A Wheat Belly Primer

Sean Croxton at Underground Wellness put together two excellent summaries of the Wheat Belly arguments. They are especially helpful for anyone just getting underway with their wheat-free experience and trying to understand why wheat is such a destructive component of diet. Sean has a special gift for making complex information accessible. From my conversations with him, he’s also a gentleman and great guy.

How wheat makes you fat
Sean talks about the issues of the amylopectin A of wheat and its unique blood sugar-raising properties and why two slices of whole wheat bread are worse than table sugar.

These ain’t the same grains!!
Sean recounts a brief evolutionary history of wheat from the original 14-chromosome einkorn to modern 42-chromosome ultra-hybridized high-yield semi-dwarf strains.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. AJ

    If it’s gone from 14 chromosomes to 42, it can hardly be called “wheat” any more. It’s more non-wheat than wheat.

  2. Mike

    There is one major aspect of the Wheat Belly topic you have not addressed. What if (when) our no-wheat experience is immensely successful, we achieve a comfortable weight, and we feel terrific. Do we remain on the strict what-belly regimen forever? Or is it then ok to “cheat” once or twice a week without risk of beginning to gain the weight back? Please comment.

    • Be aware, Mike, of what I call the “I ate one cookie and gained 30 pounds” effect.

      The gliadin protein of wheat can cause you to backtrack on all the gains you’ve made, retriggering the appetite. I’ve watched people regain 30 pounds in a month from this effect.

      Also, not all the adverse effects of wheat are perceptible. Small LDL and neurologic destruction occur even after you’ve achieved overt success like weight loss.

      My vote: Say goodbye . . . forever.

      • Laura

        I’m confused about the “small LDL destruction” comment. I thought we wanted small LDL particles to deconstruct since they block (unlike the large LDL particles) arteries? My reference for that is an hour long CNN special from Sanjay Gupta titled “The last heart attack”. Bill Clinton is one of the success stories and he’s become a vegan. Thanks for clarifying or adding more thoughts about this.

        I spent a good deal of time watching a long list of Sean Croxton videos on youtube yesterday. Thanks for referring us to him and his work.

        One more question, please: Sean Croxton thinks nonfat anything is bad for us. I put nonfat milk in my coffee every day. (I use almond milk on cereal but I’ve given up cereal as a result of reading your web site). I tried to swtich to cream in coffee, however, and found it nearly impossible to enjoy, because I’ve trained myself to think fat is the devil.

        • HI, Laura–

          I believe “small LDL destruction” refers to the destruction inflicted by small LDL, not destruction of the small LDL. There is no question that small LDL particles are the most harmful variety, triggered by carbohydrate consumption, especially the amylopectin A of wheat.

          I don’t believe the small amount of non-fat milk you are using is intrinsically harmful. I believe Sean was just saying that is unnecessary and unhelpful to restrict fat via low-fat foods.

          • Laura

            Thanks Dr. Davis, and also thanks to Sean who commented below!

            I’ve been reading the underground wellness site and the book “Devil in the Milk” by Keith Woodford. As a juvenile-onset, insulin-dependent Type 1, I’m fascinated by the possible link between a1 cows milk and Type 1. I’m considering giving up both grains and milk. Wow. Would mean major dietary readjustments for me. The conventional Type 1 diet is built upon whole grains. Yet on the days I don’t eat grains my blood sugars have been even more stable than usual and my gut seems to prefer it. I wonder – should I stop one at a time or go for it – and give grains and milk up together? Giving up the grains is my priority. I’m a lifelong student of nutrition and your work makes sense to me both scientifically and anecdotally (because I can already feel a difference).

          • Uncle Roscoe

            I’ve read several disease studies which point fingers of guilt at milk casein in the bloodstream. I have yet to see a pathway study which places casein into the bloodstream.

            Casein is a large complex protein. A healthy small intestine should break casein into tiny protein molecules before passing them into the bloodstream. To have even partially digested casein in the bloodstream, there must be some mechanism which places it there …..a delivery vehicle. Wheat ingestion is capable of providing precisely this vehicle by making the small intestine walls porous.

            Recently Denise Minger deconstructed the real China study. Minger did the work which T. Colin Campbell failed to do in his mis-named book The China Study. Minger’s analysis of the China study data showed that wheat ingestion is responsible for the heart disease which Campbell falsely attributed to meat.

