What’s wrong with that banana?

This post initiates a series of conversations about how to manage carbohydrates in the diet once you’ve eliminated the ugliest, smelliest, rottenest, most foul carbohydrate of all: wheat.

Wheat Belly, of course, exposes the disastrous effects of widespread consumption of this genetically-altered grain. Remove all modern wheat from the diet and weight plummets, blood sugar drops, arthritis reverses in many people, chronic sinus infections improve, asthma improves, acid reflux disappears, cramps and diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome are gone . . . on and on.

So why bother to limit carbohydrates after wheat?

Because the overwhelming likelihood is that, if you live in the U.S., you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or what I call pre-pre-diabetic. That includes just about everybody. Only rare exceptions fall outside of this group . . . and they are mostly slender, pre-menopausal females who exercise at high levels.

This situation results from a lifetime of excessive carbohydrate consumption, wheat and otherwise. It leaves us with high blood sugars and HbA1cs (long-term blood sugar), small LDL particles, and high triglycerides. It also leaves us with beaten-up, tired pancreases that have reduced numbers of functioning, intact beta cells that produce insulin. It means the vast majority of us are heading straight for full-blown diabetes and a need for insulin injections. Surely you’ve seen the headlines: 1 in 2 Americans expected to be diabetic; 336 million diabetics worldwide. This is not the exception; it’s the rule.

The drug industry, of course, celebrates diabetes, since the diabetes drug market is enjoying double-digit annual growth. The American Diabetes Association advocates a high-carbohydrate diet. And the Board Members of wheat trade groups have very close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

I limit carbohydrates because your burned-out, tired, overworked pancreas has limited life left before it poops out and you become diabetic. For many of us, all it takes is an apple or a banana and we have diabetic or near-diabetic range sugars.

But there’s more to it than that. Ask John Q. Primary Care doctor and he or she will tell you that, if your after-eating blood sugar is 200 mg/dl or less, you don’t “need” insulin or diabetes medications and you’re okay. Is that true?

No, it is the farthest thing from the truth. The truth of it is that any blood glucose of 90 mg/dl or more triggers glycation. (See the Dowager’s Hump chapter in Wheat Belly.) A blood glucose, say, of 153 mg/dl that results after a bowl of organic, stone ground oatmeal triggers accelerated glycation of the proteins in:

the lenses of your eyes–cataracts
the cartilage cells of your joints–brittle cartilage, then arthritis
the cells lining your arteries–atherosclerosis
the cells of skin–wrinkles

We live in The Age of Carbohydrate Excess, thanks to the revenue-seeking practices of Big Food seeking high markup foods (how else can you convert a nickel’s worth of wheat flour, cornstarch, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, and food coloring into a $3.99 product, complete with sports figure, cartoon character, or “heart healthy” claim?) and to the misguided advice of “official” agencies all advising us to . . . eat more “healthy whole grains.” Elimination of wheat followed by limiting other carbohydrates allows us to enjoy more time as non-diabetics and non-pre-diabetics with better eyesight, healthier joints, fewer heart attacks, and smoother skin.

Like This Post? Sign Up For Updates — It’s FREE!

Plus receive my latest collection of recipes, Wheatbelly Hearty Entrees!

Comments & Feedback...

  1. Susan

    Dr. Davis, Another excellent article! Please keep them coming!!!

    I had a lipid profile blood test performed two years ago and I have LP(a). I have been taking niacin and n-acetyl cysteine which lowered it some. Might I expect a future test to be normal after going off wheat and being gluten free?

    • No, Susan, sorry. This diet approach, i.e., wheat elimination followed by low-carbohydrate and enriched in fat and oil intake will, in the majority reduce Lp(a) modestly but not substantially.

      My new first choice for Lp(a) is high-dose fish oil. Hands down, this is the most effective treatment for Lp(a) I’ve ever seen. Please my recent posts under “Lipoproteins zero” in my Heart Scan Blog where I talk about these issues much more extensively. Note that this effect works in about 70% of people but takes a minimum of 1 year, more likely 2-3 years. Very slow but surprisingly effective, given the struggles with Lp(a).

      • Susan

        Thanks for your reply. Initially LP(a) was 112. My Dr. put me on 500 mg niacin 2 X per day plus 900 mg n-acetyl cysteine 2 X per day. I was also taking five capsules of EFASirt (Fish oil) 2 X per day. The follow up test showed my LP(a) to be 74.1 so my doctor suggested I double the niacin and n-acetyl cysteine dose to a total of 2,000 niacin per day and 2700 mg n-acetyl cysteine per day plus the EFASirt. The next test dropped to 54.2. I will be eager to see if eliminating wheat will bring it down even further.

        BTW: I take curcumin, lysine, resveraSirt, buffered C and about a dozen other supplements daily. I have read that curcumin, lysine and buffered C help with LP(a).

  2. 52 and I’ve had the cataracts and some arthritis already, and hypertension. So far not too many wrinkles, but they’re showing up. The way my joints hurt when I’m dumb enough to eat any wheat again, I’m feeling what you write…. so far I’m cutting out the wheat and rice and rarely eat bananas, try to eat low carb as much as I can and feel it when I don’t…

    • Hi, Donna-

      You are much too young to have these sorts of struggles. I am optimistic that with your new diet, and time, that you will enjoy newly-rediscovered health!

