightening knowledge. Kudos!

  15. bahmi

    I am a 73 inch tall person, not large boned. Due to a cardiac problem, I have to try and keep weight reasonable, around 180 tops. I was flirting with 195 8 months ago.
    Bought the book “Wheat Belly”. What a revelation. Mid 170’s now, had a bit of a rough patch the first couple weeks off wheat. Likely withdrawal. My plump friends insist “life is too short, eat the breads, etc. You only live once”.

    My wife is a medical researcher and she told me that I would become lactose intolerant if I stayed off grains.

    Is this possible? Are there any contraindications to the grain free diet, does it cause other problems? Does the medical literature support the wheat free diet or do they still insist that “complex carbs” are wonderful, eat ’em up?

    • > My wife is a medical researcher and she told me that I would
      > become lactose intolerant if I stayed off grains.

      That’s a new one, which no one has reported here, by the way. It’s usually the reverse, that once well off wheat, other food allergies disappear, with dairy intolerance being the most commonly reported gone.

      > Are there any contraindications to the grain free diet, does it cause other problems?

      The generic list:
      • Be careful about wheat re-exposure. Reactions are often acute.
      • Maintain folic acid (B9) intake (that’s why it’s added to wheat flour).
      • Adjust (probably raise) salt intake. Yes, really.
      • Adjust magnesium intake.
      • Lipid readings may rise during weight loss.
      • Blood sugar may not stabilize until the weight does.
      • Don’t reduce or eliminate medications without running labs and obtaining consultation.
      • When discussing the role of diet in health, expect medical professional reactions to range from indifference to hostility. See: http://wheatfreeforum.com/index.php/topic,275.0.html
      • You may need a new wardrobe and license/passport photo.
      • You may have to surrender the handicapped parking placard.

      > Does the medical literature support the wheat free diet or do
      > they still insist that “complex carbs” are wonderful, eat ‘em up?

      The Wheat Belly book (hardcopy, anyway) contains 295 footnotes, mostly cites from lit, supporting its thesis. Diet research that is not glycemic-confounded is leading toward low carb high fat. Consensus medical opinion on diet, lipids, thyroid and diabetes are still to a large extent severely mistaken.

      If “complex carbs” means low net carb (low available, usually due to their being fiber carbs), then they are definitely preferable to high-gly carbs. Wheat is a high-gly carb, in all forms, including “whole”, and that’s only one of its long rap sheet of problems.

      • There’s another canonical caveat I need to add to the list:
        • Consider a refrigerated enteric-coated multi-strain probiotic, to reverse the genocide that wheat inflicted on your gut flora.

  16. Lisa Jo


    What about the refridgerated Ancient Awakenings Plain Coconut Kefir Pro biotic at Whole Foods? I was diagnosised with IBS and food allergies 20 years ago. Doc told me to stop wheat, barley, rye, corn, nightshades, dairy, peanuts, caffeine, alcohol and chewing gum so I did for a long time and did well. Slowly I reintroduced these poisons back into my diet, just small amounts from time to time. Big problems followed. Still dealing with unexplained bleeding after several surgeries, constipation and severe ankle swelling off and on. I’ve been following this Wheatless lifestyle again for 6.5 months now but by Dr. Davis principles and have experienced many health improvements including losing 55 lbs. I have eliminated all grains, potatoes, rice, legumes, corn, dairy, sugars and sweeteners including fruit except lemons/limes, some nightshades, eggs, all processed foods. I drink a cup of coffee on the weekend, otherwise warm lemon water or just plain water. Eating lots of green veggies, advocadoes, very small amounts of raw nuts/seeds, grass fed/wild
    caught everything, EVOO, coconut oil, advocado oil. Taking supplements as well. Am I missing something?

