How sweet it is!

Does wheat cause diabetes? Is the national message to eat more “healthy whole grains” to blame for the nationwide epidemic of diabetes? Can that bowl of bran cereal, English muffin, or plate of whole wheat pasta mean a life of drugs, insulin injections, and eight years shaved off your lifespan?

Yes, yes, and yes. Mind you, I am a vigorous advocate of the elimination of all wheat from the human diet. Even without hearing the rationale for this opinion, anyone reading the reams of testimonials on this blog can readily see that many, many people are experiencing substantial weight loss and health turnarounds by eliminating all things wheat.

But can we blame diabetes on wheat?

Yes, absolutely, as much as you can blame poor oral hygience for toothlessness in West Virginia. There are several reasons why wheat, more than many other food, causes diabetes:

–Any food that increases blood sugar to high levels (i.e., high glycemic index) also increases insulin to high levels. Repetitive high insulin leads to insulin resistance, which leads to visceral fat deposition, more insulin resistance, inflammation, etc., eventuating in diabetes.
–High blood sugar, such as that resulting from eating two slices of whole wheat bread, is toxic to pancreatic beta cells, the cells that produce insulin: glucotoxicity.
–Triglyceride-containing lipoproteins, such as chylomicrons and its remnants, are toxic to pancreatic beta cells: lipotoxicity.
–The gliadin protein of wheat stimulates appetite, causing the unwitting wheat consumer to eat, on average, 400 more calories per day, mostly from carbohydrates. 400 calories per day, 365 days per year . . . that’s a lot of extra calories, a lot of potential weight gain.
–The lectins of wheat (wheat germ agglutinin) are inflammatory, generating inflammation in multiple sites, such as joints, intestinal tract, and endocrine glands. Higher levels of inflammation and its various mediators (tumor necrosis factor, the interleukins, etc.) worsen insulin resistance, worsening the vicious cycle.

Some aspects of wheat (especially gliadin and lectins), of course, became much worse with the introduction of modern high-yield, semi-dwarf strains of wheat, compounded with the advice to cut your fat and eat more “healthy whole grains.” This deadly combination, reaching full volume in 1985, coincided precisely with the beginning of the explosion in diabetes in the U.S.:

Full data from the CDC here.

Sugars and processed foods made of such things as cornstarch and high-fructose corn syrup also make a major contribution. But these foods lack the direct inflammatory effects of lectins and the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin. They are bad, but do not compare to the incredibly bad effects of this thing called “wheat.”

High-yield, semi-dwarf wheat was introduced into the U.S. in the mid-1970s, gained wider acceptance by farmers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, such that, by 1985, virtually all bagels, pizza, and bread originated with this darling of agricultural geneticists. The new gliadin of wheat (altered by several amino acids), a more effective appetite-stimulant than its predecessor, “old” gliadin, caused calorie consumption to increase by 400-500 calories per day. Americans gained weight. A several year lag followed before the uptick in diabetes began, as it requires 30,40, 50 or more pounds for most people to exhibit all the hallmarks of diabetes.

So we now have the world’s worst epidemic of diabetes ever witnessed since humans have walked on earth. Some “experts” argue that it’s genetics, it’s the overconsumption of Coca Cola and Mountain Dew. Others argue that it’s your physical inactivity, lives spent behind desks, looking at computer screens.

I personally became diabetic 20 years ago at a time when I was jogging 3-5 miles per day, cutting my fat, avoiding junk foods and soft drinks, and eating plenty of “healthy whole grains.” I wasn’t physically inactive nor did I indulge in junk carbohydrates. But I became diabetic. I believe this is the same situation experienced by millions, the people who are physically active, avoid junk and fast foods, and try to eat “healthy whole grains.”

20 years later, I exercise less intensively, don’t restrict my fat, and eat NO “healthy whole grains” like those made of wheat. My HbA1c: 4.8%, fasting glucose 84 mg/dl—on no drugs. I am no longer diabetic.