  3. Okay. I read the book. (I have the perfect before picture.) I lost five pounds the first five days. But… I’d found some nifty gluten-free bread and pizza crust mixes, and while they have no wheat, they have those starches you describe as worse for blood sugar than wheat. I did not take that seriously, and on two occasions I have proved you right. The weight loss stopped, and reversed. These mixes contain: whole grain buckwheat, garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, cornstarch, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, whole grain sorghum flour, tapioca flour, evaporated cane juice, cocoa powder, fava bean flour, molasses powder (molasses, maltodextrin, silicon dioxide), xanthan gum, caraway seeds, active dry yeast, sea salt, whole grain teff, potato flour, onion powder, guar gum and soy lecithin. Are potato starch and cornstarch what you’re talking about? Do any of these other ingredients have the effect of a starch?

    Are you saying that ANY kind of bread or cracker or tortilla or pizza crust or bagel are off the table?

    Little help here, please.

    • Try flaxseed meal or almond flour–they’re *extremely* low in carbs, with plenty of fiber and protein and fat. They’re more difficult to bake with than other “flour” products, but IMO they taste better. I’ve been eliminating most carbs from my diet for about three months now (less than 40 grams carbohydrates per day), with good results–most of my various aches and pains are reduced if not eliminated. I don’t get stiff if I sit for a while, so it makes it easier for me to get up and move around. I’ve lost some weight (at least 10 lbs so far, maybe more). My digestive system seems to be working properly for once.

      It’s encouraging. I especially want to lose the weight, considering I’m 32, female, 5’10” and I weigh 370 lbs. as of my weighing this morning. (That’s down from 379 last week, btw.) Most of the time I used to feel about 75. Nowadays, with the change in diet, I feel merely old instead of ancient.

    • Look up Paleo recipes on Google. You will need to filter out any that include large amounts of honey or various fruit or high-starch veggie purees, but there are some surprisingly good ones out there. Low-carb recipes can sometimes be good too. Google “cleochatra Your Lighter Side” and you will find a blog with all sorts of LC bread and crust substitutes and not all of them have frankenfoods in them. Her cauliflower pizza crust is to die for, if you like cauliflower.

      I’ve started experimenting with recipes using coconut flour. Had a pretty good batch of pancakes today and nary a grain in sight. Next will come almond flour but good almond flours are tough to find off the Internet–most companies just grind almonds and call it flour, which is fine if you want almond meal in a recipe but can be gross if you wanted something lighter. You also have to resign yourself, even when a recipe turns out correctly, to never again getting the same kind of texture and cooking/baking behavior as you got with any of the grain or grainlike (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat) flours. That’s going to have to be OK or you will backslide a lot. Speaking from experience and observation here.

  4. Okay, I’ve spent some time looking at “gluten-free” bread recipes, and they all feature cornstarch, tapioca starch, or potato starch. Are these the starches you’re talking about? I suppose I could make something resembling bread without the starches, but it would mean throwing away the gluten-free wheat-free bread and pizza crust mixes I just bought because I threw away the whole wheat. Bummer.

  5. Phyllis

    I’ve been eating wheat free for a short time and definitely feel the benefits. One thing that has bothered me is cramps/charlie horses in my feet and legs. I’ve been told that potassium can help with cramps so I bought a couple of bananas. Is there something else I can do to prevent the problem?

    • Desiree Lees

      Swiss chard and spinach are great low carb sources of potassium, yams and winter squash are good too. Obviously higher in carbs than your green and leafies, but still about half that of a banana and they make a great stand in for mashed potato or soup thickeners!

      • Phyllis

        Thank you, Desiree. We eat out a lot and it can be a challenge getting in the choice foods. Spinach is pretty easy to come by. I’ve also been throwing in a handful when we have omelets in the morning.

    • @Phyllis Muscle cramps are a symptom of a general electrolyte imbalance, and specifically a magnesium and potassium deficiency. Magnesium is the signaling molecule for cellular uptake of potassium which causes release of the muscle contraction, so you need sufficient daily intake of both potassium and magnesium.

      Calcium is the signaling molecule for uptake of sodium which causes muscle cells to contract, so simply lowering your sodium intake in an attempt to prevent muscle cramping is ineffective since it does nothing to provide the magnesium and potassium minerals required to release the muscle cramp initiated by calcium/sodium. Some professional sport teams started the practice of drinking of acetic acid pickle juice to minimize muscle cramping on the theory that acetic acid drives sodium out of the bloodstream and muscle tissues, but again this does nothing to provide the muscle extension & relaxation minerals and can even compromise your cardiac health and performance; your heart requires sufficient sodium so you have strong heart muscle contractions for good circulation and heart function.

      For more info I highly recommend going to Ed and Patricia Kane PhD.’s bodybio dot com website and read the little article about muscle cramps under the ElyteSport tab, then click on ‘How It Works’. You don’t necessarily need to buy their product, though it probably good, but you can just take a few supplements or a chelated multi mineral that provides the magnesium and potassium. Chelated means bound to an amino acid, which helps with absorption. Also, try to find a form of magnesium OTHER than the oxide form as it is the least bio available of the several magnesuim forms, mag aspartate, glycinate, or another form would be better than oxide.