    • Lisa Jo

      I forgot to mention that 6.5 months ago when I started this journey it was because I had to go through testing again. Now added to the list of no-no foods are Soy, oats, carbonated anything, msg, anything in a can. Skin is so sensitive that eating the wrong thing or even applying the wrong thing to skin causes problems. In about 10 minutes or so I look severely sunburned, even in my mouth, palms of hands, soles of feet, and get hives burning like fire ant bites. Sometimes even as if they were under my skin. Severe stomach pain until I sometimes would pass out. I have seen so much improvement but still getting these swollen blood vessels in the groin area that are very painful. They fester, bleed and never completely go away. My Dr cannot give me a real reason
      . This started after two uterian ablations. Yes, two! The unexplainable bleeding continues. I refused to take any more medication when I continued to get more sick and gained nearly 100 lbs. I’m now free of many things but really want to heal my female organs as well.

    • > What about the refrigerated … biotic at Whole Foods?

      Don’t know.
      PBs only recently came to my attention as a result of an email correspondence that caused me to consider a course of PB. I went with Sigma-Tau VSL#3, which is expensive, and if I need to consider an extended course, I’ll probably check consumerlabs.com (a family member has a subscription- they lately tested PBs).

      PBs are live (or at least undead/dormant) bacteria. It needs to be a useful assortment of strains, at high enough CFUs. They need to survive the upper GI (thus the enteric coating) and be viable in the lower. The product need to not have any contaminants or adverse organisms. Refrigerated is a welcome omen. If the maker also offers prescription-only, that’s also a welcome omen. The generic vitamin aisle products are quite likely worthless. Some may even be hazardous.

      • Lisa Jo

        Thank you Boundless for your quick reply. I Always enjoy reading your post and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that you share with others. Very informative, always makes me think and often makes me smile.

        Dr. Davis thank you for helping me understand why I should have never started eating these foods again in the first place. You have cleared so much up for me. I sleep better, I don’t get sick everytime I eat, my joints don’t ache as often, my eye doctor said if my vision improves anymore I won’t need glasses at all, teeth and gums are beautiful, hair and nails healthy and growing like weeds, anxiety gone, cyst on head are getting much smaller, snoring gone, fibroids mostly gone and list goes on. I still have healing to do but realisticly I know it will not happen over night but I have faith it will happen. I am so appreciative for the healing thus far. Keep spreading the message. Heart felt gratitude.

  17. Joan Thomas

    My only question is regarding nut flours and phytic acid. This has been shown to cause bone loss, as nut flours are huge amounts of nuts, and should be soaked before eating. Any thoughts?

  18. Epiphany

    Dr. William Davis,
    I find your information very intriguing. I am a 47 year old African American woman. I have suffered with ulcerative colitis for 25 years. In 2008, I quit working as a registered nurse because my joints hurt so bad. All of my joints hurt but my doctors could not explain why. I figured your information is worth considering because about a year ago I went on an extended fast and cut all complex carbs including wheat from my diet. I didn’t single out wheat, I just singled out all processed foods. I lost over 40 pounds and had tremendous appetite control. I had no idea why it worked that way or why I felt so much better. My joints hurt less and my mobility improved greatly. My doctor was amaed too. I believe that there is validity in your research. I stumbled across my own cure by fasting & seeking God for answers. Now I know the science behind my own life-changing discovery. I might add that I never once was told that I could have a food allergy or that what I ate caused my colon to become inflamed. I don’t have a question. I plan to purchase your book. I hope to meet you one day. God bless you and your family.

  19. Carol McNeill

    You say ya want a revolution? Well, my goodness, revolutions happen in the strangest of places! Like within the pages of Wheat Belly, by the esteemed Dr William Davis, Cardiologist. I will sing from the mountain tops the info he imparts and where there is a student, the teacher (me, from the mountain tops lol) will appear!
    There is only one thing that Dr Davis could correct in his book/cd. It is that smoking is hard to stop. It truly is not, and in fact it is not only easy but enjoyable. After 36 years of smoking, having done everything to stop, some kind soul recommended “Alan Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking”. In spite of being a born skeptic, I was desperate and bought the dang book for $17.95, thinking what in heavens name can a book do to help me! Well, what that book did was exposed the TRUTH about cigarettes and stopping smoking and how we have been lied to over and over to keep us smoking (like it is harder to quit than heroin, as per C Everette Coupe (sp??), which it absolutely is NOT) I read the book, stopped smoking and it has been over 6 years now, with not one cig, nor ANY craving, A true miracle!!! So, in the next printing of Wheat Belly, perhaps the Doctor can point people in that direction rather than saying people are climbing the walls for weeks after stopping. They won’t if they read the book! Dr Davis, you have changed my life and I will be forever grateful for your courage and true desire to make us healthier. No lip service from this man…just the facts! You are now included in my group of “the people I love most”! Make your day the best ever! xo

