Wheatlessness and the New “Normal”

Eliminate wheat from the diet and multiple facets of health improve.

Health improves so much that I believe we have to reconsider what we regard as “normal”–normal health, normal aging, feeling good. If we accept the current state of the U.S. as it now stands, part of the current “normal” means being overweight or obese, being pre-diabetic, experiencing energy lows that impair day-to-day performance, developing arthritis by our 50s or 60s, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, acid reflux, constipation, sleep disturbances . . . and on and on. These are the pedestrian plagues of the modern American, with a rare person who escapes all of it. Fiction imitates life and we have become Homer Simpsons of health: fat, lazy overeaters consigned to a life of discomfort, doctor visits, and prescription drugs. Doh!!

Taking wheat out of the health equation means that we need to redefine what we can expect in life. This is because eliminating wheat:

1) Reduces appetite–“Normal” calorie intake is, on average, 400 calories less per day for the wheatless. The notion that a 50-year old, 150 pound woman needs 1800 calories per day will need to be adjusted . . . downward.
2) Reduces body weight and visceral fat–You might need to shop in the junior dress sizes. Men may find that clothes manufacturers don’t even make trousers for your waist size any more. (Ever try to find 31″ waist pants?)
3) Reduces small LDL particles–Meaning risk for heart attack is dramatically reduced, “need” for statin drugs reduced or eliminated. It means that the fictitious target numbers your doctor treats known as “LDL cholesterol” will need to be readjusted to accommodate the reduction or elimination of the true number one cause for heart disease in the U.S., small LDL particles.
4) Reduces blood sugar–Remove the amylopectin A of wheat and blood sugar drops, HbA1c (reflecting the previous 60-days blood sugar) drops, resistance to insulin drops.
5) Diabetes and pre-diabetes are no longer inevitable–The CDC predicts that 1 in 3 Americans will be diabetic in the coming years, another 1 in 3 pre-diabetic–it is nearly everyone’s fate, according to the numbers. Remove amylopectin A, remove lectin-induced leptin resistance, remove gliadin-induced appetite stimulation, diabetes and pre-diabetes for most go away.
6) Joint and bone health improve–Arthritis, joint pain, and osteoporosis, long considered the inevitable accompaniments of aging, are delayed or simply don’t occur once the acidifying effects of wheat are removed, the inflammatory pus-like properties of visceral fat disappear, and brittle cartilage effects of amylopectin A-induced glycation no longer occur.
7) Glycation comes to a halt–Provided you don’t feast on M&Ms and Coca Cola in place of wheat, irreversible glucose-modification of proteins–that causes hypertension, cataracts, osteoarthritis, left ventricular diastolic dysfunction (stiff heart), conduction system disease leading to heart rhythm disorders and pacemakers, nervous system impairment (reduced sensation and coordination), and aging–subsides to its natural slow level.

We also no longer need to resign ourselves to an inevitable future of blood pressure drugs, cholesterol drugs, arthritis drugs, acid reflux drugs, diabetes drugs, along with “plenty of fiber” to compel our diseased colons to do their jobs. The savings in healthcare costs alone are mind-boggling.

Wheatlessness redefines what normal health and aging are all about. I predict that our perception that the “normal” 60-year old, overweight and tired, who takes five prescription drugs, struggles to walk freely, and sees his or her doctor for multiple abnormal health conditions, will be replaced by a slender active person who can still run up a hill effortlessly, wear a bathing suit or bikini proudly at the beach, and sees a doctor for nothing more than a checkup.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Mary

    Inflammatory pus-like properties of visceral fat? That phrase right there is enough to make me want to give up wheat. :-)

    • Much of the experience is anecdotal, I’m afraid, Janne. Most of the wheat-free data in inflammatory autoimmune diseases is in the more common rheumatoid arthritis.

      Nonetheless, there is a connection between wheat consumption and virtually all inflammatory/autoimmune diseases–they are sometimes caused by wheat consumption and other times are simply improved. Either way, it’s worth at least a 4-week trial.

    • Boundless

      There are several lupus hits on this site:
      Their focus is gluten. Wheat also assaults with gliadin, amylopectin A and lectins.

      I suspect that a lot of the mystery about auto-immune diseases will clear up once the afflicted get off the wheat (and grains, and fast carbs, if not carbs generally).

      • Mary

        So true for myself and my mother – both of us diagnosed with “atypical RA” because we had tons of joint inflammation, fatigue, very elevated levels of CR-P (my last CR-P PRE-wheat elimination was 32!) and anti-CCP and sed rates but once we were wheat free – all that vanished!

        Neither of us had ever tested positive for RA factor – hence the “atypical” part of the dx but everything else fit. Sort of makes me wonder how many people have diagnoses that are only treated because they eat wheat that manifests in such predictable ways. Of course, the next question that pops into my mind is: how much money has been spent to “treat” (read: chase) diseases and conditions that are not real but merely mirror serious illnesses as wheat destroys and steals their life. So sad and yet, the vast number of people I tell about wheat say the same thing: “Oh, I could never give up bread!”

        My response? “Which would you enjoy more: a fat, hot, steamy loaf of bread with butter or cinnamon and sugar or a healthy body without pain?” Shockingly, though almost everyone WANTS to lose the pain, most already understand the addictive component of wheat and feel helpless. Again, very sad.

        • PJ

          Remember the saying “Nothing tastes as good a skinny feels”? Well, now I say “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!”

          • Debbie B in MD

            Amen PJ!!!!!!!!! I had tried for years and years to lose weight. Once I lost 43 pounds and consequently gained it back. There wasn’t the motivation that I needed. Now that I am gluten-free, the weight has come off and the pain in all of its manifestations is gone. That is some incentive to stay wheatless. I am not even tempted. Now sugar, is a work in progress. :)

        • Yes, so true, Mary.