      • Phyllis

        Thank you! I’m a little overwhelmed and feel like I need a degree in nutrition. I recently found out that my bone density is decreasing at a more rapid rate for my age than average. There’s no history of osteoporosis in my family that I know of so I’m wondering if the calcium I take is being absorbed. I started taking a magnesium supplement, Calm. I seem to have a bit of a problem with it…diarrhea to be blunt. Since, I accidentally happened on eliminating wheat from my diet by following my husband’s lead to go on a low carb diet I’ve felt much better. So much better that I started researching the possibility of a wheat and/or gluten intolerance. I had the blood test for Celiac disease and it came out negative. From what I understand that test is not absolute but as of now I’m just avoiding wheat. I will go to Ed and Patricia Kane PhD.’s site and see if I can learn more. There’s so much to learn!!! The cramps aren’t daily but frequent enough for me to want to correct the problem. Waking up yelling in pain during the night is no fun, neither for me nor my husband! Thanks again!!!

        • Phyllis–

          The Calm product is magnesium citrate, a great laxative but not the best way to raise tissue and blood levels of magnesium.

          Try magnesium malate, much better absorbed and far less likely to cause diarrhea, 1200 mg twice per day.

    • One thing people continually overlook is the nutritional content of meat. If you don’t keep kosher or halal (or avoid it for other reasons), pork is a fantastic source of potassium. I was looking for sources that weren’t high-carb and discovered that pumpkin’s a pretty good one, but as far as carb density goes, pork’s far superior–over 800mg potassium in one chop.

      But also consider getting more sodium in your diet, surprisingly enough, if you manage to get up to the recommended daily value of potassium and you’re still cramping. People who lower their carb intake far enough find that their insulin has dropped far enough for their kidneys to suddenly start dumping sodium. Mainstream medicine’s dirty little secret on this is that the vast majority of cases of hypertension are caused by *high insulin,* not high sodium–it just looks like the sodium’s at fault because high insulin keeps your kidneys from regulating sodium levels adequately. They just hold on to it. Lowering insulin solves that problem but then you will need to consume it regularly in your diet.

      Anymore, I can cure my leg cramps by eating a little table salt. Easy-peasy.

    • Oh and I agree with cancerclasses that you should make sure you are getting enough magnesium too. While high insulin *retains* sodium, it causes you to *dump* magnesium and so you have probably been short on it for a very long time. If you suffer from insomnia, this is even more likely to be true.

      If you supplement, get a chelated form, basically anything that ends in -ate. Magnesium oxide’s not as readily absorbed and it will also put you on the potty a lot. It’s generally sold as a laxative.

      You can also take a bath with Epsom salts in your bath water and your body will absorb the magnesium through your skin.

      • Phyllis

        I should have read what you said before I replied to cancerclasses. I have had a potty side effect from the magnesium I’ve been taking and I do have trouble sleeping. That’s one of the reasons I was taking the magnesium. I think I may need to see a nutritionist or a doctor who focuses on nutrition more than pharmaceuticals. In your previous comment you mentioned pork, a meat I generally avoid, as a good source of mangesium. Well, I had a pork chop the other day; it was good, and I’ve had no foot or leg cramps lately! Coincidence? I don’t think so. Also, a soak in Epsom Salts sounds pretty good too! I’m going to take all of these suggestions to heart and hopefully, put an end to the cramping. Thank you so much.

  6. Thank you for this reminder! Last week I challenged my readers to 30 days grain-free. For 30 days I’m sharing grain-free recipes and helping my readers get off of grain – based on the principles of your book. We are on day 7 and the feedback has been fantastic! We feel better, have more energy, and are seeing our waists whittle away. I am so thankful for your book!

  7. Amine

    Dude, I’m so loving your book. Only 25% through the book and quickly drop 5 pounds.
    Exercise like a freak and couldn’t figure out why I was stuck at 196 pounds. I was reading sugar shock and got rid of sugar. Feel much better. After, one bad experience with stomach ache in the bathroom (explosion)…lol, I started looking in kindle for stomach problems and found your book.

    This is the real deal. Thanks so much. This is the same revelation when 5 years ago, they told me that mash potatoes they sell in the store is fake. I was stunned that fake food was sold in a grocery store since I’m from Morocco. But bread……….nuts.

    Just a quick question, What do you think about Cheese my friend?

    • From what I personally understand, full-fat dairy products really depends on your personal lactose tolerance. Some people may get great health benefits from cutting out the dairy, some people (me) not so much. Fermented milk products contain very little milk sugar as the culture eats most of it, so they won’t spike your blood glucose. That includes: aged cheeses, kefir, yogurt, etc. Just look on the container to see the carbs for yourself. Also, make sure you get the full-fat version without any additives.

      I like the Greek Gods brand that they sell at my local Kroger (no clue where you are so you may or may not find the same product). I eat the plain kind mostly, and occasionally I’ll splurge and get the honey, which I’ll eat as a topping on flaxseed crackers. Even the honeyed Greek Gods yogurt is VERY low carb, ~15 carbs per serving, which means I can have a couple servings of that and some veggies and still be under 40 carbs for the day. Not bad.

