It takes a village . . . to be wheat-free

Say you live in a village.

And in this village, everyone drinks water from the same well in the center of town. Everyone brings their own bucket, lowers it, brings it back up and carts it home to have water to drink and cook.

One day, 9 out of 10 people drinking from the well get sick. Suspecting that it’s something in the water, those 9 out of 10 stop drinking the water, retrieving water instead from the river 2 miles away. Those 9 out of 10 quickly get better.

They then return to the well for their water. After all, it’s right in the center of town and not a couple of miles away. The 9 out of 10 get sick again. They stop drinking the water from the well, then get better again.

On again, off again. The process repeats itself over and over again, reproducibly and consistently. Few are spared.

So the mayor declares the water tainted. “The solution is simple,” he proclaims. “Stop drinking from the well and drink only from the river!”

Ah, but then the political fireworks start. The well stands on the property of the largest landowner in town. He permits use of his well to villagers because a portion of the taxes they pay all go towards paying for the use of the well. The landowner objects: “Why blame the well water? How do we know it’s not a contagious illness brought to us by visiting foreigners? Or it could be the wrath of God! Why should we blame the water–it’s only water, after all! What proof do you have? I insist you drink the well water!”

So this is the situation we find ourselves in with wheat. On again, off again, the adverse health effects, from mental fogginess to intestinal distress and destruction, can be triggered and can be turned off.

So should you continue to drink the water, i.e., eat this thing being sold to us called “wheat,” until the USDA and other “official” agencies give us the go ahead to NOT eat it? The landowner (the keepers of the status quo) will insist that you drink the water (eat the wheat) until you are given the go ahead to not drink or eat it.

I ain’t doin’ it. I’m not drinking from the well and I’m not eating the wheat.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Cindy

    Eight days wheat free and I have never felt better!
    My hands don’t hurt, my feet don’t hurt, I can get out of bed in the morning, I am clear headed, have lots of energy, am down 4 pounds and not hungry all the time.
    Here is the weird thing….I have always had puffy eyelids just like my grandmother. This morning, I looked in the mirror and they were much less puffy than before.
    Thank you!!! This is unbelievable!

    • Hi, Cindy–

      I love hearing these stories! And more and more ladies are telling me about the puffy or droopy eyelids. I talked to a radio personality today who was actually scheduled for plastic surgery of her eyelids, only to have the entire problem disappear when she eliminated wheat.

  2. Dr. Davis,
    Great way to put it! I’ve been trying to think of an analogy to use for this lethargy of government and business so your approach worked well!
    You should know that a Reuters news item popped up late yesterday on the link between insulin, insulin resistance, and Alzheimer’s disease. My next thought was DIET, for avoiding insulin resistance in the first place, so I published a post on it, including a reference to you:
    Sorry, I didn’t know what specifically to say about wheat and insulin resistance, but perhaps you can!!

  3. Bud Wood

    About 15 years ago I stopped eating wheat and foods made of wheat flour. That was because of my concern with possible celiac disease. I lost some weight and am 200 lb. which is not too bad for 6’4″ height (no wheat belly). However, I remain a bit concerned with eating rye crackers and whole grain rice because a recent blood test showed high glucose levels. I’m getting the opinion that meat and vegetables are the only way to go (and I know that potatoes are not vegetables).

    • Yes, Bud, you are absolutely correct.

      Unwinding the adverse effects of a lifetime of excessive carbohydrate consumption requires something close to carbohydrate elimination.

  4. Kathy

    Dr. Davis, Thank you for writing this book. I have struggled falling on and off the wheat wagon for years. I am gluten intolerant and find myself craving it like an alcoholic craves a drink. I went back to eating wheat a year ago, and my bleeding gums, joint pains, sinus pain, and bloat came back. I have had a face rash (gluten face?) for several months that is not responding to traditional eczema treatment. Let’s just say I’ve been scared straight-almost a week now without wheat. I feel like I have the flu but already my head is clearer. I can’t believe that I keep going back to this poison.

    • Hi, Kathy–

      Oh, I love this “scared straight” notion!

      The psychological “pull” of this thing can truly be incredible. No other food has the potential for addiction and enticement that this product of extensive genetic alteration misleadingly called “wheat” has. It will go down as the biggest dietary blunder and campaign of dietary misinformation . . . EVER.

      • Pam

        I agree with Kathy that the pull sometimes is terrible! I find myself craving the things I especially loved (shredded wheat, for one, in the mornings) a couple of times a week. Been wheat free for 3 weeks now and I’m able to fight the temptations well since I’m feeling so much better. My husband did say last night that I must be really serious about this since he saw 2 boxes of shredded wheat in the trash bag he took out!
        Also on the recipes-on the website there is a tab for diet & nurtrition. Click on that then on the gluten free tab. Alot of recipes that aren’t just for bread & sweets. Although for weight loss you do have to modify some of the recipes a little. There are some good sounding stir frys.

        • Thanks, Pam!

          As I told another reader: The longer you are wheat-free, the longer you are wheat-free. The “pull” of wheat diminishes its power over you as time passes.

  5. I stopped eating wheat and most grains six months ago as part of a low-carb diet. For many months, all I focused on was losing weight. Then a few weeks ago it dawned on me that my digestion had markedly improved. I had gotten used to a chronic GI distress. That’s gone now, along with 45 pounds of body fat. Your book offers a convincing explanation of why. If I eat any wheat, it will be einkorn and in limited amounts. Even that I will cut if the GI symptoms or weight returns. I don’t need wheat.

    • Well said, Jim!