  20. Syo

    I watched your video “William Davis – Wheat- The UNhealthy Whole Grain” on youtube.
    I found that interesting but you didn’t say anything more on Emmer grains. What about eating them?
    They are grow naturally in Near East and they are cultivated in Europe.

  21. Bev McNeill

    I have read most of the book Wheat Belly. I thought this is for me. I have been on the eating plan for two weeks and to the best of my knowledge have eaten no wheat products. But– I have only lost one pound! What am I doing wrong? I am also trying to increase my activity level, mainly swimming.
    I must add that I have not found this difficult. I do not have cravings and find I am not hungry between meals. I am afraid now to reintroduce any wheat products.
    I need a resource to guide me and help me see why this plan does not seem to be working for me.
    My daughter, who is a nurse, thinks I am not eating enough. I am eating about 1000 calories a day with almonds adding more calories. I only eat almonds in the evening but have cut back the amount.
    I hope some one can advise me. I do not want to give up having come this far.

    • Dr. Davis

      You posted this in an odd place, Bev.

      Suffice it to say that you are likely booby-trapping your own success by consuming too few calories. You are essentially in starvation mode. This turns metabolic rate down about 30% and shuts off your ability to lose weight.

      Eat MORE.

  22. Bev McNeill

    Where should I post this? This is my first time on this site. I was looking for you or someone to talk to. What more shall I eat? More protien? More cheese? more veggies? getting sick of those! I’ll try.

  23. Indigoskeye

    We purchased your book, Wheat Belly, and my husband and I began following a wheat free diet two weeks ago and are amazed at the results so far. I have lost 12 pounds and he has lost six. I see a major difference in my energy level and I have increased my daily walks from 3 km to 6 km and I think I’ll be increasing that distance again. We rid our house of everything containing wheat and bought the Wheat Belly cookbook too, which is now my bible. We are so excited to finally find out why we felt sluggish, overfull at mealtimes, and had more belly than was healthy. I am a 61 year old grandmother and these days, I’m feeling more like 31. Thanks for writing these wonderful books. They are a godsend and I wish everyone would read them.

  24. Trevor Harris

    Dr. Davis,
    My name is Trevor and I am a military man. I recently transferred to the Milwaukee area with the military. One of the first things I had to do is my annual PHA. I did this at a provider in Racine. After my results, all normal and good, I brought up weight loss and that I needed to lose substantial weight that I had not been able to for a long time. Now in the military I must maintain a certain ‘max’ weight, which has become increasingly hard for me. Full disclosure, I am 32, 5’10”, and weight fluxuates between 205-220. My max wieght is 191, but there are avenues and measurements for body fat that can pass you. I fear I will not pass in October 2013. This is excruciating to me, but also leads to the bigger picture that if I fail again in April 14, I will be processed for discharge after 11 years of faithful service. This cannot happen as I have a wife and three young children that I provide for. Again, I had normal blood reading and don’t know if I am gluten intolerant of celiac issues, but this doctor recommended your book, which I purchased yesterday Oct 23, 2013. I am going to implement your tactics and measure the results. I will still need to get a substantial amount of carbohydrates for work-outs, so I also purchased your cookbook to hopefully help me use your program as well as stick to a traditional breakdown of carb/protein/fat. On November 1, I will begin your program, along with 3-4 hourly cardio workouts per week and 2-3 wight training workouts per week. I will be making posts to this site on my progress, and hopefully what you say is true and based in science, and not just a tool to make money. Please note that making this choice was extremely difficult for me because if I don’t see any results in 3 months or so, I will have to resort to more unhealthy measures to ensure I can continue my career in the US Military. I will post good, or bad in detail and hope that you appreciate the comments either way. Thank you!