  8. I found my answers, Dr. Davis, and you gave them to me. I found this quote on another article:

    “Starches that are dried and/or pulverized, such as cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, and tapioca starch (cassava root) will increase blood sugar even more than wheat. Foods with these starches have GI’s of 80-100. ”

    Done deal. I can now move on.

  9. Deanna

    First I found Dr. Jack Kruse, a neurosurgeon who espouses a low carb diet and has changed his life and the lives of patients with his knowledge. I began trying to gradually go lower carb.
    Then I found you, Dr. Davis, through Flylady. I have been trying to remove wheat from my diet, but so far it’s a difficult process. I haven’t found easy substitutes for my cereal and banana breakfast I generally eat every day, and I have seen how wheat is in soooo many products.
    I was diagnosed many years ago with low blood sugar but don’t know if that’s still true now. I have my glucose level checked with regular blood tests but have not had a fasting blood sugar test in a long time. At that time I began eating a banana every day and usually another piece of fruit during the day.
    After reading some of your info, so far I have noticed that when I reduce wheat and some carbs from my diet, I become somewhat constipated and don’t sleep well. Would that just be an adjustment period? How would going wheat free affect someone with low blood sugar.
    I have ordered your book Wheat Belly but have not received it yet.
    I appreciate any info…thank you…Deanna

    • Hi, Deanna–

      Because going wheat-free reduces or eliminates the highs of blood glucose, the lows that follow should not occur. The key with reactive hypoglycemia is to not allow the high blood sugar to occur in the first place. The highs are triggered ONLY by carbohydrates.

      • I also have the “low blood sugar” problem–my body is weird. I’ve had my blood glucose checked almost immediately after a big meal of french fries, soda pop, and a burger, and I was told my blood glucose was normal. NORMAL?! You’d think I’d be pushing diabetic range for sure, but no.

        My trouble comes a bit later (an hour or two later), when I start to get hungry again. And boy, do I get hungry. And shaky. And sweaty. And I feel feverish. It’s been so bad at times that I’ve almost passed out. I’ve had this problem all my life–when I was 11, I got sent home from school due basically to the fact that I hadn’t eaten any lunch.

        Now, I eat once a day. I never get shaky. I’ll get hungry around dinner time, but it’ll be more “hey, I could eat!” rather than “OMG I’m going to DIE!!!” The thing I try to remember now is not to eat unless I do actually feel hungry, because I never feel stuffed to the gills the way I used to, even after a large meal. Instead, I just feel happy and content.

        • Hi, Jennifer–

          I shudder to think of all the people who share the hypoglycemia effect, but have not managed to find the solutions you have. I have met people nearly incapacitated by this effect, being diagnosed with nonsense like neurosis and depression and being instructed to treat the hypoglycemia with yet more carbs.

          40 carbs per day is a very reasonable level, one I use in the majority of moderate- to severely-carb sensitive.

          • Helen

            Glad I read your post, because this describes my 12 year old daughter as well. She will have eaten something and not a half hour later she will be in tears because she is so “hungry”.

            I gave her a left over piece of pizza on the way home from school (10 min from my house) and by the time we got home she was “starving” and in tears because of it. It’s all coming together.

    • Buckwheat, unfortunately, Mina, shoots up blood sugar.

      You’d be surprised how much these “healthy” appearing grains muck up blood sugar. It can be quite substantial.

  10. Tea

    I love this web-site, love the book. Love the blogs.

    It is still a stuggle to give up 100% wheat. I’m at about 80% and feeling better. But apples? Oh my. My favorite fruit. But, I deal with weight issues and psoriasis and depression. I will keep up the battle. Would an apple set you up for glycation?

      • Julie

        No Apples? Nooooo! I’ve been snacking on them for years. In fact I have had 2 today.
        I have a low GI book, would it be an idea to follow that until I get your book through?

        • Hi, Julie–

          No, unfortunately.

          What you are going to find is that there is no such thing as a good glycemic index. What you want is NO glycemic index, e.g., raw almonds, olive oil, avocados, fish, etc. that have NO blood glucose consequences. That’s where real health develops, not the compromised health or lifelong reliance on medication that results with following conventional advice.

  11. Janet

    Thank you for an excellent book, Dr. Davis! only 13 left in stock on Amazon, #4 &5 in Nutrition ranks. After 4 years as a vegetarian, and now 14 months low-carb, I am a complete believer in the health benefits of Paleo, no grain, low carb eating. But the top 20 Nutrition books are almost split 50-50 between vegan high grain vs Paleo no-grain. The top-selling books for advice on heart disease and diabetes are at complete odds with each other.

  12. Kathy

    “The truth of it is that any blood glucose of 90 mg/dl or more triggers glycation.”

    Ok, that’s a bit scary. I’ve been so pleased with myself that my fasting BG is almost always in the mid to low 90’s every morning – once or twice a month just over 100 or just under 90. Over 100 usually follows a night where I ate a lot of fruit – the first I noticed was the morning after half a cantaloupe. I’m learning.

    But I don’t know how to keep it below 90. I eat no grains, no sugar, occasional sweet potato, nuts (mostly macadamias), eggs, wild-caught salmon, beef (grass-fed when I can), pork. I’m not sure even zero carb could keep me below a BG of 90. Am I really just doomed to age faster that I should? I’m 63, did I just start too late? I don’t want to live forever – I want to die healthy, or at least make the time between “healthy” and death as short as possible. And I thought I was doing so well. Bummer.

