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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590 Responses to Who is Dr. William Davis and why is he saying such nasty things about "healthy whole grains"?

  1. Kristen Fecteau says:

    Dear Dr. Davis,
    I live in the Milwaukee (Wauwatosa/West Allis) area. I read in your current book that you too reside in the area. I am interested to know if you shop at a regular grocery store, like a Pick N’ Save, or if you prefer to shop at a store with more organic choices, like The Outpost?

  2. Tanya says:

    I found your site hoping to help myself with my symptoms. My family doctor has told me I have fibromyalgia/CFS.
    I see that you specialize in Internal Medicine as well as Cardiology.

    My question is this: I have reason to believe that my fibro & my asthma are due to living in a moldy house. Do you have any experience treating such issues? (I have just moved out.) I am much better than I was a year ago (I was taking sick leaves from work, the fatigue was unrelenting & unbearable, it was all I could do to get up & have breakfast & I’d need to go back to bed!) but am still nowhere near better. I am able to work 5-hour shifts without collapsing when I get home. My breathing has not improved & I’m on Advair. Since going wheat-free I have lost weight (I’m 5’7″ and at one point last summer weighed 166, I am now 144) but I fear that without some kind of specialized treatment I will never be 100% better. I read about Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker in Maryland who does nothing but treat moldy people, however I am Canadian & would have no coverage (and have no money).

    Do you have any advice for me Dr. Davis? Have you treated anyone for this, and what is the prognosis for improvement? I eat alot of organic garlic. I’ve tried taking coconut oil twice but reacted badly to it (extreme racing heart, my naturopath told me it affects how you absorb calcium) so that is definitely out for me.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, Tanya: No experience in treating mold issues.

      Have you considered a functional medicine practitioner?

      • Tanya says:

        Yes I have but they are not covered under OHIP plus I don’t have one in my town & I have no vehicle…

        My breathing issues come & go.. some days I breathe easier, seems to be the days that are not so humid/damp, which seems to confirm a mold illness.

        Thank you for replying Dr. Davis.

        Just bought your book last week & I love it!

  3. Anna says:

    since wheat is bad for us what do you say about organic wheat?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      It’s poison without herbicide or pesticide residues, I’m afraid, Anna: Better but not good by any means!

  4. Pingback: TPV Podcast, Episode 17: Paleo 101 | Paleo Parents

  5. Lois Gehrig says:

    Dr. Davis,
    I read your Wheat Belly book and have improved my health by getting rid of the wheat. What other grains
    have the disturbing protien in them. Is Amaranth safe for guten intollerance? Which is the best grain you can recommend?
    Lois Gehrig
    booper2@cableone.net

    • Dr. Davis says:

      You might not like this, Lois, but . . . NONE!

      Unfortunately, despite their popularity and ubiquity, all grains represent compromises in health to various degrees. If your goal is ideal health, have NONE!

  6. Barbara Kirmse says:

    I am probably at the weight I should be (123lbs) for my height which is: 5 feet,5 inches, and my age is 64, but I still have fat on me, with a spare tire around my waist. I’ve been on Wheat Belly program for about two weeks, but can’t seem to lose anything. Does this diet only work for very obese people? Next question….does this diet only attack fat on the belly? Do you lose weight on any other part of body as well? Thank you.

  7. Joyce Halvorsen says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I am excited to try The Wheat Belly Diet. I just have one question for you. Will my cholesterol go up?
    Thanks for your reply!

  8. Linda Carol says:

    I want to go on a no wheat diet, and order your book also, I think it is great. Just one question, will it be OK, if I still use wheat germ in my yogurt? thankyou, Linda

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Among the worst things you could do, Linda, as it is a concentrated source of wheat germ agglutinin, a direct intestinal toxin.

  9. William says:

    Dr. Davis,
    Saw you on Dr. Oz and happy I did.
    My biggest wheat transgression is my love of beer,
    which I assume contains wheat.
    Question: Do European brewers use the same short
    varieties or have they maintained their ingredient integrity?
    William

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Unfortunately: nobody knows.

      In other words, the specific strains of wheat used to brew beer or make bread are not a consideration. So we have no idea, for instance, when we have a glass of beer or a slice of bread what specific strain of wheat it originated from, European, American, or otherwise.

      It means that, to minimize the health problems that derive from exposure to the constituents in wheat, drink non-wheat beers like
      Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Greens, or Red Bridge.