          All we can do is raise awareness and set examples of health and hope that they sit up and take notice.

          I would count the number of people with “atypical RA” as many millions. In my (cardiac) practice, I see at least a couple of people a day who would easily fit this diagnosis.

  2. Eve

    About 10 years ago when I gave up wheat, my first thought was that “this must be what *normal* people feel like every day”! I am 44 had the exact same thought recently…when I look around at the Americans around me I realize how I feel everyday is far from *normal*! I’ve never understood why anyone would choose to conti us to feel sick, lethargic, and live on prescription pills from age 40 on, when they could make a simple choice to just stop poisoning themselves. And especially now with every alternative available to us for a wheat free life.

  3. Joy Beer

    Dr. Davis, I had my friend, who is diabetic, listen to the podcast interview of you with Robb Wolf. She was on the verge of being put on insulin and was grasping at straws as to what she could do. She was stunned and wanted to read the book IMMEDIATELY. I ran to B&N and got us both copies. She devoured the book and quit her “healthy whole wheat”–ALL WHEAT–within a day. This was just a month or so ago. She has lost 9 pounds effortlessly, her energy levels are better than they’ve been in years, her head clear… and…
    HER BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS PLUMMETED! They are now down in the pre-diabetic levels, and she called with a reading of 100. This is a 67 year old woman who has dealt with this for years. This is significant!

    I get daily emails and excited phone calls about her latest blood sugar reading. My little daughter and I were so excited about Linda’s great results that it was an exciting and easy move to purge our cabinets and start the new way of eating. We are also doing so well, after such a short time.

    Congratulations on a fun and extremely informational book. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping my beloved friend. I’m so happy and proud of myself, too, for forcing her to sit in my car and listen to that interview!

  4. Cindy

    I have only been free of wheat and grains one week but I have drastically noticed my hunger sensations have gone down. And, 5 lbs.

  5. I am curious. I have given up all wheat/gluten, potatoes, the only thing I am having a few times a week is a small serving of rice, or some japanese rice crackers. I have also read that corn and rice also contain gluten, even tho it’s a different type of protein than gliadin, it has been shown to also produce the same type of inflammatory issues as wheat. So, the paleo way of living is recommended. I am proud of myself for not doing the wheat anymore, and feel great. But, just bracing myself for the fact that I may have to do all grains. I think I am sensitive to almonds and maybe nuts, so the only thing I seem okay with is brown rice flour. I realize at my at, a female at 48 and going through hormonal changes, it’s the grains that may work against me, especially insulin wise. I really am only having a little bit. My husband and daughter are not completely on the wagon for giving up wheat, but he has been making some rice at dinner, to accomodate me, instead of the usual pasta.

    I would love your ideas on this. I am taking it one step at a time. REalize dairy may also be on the list too…….but a girl can only do so much at one time. The more I eliminate things, the more I find I am sensitive to others. LIke my beloved red wine :). OY!!

    • Heather

      Have self compassion — and take it one day at a time. When you stumble and have a grain that you are starting to think about eliminating — acknowledge it — and move on. Think about alternatives that are healthy non-grain foods. I personally LOVE spaghetti squash for my “noodles”. If you have a mandolin you can make zucchini noodles too! That helps with long pastas. I often google “Paleo ________” (fill in the blank) So many recipes to find and explore and even adapt to what you think you will like. YUM!

      • Pam

        A Zyliss or other hand held juillene cutter, looks like a potato peeler, works great on the zucchini “noodles” Makes a great carbonara.

  6. Firebird

    I wish my waist size went back down to a 31. That’s the one thing that never happened to me, a loss of body fat. I’ve been a bodybuilder all my life and I am probably at a decent body weight (175 @ 5’8″), but I’ve never been able to shed the fat around the waist or love handles. In 10 years my waist went from a 32″ to a 36″, and it won’t go down.

    • Ann

      Firebird – you didn’t say – did you give up wheat, or grains in general? Are you keeping to 20 – 30 grams of carbs per day? Just asking because these are some of the questions I have had to ask myself as well, as my scale wasn’t moving much. Some of that fat seems really resistant in the presence of many carbs at all. That’s me. The fewer carbs I eat, while still paying attention to my veg intake and cutting out any unnecessary carbs, the better I do with fat loss.

      • Firebird

        No grains, no rice, no fruit. I gave up one of my favorite all time foods, oatmeal (sorry, Cheerios, but my cholesterol went way up while eating a bowl of oatmeal everyday).

        The other day, I went out to eat and ordered a cobb salad. Included is two slices of toasted garlic bread. I didn’t touch it. Same thing when I get chili when I eat out, I do not touch the bread or crackers.

        My carb intake is probably less than 30 gms/day. I tend to lean more towards Dr. Gregg Ellis’ view point that calories DO count, and that metabolic adaptation does exist.

        • Hi, Fire–

          I do believe that calories do count in some people, but not all.

          By the way, I agree that the Cheerios heart-healthy thing is an incredible bunch of nonsense. How can something that sends your blood sugar to the 200-300 mg/dl range be heart healthy?

        • John

          Bodybuilder all your life? Maybe it’s an issue of your fat intake. I seem to notice that bodybuilders are always focused on lean protein and carbs, and never seem to look at fat. Maybe you’re not getting enough fat in general, and saturated fat in particular. Are you eating chicken breasts? Maybe you should be eating beef with more fat. Use whole eggs, and not egg whites. Go for the coconut oil. Maybe your Omega 6/3 ratio is out of wack too. Do you eat fish or supplement with fish oil? You probably should. Maybe you’re eating too much canola or soybean oil too.