    • HI, Kathy–

      Don’t despair: The rate of glycation at these low levels is still far, far better than the typical blood sugars that most people have after eating of 140, 170, etc.–very, very common and regarded as “normal” by practicing physicians.

      Losing tummy (visceral) fat can yield modest reductions in fasting blood sugar. Of course, you have corrected your vitamin D deficiency, haven’t you? BIG, BIG issue. I am to restore 25-hydroxy vitamin D to 60-70 ng/ml. Ignore the idiocy that passes for conventional wisdom about vitamin D. After elimination of wheat, vitamin D is the biggest issue in health.

      • Kathy

        Thanks so much for your reply! Your reassurance really helped.

        Although I’ve been low carb for quite a while, I’m still tweaking all this. I did a Whole 30 in August, learned some things (good & bad). Since W30 forbids weighing for the duration, I subbed BP and BG measurements (gotta have *some* control). I’ve done some tests on postprandial BG for specific foods and the general consensus is that even when a food bumps BG up to 130 or more, it comes back down quickly – in less than an hour. So, I’m hoping that means the system is working, i.e. eat a nectarine, BG goes ups but comes back down in 30-45 minutes. Does it sound like I have a handle on how this is supposed to work, or am I still in the dark?

        Oh, and I’m about 2/3 through Wheat Belly – a pretty good read.

        • Kathy

          Oh, sorry. I forgot to respond to the Vitamin D. My doctor agreed to check it (amazing) last spring and it was 66. Of course that was because I was supplementing with 5000 IU daily. I haven’t spent a lot of time outside this summer. I’m in Texas and we’ve had the hottest summer on record, 70 days at 100 or more, worst drought in history, etc. So I guess I need to test again just to be sure my level isn’t too high.

          Thanks again!

        • Pretty good? I guess I should be grateful for small compliments!

          It’s the high in blood sugar that counts, not necessarily the rapidity of the drop. Any time blood sugar increases above 90 mg/dl–yes, 90 mg/dl!–glycation accelerates. I therefore aim for no change in blood sugar comparing pre-meal with 1-hour post-meal.

          • Kathy

            Oops, I should have said pretty “easy” read. A few years ago I made my way through Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories so easy is a real plus when you’re explaining biochemistry and such to a high school grad. My apologies.

            And thanks for the clarification on BG “high” vs. “duration”. I’m a work in progress, but at least I’m keeping the old brain busy.

  13. Robin

    Giving up wheat and living gluten-free was easy for me as I have done it before and without all the gluten free products available at the health food store today. My next hurdle is giving up the carbs including legumes and all those wonderful alternative pizza crust, tortillas, pancake mix and cereals available gluten/wheat free. Since I hate the bitter after taste of stevia and stevia products, I began looking for a low glycemic natural sweetener that tastes better. You never mention agave nectar or coconut palm sugar as alternative sweeteners in your book and I’m wondering why if they don’t cause the blood glucose spike of natural cane sugar. After all it is the rise in blood sugar we are trying to avoid, right? Is greek yogurt really off the safe list?? I eat it 5 days a week for breakfast with homemade granola stirred in. I will start limiting the granola to 1/4 C ;~( Also, what’s bad about chia seed? I thought it had Omega3 in it.

    • Oh, boy. Agave, Robin, is the absolute worst sweetener you could ever use.

      Among its many undesirable effects is a 100-fold greater glycation potential compared to glucose. It means that agave accelerates cataracts, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes–you name it, agave does it. Wheat is worse, but “organic agave nectar” ain’t that far behind. The low glycemic index is misleading and conceals multiple adverse effects. This issue is so misleading that I believe it deserves a discussion all of its own.

      Just watch carb exposure with your yogurt. Use the unsweetened, full-fat variety and add your own few blueberries, etc.

  14. Patty

    Hi, just finished reading your Wheat Belly book and found it incredible, interesting and hard to believe because of what we have been taught throughout our life. I can’t wait to have the little aches and pains we begin to experience at this age begin to disappear. I am 56 years old and a yo-yo dieter. My husband and I are trying the wheat free appoach and tomorrow, September 19 will be one week for us cutting out wheat. I’ve tried the cheesecake recipe and the Apple Walnut bread. Both are very, very good. I made a turkey tenderloin in the slow cooker and would love to have had some gravy with it. I tried using my almond “flour” to thicken the juices but it actually had a sweet taste to it. Since I’m new at this, other than berries, what other fruit would be on the safe side to eat? How often may we have a small red potato per week and is there any thickening agent we can use for gravy? I hopped on the scale and after 6 days I have lost 3.5 pounds, is that a pretty fair loss? Thanks for any light you can share with a “newbie”. Patty

    • Hi, Patty–

      It sounds like you’re off to a great start!

      To thicken gravy, cream; ground flaxseed; dried, powdered vegetables like celery or carrots; nut meals and nut butters.

      It’s not so much the fruit, but the quantity. The mistake a lot of people make is to eat lots of fruit. I’ve seen many people make themselves overtly diabetic with fruit while the rest of diet was perfect. I generally advise very small servings, e.g, a handful of blueberries, a few wedges of orange or apple, 1/2 cup melon, etc.