Let the Wheat Lobby and its supporters (read “pharmaceutical industry”) march out the “whole grains have been proven to healthier than white flour” argument. We all know that you cannot justify a food just because it is less bad than something else. Less bad does not necessarily mean good.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Anthony

    Dr. Davis,
    Are there any data linking chronic pancreatitis to a long-history of “healthy whole grain intake?” I ask because as i read this post, I note the deleterious effect on pancreatic cells. That is relevant to me because I have a dear friend who just underwent surgery for chronic abdominal pain, refractory to all prior interventions (though not wheat and gluten elimination), and the laparoscopic exploration indeed showed a duct anomaly which was then surgically “corrected.” She now reports she is pain-free, save for the surgery pain, however, she is expected following recovery to be on a high-protein, low carb, low fat regimen couple with pancreatic enzymes. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Keep up the good work, West VA notwithstanding :D

    • Hi, Anthony–

      There is, undoubtedly, an indirect connection via lipotoxicity when triglycerides are very high, e.g., >1000 mg/dl. We have insufficient data on the effects of wheat on the pancreas in the absence of high triglycerides.

      My suspicion: Wheat is a flagrant, though slow and low-grade, cause of pancreatic injury.

      • Catherine Frost

        I have been wheat free for almost two years now (at the suggestion of my naturopath) since my diagnosis of chronic pancreatitis in 2010. I am reading your book and would be very interested to know if you have had any ”success” stories of individuals with this condition. I suppose it should be motivation enough that I have NOT had another episode since my first attack in 2010. It is so very interesting to see how gluten-free products are available everywhere in the marketplace now. However as you point out in your book, they should be avoided. Another complication that I am faced with is that I must also avoid eggs – as a blood test that my naturopath arranged for indicated that my system was highly reactive (leading to an inflammatory response) .
        Thank you…..Cathy

        • Hi, Cathy–

          If high triglycerides were the cause of your pancreatitis, then, yes, eliminating wheat is a definite BIG factor in reducing the likelihood of future events. It can also help preserve your remaining pancreatic function, both endocrine (insulin) and exocrine (enzyme production).

    • Laurie

      Dr. Davis,
      As someone who has had Type 1 (juvenile-onset, insulin-dependent, Type 1A) since 1967 (early childhood), I do not believe wheat causes Type 1. Does it cause or contribute to Type 2? Possibly; perhaps even probably.

      But my own choice to go wheat-free has nothing to do with my T1 diabetes. There is no cure for Type 1, and eliminating wheat hasn’t meant a reduction in my basal insulin dosage requirement, nor is it resulting in tighter blood glucose control for me personally. (I don’t even take less bolus insulin on average daily, because I still need it to cover other non-wheat carbs.) I test 10 times a day. I quit wheat because of your conversations about gut-related issues and wanting to loose a few pounds around the middle. I feel much better when I don’t eat any wheat. No doubt about it. Doesn’t alter my diabetes profile at all, however.

      Conversely, my DH who was on his way to becoming T2 (belly fat and some occasional blood sugars as high as 160) has lost 18 pounds since joining the Wheat Belly brigade (at my insistance) and feels better than he has in years. He even thanked me today for introducing him to your work. To suggest however that Type 1 can be prevented or cured by avoiding wheat is not warranted, and I wish you would clarify the point.

      I’m a big fan, Dr. Davis — but if we start talking about Type 1, and particularly Type 1A, it’s a different paradigm, and I wish you’d be more specific in this regard.

      • Sorry, Laurie, but the data argue otherwise: Wheat is indeed quite powerfully related to causation of type 1 diabetes. This is, in my view, one of the biggest reasons to condemn the consumption of wheat in pregnant women.

        There is a discussion of this in the Wheat Belly book. There are very damning data in both experimental animal models and humans.

        • Laurie

          Then how does one get Type 1 as a baby, before consuming wheat? Are you saying that an infant is Type 1 with a pancreas that produces ZERO insulin from consuming wheat in utero? Same with a 3 year old — islet cells attack the pancreas in a matter of a few months of consuming wheat, the pancreas is now not producing ANY insulin? There’s no way. If you’re saying it’s transmitted in utero, then why only 1 of 4 children (my mother’s) have it? And why has Type 1A existed for a century or two longer than the changes to wheat? It just doesn’t make sense. The JDRF is not like the ADA. It has no alterior motives and is dedicated to finding a cause and cure. They have nothing to do with Type 2 — or the wheat or grains industry. Yet you single handedly have found the cause of Type 1 when they couldn’t? And it’s wheat consumed by pregnant women?

          I believe in your work as it relates to Type 2 and many gastro illnesses, obesity, etc., and I think it’s ground breaking. But not the claims about Type 1. I think your over-reaching on that one. But I understand and appreciate your enthusiasm in general.

          • Uncle Roscoe

            Laurie: “Then how does one get Type 1 as a baby, before consuming wheat?”