          It could also be something like a vitamin or mineral deficiency (iodine and magneseum come to mind.. as do vitamin D or K), or it could be a thyroid issue.

          Maybe visceral fat isn’t a sign that you’re eating too much of something. Maybe it’s that you’re not getting enough of something. After all, a goiter is your thyroid swelling up because you aren’t getting enough iodine. The fat around your waist could be triggered by a similar mechanism.

          • PJ

            John, I’m with you on this! People sometimes forget to eat enough fat to be healthy. I’m all about the awesome fats!

          • Firebird

            My diet:

            Protein shake in coconut milk or almond milk (w/peanut butter)

            4 whole eggs, cheese, 2 slices bacon — cooked in butter

            Steak or Chicken, mushrooms and/or green beans cooked in butter

            Fage yogurt, 4% cottage cheese, chicken, fried cheese, nuts or protein shake (same as breakfast).

            I have not followed the so-called bodybuilders diet you mention since the early 1990s.

            I do not use soy or canola oils. I take a fish supplement due to that I prefer to avoid the mercury in fish.

            Thyroid was recently checked and is fine, though I do supplement with something called atomodine, which is an iodine supplement.

            I take magnesium citrate, 400 mg/day.

            A recent blood panel showed HIGH levels of Vitamin D, and was told to back off/reduce my supplementation.

            The one thing I do know is that my cortisol levels are high, and nobody seems to have a cure for that.

          • John


            Yep, overall looks like you a have a pretty good diet. Maybe you should experiment with intermittent fasting. Something like Martin Berkhan’s Leangains protocol. Also, maybe you want to take closer look as your protein shake. It causing a rise in insulin, or contains some sort of lechtin, which I believe interferes with leptin.

          • Firebird

            Hey John,

            I use NOW Nutrition’s Whey protein powder. I mix it up and will use either the flavorless or chocolate. Neither has more than 4gms per scoop of powder. The Almond Milk is 40 calories per cup. The carbs there are only 2gm. The bulk of the carbs comes from the peanut butter (if I use it), or the coconut milk. With two packets of Splenda, the carb content doesn’t reach 15 gms per serving.

            Sometimes I switch up and use Optimal Nutrition’s Whey powder, which has 4 gms per serving (fructose). I don’t know where my insulin “limit”, if that’s what you would call it, would be. In other words at one point does my body become subjected to an insulin spike. The gram count is small, unless I’m ubersensitive.

  7. Kate

    I wish giving up wheat would make me a slender person. I haven’t had grains in almost a year and I’ve lost about 20-25 pounds, but I still have several pounds/ inches to go before I could be considered slender–however, I do have a fairly flat stomach and most of the weight I’m hanging onto is hips, butt, thighs. Other than the weight loss halt, everything else is super. Even though giving up wheat/grains and taking up a primal lifestyle hasn’t miraculously left me at my ideal weight I’m more than happy with every other aspect of my health and well being.
    During my SAD days I thought my insomnia, aches and pains, bad skin, fatigue, and weight gain were all just a normal part of the aging process and I’m just in my early 40s with most of those aging symptoms starting as early as my 20s.
    I’m really hoping to be able to lose the last 20 or so pounds with some tweaking of diet and exercise so my friends and family will see that I’m not a kook when I tell them about how great I feel by giving up grains. They seem to only see weight loss as a sign of success.

  8. Sol y Sombra

    I also started a primal lifestyle at the beginning of October. I was low-carbing even before that and had lost most of the weight I had to lose, but since October 3rd I have eliminated grains except for an occasional serving of rice. I have definitely noticed some improvement in my knee pain and mobility (I have severe osteoarthritis, even though I am 34). I hope, with time, that I will begin to feel even better.

    I have PCOS too, although low-carbing has helped a lot with that, but my period still isn’t “normal” enough. I hope this new, gluten-free lifestyle helps regulate it better.

    Thank you very much, Dr. Davis, for the info you post and for leading the battle against what is considered the foundation of civilization… Most people I know think I am crazy. They cannot imagine life without bread and cannot imagine that something so seemingly harmless can cause all the problems you list. Still, I have found out that people are best convinved by own experience – if one has a health issue, the best thing to do is experiment with different solutions and see what works. Some pretty amazing discoveries can be made this way.

    Again, thank you!

  9. Susan

    Hello Dr. Davis,

    This coming February I will have been LC and grain free for three years, except for the rare laps in judgement that for some reason I continue to justify. These laps in judgement surely must be a component of the addictive nature of carbs – wheat particularly. At the prayer group I attend monthly, we were to bring cookies for the Christmas cookies exchange. I participated in this event knowing FULL WELL that I was going to cave in and eat a FEW cookies. A few! I downed 15 cookies in less than five minutes and feeling disgusted with myself CONTINUED to down several more, as if I were never going to be allowed a sweet treat ever again! I knew weeks before the group met that I was going to do this. I knew I was going to feel horrid mentally and physically the next morning, which of course, I did – big time. My challenge, and question to you, is how do you mange the manipulative, self-destructive mind of a carbohydrate addict?

    I have kept off the 45 pounds I lost the first four months into dumping the carbs. The health benefits I have gained have been stunning for me. I remember writing to Jimmy Moore to ask if these benefits were normal in such a short time, as I was not expecting anything except, possibly, some weight loss along with the correction to my triglycerides. Had anyone else noticed these wonderful benefits, notably the disappearance of my arthritis. He replied that it certainly was. For me, three years is short term. I need a plan to help my mind stay on track. Why is it that the wonderful feeling of health sometimes does not seem to be enough to keep a person from such destructive behavior?