  15. John

    No one ever got fat from eating too many bananas. If your blood sugar is 200 mg/dL after eating a single banana, you need to workout more, not stop eating bananas.

    • Sorry, John. Not true.

      It might take longer, but it will indeed happen . . . along with cataracts, arthritis, atherosclerosis, small LDL, high triglycerides, high c-reactive protein, etc.

      Sugar is sugar.

  16. Wendie

    Not sure where my post went but I had a question about how severely limiting carbohydrates reduces the body’s ability to create serotonin and can result in depression. I know I am carb and wheat sensitive, but will avoiding the rest of the good carbs exacerbate what I think may be a serotonin deficit? Thanks! Wendie

  17. I just wanted to point out that if your oatmeal is “zoned” it’ll have low impact on blood glucose. I tested myself the other morning. Prebreakfast was 97 (it hadn’t been a full 12 hour fast), 20 minutes after eating it was 110 and 2 hours later was 82.

    I prepared 1/2 cup rolled oats with 1 cup water, then mixed with 1/2 cup 4% Daisy cottage cheese and 1TBS sliced almonds and a dollop of SF maple syrup and 1 put of splenda.

    But that’s just me. It could be that other’s will see a major spike in blood glucose no matter what.

    • That’s great, Darleen.

      You make a crucial point: There are variations in individual responsiveness, sometimes wild variation.

      Also, note that I advocate keeping postprandial (1 hour after-eating) blood glucose 100 mg/dl or less. While this might be viewed by some as extreme, you will be surprised how much better metabolic and weight control emerges when you do this.

  18. Helen

    I was meant to watch you on Fox this morning. Thank you. Downloaded the book to my reader. My concern is for my whole family, however more specifically for my 12 year old daughter. She was diagnosed with high cholesterol and has a belly. The kid doesn’t eat much. She is always tired and sick to her stomach and does not feel good. This has been going on since she was 6ish. When we removed milk, that seemed to help some. She underwent an endoscopy of her intestines and came back with GERD and Gastritis. This still did not explain the belly that came outta nowhere, and she’s had since she was 6? She does not sit in front of the TV much at all, or the computer for that matter. She has PE everyday and she is an equestrian. Her chiropractor, is having her take mineral supplements for the thyroid and he told her no bread. Could not really figure out the bread part, but now totally makes sense. I now know that it goes way beyond the bread intake. Good place to start though.
    Will be praying through this transition for her. 12 year olds don’t like to have their menu messed with!
    My husband has suffered for years from migrains. He is a sugar-a-holic and he is Canadian, and by golly they love thier bread and toast! He is not overweight, but starting to get that belly! Gonna pray on that course correction too!

    • Boundless

      > What’s wrong with steal cut oats?
      They’re stolen :)
      The problem with oats, steel cut or otherwise, is that they spike blood sugar.
      Steel cut might be a little less spiky than refined.
      Dr. Davis has recommended oats in only small amounts.
      I still use oats in a cereal mix that is largely flax.

      • Boundless

        Lest anyone wandering in the archives encounters the above, I should add that shortly after posting that I ditched oats entirely.

  19. Philippa

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Last year we became more health concious and gave up meat (still enjoy all seafood), and then we read your book and also went wheat free. My sore joints got better within two weeks, but now if I have the slightest bit of wheat (e.g. I had some Maggi sauce) I get a severe arthritis attack. Is there a way to flush it out or counter balance, it or does one have to just wait? I had to get out the Advil again :(

    And as for the vegetarian aspect, are lentils, beans etc OK? My husband has actually gained weight.


    Meat free wheat free Philippa

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Phillippa–

      No, sorry, there is no way to “flush out” the wheat, nor to undo the inflammation provoked. It just proves to you that you shouldn’t ever consume it again!

      I am not a fan of legumes except in very small portions, certainly no more than 1/2 cup servings, mostly because of carbohydrate exposure.

  20. Bill

    Okay, I admit I haven’t bought your book yet (I found out about it only yesterday) so I may be asking something that is fully covered in it.
    No wheat, very low carbs (I love beans!), no apples, no bananas (which I already gave up because of the sugar). Does your book talk about the many (I hope!) things I CAN eat? If so, then I’ll buy it/

    • Dr. Davis

      I did not want it to, Bill, as I saw Wheat Belly as the Omnivore’s Dilemma of wheat.

      But my editor was worried that pointing my finger at the problem without offering a solution was an unsatisfying read. So I was compelled to add a diet and recipes, including what to eat, what not to eat.

  21. Joan Carey

    How much is too much? Now that we have successfully given up all grains, we’ve shifted to using things like almond meal, coconut flour and flax meal. Beside the high caloric count, is there a concern, for example, with too much almonds, of oxalate issues? Does too much flax meal cause trouble? After being blindsided by the food industry for so long, I sure don’t want to go overboard in another wrong direction.

    • Dr. Davis

      Almost never issues, Joan.

      An occasional person does indeed develop calcium oxalate kidney stones, particularly if they are not good at hydrating. But this is exceptional.

      Flaxseed, I don’t think so.

      • Samantha West

        I have eaten 30 grams of flax seed a day since having end-stage renal failure in late 2005. I refused dialysis and a kidney transplant and began eating wheat, sugar and mostly carb free, my kidneys were near normal in 7 months and now my blood work is perfect every year. The flax seed goes into my blueberry/flax seed/non-denatured whey protein/ceylon cinnamon/organic cocoa shake I drink every day. Some of the wonderful effects of flax seed are 1) no joint pain any more 2) silky soft beautiful skin.