            Dr. Davis provides and supports the opinion that mothers pass on wheat autoimmunity by passing on genes and by consuming wheat while pregnant. You say this “doesn’t make any sense”. That’s your opinion. But it makes far less sense than the opinion you are criticizing.

            We know that wheat diseases take different forms in different people, and that many of these conditions are undetectable through medical science. We know this because of how many people’s symptoms simply disappear on a no-wheat diet. Current medical dogma says that type 1 diabetes is incurable with diet. Therefore for any practitioner to advise any specific person with type 1 diabetes to try a diet intervention? …….It would be considered tantamount to malpractice. The practitioner could be held accountable for the patient’s future condition, regardless of cause, because the patient could always claim the practitioner’s deviation from standard practice contributed.

            This standard practice exists for no other reason than that it has always existed. The aspect which I find simply flabbergasting is the opioid-induced lack of common sense. People are responsible for their own healthcare. Not eating wheat does not cause harm.

        • Laurie

          I don’t have celiac disease (tested by my endocrinologist). Nor does my mother, nor do my three siblings, one of which is only 15 months younger than me. I’ve been T1 since early childhood in 1967. It’s nowhere else in my family tree. There is no scientific data to suggest that wheat or celiac has anything to do with Type 1A. There’s another popular book titled “The Devil in the Milk” claiming a type of cow’s milk causes Type 1. I applaud the effort to find the cause and the cure. But anecdotal theories about wheat as a cause of Type 1A are not supported with any real data and as a hypothesis, there are just too many holes.

          • Uncle Roscoe

            You already asserted this, and I already answered your assertion here: http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/11/a-wheat-belly-primer
            —————————————————————–
            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.

            http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/02/the-china-study-wheat-and-heart-disease-oh-my/
            —————————————————————–

            Wheat causes the gut to release zonulin and become porous. The porosity causes the partially digested contents of the small intestine to flow into the bloodstream. In people who drink milk and eat wheat, these contents would include wheat and milk proteins.

            ……100% consistent.

          • Boundless

            > I don’t have celiac disease (tested by my endocrinologist).

            Just an aside:
            Based on what I’ve learned in researching the gluten issue, and not just from Dr. Davis, it is not necessary to have the variant HLA-DQ2 allele in order to have a reaction to wheat that is just as acute as full blown coeliac disease. It is also a problem that conventional medicine tends to be dismissive of acute but non-celiac sufferers who fail to test positive.

            > I’ve been T1 since early childhood in 1967.

            Random anecdote:
            I heard this story back before discovering the gluten/carb problem. My mother in law was diagnosed as diabetic at a very early age. This would have been very early in the 20th century. The condition presumbly was what we now call Type 1. The family evidently had a rogue doctor, because he put her on a strict no-carb diet … and cured it.

            The hypothesis that wheat, gluten, or high carbs generally, cause Type 1 and/or that removing them can cure it, needs to be tested – and it is harmless to test. Until further notice, wheat, gluten-bearing grains, and high-carb, fast-carb foods also need to be added to the list of things to be avoided during pregnancy.

      • Uncle Roscoe

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12434905
        ————————————————————
        We report on a 15-y-old adolescent boy affected by silent coeliac disease, abnormalities in glycoregulation and with autoantibodies specific to diabetes mellitus type 1 (ICA: islet cell antibodies) and GAD 65 (autoantibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase), in whom normalization of glycoregulation and disappearance of the immunological markers of pre-diabetes were observed after 6 mo on a gluten-free diet. The patient was followed-up for 36 mo and showed a normal insulin response to an intravenous glucose tolerance test and no markers of autoimmunity. It is possible that undiagnosed coeliac disease over a long period could lead to a direct autoimmune mechanism against pancreatic beta cells. Conclusion: Our findings seem to confirm the theory that undiagnosed coeliac disease can induce an autoimmune process against the pancreatic beta cells and that, following a gluten-free diet, the immunological markers for diabetes mellitus type 1 will disappear.
        ————————————————————

        LADA diabetes is the slow-onset adult equivalent of type 1 juvenile diabetes. Both are autoimmune diseases, not autoimmune conditions like type 2 diabetes.

        I had all the symptoms of LADA diabetes. For me, eliminating fructose slowed the 10 year average progression to about 20 years. Finally I eliminated wheat and got full function back again. Unfortunately I’m one of the gluten intolerants who’s zonulin switch remains open. Subsequently I’ve had to eliminate many other food antigens.

        I’m still alive and functioning on my own insulin. I can ingest all the amylose starch I want.