    • Boundless

      > … bring cookies for the Christmas cookies exchange …
      Bring your own made from a low-carb wheat free recipe (several on this site, plus various Paleo comfort foods books). Eat them only. Bring mass quantities. You may get converts.
      > … how do you mange the manipulative, self-destructive mind …
      Same way you manage all self behavior – look to your consequences. Choose your outcomes. Adopt principles that support those outcomes.
      > … of a carbohydrate addict?
      Wheat is likely quadruple-addictive. The first two are shared with candy:
      * blood sugar peaks and valleys
      * brains wants glucose generally, and fast carbs provide it
      These are wheat-specific:
      * gliadin exorphin withdrawal
      * gliadin appetite stimulation
      “Rape lapses” don’t have to be very far apart to keep you in continuous dependency.

        • Susan

          Thanks Boundless,

          Every now and again I need a little shaking from someone else to remind me that I really am much stronger than I think I am. For someone else, these lapses might be seen as a “cheat”, but for me they are just too destructive. It is much more difficult during holidays as so much of my self-indentification as a caring person over the years, has come from cooking and baking for my family and friends as they came together to celebrate the various, food-centered holidays. The only person I know who remotely eats the way I do is my loving husband. When I have a lapse in dietary judgement he just looks at me, with love in his eyes, and says “Well, what did you think was going to happen?”

          Thank you Dr. Davis for allowing this comment section. It helps to read the feedback from others, otherwise, it feels really lonely out here sometimes.


          • Boundless

            > … need a little shaking …
            Imagine that you were a diagnosed celiac. Chances are that would make it easier to ignore wheat baits (excuse me, I mean wheat treats).

            So tell your family and friends that you have an acute wheat sensitivity, confirmed by challenge testing.

            You don’t need to tell them that ALL OF US have an acute wheat sensitivity (unless they get seriously interested) :)

          • Knowledge is power, Susan, but it can indeed succumb to societal pressures, as well as the addictive properties of wheat. Is it any wonder that the food industry has put this property to good use?

            I know of no foolproof way to remain wheat-free, just as the alcoholic has no guarantee of never taking another drink. It may be a daily struggle, a constant internal dialogue to fight off this demon.

            Stay strong and know that you’ve got many, many like-minded friends here!

  10. Dori Wilson

    I often wonder of the “survival of the fittest” concept and how things will pan out for the human race if we continue to poison ourselves. Seems to me the only ones that will survive this obesity/disease epidemic are those who recognize what is happening and/or those very few that have a resistance to the ill effects of wheat. Which camp there will be more of is the real question… Makes me think of the children’s movie “Wall-E” and what they depict the humans as haveing become: huge marshmellow people that can’t even bear their own weight – of course in space might not be a problem but it damn sure is here on Earth! Dr. Davis is saving lives and maybe the human race :) (I jest slightly, but it really isn’t that far fetched!)
    I have been trying to convince my friend’s and family of all these wonderful things that going wheat free has done and they just look at me, nod and smile but I know most of them think I’m just crazy. Others say they believe me but they just “can’t” (my mother always said “can’t” never could do anything!) give up the wheat. In those cases, I correct them and tell them they “won’t” give up the wheat. In my experience, we as human beings can do ANYTHING we set our minds to and most chemical physical addictions can be fought through in 3-5 days. I gave up caffeine after 2 regular cups of coffee a day for the last 20 years or so, it hurt like hell, but it didn’t kill me :) and neither will wheat withdrawal kill anyone else. Potatoes on the other hand are a weakness, but I guess we all have to have at least one vice!

    • Boundless

      > I often wonder of the “survival of the fittest” concept
      > and how things will pan out for the human race if we
      > continue to poison ourselves.

      I recall user Uncle Roscoe, in a reply I now cannot find, speculating that wheat may already have killed off entire genetic subsets of humans, leaving only the somewhat wheat resistant (us).

      I suspect that in locales where there is less food choice and inadequate labels, celiac and acute wheat-sensitive genes are being “cleansed” from the population as we speak.

      Perhaps the Neanderthals weren’t cheated out of their tribal lands by sharp Cro-Magnon lawyers, but were simply provided some einkorn.

      • As always, Boundless, you make such incredible points!

        It is indeed an interesting possibility to ask what role wheat in its various forms had on evolution in humans and related primates. Perhaps the Neanderthals succumbed to diarrhea and not the spear!

    • Rhonda Curry

      I can relate to what you say about your mother and the “I can’t.” My mother-in-law has Hashimoto’s disease and uses it to tell herself (and everyone else) that she can’t lose weight. She says that she is hungry all the time and that is the problem. “If only there were some way to never be hungry,” she says. HELLO!! I have told her how her son and I are NEVER hungry anymore and she can see how successful and virtually effortless our weight loss has been. I’m hoping that the results will continue to speak for themselves and she will eventually get on board!

    • One of my near-term fears, Dori, is that us slender healthy ones will still bear the healthcare costs of the overweight, sickened wheat consumers. We will have to pay for the $500 per month diabetes drugs, $1200 per year cholesterol drugs, the $30,000 knee replacement, the $97,000 bypass surgery.

      I didn’t know about the Wall-E thing. Sounds like something I could use to make a point!

      • Boundless

        re: … slender healthy ones will still bear the healthcare costs of the overweight, sickened wheat consumers.

        Think of it this way:
        would we rather be healthy and complaining about premiums and taxes,
        or sick and complaining about premiums and taxes.

        I already suggested dodging some of the cost by moving to a higher deductible level on one’s health insurance policies.

