The Wheat-free "Movement"

I have seen bowel health improve in the majority of people who say goodbye to wheat.

But one observation I have not purposefully tracked is constipation. I have indeed seen constipation improve in many people, but it’s simply not part of the conversation in much of what I do. I hate talking about bowel movements.

But Wheat Belly Blog reader, Susan, left this fascinating comment about, yes, constipation:

I must say that coming across this information (wheat as we know it today – and it’s effects) has absolutely changed my life over the last 40 days.

I have suffered from extreme constipation for many years to the point that I would not eliminate for weeks. My stomach got bigger and bigger as I tried one diet after another, endlessly. Mostly fruit and liquid fads to loosen and discharge what was surely in there somewhere. Nothing really worked, though, except laxatives.

I did note than when I did eliminate – it was very hard and covered in “glue.” I assumed that to be because it was in there for so long. However, it got me thinking about gluten, so I googled on that subject and up came Wheat Belly.

Long story short, I eliminated wheat and as a result (beginning on the third day) I began eliminating more than I ate – daily. I don’t think I have to explain how that is a miracle to sombody who has been chronically bunged up for years. My hard, bulging lower stomach is getting softer and smaller by the day now. Weight dropped 20lbs in the first 20 days and now drops about 2 lbs each week.

The other miracle is that I am not manic and miserable, including confusion, short attention span, etc. I could correlate that to the elimination success, but I know it’s more than that. I feel now that the wheat was causing that as another symptom. My knee doesn’t get inflamed anymore either since the general bloating ended. I am simply thrilled to have discovered this information after decades of suffering needlessly. Who would have thought that bread (wheat), etc., could be THIS harmful when I was led to believe that whole grains were my constipation saviour.

Susan added an addendum:
I figured I would aid in cutting through the buildup of “glue” in me by eating a whole grapefruit every morning. I feel that has helped in conjuction with the wheat-free diet.

Although this has worked spectacularly, I now plan a phase two which is to reduce other carbs and sugars as WheatBelly recommends. I can’t imagine how I can improve on my already amazing results, but I’m very excited about seeing how much better things could get.

Today was day 40 and I’m not sure how to say this so I’ll just say it plainly: I had a BM today that I (nor my husband) could believe. It seemed to be a section of my intestine. My husband is of the opinion that it is the inner lining. It was basically a wall of sticky mucous.

Two years ago, my doctor ordered a colonoscopy to see why I was chronically constipated. I was half awake for the procedure and I was sure he was going to comment on how much matter was in there. He reported nothing unusual. Later I asked him where the 1,000 meals could be then and he didn’t have an answer. Now I know. It’s been building up on the walls and I hope to see the rest in the near future. I should add that during about day 25 I had a slip where I ate a sandwich and a bagel. I immediately felt tired and miserable and then it took two full days to start eliminating again (yes – two days of constipation from just that). That was all the evidence I needed to know that wheat is certainly my bane.

Now when I see a protruded belly on a miserable person I feel like sharing my story because I know how miserable they feel. When people google constipation, WheatBelly should be the first thing that appears. God bless.

Wow. I can just feel Susan’s relief.

Just how many ways can there be that wheat wreaks havoc on the human intestinal tract and body? How many other conditions are there that are nothing more than a peculiar relationship with wheat consumption?

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91 Responses to The Wheat-free "Movement"

  1. Amine says:

    Question about Chicken Please????????????
    I have been eating grass fed beef and love it. What about Chicken you see in stores, restaurants etc.
    Is Chicken healthy?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Enjoy your chicken, Amine. If (genuinely) free-range, organic chickens are in your budget, too, that’s an extra. It also tends to be sold by more humane producers.

    • kauai kurt says:

      The Chickens you see in the stores are far from healthy. They are D_E_A_D !!!!!

  2. Pingback: Constantly constipated | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

  3. Justin Gardiner says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I work with as a personal trainer with a client that is in need of some help. She is doing well with her weight loss goals as she has just turned 40. Over the past six-nine months she has suffered from several alarming symptoms. She suffers from inflammation throughout her body. Her fingers so swollen she couldnt take off her wedding ring and her feet to the point she couldnt get her shoes on. Since we have started back on her program, about three months ago her fingers and feet have gone down a good amount but calves are full of fluid to the point that it’s hard to bend her knees to 90 degrees. She is also suffering from very noticable discoloration and severe iching her skin throughout her body. As well as noted hair loss and daily fatigue. She has been to doctor after doctor who put her on diuretics and potassium supplements, basically with no answers. They have reffered her to an endocrinologist, who reports everything to be normal and is scheduled to meet with a dermotologist. After reading your book I immediately gave her my copy to read. She claims that she feels addicted to wheat, although she has managed to cut back to about one to two servings per day. Do these symptoms sound familar? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Justin–

      It sure sounds like a wheat syndrome. The combination of leg edema, finger swelling, inflammation, and skin discoloration is, in fact, extremely suggestive of a wheat response. There’s a safe easy test to find out, of course: Get rid of this thing called wheat.