        The reason, the only reason, why mainstream medicine does not recognize wheat as an ongoing cause of type 1 diabetes is that our method of diagnosis is limited to detection of antibodies. In fact, the nay sayers can only be convinced by biopsy-confirmed celiac disease.

        1. Celiac disease is only a tiny subset of gluten intolerance autoimmunity.
        2. Non-autoimmune gluten sensitivity accounts for a significant amount of autoimmune disease, including type 1 diabetes.
        3. The body does not make anti-gluten antibodies in gluten sensitivity diseases. Gliadin peptides cause the damage directly. No antibodies are detected because none exist.

        The old story? Type 1 diabetes kills pancreas beta cells. More and more research is showing this to be incorrect. Beta cells are transient anyway. The autoimmune attack in type 1 diabetes is actually the same as autoimmune attacks against all organs. Gliadin peptides and the immune system attack the transduction process between nerves and chemical receptors.

        I can go into more detail, but eyes are already rolling back in their sockets. Use Google. Study up on potassium ion channels, and how the orexin/hypocretin system controls nerve/organ transduction boundaries. Stop this attack, and the body will restore function on its own.

  2. Emm

    Jane, lighten up. I’m from Philly and all we do is kill each other and beat up fans of sports teams that beat us ;) whatever!

  3. Jane Smith

    Here’s the issue. In West Virginia, like the rest of the country. People are dying because of poor diets. I’ve “preached” the Wheat Belly book to so many people I know there. But West Virginians are a proud people. How am I supposed to recommend someone who uses them in an insulting manner? No I will not lighten up. It was in poor taste and would not have been done if it was an ethnic group or persons of different sexual orientations or handicaps. Just because it is PC to insult rural populations does not make it right.

  4. Anne

    If you take a look at the CDC statistics on total tooth loss from gum disease or cavities in those over 65, West Virginia leads with 37.8%. Those with loss of 6 or more teeth by age 65 is 65.6% which is much higher than any other state. How can a statistic be insulting? A statistic like that should bring about change. http://www.cdc.gov/nohss/

    Since I stopped eating wheat 8 yrs ago, I have not had a cavity and my gums stopped bleeding and receding.

  5. Depirts

    Hi Jane;

    Jane please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I guess the doctor could have made a comment how blaming hockey on toothlessness in the NHL and being from Canada I would have laughed it off. The serious message here is a diet without grains is healthier than a diet with grains. I’ve lost 85 lbs on a low carb(no grains) high fat lifestyle. I view grains as a slow poison. My diabetes is now under control with half the meds I used to be on. I know with more weight loss I’ll eventually be off them all together. My overall health has improved dramatically. No gut problems, no more sugar spikes, I sleep much better. I could go on but I think the message is so very clear. Doctor Davis is looking to lengthen lives.

  6. Jane Smith

    You don’t have to convince me of his message. I fully support that. I’ve lost 60lbs by going wheat free. I’m a believer on that point.

  7. Elizabeth

    What about bread like Ezekial or Bible breads made from sprouted grains? What is your opinion / experience with these?

  8. Jane

    I’m not the Jane that posted earlier. But I do have a question for the other women who have been wheat free for a while.

    I started the Wheat Belly diet on January 4th, as of yesterday morning I have lost 7 lbs.

    This morning I woke up and stepped on the scale. I gained 1 lb.

    Every other morning I have either lost weight from the previous day or maintained. I have never gained even an ounce. I went over everything I ate yesterday. Nothing had any wheat or sugar in it.

    My husband thinks I gained because I’m a women, and women retain water at some point during the month, has anyone else had this happen to them? Thanks.

    So far this has been the easiest diet I have ever been on, no cravings. I’m never hungry. Plus I have energy like when I was a kid. This diet is unbelievable!!

    Jane

    • Deby

      Hi Jane:

      Husband, I and my daughter have been wheat free for about 3 months. Husband and I both lost weight right away. He went down about 12 lbs (has about 15 more to lose), I went down 7 right away (would like to lose 5 more), but we’ve both plateaued, up or down 1 or 2, kind of frustrating. My daughter however, 32 whom happens to have Down’s Syndrome has continued to lose every week. She had 15 to lose and is now down 12 lbs…AND she has inadvertently cheated on occasion! ALL her weight was in her belly which she’s proudly noticed. All her allegies are GONE, so she is pleased and so are we. We will NEVER eat wheat again, but I can understand your concerns as I am in the same boat regarding the weight loss, or lack thereof.