  11. Lynda NZ

    What a scary picture you paint of the future Dr Davis. Unfortunately I agree – here in New Zealand things look no different. My husband and I have been wheat free (and low carb) now for three months and will continue to be. I did not suffer many of the conditons you have listed but was pre-diabetic. We have bought a blood sugar monitor and my levels are normal now except both of us have high fasting (morning) readings. I have read this is called “dawn phenomenon” and wonder if this will change? When I go and have further tests with my doctor he will think I am diabetic because of this reading. I have every confidence that my Hb-A1c will be normal though :)

    I have also read that if I have a blood glucose tolerance test now that those figures too will be distorted due to being low carb. Apparently I have to “carb up” for three days prior? Seems such a waste to artificially carb up for the sake of a normal result!

    Lastly I noticed in your post that you wrote that statin use will be reduced or eliminated – do you feel that is a need for statins? My husband was told last week he should be on them (by his cardiologist) but with a zero CT calcium score, normal blood pressure, wheat free, nearly at goal weight etc, he said no thanks. Do you think he is right to say no or should we believe the doctor?

    • PJ

      Why would you believe the doctor? Does he have your husband’s best interests at heart? Seriously?
      I, for one, say good for your husband!!!

    • Hi, Lynda–

      As you become more sensitive to insulin, the high a.m. blood sugars from the “dawn phenomenon” will drop. This is often among the last effects to recede.

      The glucose tolerance test is a joke, a perversion of physiology. Say you are low-carb and run blood sugars of 90 mg/dl, HbA1c of 4.8%. You check postprandial blood glucoses and they likewise are never higher than 100 mg/dl. You then submit to a glucose tolerance test with a peak glucose of 240 mg/dl. Even though you experience no high blood sugars in real everyday life, the doctor tries to persuade you to take medication. This is what happens when you follow cookbook guidelines often heavily influenced by the drug industry and their mindless lackeys otherwise known as “endocrinologists.” (Sorry, a bit of a pet peeve on the endocrinology front!)

      Remember that the “need” for statin drugs cannot be made on the basis of a conventional lipid panel; it should be made on the basis of a lipoprotein panel that yields, for instance, LDL particle number. Alternatively, an apoprotein B test can be used that truly reveals the number of LDL particles. However, the most important measure: number of small LDL particles.

  12. I fell off the wheat wagon back in August. Thanksgiving was my last day of a three month long wheat fest. I was so physically uncomfortable the night of Thanksgiving it gave me motivation to clean up my eating. I have lost 13 pounds since Thanksgiving. I have more energy, less aches and a fasting blood glucose that is starting to get into the normal range. I still have 12 pounds to lose, but feel confident I will do it.

    This is one lesson I do not want to repeat.

  13. Melissa

    I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago. I’ve tried many diets but have continually had trouble losing weight because I am constantly battling the blood sugar roller coaster. Treating with insulin when dieting is a ride in itself plus the added insulin increases visceral fat. My brother and I (the only two Type 1 diabetics in our family) affectionately call it the diabetic belly. The spots where insulin is injected seem to be the spots hardest to get rid of. I’m hoping eliminating wheat will help normalize my blood sugar control and minimize the fat. I have been wheat free for two days now…I know, not much yet but I had to finish reading the book in order to get fully committed to the idea that all my mid-western family and co-workers find bizarre. Are there any success stories for Type 1 patients going wheat free?

    • Hi, Melissa-

      While I do not think that going wheat-free has much hope for restoring pancreatic function at this stage, there is a high likelihood of:

      1) Marked improvement in gastrointestinal function and relief from symptoms.
      2) Positive celiac markers
      3) Relief from future neurological impairment
      4) Reduced need for diabetes medication/insulin.

      On the last, I’ve watched type 1’s reduce insulin needs dramatically with far less fluctuations.

      Please update us with your experience!

  14. PJ

    I was perusing one of my favorite sites (WAPF) and came across an article dated May 2010. The part that caught my attention was this:

    “Medical problems associated with gluten intolerance are legion, and include autism, multiple sclerosis, ADD/ADHD, allergies , osteoporosis, repetitive strain or stress injury, irritable bowel, colitis and other digestive system disorders. However, it’s celiac disease that has catalyzed and is driving the gluten-free food and beverage market. Although three million Americans (or one percent of the population) have been officially diagnosed with celiac disease, many experts believe that 97 percent of celiac sufferers remain undiagnosed. And many more may be affected by a subclinical gluten sensitivity. Worse, the number of known sufferers will most likely increase ten fold around the world during the next few years. No wonder this market is booming with double digit growth.”

    97%!!!!!!! Talk about your walking wounded!

    Maybe I’ll break my rule about the dreaded Christmas letter and write one this year:

    Dear Friends, Family and Co-Workers:

    You’ve been complaining that you just can’t lose those extra pounds and you feel like crap. You’re concerned about your blood sugar and don’t know why you get those stomach aches after you eat and the bathroom has become your personal chamber of horrors. Heartburn, joint pain, and acne are daily battles. Your doctor says you should be on statins and blood pressure meds because he has your best interests at heart. He’s the one that knows what’s good for you. Besides, wouldn’t it just be easier to do as you’re told?

    I can feel your frustration and helplessness when you talk about how you feel and your fears for the future. I tell you over and over and over again to eliminate the grains and sugar from your diet but you tell me that you just CAN’T give up your breads and desserts. It’s too HARD! You say you would do ANYTHING to lose the weight and feel better but it doesn’t make sense that “they” would tell us to eat at least six servings a day if it wasn’t good for you! And fat makes you fat! And it clogs your arteries! Right?

    You think I’m a wacko and roll your eyes when I talk about dietary lifestyle. God forbid you read a book or do a little internet research. You’ve decided to do as you were told (because it’s easier and you don’t have to think for yourself) and all the experts agree that you need to cut back on red meat and all fats, eat lots of fruits and veggies and more whole healthy grains. And this time, for sure, you’re going to exercise like a fiend. After all, it’s calories in, calories out, right? After all, it worked one time, long ago when you needed to lose 10 pounds to look awesome in your new dress . . . in HIGH SCHOOL.

