Wheat Belly cover story and controversy

Wheat Belly made the cover story for Macleans Magazine, with 2.4 million readers in Canada:

On the evils of wheat: Dr. William Davis on why it is so addictive, and how shunning it will make you skinny







I was impressed that Macleans ran the story, since Canada is among the largest producers of wheat in the world. It was courageous of them to print something that is bound to hit many Canadians economically.

But the power is in the message: Wheat has been changed and has been transformed into the most incredibly disruptive grain ever conceived by geneticists. Eliminating it is the most powerful health and weight loss strategy I have ever witnessed.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Extremely fair article. I’m impressed with Canadian journalism; the NYT would have misquoted you, taken your words out if context, and then called you names attributed to “anonymous sources”.

    Dr. Davis, I’ve only heard of you or your book for about 5 days (bought it on Kindle after seeing it linked on Instapundit.com). For the record, I’m not overweight and never have been. I’m a competitive runner and triathlete who is always looking for an edge nutritionally. My bodyfat % is normally well below average due to my intense workouts yet I could never seem to attain the ultra low weight necessary to truly excel at the elite level (less weight = free speed, provided power is not sacrificed.)

    To sum up, I am trying my hand at wheatlessness, am fueled by little other than protein and fats, and have never been faster in my 35 years. This morning I clocked a 5:45 minute mile pace and my body is looking like a human anatomy chart. There is a definite nexus between your argument and the Paleo/low carb movement. However, I believe you are the first to articulate not just the how, but the WHY all of this works. The Paleo crowd seems obsesses with the How Would Cavemen Eat? philisophy rather than how all these interactions actually affect the human body today.

    I thank you for your efforts, and after realizing just how embedded wheat has become in our culture, I’d watch your back if I were you and I hope your background is relatively clean. Because you’re about to declare war on a cultural scale the likes of which we’ve never seen. Forget Big Tobacco, you’re taking on Big Food, Big Beer, and Big Pharma simultaneously! You sir, have some Big Balls.

    • PJ

      Bravo, Brian! I could not have said it better! There is so much written by the vegetarian crowd about how you need carbs to prevent “bonking” during extreme exercise that it is good to hear your results on fat and protein. (This does make Big Tabacco look like small potatoes in comparison, doesn’t it.)

    • MissBrooks

      “The Paleo crowd seems obsesses with the How Would Cavemen Eat? philisophy rather than how all these interactions actually affect the human body today.”

      Actually, that’s not at all true. If you read most any of the prominent paleo types (e.g., Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Gnolls) they are very much interested in how foods interact with the body and are pretty…you know…sciencey and stuff.

      • Well, their acolytes aren’t heeding their advice, then. Because all they can talk about is “Grok this…” and “Grok that…”

        Grok has been dead for 10,000 centuries. I’m pretty sure if he could have figured out how to ferment cheese he would have. I’m less interested in philosophical purity than in demonstrable results. If it will get me down to a Kenyan race weight without starving me, I’ll eat goat balls on a stick.

        I’m not interested in picking more fights with Cultfitters (that’s a whole other ballgame). I’ve just found the Paleo plan wanting.

        • MissBrooks

          As one of the ‘acolytes’ again, I respectfully disagree. If that were the case, the ‘sciencey’ bloggers wouldn’t be as hugely popular as they are. For example, Denise Minger became an instant Paleo superstar. Why? Because of her in-depth takedown of the China Study. Sciencey. Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution is a former research biochemist. Etc., etc. Paleo re-enactment is in the minority.

    • That’s great, Brian! I’m going to borrow your “wheatlessness”–that’s perfect!

      Yes, I’m aware that this argument puts me in the sights of a lot of big, and potentially very nasty, people. After what I’ve seen, however, I just couldn’t keep this quiet. I anticipate that this will spark the most important movement in nutrition . . . ever.

  2. Lynda NZ

    I agree with the above poster, Brian. So many times we are told do this and do that but without knowing the “why” there seems to be little point. You are brave to rock the boat but you are not alone, as you know – hopefully more people in the medical community will have the courage to change their view. I have been following this topic off an on now for about two years am more convinced than ever that wheat and sugar (in that order) are causing a medical catastrophe the scale of which is unsurpassed. ie, diabetes/obesity and all the associated problems. What surprised me in your book were the added problems of dementia, arthritis, cataracts etc that are also all bought on by eating wheat. I had heard of Alzheimer’s disease referred to as diabetes type 3. Clearly this matches up with your wheat argument.

    • Hi, Lynda–

      Of course what makes this all the more incredible is, not only wheat the top of the list of destructive foods and weight-increasing foods, we are told to eat more and more of it . . . then we are blamed as lethargic overeaters for the result!