            An interesting result came out of Minger’s analysis. It showed that people who ate wheat and drank milk have the same (67%) heightened coronary risk as people who just eat wheat. However, Minger ran the numbers correlating people who drank milk but did not eat wheat. They had a 7% negative correlation with coronary risk.

            To me this likely points a finger of guilt at wheat as a delivery vehicle which places whole casein into the bloodstream. Without wheat, casein gets digested and fragmented before entering the bloodstream.


          • Hi, Uncle–

            Yes, I believe that wheat acts as the first domino in allowing numerous unwanted proteins and other substances entry into the bloodstream. This includes, by the way, bacterial byproducts, a terribly underexplored area.

        • John

          One more thing Laura… Natural animal and plant fats were never the problem. In fact, Omega 3 fats are essentail to proper health. Fat in meat, pork, eggs, fish, cheese, butter, olive and coconut oil are all great, especially the saturated ones. Milk and cream are great too, if you don’t have milk allergies (which you don’t appear to). Avocados, Coconuts, and nuts and seeds are good sources of plant based fats. The fats to watch out for are the other vegetable oils- soy, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, cottenseed and the like (margerine also falls in this category). These are often rancid, contain artificial trans-fats, and have lots of inflamatory Omega 6 type fat.

    • Boundless

      re: Do we remain on the strict what-belly regimen forever?

      Are you [Mike] asking about the wheatless aspect or the low-carb aspect?

      Dr. Davis has already answered on the wheatless (and in numerous other threads about: well, can I at least eat hierloom wheats?). Don’t look back at modern wheat at all, and don’t look back in time without a deep understanding of the hazards.

      On the low-carb aspect, if you are about to run a marathon, you are allowed one extra blueberry :)

      All seriousness aside, you can probably indulge in occasional carb sins as long as you understand the carbs at hand, and the consequences.

  3. Mitch

    Hey Dr. D,

    Did you see the New York Times article this past weekend titled “Should We All Go Gluten-Free”?
    It’s mostly about the efforts of General Mills to market gluten-free foods. But any article raising awareness of the number of people that have problems with wheat has got to be a good thing, I think.

    Here is a fascinating excerpt from the article:

    “[E]xperts have been surprised, in general, by the rising prevalence of celiac disease overall. “It’s not just that we’re better at finding it,” says Dr. Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “It truly has become more common.” Comparing blood samples from the 1950s to the 1990s, Murray found that young people today are nearly five times as likely to have celiac disease, for reasons he and others researchers cannot explain. And it’s on the rise not only in the U.S. but also in other places where the disease was once considered rare, like Mexico and India. “We don’t know where it’s going to end,” Murray says.

    When I read this, I immediately thought of your description of how “wheat” has changed over the
    same time period that Dr. Murray highlights.

    • Hi, Mitch–

      Yes, informative article. Unfortunately, it falls into the usual trap of calling it “gluten-free” rather than “wheat-free,” which paints the usual picture of gluten elimination for the minority of people who are gluten-sensitive. I would argue it should be restated as wheat-free for EVERYBODY, since the undesirable health effects of wheat involve far more than gluten.

      But it’s a step in the right direction!

  4. Cindy

    Another question; You have Sausage on your never list but you have; 1 pound pork sausage, preferably loose ground on your Turkey stuffing recipe.
    Can you differentiate for us on what is safe and what is not?

  5. Jim

    Just stumbled on your site and I find this info very alarming. I’ve been vegetarian since 1985. Needless to say a lot of my diet consisted of wheat products. Switched to 100% whole grains several years ago. Have to say I’ve struggled with weight ever since. Quit consuming wheat and grains about a week ago and I feel so much better. I cannot purchase the book right now because I am barely working.
    But my question is about legumes. Why not consume beans? I eat them daily so I’d like to know why you consider them somewhat off limits?

    • Hi, Jim–

      You fell into the same trap I did way back when I went vegetarian with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. I became diabetic while jogging up to 5 miles a day. Big goof.

      Anyway, beans are a carbohydrate source. Consumed in large enough quantities, you will drive blood sugar up and suffer the consequences of glycation.

  6. Eva

    I just listened to part of your interview with Shelly on Q 104.3. Thanks. I hope this works. I am 53, 30 pounds overweight, on crestor. I used to be trim, ran two NYC Marathons, and now I am obese and disgusted with my appearance. Thanks

    • Let us know how it turns out, Eva!

      My prediction: You will be running marathons by springtime many pounds lighter and feeling faster and stronger.

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