      Deby

    • Gary M

      I have lost 49lbs on WB and weight sometimes stalls, or is up a lb or two, but the general trend is downward. Sometimes I wonder if the amount of sodium one has had in a day causes a little water retention… who knows. One lb isn’t very much to fluctuate in a day or two. I would judge my weight loss on a weekly basis, rather than daily.

    • Lindsey

      ARE you on the 3 days leading up to your period? I gain 2 lbs 3 days before, keep it 3 days after, then they drop right off again. Literally can set my calendar by those 2 lbs of pre-menstrual fluid buildup. I guess it’s fluid buildup. It’s not wheat build up, LOL!

      • Jane

        Thanks Lindsey,

        Yes I am.

        I just started the Wheat Belly plan 2 weeks ago. I was just wondering if anyone had experience this too.

        Now I know that their will be a few days each month where I might stall or even gain.

        Jane

    • That’s great, Jane!

      I’d be careful not to make too much of day to day fluctuations, since salt use, efficiency of BMs, and other factors can account for modest changes. It’s youir longer term experience that matters most and you are off to a great start.

      • Anya

        Great point, Dr. Davis! Thanks for the reminder of needing to keep the overall long term experience at hand. I too get frustrated with that darn scale and so sometimes it is easy to overlook the positive benefits. I needed to be reminded of that!

    • Janet

      I don’t weigh myself every day. It is counterproductive and sets you up for disappointment and worry, which can lead to falling off the plan–IMHO. -I had a 11 year eating disorder, so frankly, I don’t weigh myself at all anymore, nor do I ask the nurses to tell me when I am at the office. I go by my clothing and how I feel and that is good enough for me. But that is just me–without diseases like diabetes which requires much more monitoring weighing is maybe more essential–I get that.
      It is very freeing to not get wrapped up in a daily weight count. Try it–you’ll like it, unless prescribed by Dr. to weigh yourself all the time.
      I have no idea what my weight is, but my pants are getting much looser and my gut roll is almost gone, my aches and pains are gone, my GERD is gone, my mind is clear and happy. I am a 63 year old granny and wish I had known this years ago. I am just letting it happen in the time it takes to work. It took a while to get in the bad shape I was, it will take a while to reverse it. Success to you and your family, Jane.

  9. Elaine Sukava

    Hello Dr. Davis
    Since Wheat Belly was available, I have read it and kept up to this site, and others’ writing as well as your own. I had stopped all grains last May and as all the folks who have commented, feel better than I have in years, have lost weight, and finally actually have a waist! I work with people in the health field around food security and pass on the message of wheat belly whenever I have the opportunity. Because vulnerable people many times have poor nutrition and what they do have seems to be really wheat and carb dependent, I am wondering what ideas you or your readers might have.
    I must also comment on what folks were talking about re West Virginia. I understand that the CDC stats indicate dental issues are high in the state relative to others, but not having reviewed these stats, and perhaps because I am from Canada, when I read your article, that was the only thing that popped out of the text with huge question marks for me.
    Keep up the great work. Of all that I read, Wheat Belly and this blog are highlights:)
    Warm regards
    Elaine

  10. Tyrannocaster

    Jerking the thread back to wheat and diabetes…I am pulling my hair out as I read comments online about Paula Deen (now shilling for the pharmaceutical industry because HER diabetes drug is the best one) and her diabetes; it seems she got it from eating too much fat! Remarks like this show just how far behind so many people are when it comes to nutrition. And she’s currently saying that she doesn’t plan to change her recipes (except for one or two) because she has “a style” of cooking. This from the woman who used Krispy Kreme doughnuts as the bun for a hamburger (it’s on YouTube) and then practically had an orgasm on camera while tasting it. She was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago but has continued to push her high sugar, floury concoctions on people who don’t know any better.

    With role models like this, who needs enemies? When I found out I was pre-diabetic (I met the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome) I dropped wheat completely, lowered my other carbs, and pretty much cut out sugar, too. 30 days later I was no longer in the Metabolic Syndrome club. It seems to me that Ms. Deen could have done the same thing.

    • Absolutely, Tyranno!

      Ms. Deen will now make millions of dollars by propagating what we see as patent nonsense, but nonsense that pays quite well.