      Buried within the success of low-carb diets is the process of wheat elimination. In other words, much of the success of low-carb diets is really due to the elimination of wheat, what I call “the worst of the worst” in the carbohydrate category.

  6. Susan

    Dr. Davis, Congratulations on your book! I am about 20 pages into it and find it fascinating and motivating. I first went wheat/gluten free January 1, 2011. I gave up anything with gluten, all grains (even those that are gluten free), and all beans. Though I did not have any symptoms per se, I just wanted to eat healthier. After 2 months, I lost 8 lbs and my body fat went down 4% to 19% My occasional allergy symptoms disappeared and I felt great.

    My question to you- does getting off wheat-going gluten free have side effects? I have had several bouts of either dry heaves or barfing bile. I had this every 3rd day in a nine day period about 8 weeks into wheat free. I am wondering if my belly is reacting to going wheat free or perhaps it is unrelated?

    • Hi, Susan–

      Wait ’til you read the next 20 pages!

      That’s peculiar. It makes me wonder whether you are repopulating your intestinal tract with a new collection of microorganisms. Wheat consumption is associated with distortion of the normal bacteria residing in the intestinal tract. I’ll bet that your intestinal tract is now being repopulated by a more normal population.

      You might consider a lactobacillus and bifidobacteria probiotic preparation to accelerate the process.

  7. Tori Spinoso

    Dr. Davis,

    My “village” isn’t on board with 100% eliminating wheat. He claims that if he wants to eat a pizza or a scone once a month it isn’t going to harm him. I am all for the elimination but we are having difficulties because he doesn’t understand why I won’t give in once a month for family pizza night or that Sunday morning scone once a month. My question for you is……would it harm someone to eat a few slices of pizza once a month? I haven’t been tested for gluten sensitivity but will be soon. I have no symptoms but I do know that most people don’t. If it turns out that the test are negative and I don’t feel like I have a reaction to wheat, would it hurt to eat it literally once/month? I likely will not but would just love an answer to the question so when the argument occurs again (I wouldn’t eat pizza at the in-laws tonight), I will have a great reply

    • HI, Tori–

      You’re gonna hate this: It depends.

      It depends on a number of factors. For instance, about 30% of people who go wheat-free who have an indulgence will get a re-exposure reaction, usually a food poisoning like effect of diarrhea and cramps. Others get joint pains and swelling, asthma, sinus congestion, or emotional effects.

      I worry that people who do not have perceptible effects are nonetheless prone to effects that do not reach consciousness. For instance, the increased intestinal permeability induced by wheat lectins (wheat germ agglutinin) that can, with repeated consumption, lead to inflammatory diseases will not provide warning until you, for instance, develop joint inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, or difficulty with balance and bladder control of ataxia and neuropathies.

      My personal view is that the uncertain effects of occasional consumption are just not worth it. Have you tried the recipes? Perhaps that will satisfy your husband’s “need” for the occasional indulgence. And stay tuned: more recipes to come.

    • Pattye

      Hi Tori, What I have found from playing around, yo-yoing for several years with wheat elimination, is that every time I got back for “just this one time” indulgence, the repercussions are worse each time. Wheat truly is a highly addictive substance and should be treated with the same avoidance reverance as an alcoholic has for their substance.

  8. tori spinoso

    Thanks for the reply. Before grain-free, I would not have considered myself a cook. Many things came out of a box. Now, I have found so many recipes and I actual experiment with foods. It is quite fun.

    we live so close to each other (we are in Madison), that I am going to try to get my husband in to see you. His father and brother have heart issues. Maybe genetic but possibly made worse by eating habits.

  9. findley davis

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    So far I’ve been wheat free for 2 1/2 days, preparing and eating only your recipes from your book (which are delicious by the way).
    I have flu like symptoms like headache, muscle aches, and general malaise. Is this typical, or might I just have the flu?
    Thank you in advance.
    (anyone who hasn’t made the flaxseed wraps yet should RUN into the kitchen and make a few. They are fantastic)

    • Dr. Davis

      Sounds like typical wheat-withdrawal, Findley.

      Give it a couple more days and most people emerge at the other end bursting with energy!

  10. Theresa brittain

    I have been off Gluten for about a week now and have noticed a big difference in my stomach pain. About 6 months I had C-diff and a string of bad illnesses and my stomach just wasn’t the same. I have developed a strange itchiness in the last 2 days. Is that a normal detox symptom? The itchiness is all over my body, no rash, and not extremely itchy. Could I be allergic to something else? I am pretty sure I have not added anything that my body has never had before. Any advice?

    • Dr. Davis

      Besides some Benadryl/diphenhydramine or another antihistamine, Theresa, grin and bear it.

      Wheat withdrawal is no fun, but a necessary step to get to the nirvana of wheatlessness!

  11. Carol

    I have been gluten and wheat free for a week now. Yes I feel better….less bloated…I do however have a few questions on what I am experiencing. Bowl movements are very low….this can’t be good? ?? I also am still having some cravings and am not sure if its due to not eating enough or from rogue wheat…..suggestions? I do eat some gluten free products…..but I am working hard at NO wheat …. lots of fresh Vega and eggs and chicken and such……anyway….I’m trying. I NEED THIS CHANGE.

  12. Caroline

    7 full days wheat free. The GI and bloating issues are gone, I’m sleeping better and on less sleep. My back isn’t sore all the time anymore and I have more energy. I don’t have the cravings that I used to and coffee doesn’t feel like a staple. And mental clarity…WOW, that foggy feelng that I’ve lived with is o more. I’m very happy to be on this quest for health. Oh yeah andive lost a few pounds too