      There are other conditions that could account for this collection of phenomena, but they involve fairly elaborate testing, etc. Starting with a trial of wheat elimination seems like a really good idea to me!

  4. Shirley says:

    Add me to the list of “those who’s constitution train barely left the station.”
    Wheat elimination thankfully took care of that matter right quick.

  5. Sarah says:

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006 and had to go from a super-heavy-wholewheat diet to gluten-free overnight. I only wish I could say I have experienced all the good effects of giving up wheat you write about. I wonder if the weight loss people experience is more because they are eating less than that they are eating less wheat? At any rate, I have not lost weight, I’ve gained, and I now have the worst constipation ever, and I do still have joint pain and arthritis. But perhaps as a celiac it is different for me?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Sarah–

      Sorry about your struggles.

      While wheat is an incredibly common and powerful cause of multiple health conditions and weight gain, there are of course other causes for the symptoms and failure to lose weight that you describe. A thorough evaluation that extends beyond wheat may be in order.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi, Sarah — According to a woman who runs a nearby gluten-free cafe and bakery, a large percentage of celiacs don’t really get better until they also eliminate dairy from their diets; apparently, this is because the gluten and casein (milk protein) molecules are extremely similar. Some people can continue to have sheep and goat dairy, but I would urge you to completely eliminate all dairy for a while, then perhaps try goat/sheep dairy and see how you do. Good luck!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sarah, I completely understand where you are coming from.
      I hope it’s okay to say this here but I have found that there is more to it (for me) then just wheat. Look up the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Elaine Gottshall. That diet saved my life. I think it will help you with the celiac. But, wheat is surely a killer. As soon as I eat even a little my belly blows up and I get horrendous pain. The joints in my fingers stiffen to the point I cannot bend them straight. And I get Iritis in one eye. Wheat and refined sugar are the cause I believe. For the constipation to resolve for me however, it takes elimination of wheat, refined sugar, and dairy. Even raw vegetables sometimes.
      I hope you research that book I mentioned up above.
      God bless.

  6. Andrew says:

    I am new to this. I have a sugar problem including Gout. Dr says reduce the spare tyre, drop the carbs. Beer is a good place to start – Whoe is me. Anyway beer contains wheat so will have to rethink this one.
    Some ineresting comments the info has helped me get started.

    Thanks

  7. joe says:

    I DON’T HAVE THE BOOK YET , IS THERE A DIET PLAN IN THERE? I MEAN BESIDES ELIMINATING WHEAT. THIS WOMAN WAS EXPERIENCING SOME SYMPTOMS I HAVE , BLOATING , CONSTIPATION. PLENTY GOING IN NOT A LOT COMING OUT.
    WHAT WAS THE TRICK? I HAVE STOPPED EATING WHEAT FOR TWO WEEKS AND STILL CONSTIPATED

    I’M ABOUT TO TAKE COLON CLEANSE “EXPERIENCE” IF THERE IS A BETTER WAY PLEASE SHARE :-)

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes there is a recommended diet if full health is desired.

      I don’t think that we should interpret this woman’s incredible experience to mean that ALL constipation is caused by wheat, but just that some is, even despite extensive medical evaluation.

  8. Cathy says:

    Had the same experience. Going wheat free a couple of years ago cured my life-long chronic constipation. Also put an end to my blood sugar drops, cravings, and many other problems.

  9. Janne says:

    I am very happy on a no-wheat regimen but I wish I knew what I should do to add enough fiber to my diet. I am not quite on the verge of constipation. When I ate lots of whole grains (I haven’t touched refined grains in years), I would have easy daily bowel movements. I am still going daily but it’s not as ‘easy’. I eat lots of vegetables, and sometimes a little brown rice. What am I doing wrong?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Janne–

      Consider:

      1) More raw nuts and seed, more nut meals, including the recipes in the book and here on the blog.
      2) More non-wheat fibers that are low in carbohydrates, such as flaxseed and chia
      3) A magnesium supplement, e.g., magnesium citrate 400 mg once or twice per day
      4) A probiotic to help your poor wheat-damaged intestine to recover

      That does it for the majority.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      By the way, Janne, I will also post an expanded reply to your question as a blog post.