  11. Gail

    Speaking of pancreatitis, I’ve been wondering if wheat could possibly be linked to what I see as the rise of pancreatic cancer. I know the “experts” will tell us it is better diagnosis, but my dad was a GP of the old-fashinoned sort who did minor surgeries, delivered babies and made housecalls. He’s been dead for more than 10 years but I remember a conversation in which he told me he had never seen a case of pancreatic cancer in his first 20 years in practice (roughly 1945 to 65) and in his second 20 years, it has become common.

    • I share your suspicion, Gail. But it is a very tough thing to prove.

      It makes sense at many levels, including the notion that chronic irritation leads to the changes that lead to carcinogenesis, i.e., cancer production. I believe it is also likely true for many other forms of gastrointestinal cancer.

      • Larry

        Regarding pancreas diseases….
        I read that Candida Yeast overgrowth has a pernicious effect on the Pancreas.
        In that, as the yeasts are broken down, they release Acetaldehyde, which gives off alcohol and ammonia toxins that kill pancreatic cells.
        So in effect, these yeast organisms are creating a situation as if your pancreas/liver is in a 24/7 state of alcohol consumption….even if you don’t drink alcohol at all.
        Something to think about ?
        I read it in Suzy Cohen’s ebook – America’s Pharmacist – Understanding Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer.

  12. Janice

    I always called it my “poochy tummy,” and yes, I marvelled at how, slim and svelte and tall, I yet looked as if I was 4 months pregnant. Constantly and uncomfortably bloated.

    Here’s an idea for a blog post – the connection to candidiases. What i thought was an ability to eat prodigious amounts of sugar (97 halloween candy bars in 3 days, 3/4 carvel cake in one sitting, a candy bar in / out of every store on my Saturday errands – and yet at 41, I was still only 140 at 5’11) was, I later suspected, engendered by my wheat addition.

    It was after a very disciplined, 4-month elimination diet (mccombsplan.com) solely with the intent of eliminating sugar, that I realized wheat had something to do with it. At age 44 I suddenly ballooned to 160 and couldn’t drop it. The elimination diet took me back to 140, and I thought my problems were solved. But three months later, I was back to 160 and climbing.

    A year or so after having finished the Mccombs Plan, now moving toward 180, I was beginning to crave sugar again, although not in the insane amounts as before. And I thought “I bet it’s the wheat.” So I stopped eating wheat for a few weeks. Voila!

    But an Italian boyfriend – and his mother – and other factors have made it an off again/on again lifestyle. Fortunately more Italian restaurants are serving gluten free pasta, but that, as I just read in your book, has it’s own problems.

    Cooking on the McCombs plan wasn’t difficult. It was going out to eat with friends or over to their houses – I was carrying bags of food etc with me everywhere. At the local sports cafe, while everyone else ate cheeseburgers and fries, I had a lonely hamburger patty on my plate. No bacon, no cheese, no bun…

    So your recipes certainly facilitate this. I hope to serve as an example to my boyfriend (did I mention he’s Italian?) who has, of late, in addition to his every growing stomach, achy joints, and tired eyes, has now begun injecting insulin. He never ate candy either, but now he consistently eats mini-Mounds bars and little Dove chocolates. Not coincidently, three years in the gym have done nothing.

    In my opinion, stress is a huge factor as well. At the time my weight began to grow, I switched jobs to a straight commission ad sales for a monthly trade magazine. I emptied the candy jar in production so often suring deadline sometimes it took $13 worth of candy to replace it. My boyfriend recently changed jobs as well – in corporate tax, he’s with GE, and now everything seems to be snowballing with him as well.

    But, unsuprisingly, it starts with wheat. Add stress, a lack of probiotics, a good couple of doses of antiobiotics, and the craving for both wheat and at least with us, begins to include high doses of sugar and a need for candy, ice cream, pancakes drownding in syrup…. The “blood type” doctor, when I visited, assigned me 7 cups of vegetables/day. I said “I think you made a mistake – you mean 7 cups/week?” He said no….per day. They diagnosed me with disbiosis; I think it’s interesting there was no mention of wheat issues.

    I’m very grateful for your recipes. I just finished your book and was hoping there were resources for that. Thanks for all the attention you’re bringing to this problem

    • Well said, Janice.

      I, too, believe that a great many health conditions are started by the “seed” of wheat consumption. This sets the dysmetabolic and dysbiotic stage for other conditions.

      Remove the wheat, remove the factor that started the process in the first place.