      • Thank you Dr. Davis, I read the article in Macleans magazine and had to read the book for myself. I learned more reading the book than I have in my 47 years and my spouse is now reading the book at present. Can you advise or provide an opinion on a product called PGX Daily Ultra Matrix. I was contemplating this product but am concerned it is anti productive with the “Wheat Belly” approach. Kindly advise. Lory

  3. Jim Nott

    I have just learned about your book from the Maclean’s Magazine interview. Very interesting stuff!!
    I’m a great fan of Ethiopian food and there are many restaurants here in Toronto. Their ‘bread’, called ‘injera’, is made from a grain called teff. This is certainly an ancient grain, untouched by the GM corporations. Do you have any thoughts on it’s goodness or badness?

    • Hi, Jim–

      Like quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth, teff lacks the immune-disrupting, inflammation-provoking, appetite-stimulating properties of wheat. But teff, as well as these other non-wheat grains, can still post substantial carbohydrate challenges. It would not be unusual, for example, for a non-diabetic to generate a blood glucose of 150-200 mg/dl after a half-cup of teff.

      In other words, the message I’m trying to convey is to 1) eliminate wheat as the most destructive component of the modern diet, then 2) don’t replace lost calories with carbohydrates. Recall that diabetes and pre-diabetes and pre-pre-diabetes now includes nearly all adults and it’s carbohydrates that got us here.

  4. Shirley Thomlinson

    Hi Dr Davis,
    Thank you so much for enlightening me about a life long problem I have had. I am a recovering alcoholic who has not had a drink in over twenty years, I quit smoking two packs of cigarettes a day eighteen years ago and after I quit smoking I gained sixty pounds. My weight has always been a problem for me however I thought that because I had maintained my weight for five years I could quit smoking. All the time I was maintaining my weight I suffered from obsessive cravings that made me miserable. NOW I understand why thanks to you. I have been on and off low carb diets for the past fourteen years or so and I feel so much better when I don’t eat carbs. I could really relate to the thirty pound cookie. Thanks so much for an excellent book.
    Sincerely Shirley

    • Hi, Shirley–

      I’m grateful I’ve added to your health!

      Makes me shudder, however, to know how many other people don’t yet know about these wheat-induced phenomena and are resigned to struggle for years and years.

  5. I watched the documentary “Fathead” on Netflix Instant last night. Great encapsulation of everything I’ve been learning recently. Really makes me mad, actually. In my twenties I practiced the ultra low fat/high carb advice when I was marathoning in an attempt to get super fit, and not only did it not work (though I always assumed it was my lack of discipline on exact portion control), but it made me suicidally depressed and even led to a severe case of sebboreic dermatitus which permanently damaged my hairline to an extent.

    I cannot prove all those things are related, yet now the dots seem much easier to connect after seeing that film and reading Dr. Davis’s book. Why we assume that because someone us in a position of authority on any given topic that they must know of what they speak? I think our current government us disabusing us all of this silly notion that being credentialed confers intelligence.

  6. Lisa

    Hi Dr Davis,

    I just wanted to let you know that I had a chat with my doctor today and I brought your name up. Happy to say she said your book Wheat Belly is stirring up a bit of controversy within the med community in Halifax. Fantastic. Any TV appearances scheduled yet? Hope to see you soon on Canada AM.

    • Hi, Lisa–

      Halifax? That’s great!

      No, sorry, no TV in Canada yet. However, I will be doing interviews on the CBC radio network nationwide. I’ll be doing the interviews Wednesday, September 28th from 9 am to 12 pm. I don’t know which among them will be live vs. recorded, but I will post links to podcasts, should they become available.

      • Lisa

        Dr Davis I guess I put my reply in the wrong spot. I was referring to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

        Also I think you may find CBC a little more liberal in what can be said as it has government backing. Surprisingly they aired on more than occasion Food, Inc as well as Supersize Me on the CBC’s tv station. Not a hint of either of those on any of our other stations. Hmmm I wonder why?!!!

  7. Nancy in Toronto

    First of all Dr. Davis, THANK YOU so much for writing this book! I have forwarded the MacLean’s interview to several people hoping they will buy your book. I discovered Wheat Belly several weeks ago on Jimmy Moore’s site. When I read about your personal experience of the weight gain regardless of increased exercise, I knew that the same thing had happened to me. In 2004 I went on Atkins and then gradually started to carb up again. I put on more weight than I had taken off. Disgusted with myself, I tried the low fat/high carb diet and increased my exercise program, putting on even more pounds. I am wheat free now and the pounds are falling off! I have been following Atkins also since mid August. I have lost 14 lbs. as of today and only have 16 more pounds to go!!!! I am convinced it is because of shunning all wheat.

    My adult son has just been diagnosed with gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach muscles). I believe it may be connected to wheat consumption. Any thoughts on this?