  25. Kari Schmidt

    Hello Dr. Davis,

    I have decided to go gluten free due to a condition I was recently diagnosed with called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Being a cardiologist, I am sure you may have heard of it. Most of the symptoms I deal with on a day to day basis also mimic things like anxiety, IBS, under/overactive thyroid disorders, adrenal problems. I also have struggled to maintain a healthy weight and fear that it is going to give me more health problems in the future. I have been doing a lot of substantial reading on this subject and feel that maybe this GF lifestyle is the way to go. However, how long will the gluten withdrawl last? I am in the first week of going GF, and I am not sure its triggering my POTS condition or if its just normal to feel like this. Thank you for all your hard work and research on this area. By the way, I live in Madison, WI.

    • Dr. Davis

      With your condition, you were likely told to salt your food and hydrate. This can also help you deal with the withdrawal process from the gliadin-derived opiates from wheat.

      And note that Wheat Belly is most definitely NOT a “gluten-free” lifestyle. It is a rejection of all things wheat and related grains, but rejects the notion that processed gluten-free foods made with common ingredients tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch, and rice flour should be used as replacements.

      I have indeed seen postural orstatic tachycardia respond to wheat elimination, though it may require months.

  26. gail

    Dr. Davis,
    I have had your Wheat Belly Book for a couple years and quit eating wheat for the most part. I sometimes eat whole wheat bread, but not often as it makes my joints swell and hurt. Now I am determined to never eat it again. I did not suffer from any side affects from eliminating wheat from my diet. I immediately felt better and my weight dropped 10 pounds, which is all I needed to lose. We have a wonderful food coop where I live, so I eat mostly organic. I just discovered your cookbook and am going to order that from Amazon. Your recipes do use meat and dairy. I crave milk products, but they clogged my sinuses and I have trouble breathing and need to get this would out of my diet. I also cannot eat much flesh food without becoming constipated. I would like to know if there are plenty of recipes that don’t use milk and meat, and what substitutions you would recommend. The only flesh food I eat is organic chicken and turkey. I won’t eat fish anymore because of the contaminated ocean waters. Any recommendations you have will be very much Appreciated.

    • Dr. Davis

      Many people do indeed need to avoid dairy.

      Possibilities for replacements include coconut milk products (canned and carton), as well as goat and sheep milk products.

      I’ve got to do similar things in my house due to my wife’s miserable dairy intolerance!

  27. Deane Blazie

    Dr. Davis, can you comment on Dr. Esselstyn’s book “preventing and reversing heart Disease”. There seems to be much contradictory information compares to Wheat Belly. He is adament about keeping cholesterol below 150.
    Deane Blazie

    • Dr. Davis

      This is nonsense coming from someone whose understanding of coronary disease is superficial and casual, as he is an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

      I admire his intentions, but his science is way off. This is a bit too complicated to cover in a blog question, but suffice to say that causality of heart disease can be found in the original Wheat Belly chapter called “My particles are bigger than your particles.”

  28. Hans Stoger

    Dear Dr Davis – I am reading your book Wheat Belly with great interest and also believe in your recommendations but recently in Concord NH I bought a book called the Starch Solution by John McDougall MD , he recommends exactly the opposite ,lots of good carbohydrates but otherwise a vegan diet and no added fats. You cannot both be right, would you care to comment ? ( I am not arguing , I am simply confused how 2 good doctors can arrive at such opposite conclusions thank you Hans (in Montreal Canada)

    • John Temple

      Perhaps both Doctors are correct, depending on who is listening? Until we can positively identify exact genetic/epigenetic causes for why some get/have Coeliac disease and others do not? Or how cold/flu viruses rewrite our bodies codes? The problem is there are so many unknown variables, eye color, skin color, height, weight, allergies, environment, and on and on, that it is a mistake to think everyone is alike an must follow the same rules on diet? Family history is almost never taken by physicians, nor do most patients have accurate history because people hide or lie about their imperfections. Doctors, in most cases, make decisions on 15 min of conversation, statistics of normal populations and current accepted medical knowledge that a physician can retain in his head. Not to mention, lack of specialty interactions due to time constrains, ego or pure sloppiness. In my experience, when a doctor runs out of ideas they resort to protectionism legal tactics rather then “I don’t know”. My point is that things are far more complex and time & money constraints are too restrictive to “individualize” proper medical care to any degree of accuracy. In most cases it is purely a “shotgun” approach as a catch all which works only most of the time.