  10. craig macdonald says:

    I’ve been wheat free for over a week now, following the guidance in Dr Davis’ book, and I’ve already lost over 2 kg. >In a week<. I'd class myself as having an almost 'elite' level of fitness, and two years ago I managed to lose four stone – but I've never experienced weight loss of this rate before, even when 'dieting' & working out 5 nights a week when I was at my heaviest (over 200 lbs).

    I can also happily report the dissappearance of mystery rashes on my chest & back, increased mental focus, and a higher rate of workload during workouts – not only am I working harder in the gym, I'm actually able to sustain intensity across the duration of the session.

    but what's really blown me away is the effect these dietary changes have had on my bowel movements.

    (skip the following bit if you're of a queasy disposition!)
    up until a few days ago, trips to the loo for a 'number 2' would regularly take me 20 minutes – seriously. the deposits would be tarry, loose, and never ending – with bloody piles. and when I needed to go, the intense cramps compelled me. every morning, at around 7 am, I'd have the same ordeal.

    as if this wasn't bad enough, they'd always be followed up with a mucous discharge which, as you can imagine, made returning to my chair in the office pretty uncomfortable, with a piece of tissue wedged in to absorb the leakage – positively disgusting!!!!

    18 months ago I spent a fortune with a specialist, involving cameras up and down, plus the remote camera capsule – I was convinced I had chrohns or bowel cancer. the conclusion at the end of these tests? excess stomach acid was aggrivating my intestines… so I was given a prescription for acidic inhibitors and sent packing.

    I've put up with these symptoms since my late teens, though they have gotten progressively worse over the last 4 years. I can't overstate the inconvenience and worry they've caused. and now, after just a week, I'm in and out of the loo with no worries in less than 5 mins. I can't believe how simple the changes have been, and how massive the effects of those changes are.

    thank you, good doctor :)
    craig, wales, UK

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Excellent, Craig!

      I am amazed at how many people have been scoped top and bottom, misdiagnosed, “treated” with medications, even procedures, all to deal with the effects of wheat. It also dumbfounds me that the gastroenterologists only see celiac disease or no celiac disease as the choices in wheat effects.

      Thanks for the courage to share such intimate details.

  11. My doctor son-in-law got a present from a colleague this Christmas, and he passed it on to me on the grounds that I am more likely to be interested (!). It’s a publication by Chronicle Books and it’s called ‘What’s Your Poo Telling You?’ It comes in the form of a desktop pad, with a tear-off page for each day of the year. Each page contains a bit of information for anyone with — whether they like it or not — a need to keep an eye on their bowel movements. I was going to quote a few examples but on second thoughts perhaps I won’t. Anyway, it’s published on an annual basis, and the 2012 version is still available on amazon.com. You can ‘look inside’ before you order, to get an idea of what it offers.
    http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Your-Telling-Daily-Calendar/dp/0811879399/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326538252&sr=1-2

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  13. Anna says:

    I just found this thread and thought it would be worth adding that my decades-long constipation problem also disappeared. I have cut out wheat along with all other grains, starches and sugars due to diabetes which started as gestational but became permanent. So I originally eliminated wheat from my diet as part of my disease management, wasn’t paying much attention in particular to the constipation until I realized that it was suddenly gone, along with the chronic hemorrhoids I have been dealing with. Naturally I don’t bring up this topic very often, but in case anyone out there is wondering, getting rid of wheat has appeared to clear up my constipation and, at the very least, not eating wheat or grains is not a factor in making constipation worse, as some people believe.

  14. Pingback: Fatigue Help – Understanding the Link Between Constipation and Fatigue | MEDINFOPAGES.COM

  15. Raye McCullough says:

    I have been on the Wheat belly for 2 month now and only lost 3lb.
    Help

  16. BB says:

    I hate to say it but all grains should be avoided. They ALL contain a protein like Gluten that sensitve or Celiac will react to, including corn. That means there are NO such Gluten free prepackage ofoods ut there. Gluten and other proteins are hidden in most foods.

    Visit http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/

    They have the data and testimonials to back it up and hardly any doctors are aware of this.
    Only when I truly eat grain free do I feel normal and my list of symptoms is long and serious. Contipation being one that is gone wheil eat true grain free. It is alsolutely difficult to live this way.

  17. Rita says:

    I have been on wheat belly for 7 days and was feeling good. then I ate dry roasted peanuts thinking they were on the ok list Wrong! I have a terrible gassy stomach and feel aweful. Still learning.

  18. Tricia says:

    My 12 year old and I are going to do this together — she’s on a competitive gymnastics team and has the same mid-section as me, which is completely unfair considering how hard she works out. Any suggestions for anyone who is doing this with their kids? The school cafeteria is a mine-field, but it’s tough to prepare a lunch every day. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Tricia, NH