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. bonnie says:

    what about sprouted grains. i buy the bread EZEKIEL. Are sprouted grains just as harmful in your opinion?

  2. Chris Athanas says:

    Does it list wheat as an ingredient? I believe it does… then its bad. Period.

  3. Mr Ralph SCHOFIELD says:

    Good afternoon Doc, I am writing to tell you that my wife first mentioned your book to me and then Bam !!!!!
    Needless to say we have kicked wheat and grains out of the kitchen and pantry four weeks ago. WOW here I sit now having lost my gut & trousers!!!! I mean I went from a size 38 plus down to 34 and have lots of colour back in my face. My lovely wife Carol is also toning up nicely, but enough of that I have been taking a cocktail of medications for my type 2 diabetes and was finding major rejections and bowel movment form this, so I stopped the wheat and the drugs !!! Wullah!!! I have not informed my doctor as yet as I went and gave some blood this morning for a fasting diagnosis. I am hoping that when I get the results back and have spoken with my doctor, that you might look at them as well for an opinion. I trust this will be okay as I am 66 years old and sooo excited to have my faculties back and memory to name a few. Thanking you in advance.

    Ralph. ( I dont think there is any need to post this on your web page though.) :)

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Go find your trousers, Ralph!

      That is truly wonderful. Just be prepared for incredulity from your doctor, who may not be acquainted with the fact that diabetes is a CURABLE condition.

      And be thankful for facial color!

      • Mr Ralph SCHOFIELD says:

        Hi Dr Davis, thank you for your prompt response to my email. Although I must warn you that I am from the land down under (Australia), Doctors are a little hesitant to change . Got the new trousers now and am off and running. I will notify you of my results ASAP.
        Regards, Ralph

  4. mam says:

    if this is true then why do asians and africans who eat a grain based diet show no real evidence of heart disease or issues with obesity in general.

  5. Michael Klein says:

    52 year old male with all the risk factors short of diabetes – A month ago I went on a Plant Strong Diet after seeing Forks Over Knives – they in fact advocate shredded wheat, oatmeal, brown rice and other whole grains. Is your experience and the science pointing to no grains including oats, etc. I’m dropping weight and risk factors with the plant based, but value all of the nutritional science research such as yours coming to light. Thank you for the information!!!

  6. Pingback: Wheat Belly Book Review - Vital Information and Wheat Belly Recipes

  7. Laura says:

    I was wondering about organic whole wheat. Can I use that in my home made bread?

  8. Shannon Maxwell says:

    Hello, my name is Shannon Maxwell.
    I am doing a book report at school on Wheat Belly and part of my project is to find out further information about the author. I stumbled onto this website and was hoping you would tell me some more about yourself! I read Wheat Belly because of my ongoing stomach complications and am looking for answers. Your book has informed me beyond belief and has helped wonders, for that I thank you. Hopefully I will hear from you soon!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Shannon–

      I’m happy to help!

      Can you be more specific in what you are looking for? Have you poked around some of the material on this blog? There is an “About the author” page that has lots of info.

  9. Daniel Wright says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I have a serious gripe with you and your so-called ‘WHEAT BELLY’ diet. So. listen up!

    I want to know WHO is gonna pay? Okay? WHO IS GOING to PAY for all the dang clothes I have to REPLACE? This is becoming a huge problem for me [well huge is not the best word, but you get the idea] and I just wanted to make you aware of it. I mean, 2 months have gone by and I have lost more than 20 LBS [220 down to 198] and I continue to shed fat at a slow but steady pace. THANKS! At this rate, I will need a whole NEW WARDROBE! And, sorry, but, it is ALL YOUR FAULT. So email me at daniel@createdwright.com and we can go over the list of things I’ll need and work out a payment that is fair. Okay? I’ll wait to hear from you. In the mean time, I am off to get a set of new, smaller belts that have holes in the right places, so I can hold up all the pants you’re going to be replacing, you whipper-snapper you. Waiting at my laptop … Daniel

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I tried posting a comment on Facebook to you, Daniel, but it currently seems to be possessed by some mad demon!

      I suggested that you join a nudist colony. That way, you can show off your lack of a wheat belly while not having to incur any further costs for your shrinking girth!

  10. Pingback: Who is Dr. William Davis and why is he saying such nasty things about “healthy whole grains”? | Wheat Belly - Weightloss and Fitness Success

  11. Elliott says:

    Dr D, Just finished your book, & although lots of it made good sense, I find myself puzzled: if all you say is true, then why r there so many folks (young & old) who consume wheat/wheat based foods who r neither overwgt, nor sickly? Perhaps I misunderstood part of the book?
    Look forward to your reply.
    Elliott

    • Dr. Davis says:

      While the majority of people experienced perceived or visible undesirable effects of wheat, not everybody does. For similar reasons, some people can eat tons of sugar, candy, and soda, yet appear healthy.

      But they are most definitely not healthy internally, judging by multiple metabolic markers, such as glucose, insulin, HbA1c, lipoproteins, etc.

  12. Rachel says:

    I agree – many cultures are quite healthy eating rice, millet and quinoa. I believe it’s the wheat, not other whole grains which are more alkalizing.

  13. Eric says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Thank you for this revelation. It is indeed quite a change in your daily diet but it’s worth the effort. In your book you describe all the negative effects that wheat in its modern form has on the human body. Does it have the same effect on animals? I would assume that wheat is a main source of food for cows, pigs and chicken, etc. Does this affect the quality and composition of their meat? I would appreciate your answer.
    Best regards from Germany, Eric

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, it is bad for animals, also, and increases linoleic (omega-6 fatty acid) content of the fat, among other complex effects.