    Well, when those pounds come back and you feel worse than ever, you’re going to see your doctor to get his/her expert advice and he/she will probably tell you it’s all in your head or you’re not trying hard enough. So you’re going to reduce your calories even more and add a couple extra miles a week to your jogging program. It’s not going to work, tho, because, let’s face it . . . you’re weak and lack motivation. When you fail, it’ll be your fault because the advice you’ve been given is the gold standard for health, after all.

    Eventually your doctor will intimidate you into taking his magic pills. And you’ll take them, because it’s easier. Don’t worry about the side effects of these drugs because there’s another pill for that, too. This will go on until you’re held together with pharmaceutical band aids, living a longer, albeit miserable, unproductive life.

    But look on the bright side. If the label that’s slapped on what’s ailing you is serious enough there are so many benefits to becoming disabled! Disability gets you a handicapped sticker for convenient parking, discounts on public transportation, priority seating on an airplane (if you fit in their seats by that time), and you don’t have to work at a job for your income. Yea! Those electric scooters at your favorite stores are so much fun! Hey, maybe disability/Medicare will make sure you get one of your very own, at no cost to you! (All my grain eating friends that live alone, don’t forget that you can get a discount on Life Alert through AARP!) Don’t even concern yourself about the price of all your prescriptions because there is always a benevolent drug company willing to help with the cost. You’ll get all of this without ever having to think for yourself or take responsibility for your health. After all, isn’t it just . . . EASIER?

    Your healthy friends may drift away, but you’ll never have to worry about being lonely because you’ll be making tons of new friends with the people you meet in the doctors’ waiting rooms! Imagine all the beautiful Christmas cards you’ll get every year from all those doctors and their caring staff!

    Remember, it’s never too late to change your attitude toward your health. I’m here if you’re serious about making a change for the better. I have a ton of websites you can visit, a bunch of books you can read and lots of people you can talk to. It’s your choice.

    However, if you choose to stay the path you’re on . . . I’ll miss you.

    Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

    • Lynda NZ

      Excellent – I just love it. This says everything I would love to say to people. I know a lady at present who as CRPS (Cronic repetitve pain syndrome or something like that). She weighs about 140 kilos and is excited because she is to be given a wheelchair!! I have tried and tried to get her to give up grains – they are inflammatory and I’m sure it would help her – but no, she has looked at that “diet” and decided it is too hard so she is back to weight watchers literally for about the 20th time this year!! I have sympathy for her situation and pain but when a person would rather live like that than try something new that might work???

      She did come back to me and say that her doctor told her not to go low carb because it would affect her kidneys – really? Surely better overall health is more important to her now than the tiny risk to her kidneys. I mean this woman is dying… I suppose we can only look out for ourselves at the end of the day.

      • PJ

        Your friend is the very definition of insanity (repeating the same behavior expecting different results). I, too, know a couple of people that actually got excited about their insurance paying for wheechairs or electric scooters. What is up with that?!
        So many people go back on the same diet knowing that “this time it’ll be different”. I cannot get my head around it. I’m afraid there may be a limited number of functional brains to be had. So, so sad. I get frustrated when I try to explain the logic behind going grain free, low carb, high fat and people look at me like I’ve grown a second head or lost my mind. Yet these are the same people that are amazed by how lean I am and glow with health. They ask, I explain, and they dismiss it with some excuse about how it would not work for them.

        • Lynda NZ

          LOL… so true – when people ask how I’ve lost weight and I say “low carb and wheat free”… their eyes glaze over, they tell me they could never give up bread and that’s that!

          • Sol y Sombra

            Bread is regarded as the foundation of modern life and civilization. I have a friend (she’s a doctor’s daughter) who says that grains were what allowed people to thrive, cultures to develop, all discoveries to be made… you know – civilization. Besides bread is cheap, especially normal wheat bread. And it’s easy to just reach for it and get a slice, when you’re hungry. So bread is indeed very difficult for most people to give up. Of course, when someone has an illness that requires some sort of diet, that’s doable – diabetics know they should avoid sweet foods and carbs in general. But where I live (that’s in Eastern Europe), when an endocrinologist sees a patient’s HbA1C test results are bad and he/she is in danger of becoming a diabetic, they say: You can eat both potatoes, bread and rice, just don’t eat them all at the same time. Bread is not perceived as bad, not at all. So it’s no wonder that people are suspicious and unwilling to give up their daily bread – the basis for their diet. They just don’t associate wheat with disease. If they did, they would be more willing to give it up.

          • Wheat is the Trojan horse of diet, sneaking into your compound only to unleash its unhealthy effects, all while you thought it was just a wonderful gift.

        • Some people have to hear something a hundred times before they really give it true consideration, PJ.

          Surely these humans can test our patience!

      • Hi, Lynda–

        Yeah, some of the primary care people have some really crazy ideas about diet. Low-carb hurting kidneys? Even the protein effects on diseased kidneys data is tenuous, at best.

        No matter how hard we try, there will always be a group of people who actually like being sick. They gain some kind of secondary reward, such as relief from responsibility, sympathy and attention. While this is a minority, these are the people who will never see the light, even if it is crystal clear.

        You and I need to talk to the people who are at least willing to consider rational ideas.

    • donna

      Love your letter—funny and very well stated! So true. Maybe you should send it out to every American, signed Love Santa…

    • Priceless, PJ.

      I’m going to post as a blog post for all the enjoy! Perhaps we should do that “Send this to 10 friends or you will . . . ” thing people do with emails.