  22. Louise

    Dear Dr. Davis,
    I have been taking in alot of info on your blog …first I like to say that I am 51 year old woman and had no problems with diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure. Actually pretty healthy I am on a anti-drepressant for about a year and hope to get off soon. I have been wheat free for one week and feel great — since I never had the above problems could I still have the apple. I usually have an small apple for snack around 10:30 every morning I have been doing this as a routine. I bought the Paleo cookbook since your book will not be out until Dec 18 here in Canada. I really want this lifestyle change to work for me since I feel I have all this energy and got my daughter following it with me – she is 15 and has struggled with her weight and body image and I need to plan meals and snacks that she would like and not get discouraged.
    It is almost like a need a list of yes foods and no foods or moderation/portion size foods to follow. I have been going out any buying herbs and spices, etc Just trying to eat healthy is costly but I feel once we have this downpat and have most of the items we need to prepare foods this will ease up. I love the book and I love this new way of eating. Thank you

  23. Sedena

    The quick and dirty list is really all you need to get started on your wheat-free way: keep it fresh, not processed, and eat fresh protein with fresh/frozen vegetables and fat at every meal. I know that flies in the face of every diet every one of us has ever been on, but it really is that simple. Clean out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer of everything processed (the ingredients in the simplest things are astonishing). Frozen vegetables should contain one ingredient – that vegetable! Less is truly more.

    And once you give up the wheat/grains and starch as recommended by Dr. Davis, portion control is no longer an issue, because you feel full when you’ve had enough, even if it’s half (or less) of what you usually eat! I find myself chewing my food longer and longer as I get full, which I now realize means “I’m done”. Weird but true –

  24. Scott

    As an endurance athlete (armature tri-athlete) I am concerned about the removal of most carbohydrates. In a simple training ride/swim/run I can easily burn through more than 1500 calories. My concern is how best to fuel both for training and for race day. Conventional wisdom is rampant with easily digested foods (simple sugars) for prior to exercise, and post-exercise 4 carbs to 1 protein ratio for proper recovery.

    I am sorely trying to cut my weight to accommodate a faster pace for race day, so how do I accomplish both the fueling for the endurance training/racing and reducing the amount of mass I am moving around?

    Sports Nutrition is very confusing and there is a whole lot of conflicting information out there.

    • Bob

      I too am wondering about this. I weightlift three times a week and run six. I’m not a triathelete but I do run in half marathons (did a 10 mile race a few days ago). Dr. Davis’ wife does triathalons as well IIRC so I would be interested in her diet approach in regards to carbs and fueling. Dr. Davis listed a general daily carb range of 50-100g per day with an allowance of more for long distance atheletes but nothing specific.

  25. VibeRadiant

    Hi Dr Davis,
    what about people who eat a high raw fruit based diet like the 80-10-10 diet, 80% calories from fruits, 10% from protein and 10% from fats (only vegan fats). Some eat 30 bananas a day ( google 30 bananas a day) and they are thin and vibrant looking. Are they setting themselves up for diabetes and dementia?

    • > … what about people who eat a high raw fruit based diet like …

      Well, on that, let’s ask the most celebrated fruitarian of recent times, Steve Jobs.

      Net carbs is net carbs, regardless of the source.

      Net carbs from fruit are going to be higher in fructose than other foods with a similar carb load.
      See: http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/11/goodbye-fructose/

      > Are they setting themselves up for diabetes and dementia?

      Or worse. Glucose feeds cancer (and can even initiate it). Pure speculation, of course, but had Steve switched to a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (lower carbs than even WB) at his first cancer diagnosis, he might still be with us.

      • VibeRadiant

        <Well, on that, let’s ask the most celebrated fruitarian of recent times, Steve Jobs.

        Oh this made me laugh out loud snort!

        • > Oh this made me laugh out loud snort!

          It’s actually kind of sad. Steve Jobs was legendary for extreme dietary practices (which included fasting, so it wasn’t all completely nutso), so it’s hard to know what contribution diet made in his demise.

          But people need to be alert to the hazards of the fruitarian thing. Was it a coincidence that Ashton Kumar, who played Jobs in the movie) ended up in the hospital after going fruitarian to get into character?

          I understand that Jobs also consulted with Dean Ornish right up until the end. I suppose it might be another Ornish Diet “success” story. You might die as soon, or faster, but won’t be of heart disease.

      • Not true. It’s well-known that Steve Jobs merely tried the raw lifestyle for a a very short period. He ate anything he wanted, which included much cooked food and meats and seafood, etc.

    • Dr. Davis

      Very destructive. These people are going to have problems like cataracts, arthritis, cancer, etc. in short order.

  26. La Frite

    OK, I hope this board is open-minded.
    I am not advocating a high carb or low carb diet. I am advocating for real foods.
    Bananas are real foods, and unless you have to watch your blood sugar or have a metabolic disorder /allergy / anything contra-indicated, a banana is a mega-healthy food to eat.