  10. Chris says:

    Dr. Davis,
    Just wanted to say Thank You for your book and the insight you’ve given me and my family.

    Diagnosed August 3, 2012 with Type II Diabetes (metered over 400, blurry vision), I was pointed to your book by several people, and started reading. Christmas Day 2012 marked an 80lb weight loss, and numbers that filled my Dr. with cheer. Vision totally restored and 30 day average of 90ml/dl on my meter.

    Thank you for giving me my life back!
    Chris

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wow, Chris: a spectacular and rapid success!

      I’d love to hear the full details. If you are comfortable doing so, I’d like to hear more and post as a Wheat Belly Blog post. Think of all the diabetics who have not heard that it is curable with such an easy and simple effort!

  11. Britt Manner says:

    I sprinkle Chia Seeds and Gold Flaxseed Meal on my yoghurt, good for bad for me? Is the bread you buy in Europe better than the bread we buy in the US. As far as I know they have much stricter laws on what goes into their food.

    • Boundless says:

      > … Chia Seeds and Gold Flaxseed Meal …
      Recommended.

      > Is the bread you buy in Europe better than the bread we buy in the US.
      No, or not in any way that matters. The dough may be aged, and may be from slightly older wheat strains, but is sufficiently toxic that it needs to be avoided entirely.

      > … stricter laws …
      Which may have little effect on wheat imports, as no North American wheat is “GM” [yet] (within the narrow and misleading definition for that).

  12. Nan says:

    Dr Davis,
    I am reading your book and agree with all you have to say. I have a background in nutrition and agree with that the food guide pyramid is making a fat, but have never been able to convince anyone else.Thanks for your book.

  13. josey says:

    i would like to know if king arthur flour uses old wheat or if it is no better than the rest? and if it isn’t old wheat, then are there no organic wheats that can be eaten? thanks.

    • Boundless says:

      “Milled from 100% USA Wheat”
      Since KAF declines to get more specific than that, I presume it’s just ordinary modern techno-wheat.

      If you find a wheat that claims to be an heirloom, it may not actually be.

      Even if it is, it still contains gluten, and is still a sky high glycemic carb.

      > … there no organic wheats that can be eaten?

      With wheat, “organic” buys you only symbolic improvement over non-organic. The major stealth toxins are all still there, in full force. It’s much like organic hemlock in that regard.

  14. Bob says:

    I quit eating bread to loose weight. than I found my stomach problems went away. had arthritis in two fingers. one stopped hurting and another has considerably less pain and can be Made into a fist. I have more energy and have lost weight. Have high blood pressure and cholosterol, hope they go down.
    I was not looking for this but I will never eat glutton again but will continue to do research like this site. Will post blood test if anyone interested next month

  15. Karen Moeckel says:

    What if anything can we do when we get a craving for Bread or Biscuits etc… I have not read your book as I just happened upon your site from a share that a friend put up on facebook tonight. I am trying to loose weight after gaining 20 pounds from quitting smoking 2 years ago and I am Stuck .. Any suggestions would be appreciated
    Thank you, Karen

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, try the recipes on this blog, in the Wheat Belly book, or the new Wheat Belly Cookbook.

      For example, make Pecan Streussel Coffee Cake, Carrot Cake, Apple Walnut Bread, or Mocha Walnut Brownies. All will help put out those darned wheat/junk cravings, especially while you are in the throes of wheat withdrawal!

  16. Lisa says:

    My 12 year old son was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2006 and his current treatment is Remicade infusions every eight weeks to control the horrific symptoms he was experiencing. I have read the the short bio in your book regarding Wendy on page 86 and wonder if she removed anything else from her diet such as sugar? I am a mom who is in constant search of a better plan for my son although Remicade plus blood transfusions saved his life so this is where we are right now. I have another book that removes more than wheat from his diet to reverse the colitis including homemade yogurt but am curious if it may be as simple as removing gluten only? We are fully aware that Remicade will not last forever so I need a solid plan B when he becomes resistant. Thank you for your time and thoughts.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Removing wheat is the biggest part of the battle, by a long stretch.

      However, an occasional person also benefits by eliminating dairy. And NOBODY, ulcerative colitis or no, should be indulging in sugars, anyway.