  29. chauvette Marine

    Excuse-me Doctor Davis but I dont skeak and read english good.
    i kike know if he arrowroot is good or no.



  31. Scott Baehman

    Dr. Davis,
    Yesterday I saw an interview with Wayne Dyer and in this 14 minute interview he talked a lot about your book “Wheat Belly”. I bought it and it is on my Kindle and I plan on reading it next after I finish Dyer’s book. I am a Cardiac patient in Fond du Lac, WI. several years ago I was diagnosed Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy and I had to have open heart surgery in 2001 to fix the Obstructive part. I also had to have an ICD placed in me. Then in 2003 I went into A-Fib and my Cardiologist put me on Sotalol to keep me out of A-Fib. Since then I am 100 lbs over weight and I have been struggling with getting the weight off. I have even gone to a Vegetarian/Vegan way of eating, with little results for weight loss. I know I need to drop the pounds so my heart don’t have to work so hard. I have recently joined a fitness club and have been doing the treadmill for about 2 weeks now. I have dropped 2 lbs since starting. Now I hear about your book and how bad wheat and gluten are for us. I am going do what your books says and hope that the weight comes down, my Glucose (which is at 123 now) will come down. Thank you for writing this book and I am looking forward to start reading it and following what you say in it.

    • > which menu you Recommend?

      See any or all of the Wheat Belly books.

      > Vegan? Vegetarian?

      No and no.

      > … or something else?

      In a nutshell: Grain-free very-low-carb high-fat soy-free very-low-omega-6 organic GMO-free. Don’t bother counting calories, but do count net carbs.

      > and what can replace the Wheat?

      Almond or coconut flour usually.

      • JoAnne

        I am allergic to all tree nuts and some legumes like lentils and split peas. And I mean anaphylactic shock allergic, not mild itchy rash allergic. However, I am not allergic to coconut. Can I use coconut flour exclusively to replace wheat and still be able to follow the wheat belly plan?

  32. roberto

    I understand that the problems you mention are caused by the modern, genetically-altered form of “wheat”, and that you advocate eliminating all wheat from one’s diet. I have a couple of questions.
    1. Is “real”, pre-engineered wheat okay, and if so, are you aware of any sources for obtaining this wheat or flour made from it?
    2. To the best of your knowledge, are all beer brewers using genetically-altered wheat? I would think brewers using formulas that are hundreds of years old would go to great lengths to maintain sources for the ingredients in their old, unaltered state (if possible).

    • > … the problems you mention are caused by the modern, genetically-altered
      > form of “wheat”, …

      Not exactly, in my view (I’m not Dr. Davis). Wheat has inherent problems that were made substantially worse by the arrival of mutant semi-dwarf hybrid goatgrass (misleadingly sold to you as “wheat”). This exacerbation was compounded by the high yield, which has made this techno-toxin cheap and pervasive.

      > 1. Is “real”, pre-engineered wheat okay, …

      No. See: “Heirloom wheats” at:

      > 2. To the best of your knowledge, are all beer brewers using genetically-altered wheat?

      Because no wheat legally on the market was mutated using explicit gene insertion (the industry definition of GMO), no wheat is “GMO”, and it’s impossible to tell from the bottle what the genetic status is of the wheat, rye or barley used (mutant gluten-bearing strains all).

      Stick with gluten-free beer (Bards, Omission) if you drink any at all (as the net carbs are stiil moderately high).

      > I would think brewers using formulas that are hundreds of years old would go to
      > great lengths to maintain sources for the ingredients in their old, unaltered state …

      They might, but unless they present credible evidence of that, you’re left guessing.

  33. Yarith Laguado

    Hello Dr. Davis
    You mentioned that your wife is a triathlete, what are her sources or carbs when she is training? I am a marathoner and when I’m training I have to do 10-12 miles after work a 3-4 times a wk and long miles on Saturday (16-18)