    A banana starts very green (starch only) and ripens by degrading the starch into glucose / fructose / sucrose. So if you are scared of the sucrose / glucose / fructose content, prefer green to yellow bananas. The starch is very healthy (a lot of it is resistant starch anyway which will improve your glucose tolerance) and the little degraded starch will make it taste sweet enough. That’s the way I prefer my bananas, I couldn’t care less for ripe ones, and I think I get the best out of it (nutrition and enjoyment).

    To scare people away from fruits, when your metabolism is healthy, sounds irrelevant to me. But that is just my opinion.

    • > OK, I hope this board is open-minded.

      Well, this isn’t a “board”. It’s Dr.Davis’ Wheat Belly Blog. I don’t speak for the blog, or Dr.D., but I’m generally open minded. Since WB was published, I’ve learned a lot more about nutrition than I’d planned. :)

      > I am not advocating a high carb or low carb diet.

      WB advocates a very low carb macronutrient profile with specific cautions about fructose. Anyone proposing higher carb intake may expect to raise eyebrows here.

      A typical medium-to-large Cavendish banana is about 25 net grams of carb, of which 15 are sugars, including 6 grams of fructose. The net carbs alone is 167% of WB guidelines for carb consumption as a single meal or 6-hour period.

      That banana is not a meal, and is likely to NOT be all you consume in that 6 hour period, as it has zero fat and deminimus protein.

      It’s way far from an ideal LCHF profile.
      It’s quite likely to be appetite-stimulating.

      > I am advocating for real foods. Bananas are real foods, …

      Bananas are a high-sugar fruit, domesticated, hybridized and selectively bred for maximum palette appeal. They were also not commonly available to most of the human race for most of human history.

      > …and unless you have to watch your blood sugar or have a
      > metabolic disorder /allergy / anything contra-indicated,

      The goal is to avoid those entirely optional ailments, and the data are indicating that the way to do that is LCHF, grain-free, low-fructose. Fruit consumption requires caution.

      > … a banana is a mega-healthy food to eat.

      You may need to define “healthy”. I’m not sure we’d agree.

      > A banana starts very green (starch only) and ripens by
      > degrading the starch into glucose / fructose / sucrose.
      > So if you are scared of the sucrose / glucose / fructose
      > content, prefer green to yellow bananas.

      This is the cliche:
      If you have to ask “can eat a banana”, the answer is: no.
      If you don’t have to ask, it’s because you know the answer is: maybe.

      Part of a banana can be made to fall within the 15 grams net carbs guideline. If you’re advocating more than 15 net grams, then you’re advocating a different diet (possibly a full-time glycemic diet, which is the root of our problems, in my view).

      > The starch is very healthy (a lot of it is resistant
      > starch anyway which will improve your glucose tolerance)

      How does that work?

      > To scare people away from fruits, …

      The consensus diets advocate lots of fruit, and provide zero cautions about that. People need a bit of alarm about this. Fruits vary wildly in their carb and fructose content, and people need to be cautious about fruit consumption until they know what each fruit’s profile is.

      > … when your metabolism is healthy, …

      You want to keep it that way by avoiding metabolic syndrome.

      Have you measured actual blood sugar response subsequent to consuming a whole banana? I’d expect a ripe to spike, and a green to elevate. The goal is no-change.

      Modern humans are adapted to pack on the pounds when fructose is available, which historically was seasonal fruit. This is the “Fat Switch” hypothesis (Johnson). We would then burn that fat off in ketosis in unwanted deep winter fasting. This allowed a small population to survive prehistoric environmental catastrophies, perhaps more than once. Dr. Permutter speculates in his recent “Grain Brain” book that neanderthals vanished because they lacked this glycemic-ketotic adaptation.

      Today, metabolic summer never ends, and metabolic winter never comes.
      Metabolic syndrome comes instead.

  27. Bette Roebuck

    I am 70, was born in the tropics, and have been eating boiled green bananas all my life as is the custom in my country. Banana’s cousin, the plantain, is also a staple that is eaten both green and ripe over there. Nobody thinks about the deleterious dietary effects of either of these foods. Fried half-ripe plantains are very filling and are eaten like you guys eat potato chips (without the cotton seed oil). They are called “patacones” and are eaten hot off the stove. I’m not saying we don’t have hospitals because we do; but I do think you are making too much out of the banana thing. I am not fat. I rarely see fat people or people with distended banana-caused bellies in my country. Maybe it is because of perspiring from the heat and more walking (exercise) than may occur in the U.S. Please don’t take away my grains and bananas. One of the main dishes is rice and beans, which of course, are both grains, which when combined, comprise a full protein. Other than a Chinese restaurant, if somebody offers you white or brown rice without the beans, you feel insulted down there.. The rice has to have some kind of beans in it. To me, moderation is the key to successful health. It is better to grow your own foods so you know what is in it. My rule is: A plant-based diet is best. I am vegan and my motto is: “If it has a face or came from something that has a face, don’t eat it.”

  28. Seen today on DietDoctor

    “Monkeys Can No Longer Have Bananas”
    “An English zoo has stopped serving bananas to monkeys, as modern fruit is much sweeter and lacking in fiber – compared to the fruit that monkeys eat in nature. The result? Monkeys eating too much unnaturally sweet bananas risk diabetes, stomach problems and bad teeth. Also they become anxious and aggressive. Like humans?”