      Perhaps ruminants can eat wheat safely, but us non-ruminants and most other mammals cannot.

  14. Dr. Davis…
    I began my little journey of Wheatless existence 5 months ago. I ate Veggies and meats and fattening things… all at the leadership of Dr. Atkins and a friend of mine in Az. Dr. Payne. The first 3 months i dropped 20 lbs. with about 30 more to say I succeeded. I am Plateaued out at 217/218 for 3 months and cannot figure out where I dropped the ball. ( I haven’t had a piece of bread, cake, or wheat in all this time.) And I have not reached the point that i should say that it is what it is and be content. There is still a 4 to 5 inch batch of fat around my waist that must leave… but it isn’t .

  15. PS… MY MIND AND GENERAL HEATH HOWEVR HAS IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY… MY STAGE 2 DIABETES has deminished to “Controlled Diabetes” by my DR.

  16. Rick R. says:

    Dr Davis,

    I saw you on the Dr. OZ show and am very interested in eliminating wheat from my diet especially after Dr Oz verified your claim that 3 out of 5 people have reduced diabetes due to the fact that genetically modifyed wheat spikes blood sugar levels even higher then eating a candy bar Dr Oz ran his own tests to verify this!
    I am very food conscious yet my health has not been good, I recently had my gall bladder removed, and have been diagnosed with border line diabetes, and irratable bowl syndrom.

    I will write back and let you know how its going, I am very anxious to give this a try.

    Regards,
    Rick

  17. Greg P says:

    Dr Davis,

    You’ll laugh because my wife was watching her favorite old TV show- Family Affair in which the main character is named; William “Bill” Davis. She had just changed the channel to Dr. Oz and saw him introducing Dr. William Davis. Coincidence? I suppose so.

    I have not read your book yet but I applaud you for your research and your outside the box or “outside the cubicle” -as I like to say- thinking. At age 51 standing all of 5’9 and 156 lbs I was barley overweight but my weight was creeping up slowly and my total cholesterol was starting to creep upwards to about 217 about a year ago. My son bought me Dr. Esselstyn’s; “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” last Christmas and I read it in about one week. I started to follow the plant based diet and also dropped a full pant size and at my follow up visit and weighed in at about 134 lbs a few pounds over my high school weight – about two months later my total cholesterol had dropped from 217 to 160! I have to say that I was not a perfect patient, I have cheated and had pizza a few times and more bread than I can keep track of some white but mostly wheat – and still I was feeling like I was in my twenties again or younger, at my last visit a a few weeks ago my cardiologist said that my blood pressure is that of a teenager. I am also on a heart arrythmia medication for A fib which I’ve had since I was probably in my twenties or earlier though it wasn’t diagnosed until I was 32. That said; the mostly plant based diet has seemed to work so far for the past year and i know others seem to do well on high protein diets. How do we sort through the maze of diets, should we be combining the Wheat and Plant diets to gain optimal health? Thank you for your hard work, courage and dedication and for not being afraid to rattle the cages of the food and medical industries.

  18. Greg P says:

    Just to maybe clarify a little. Dr Esselstyn feels meat and dairy and even oils are the cause of our obesity and heart problems while some feel it is carbs and your theory suggests it is wheat and whole grains. I guess what I’m wondering is there some sort of a happy medium among diets where people can combine say a plant based , wheat free and or a protein diet and still be healthier maybe using a plant strong as opposed to plant only diet with some lean meat, chicken and or fish and cutting out the wheat? Would you get the best of both worlds or lose the effect of all of them?

    Thanks Again

  19. Pam J says:

    I watched you on Dr Oz and found whta you said to be very interesting. I am confused with the definition of a wheat products for one ingredient foods. For example, is brown rice, Quinoa and Oatmeat considered a wheat product? If yes, then how does a person get enough fiber besides fruits/vegetables in a day. I currenlty eat about 90% plant based foods eliminating packaged/factory made foods.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, no, and no! But they are still not all that healthy.

      There was only so much I could cover on the Dr. Oz Show, though I was grateful to have the opportunity to air these views. But it cannot substitute for reading all the arguments articulated in detail in the book.

  20. Jenny Conley says:

    Dr. Davis,
    Last spring I suffered from dibilitating muscle spasms in my lower back that left me unable to walk for weeks. I would stand up and not be able to stand straight, and be in excruciating pain. I considered myself fairly healthy, a few pounds overweight (10) and very active. My doctors, an internist, physiatrist and physical therapist tried drugs and therapy to get me back to normal. Months went by without a lot of improvement. After seeing an acupuncturist and following her recommendation that I avoid wheat, sugar, dairy and alcohol (common causes for inflammation, which may have been related to my pain) I began to feel better.
    Through my own research I found information about wheat and the proteins that are causing such havoc on our bodies. Your appearance on the Dr. Oz show reaffirms what I have come to find on my own. I remember learning about genetically modified foods in my chemistry, (or was it biology?) class in college 20 years ago and thinking this is a travesty. We now have evidence that our bodies cannot utilize foods that are genetically modified. Thank you for speaking out.
    Jenny

    • Dr. Davis says:

      That’s great, Jenny.

      Many of us are coming to similar conclusions, each from our unique perspective. But I marvel at how many of us are converging on the same conclusion: Wheat is not suitable to eat for any human!