    My husband suffers from respiratory allergies and glaucoma. His physician wants him to come back to retest his blood because his cholesterol numbers are “borderline”. He eats high carb/low fat and stays away from eating anything high in cholesterol. He is not overweight – he walks 4 miles most days. He does not sleep well and has a daily afternoon nap to get rid of “the fog in his head”. I know about the allergy connection to wheat, but am wondering about the glaucoma, as you have mentioned wheat consumption and the development of cataracts. We are both in our early sixties.
    Once again, many thanks, Dr. Davis! You are changing the lives of more people than you realize!

  8. Diane

    WOW am I impressed, made the flaxseed wrap today, did not look the best but was quite good. 6 days no wheat, down 6 lbs…. only looking to take off the 20lbs that somehow snuck up on me…
    A few questions please need answering,
    How many carbs should I be eating each day?
    Can I eat brown rice?
    Sweet potatoes?
    Which flour can I use to bread meats?

  9. Nancy in Toronto

    @Diane. Thanks, you can do the same thing. Here are my suggested answers to your questions. If you want to take off weight quickly, I’d recommend Atkins’ suggestion of trying to keep to less than 20 carbs/day. This would mean a “no” to all three for me…brown rice, sweet potatoes and flour. Everyone tolerates carbs differently, so you have to experiment, gradually adding in carbs in increments of 5 (see Atkins site for full details). As for the flour…I’m not sure about coconut flour or almond flour…but would hold off on any kind until your weight is where you want it to be. Hope this helps, Diane. Good luck!

    • Diane

      @ Nancy thanks for the input, have done Atkins before and have all the books. Am not sure if the Wheat Belly diet is somewhat like Atkins, it sure seems like it to me. Although on Atkins I kept loosing and gaining the same 5lbs. I am very happy where I am at with this diet and plan to follow it forever….

  10. Mitch

    Dr. D,

    I’m looking forward to reading the book. However, one thing I’ve seen in your blog posts and interviews confuses me. On the one hand, you place a lot of emphasis on the deleterious changes in wheat that have occurred in recent years. On the other hand, you also point out that wheat has had deleterious effects throughout civilization. The Egyptians and other ancient peoples who have left us their bones to study weren’t eating modern dwarf wheat, but they were adversely affected all the same. Isn’t the true message that wheat–all wheat–is unnecessary and harmful? I am concerned that people will get the message that the real problem is the recent genetic modifications, and will assume that therefore if only we could base our diets on “ancient” wheat, all would be well. I personally don’t think that’s true.

  11. Anne Penner

    I had my gall bladder out 10 years ago. My understanding is that it is necessary to eat a lower protein, higher carb diet. When I have gone grainless on Atkins or the first weeks of South Beach, I end up with intestinal issues. I feel best when I eat 1-2 grain servings per day. Does Wheat Belly put extra work on the liver?

    • It”s not the diet, per se, Anne. It”s likely something wrong with your pancreatic function.

      In other words, years of wheat consumption in some people causes deranged cholecystokinin signalling to your pancreas, leaving you unable to effectively process oils. This is one explanation. There are others, including incomplete recovery of bowel flora.

      You might consider obtaining the assistance of someone in functional medicine to decipher what is wrong with your intestinal tract.

  12. LaLa

    I was just diagnosed with gastroparesis. I don not have any of the risk factors. Could this be the result of wheat? I have to go on a low fat, low fiber diet, but I’d like to see if removing wheat will help. Any advice?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, get a new doctor. If your doctor told you to reduce your fat intake, you might remind him/her that this is 2012, not 1980. That advice is woefully outdated.

      If your gastroparesis is due to diabetes, then the solution is somewhat complex in that the diet to reduce or reverse diabetes can only partially undo the impaired neurological function of gastroparesis.

      However, if there is no known cause, then I would be optimistic that wheat elimination may, over time, reverse this condition, as it reverses so many varied gastrointestinal conditions.

  13. Nancy

    Dr. Davis,
    I disagree with you that dairy is good for humans to eat. I am not a doctor, a scientist, or a nutritionist, but all the evidence that I have seen or heard indicates that it is neither normal nor natural for one mammal to drink the milk of another mammal after weaning (other than humans, I do not believe that there are any other examples in nature). There are plenty of resources easily watched on YouTube, for example, “The Perils of Dairy,” that discuss its adverse affects in humans and, in particular, the many terrible things it sets up in babies and young children fed dairy products from birth, including but not limited to lifelong asthma and allergies. I have read “Wheat Belly” and agree with you on that issue but cannot agree about the consumption of any amount of dairy products. Dairy, like wheat, thanks to the $200,000,000 annual advertising campaign by the dairy industry, is a much-believed scam and, like wheat, is insidious and is an ingredient in nearly every processed product. Long ago I heard something that went like this, “A Japanese lady living in Japan [I think most Japanese are lactose intolerant] was overheard to say that it was torture to ride on the subways with Americans reeking of fermented dairy products.” We Americans are egotistical enough to think that everyone else has body odor but that we do not. Stop eating dairy products, all of it, milk in any form, cheese in any form, yogurt, and ice cream, and you will feel and smell cleaner and better. It, like wheat, is not needed for health. It increases the incidence of osteoporosis by leeching the calcium from the bones (the countries with the highest consumption of dairy have the absolute highest levels of osteoporosis). YouTube videos will explain that process. And who wants to smell like Limburger cheese? Nasty. My opinion is that if you eliminate wheat and dairy, you will be much, much healthier. And you will smell better.