      • PJ

        A co-worker triggered this. Heard the same old “That wouldn’t work for me because (insert illness here) runs in my family”. Rather than take it out on her, I wrote this at work between phone calls. Believe me, I could have used much stronger language! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

          • PJ

            Okay, here you go, Dr. D!

            Dear Friends, Family, Neighbors and Co-Workers:
            I am so sick and tired of hearing all of your complaining and whining that you just can’t lose that blubber and you feel like crap. You keep turning to me for advice on what to do about this symptom or that symptom. I tell all of you, over and over and over again, to eliminate the grains and sugar from your diet. You’ve seen what it’s done for me over recent years and I have literally begged you to try it for just a month but you tell me that you just CAN’T give up your breads and desserts. It’s too HAAAARD! Oh, waaaa! Grow up! You say you would do ANYTHING to lose the weight and feel better but I have never heard so many bs excuses in my life!
            ******: Now suddenly you’re worried about your blood sugar and are afraid you might become diabetic. Might?!! I hear about your heartburn, joint pain, tooth loss and acne on a daily basis. Well, you’ve earned it. You’ve earned it with every bite of that must-have toast, every convenient Subway sandwich and plate of low fat pasta salad. Hearing about your depression is depressing the hell out of me. For God’s sake girl, you’re only 27!
            *****: Your doctor put you on statins and blood pressure meds over a year ago because he has your best interests at heart. He’s the expert and knows what you need. Yeah? How’s that working for you?! Feeling any better? Having an easier time remembering your grandkids names? I know trying to carry on a conversation with you lately is tedious and painful for me.
            *******: Your kids are annoying, strung out little junkies that need REAL FOOD. When you come to me about advice about disciplining your out of control kids, what do I advise you to do? Stop feeding them crap! I’m sick of hearing that tired line about how exhausted you are and you just don’t have time to cook. You forget that I also raised a family while working. You seem to find the time to sit in the drive-thru waiting for your KFC order. How many times to I have to say that Pop Tarts and Pizza Rolls are not food, no matter what the commercials say. Just because you can put it in your mouth and swallow it doesn’t make it food.
            *****: God forbid you read a book or do a little internet research. I lend you dvds and books and they sit, untouched and unread for weeks until I ask for them back. Is it really so hard to put a damned dvd in the machine?!! By the way, how’s that infertility problem?
            **********: Every time I have to leave work to pick you up at the bus stop because you can’t walk your fat, wheezy, sweaty butt the three blocks to the office, what do I tell you? You HAVE to make some changes, darlin’! All I get in response is “I know, I know, I will.” I’m still waiting. And I’m still the one sent to pick you up when you call for help because your knees gave out and you can’t breathe.
            As those pounds continue to pack on and your belly and ass get to be the size of Montana you’ll start taking your doctor’s advise. Eventually he will intimidate you into taking his magic pills. And you’ll take them, because it’s easier than taking responsibility. Don’t worry about the side effects of these drugs because there’s another pill for that, too. This will go on until you’re held together with pharmaceutical band aids, living a long, miserable, painful, unproductive life.
            But look on the bright side. If the label that’s slapped on what’s ailing you is serious enough, there are so many benefits to becoming disabled! Disability gets you a handicap sticker for convenient parking, discounts on public transportation, priority seating on an airplane (if you fit in their seats by that time), and you don’t have to work at a job for your income. Yea! Those electric scooters at your favorite stores are so much fun! Hey! Maybe Disability/Medicare will make sure you get one of your very own . . . at no cost to you! They’ll even do the paperwork for you. (To all my grain eating friends that live alone, don’t forget that you can get a discount on Life Alert through AARP!)
            Don’t even concern yourself about the price of all your prescriptions because there is always a benevolent drug company willing to help with the cost. You’ll get all of this without ever having to think for yourself or take responsibility for your health. And it’s so EASY! All you have to do is just keep doing what you’re doing. No changes necessary.
            Your healthy friends may drift away, but you’ll never have to worry about being lonely because you’ll be making tons of new friends with the people you meet in the doctors’ waiting rooms! Imagine all the beautiful Christmas cards you’ll get every year from all those doctors and their caring staff!
            I have never seen people work so hard at being sick. I am literally handing you the solution. I’ve shown you how. I’ve shown you that it works. I’ve written menus for you. I’ve made shopping lists for you to get you started. How much easier do I need to make it for you?
            Do I sound angry? Damned right I’m angry!! I’m widowed, I’ve lost loved ones and my friends are dropping like flies. Why? Two words: wheat and sugar. It’s tearing me apart to watch you do this to yourselves. I am done with grieving. I have cared about all of you for a very long time and have wanted to help but I can’t do it for you.
            The best gift you can give a loved one is to take of yourself! It’s never too late to change. PLEASE. It’s your choice.
            However, if you choose to stay the path you’re on . . . I’ll miss you.

          • Powerful stuff, PJ!

            I’ll post this bit of refreshing vitriol, as well. (Actually, this sounds like my internal dialogue when I see some people in the office while I smile on the outside!)

          • Debbie B in MD

            Wow, thanks for sharing this version. My favorite line is

            Just because you can put it in your mouth and swallow it doesn’t make it food.

            It really sums up a lot.