  13. GB

    As someone who lives not far from WVA, I can say that WvA is not a monolithic population. Many parts of it now have second homes for those from the D.C. area. I have heard very positive reports of their experiences. That being said, parts of WV and SW VA have to deal with an extreme level of poverty, much of which are functions of economic transition generally and very poor soil to grow/sustain agriculation products for their families. In this sense, it very much reminds me of my parents experiences in the ‘Great’ Depression.’

    Clearly, the consumption of wheat contributes to ill health efforts. However, the WVA situation is very complex, particularly because of limited grocery-store options.

    Sorry for the rant, but I feel very stronglly about the caricature, however it was presented in an effort at a well-intentioned effort at humor.

    • Debbie B in MD

      I definitely believe it does have an impact on Parkinsons. Actually, I think it leads to the development of Parkinson’s symptoms rather than actual Parkinsons disease. My dad is 87, has macular degeneration, dementia, and a diagnosis of Parkinsons. I have been trying to convince my mom to put my dad on a gluten free/wheat free diet, but she is so overwhelmed with taking care of him that she isn’t willing to try. She told me just yesterday that she might when things settle down. Well, things are so upset becasue of Dad’s condition. In the last few days I have been doing some more research. If you google combinations of Parkinsons, celiac, gluten, and ataxia you will get a lot of results that support this theory. On the other hand, none of his doctors are willing to do a blood test for celiac. My daughter and I have celiac. It had to come from somewhere.

  14. Ruby

    Another confirmation of whole grains’ destructive properties:
    “Provided by: The Canadian Press
    The type of toasted bread we eat for breakfast can affect how the body responds to lunch, a researcher at the University of Guelph has discovered.
    Prof. Terry Graham, a scientist who specializes in carbohydrates, has been looking into the health benefits of various types of bread.
    “One of the surprising things in our work is that whole-wheat products turned out to have the least healthy responses of all, and this is not what we expected,” he said in an interview.”

    • Boundless

      > … the University of Guelph has discovered.

      In searching for a link for that quote, I discovered that it’s a story from 2008.
      Apparently, the world will not listen until you write a best seller.

  15. Cecelia

    I started to read the article and then you slammed West Virginia with the poor oral hygiene comment. While it may be true that West Virginia does have poor oral hygiene I took it as a slam again Appalachians and I am from Kentucky and I have beautiful teeth. If you don’t believe me I will send you a pic. I always will and always have practiced great oral hygiene. Please stop slamming Appalachians. We are a very nice group of folks that normally sit back and are very tolerant of other more “citified” folks. I bet if you look around in New York you’ll see quite a few folks with rotten teeth as well. Thank you for allowing me to vent.

  16. Karen

    My question is two-fold.
    First, since my glucose meter reflects an increase after I eat dairy products with protein … this indicates to me that dairy also raises insulin as does wheat. In particular I am referring to cheese and high fat yogurt. Your book emphasizes eating all kinds of cheeses – my concern is there may be a case of tunnel vision… please let me understand why one food that raises insulin is ok and another is not.
    Second, after watching a documentary last night, happened to be a vegan one (and I’m in no way vegan), it had a part in it stating that their research has concluded that dairy cassein of around 20% of dietary consumption results in cancer cells growing. An amount of 5% or less – does not. My concern here again, is if your followers were to eat more dairy and get cancer as a result.
    I feel knowledge is power to health and I no longer eat wheat – because I dont’ believe it’s healthy. Equally I believe dairy/casseine is unhealthy and would like to hear your take on this. If this is new to you, will you be willing to do some research into this and be sure to update your followers to focus more on veggies and meat and LESS ON DAIRY W/PROTEIN…. for their own health’s sake? I feel this is very important.
    Regards,
    Karen

    • Hi, Karen–

      Dairy products are not perfect, but not the magnitude of problem as wheat. While some people are terribly intolerant, including an insulinotrophic effect, not everyone is. So dairy is much more a question of individual susceptibility.

      I believe you saw “Forks Over Knives” that includes Dr. Colin Campbell’s China Study. If you’d like an exquisitely articulated debunking of this study, Google “Denise Minger” and read her incredibly detailed re-analysis of Dr. Campbell’s data, effectively smashing his data to bits.

    • Roz

      There’s a ‘dairy manifesto’ on the Whole 30s website that covers some of the problems people have with dairy. Although I still use full fat heavy cream (did you know you had to read labels for cream? the so called ‘whipping cream’ in some of the stores here is skim milk with random stuff added), butter and ghee, for the most part I’ve replaced my yogurt with coconut milk (trying to find one without gums thickening it is a challenge), and cut out milk entirely. I still consume cheese, but it’s the aged stuff with strong flavors so a little goes a long way. Dairy does seem much more of a personal sensitivity than wheat, but after having read the article on Whole 30, I could draw my own conclusions about how celiac evolves into crohn’s and decided I really didn’t want to risk it.