    • Dr. Davis

      I actually never said that dairy was good for you.

      What I have said is that dairy has problems, but some people seem to get away with consuming it. There’s a difference.

      There are problems with the casein structure, whey, and other proteins; estrogen content; bovine growth hormone residues, and other issues. Can someone do fine with some fermented full-fat cheese? Yes, I think they can, but not everybody.

    • unterderlaterne

      @ Nancy, since you do not eat *DAIRY*, how do you get your calcium? Did you ever have a bone density test ? (To get it from broccoli and Spinach is not a good option, one would have to eat a Kilo to meet the daily requirement of calcium.) As a young woman I was always dieting ,. never drank milk ,I exercised for 2 hours daily and was very thin and eventually was diagnosed with ostopena !

      • Nancy

        I cannot speak to your particular calcium needs, but unless you have a medical need to consume dairy products, I can’t imagine any reason why you would need them. If something leeches calcium from your bones (which apparently dairy products do, according to experts who are not paid by the dairy industry), then why would you eat it expecting it to help you with calcium levels? Most people can get more than enough calcium from plant foods. But, do your own research. For starters, watch “The Perils of Dairy” on YouTube and use search phrases like “is dairy good for humans” and you will find lots of information/presentations on YouTube and Google on the subject by people much more learned than I. And, by the way, my bone density scans are always fantastic. Best of luck…

        • unterderlaterne

          Nancy, I wish Dr.Davis would address this topic- it is so important!
          I Can not imagine cutting out my daily serving of homemade pro-biotic yogurt ! LOL.
          Do you take calcium supplements?
          Thank you for taking the time to answer!
          Barbara S.

          • Alice C.

            Hi unterderlaterne,
            Have you try coconut cream yogurt? It is super easy and tastes good.
            1 can 100% Coconut cream 398ml or 560ml
            1 capsule of probiotic (the ones that needed to be stored in the fridge)
            1. Open the can and pour its content in a glass container.
            2. Twist open the capsule of probiotic and empty/sprinkle the powder on the cream, thoroughly mix the two ingredients with a balloon whisk.
            3. Cover the glass container with its own air tight lid or plastic wrap, please it in an oven with the light on for 24 hours.
            4. Whisk again and store in the fridge, it stays fresh for 7 to 10 days.

          • Nancy

            Hi Barbara. I do not take calcium supplements and just had my annual physical. Calcium was absolutely fine. Ugh, yogurt, I used to force it down thinking it was good for me. Now, I know better. I heard something recently that goes like this: “If it’s advertised on TV, it is not good for you.” I feel that this is completely true. Small businesses and organic farmers do not have the money to advertise the way these big agri-businesses do and, yet, the agri-businesses do not seem to care one bit about anything except making money. Nothing else seems to matter.
            Dr. Davis works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That is a huge dairy state and if the people there stopped consuming dairy, the whole state might be in crisis. I was raised on a dairy farm there decades ago and still return to visit (it’s difficult for me to eat in restaurants there) and I know how much dairy they eat. It is as big an issue as wheat. Both wheat and dairy are in everything. (And if that’s not enough for us to be concerned about, now we know that GMOs … genetically modified organisms … are also in everything). I believe it’s best to avoid all processed foods and eat whole fruits, vegetables, beans, greens, stuff like that. Dr. Fuhrman calls them G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds and I’m pretty sure he means fruit, in general, and seeds/nuts).
            Dr. Davis has included dairy in almost all of his recipes, which negates them for me. I bought the Wheat Belly Cookbook but regret it now because I’m going to have big problems with the recipes. He does give alternative milks (one could use coconut or nonGMO soy) but there are too many recipes with cheese and sometimes lots of it, or sour cream, with no suggested alternatives (because there are very few) which means the recipes won’t work.
            I hope this helps, but remember, I am no expert. We all have to find our way through the food issue that we are now faced with in this country. My best advice is: NO PROCESSED FOODS, NO DAIRY, NO GMOs, and now NO WHEAT (because I believe Dr. Davis is correct about wheat). But, that still leaves plenty, plenty of super delicious and healthy food to eat. It simply requires a little more effort and planning, just as most really important things do.
            Cheers and Happy Holidays!