  17. josey says:

    thanks bloundless. is techno wheat actually called hybrid? i ask because i understand that we have no gmo flour in the U.S. unless that is wrong info.

    i have been off all grains for way over a week and don’t seem to be losing. i do have thyroid issues and am taking armour for it, but i almost feel that it is a losing battle to lose. i am also using stevia in place of sugar. at least i lost the bloating i had and the indigestion.

    • Boundless says:

      > … is techno wheat actually called hybrid?
      That KA Flour is quiet likely typical triticum aestivum, or semi-dwarf hyrbid wheat, what I often call techno-wheat.

      > … i understand that we have no gmo flour in the U.S. unless that is wrong info.
      There is no GMO wheat in the market, yet, as the industry narrowly defines “GM”. If RoundUp Ready gets released, there will be GMO wheat. The industry casts “GM” as explicit gene insertion. What was actually done, by the so-called traditional means, was random gene insertion. See:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/09/worse-than-genetic-modification/

      > i have been off all grains for way over a week and don’t seem to be losing.
      What else are you eating? In particular, what is your daily net carb intake?

      • josey says:

        i have not counted carbs, but i eat 3 eggs and a slice of ham with a glass of milk, and later on i have plain yogurt, and then later on spinach, tomato, avocado, oil, vinegar, and either feta cheese or chicken or i have a smoothie 2 eggs, kefir, one orange, handfull of berries, and several almonds and 3 brazil nuts and a glass of milk, and then later if i am hungry i will have more yogurt.

        • Boundless says:

          Sorry for the tardy reply, but there’s no notice here of replies, so I only see them if I’m browsing old bookmarks.

          > i have not counted carbs, …

          It appears to be higher than you might guess. I’m also seeing a lot of unfermented and partially fermented dairy, and I’ll conjecture that the insulinotropic effect of that can easily stall weight loss. Keeping in mind a target of 15 grams net carbs per meal or 6-hour period, and 50 grams net per day …

          > but i eat 3 eggs and a slice of ham with a glass of milk …

          One cup of whole milk is 13 grams net carb, plus the insulinotropic effect.

          > … , and later on i have plain yogurt, …

          Yogurts vary considerably, but one cup can easily be the whole 15 grams net carbs.

          > … and then later on spinach, tomato, avocado, oil, vinegar, and
          > either feta cheese or chicken or i have a smoothie ..

          What’s in the smoothie? Typical recipes are extremely carb- and fructose-heavy.

          > … 2 eggs, kefir, one orange, handfull of berries, …

          One orange is usually more than 15 grams net carbs, a lot of which is fructose.

          >… and several almonds and 3 brazil nuts and a glass of milk, and then later if i am hungry i will have more yogurt.

          More milk and yogurt. Looks to me like the carbs could be reduced, the unfermented dairy could be reduced and the fructose could be reduced before exploring any of the other obstacles to weight loss (and thyroid could easily be factor, but I would expect that to be under control with attention to the Armour dosage).

          See:
          http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/12/wheat-belly-quick-dirty-2/
          and also search for “Goodbye Fructose” here.

  18. Roxanne M. says:

    Thankyou, Dr. William Davis
    I wish you could get some restruants to offer healthy grain breads. I eat at home most of the time because I can’t eat the breads and pasta that they serve. Few restruants offer the glueten free alternatives, it hasn’t caught on in the cafe’s. I’ve lost 35 pounds since I found out it was the glueten and wheat that were making me sick. My aches and pains in my joints and muscles flare up if I don’t stick to my healthy eating. If I want to stay feeling great I just try not to cheat on the wheat. It’s hard though when I see others eating baked goods I shouldn’t eat. I eat meat and vegetables when I go to a restraunt. I do use other good foods in place of breads, I cook with coconut oil and eat seeds and nuts. I am looking forward to buying your book so I can add more zing to my home cooking. I just heard about you on the news this morning and I know from personal experience that cutting out wheat in it’s present form has been harmful for me.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      It will happen, Roxanne: Truly healthy wheat- and gluten-free products NOT made with gluten-free junk carbs!

      It’s going to happen in 2013! I will announce as these products come to market over the coming year.

  19. josey says:

    p.s. thanks for explaining about wheat.

  20. josey says:

    for the first time in years my b/p is normal, and i mean real normal. i have taken it 3 times to see if i am wrong. but i was 140/90 to 150/100 and now i am getting readings at 120/76 and below. wow! i would like to say that my shortness of breath that a doctor said was asthma is gone, but i am not sure. i only know that i haven’t noticed in several days and it was a daily event. i finally lost one lb.