    • PJ

      Thanks! Go for it! Just putting it in writing made me feel so much better. Very theraputic. ‘Course I left out a lot of adjectives that would have more closely described how I feel! ; )

  15. Janet Harlow

    Within the past 4 years I have been on extended versions at times of a flour-sugar free diet (Dr. Gott) , and found I felt very good, lost weight, had more energy and my taste for sweets and carbs lessens. I have always felt better on a low carb diet, eating more protein than carbs. Lately, I have been reading up on better health as I hit my mid 60’s. I don’t want to end up frightened and suffering in a nursing home like my dear mother did with Parkinson’s and dementia, unable to participate in her rehabilitation after she broke her femur. I want to WALK and TALK and LIVE. I have borderline osteoporosis and the only advice I get is more calcium, Vit. D, exercise and drugs. DRUGS. I had an eating disorder for 11 years from age 19-31, so I am sure this contributed to my osteopenia now. Born on a dairy farm, do not like milk! Never have. Enjoy cheese and yogurt now, however. So I am checking out other ways of reigning in the osteopenia. What I am beginning to read is that just adding more Calcium, D and exercise is not the answer. But one book says to stay away from protein and milk products–more veggies and whole grains! The proteins are “acidic to bone” and they have studies and research. Not sure what to think.

    I have been wheat-free for a week now, and around Saturday, my appetite disappeared. I had to force myself to eat dinner last night–which turned out to be a large salad with cheese, a little ham and veggies. I couldn’t finish it. Your book is terrific and has much of value to say to the American public interested in health. I checked it out of the library, but will be buying itl

    Dr. Davis, do you have other sources I could go to for the osteoporosis issue?

    • Hi, Janet–

      The formula for osteoporosis prevention/reversal is reasonably straightforward. Because osteoporosis/osteopenia is common in females with coronary atherosclerotic plaque, the two often coexist and this question has come up frequently in my office and on my Heart Scan Blog where we discuss heart disease.

      Here’s a post from 2010 on just this question: Homegrown osteoporosis prevention.

  16. Debbie B in MD

    My parents are 87 and 81. Dad has Parkinsons (I think it is gluten ataxia, but we can’t seem to get him blood tested, but that is a whole other story), dementia, and macular degeneration. Mom has every heart issue you can probably think of. They are both on so many medications. Yesterday I was talking to my mom and she was sharing how hard it is to take care of my dad, which I know it is. They live in a retirement place. Dinner every night with a variety of friends is definitely the highlight of the day. She shared a conversation that they had. The folks agreed that they hoped this was their purgatory so when they die they can skip purgatory and go straight to heaven. Regardless of your religious views, think about what they were saying. My parents and their friends are merely existing with very difficult and debilitating diseases basically waiting to die rather than living. Their wheat and sugar heavy ways of dining 3 meals a day are doing them in. When I talk to my mom she will tell me what a healthy breakfast she has eaten: Cheerios and bananas and orange juice. Don’t forget the donut or coffee cake afterwards. Blood sugar discussions fall on deaf ears. Yes, they see what my change in eating habits has done for me, but think it is only because I have celiac and they don’t so it doesn’t apply. My daughter’s celiac and my own came from somewhere, didn’t they? I truly believe everyone is gluten sensitive. My son’s tests were negative for celiac, but you should see how his face cleared up when he cut out wheat. Loo what happpened when he indulged in oreos and pizza. Well, that is part of the story. My mom thinks her health is an inevitable part of aging. Until earlier this year I did as well. I am only 45. I thought I was dying from the wide variety of symptoms I had. Going wheat/gluten free has been my miracle.

    • The deeper you dig, the more wheat-free experiences you witness and the more you start to see the effects of wheat consumption in people at various stages of life, you begin to see that not only disease but aging itself is a wheat-related phenomenon.

      Truly, wheat elimination is youth preserving and anti-aging.

  17. Beverly K

    I stumbled upon “Wheat Belly” reccommended on a low carb forum that I joined to support my diet. I purchased the book and there in front of my eyes was my husband and many of his symptoms. He had been sufferring from migrains, joint pain, brain fog, low energy, and he also had such bad heartburn and acid reflux.
    He is in his early 40’s and not overweight, but went from being skinny to having a small gut.
    This wonderful man who lived on pbj’s and toasted cheese and junky snack foods ate a loaf of bread every other day by himself. I was so excited to share what I learned in the book and I suggested that he give “being wheat free” at try. I would cook, and go gluten free right along with him. (I also eliminated sugar and other grains too, but I didn’t want to let him know that was the plan).
    I am reporting wonderful results. His acid reflux is gone. Amazing. In the past, I had tried everything to relieve his symptoms, to no avail. He was taking meds, and still spitting up mouthfuls of acid, having to sleep sitting up. How he suffered! But now, thank you thank you, no more heartburn or pills, and he is able to sleep through the night. Also, he had bumps on his arms and hands. The doctor said it was thick skin and that he shouldn’t worry about it. He had them for years, but they have all but disappeared when he gave up wheat.
    He now believes and accepts his new way of eating. I would not have guessed him to become a convert, because he loved his bread so much, but he loves the way he feels now so much the more. People offer him the wrong foods all the time, but he stays on plan. I am so proud of him, and very thankful that through Dr. Davis we have found our answers.

  18. Leslie Kelly

    I have been fighting high cholesterol for years. Thought going vegetarian would do the trick and it ticked up a bit higher. Total cholesterol is 264, LDL 191, HDL 49 and Triglycerides are 118., vldl 24. I was put on statins (with a speech from by my doc that scared me into them)in April. By May I was exhausted and developed a sinus infection that came back within days of two rounds of antibiotics. I finally tied the statins to my symptoms and felt fantastic within days of going off of them.

    I am 48, female and quite active with cardio and weights 5x/week.

    I did lots of research and am hopeful that the wheat belly plan will work. I tried paleo a year or so ago and gave up after a week, couldn’t stop the cravings, cranky, hungry and didn’t feel well.

    Two questions: when do the cravings subside and when can I expect my cholesterol readings to improve?

    Is it best to go for the whole diet all at once, or start with just cutting out wheat and for how long before I cut out other carbs. I bought the book yesterday, but it won’t be here for a few days.

    Thanks much!

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