  17. Kerry

    Wheat causes diabetes! This makes total sense to me since I’m living it! I’ve had metabolic syndrome since I was a teen. My endocrinologist put me on metformin because it helps PCOS. Fast forward 20 years, still have metabolic syndrome, still have PCOS, still overweight taking metformin along with blood pressure meds.
    I spent three years on a very well known weight loss plan, low fat, low calorie, whole grains, fruits, etc. I lost 50 lbs. Not ONCE did my doctor EVER suggest that I lower either my blood pressure medication or my metformin. In fact, my fasting blood sugars were borderline high and my BP always felt iffy. Not to mention…I was hungry ALL the time. I fell off the wagon and gained 20 lbs. I’m sure I was eating excessive amounts of carbs, wheat, sugar, etc.
    Four months ago, I read Wheat Belly and eliminated wheat, sugar and most carbs from my diet. In 6 weeks, I lost 13 lbs. In three months, my fasting blood sugar went from 130 (on 1500mg metformin XR) to 85. I recently had to lower my metformin and my BP meds since I was getting dizzy. I currently eat about 35-50 net carbs daily…no wheat, sugar or grains. I’m now taking 1000mg of metformin XR a day and 25% less BP meds. My fasting blood sugar this morning was 77. :) I can’t wait to see what my doctor has to say about this. I hope he lowers my meds even more.

      • Kerry

        I saw the endocrinologist when I was in my late teens, early 20′s. My primary care doc took over the prescribing of metformin afterward and has been for the past 15 years. I have an appointment with him next week and will be telling him all about your book. I love to talk about the results I’ve gotten, so he’d better love to listen!

          • Kerry

            I have an appointment with him next Tuesday. About a week from then, I will be able to give you my numbers from when I was on Weight Watchers, my numbers when I ‘fell off’ WW and my current numbers, four months wheat free. :)

          • Kerry

            Posted this on Facebook, but I promised it here, so I”m reposting:
            Just got my recent blood results back from the doctor so I can now give you all the stats. (I want to give explanations so this will be long, and I apologize that I can”t just make a chart.)
            In Feb. 2008 I weighed 194 lbs. (I”m 5”4, currently 38 y/o.) I was on 200mg/day of labetalol and 12.5 mg hctz for BP and 1500 mg metformin xr for insulin reistance. My FBS was 86, total chol was 142, HDL 40, LDL 43, Trig 296 (whoa!).
            I began WW in April of that year. While following the plan pretty closely, my weight went down to 150 and over the next year I had blood drawn approx. every 3 mos. and my stats looked like this: FBS 80-90, A1C 5.6, chol 120-150, HDL 34-43, LDL went up progressively from 46 to 92, and my trigs were 112-165.
            I “fell off” WW in 2011, gained 20 lbs. and for some reason didn”t have blood drawn after March of that year (insurance changes, possibly). I went low carb/wheat-free/sugar-free October 1, 2011. Two weeks ago, I decreased my meds on my own due to dizziness and am currently taking labetalol 100 mg am, 50mg pm and 1000mg metformin xr. I had blood drawn *after* med reduction. My current stats from last week are: Weight: 158, FBS 87, A1C 5.3, chol 154, HDL 52, LDL 84, and trig 88.
            I”m most excited by the jump in HDL, it”s the highest it”s been ever. The doctor also had me stop taking the water pill (yay for long car trips!).

      • LILLIAN PORTER

        Dr. Davis,
        I lost 20lbs rapidly on the older diet of the much maligned Dr. Atkins. I was then in my fifties, my lipids had been high (except the “good” cholesterol was low), my BP was starting to climb and my blood sugar had been up to 124. Though happily, eating a lot of fat and meat on the diet, my lipids – counterintuitively – corrected themselves and my blood sugar came down to 99. Later, in my sixties, having regained the weight, I did aerobics five days a week, weights 3 days a week and resumed a diet of salads, fruit and meat. (I would regularly, however, take detours to carb land. I notice that your patients symptoms often recurred after a few pretzels. This time I am not even going to put flour in my gravy. It took 2 yrs to lose 20 lbs on this regime. I came to believe that some folks are weight-loss resistant after a certain age.
        My kids had a friend whose parents were vegetarian. By the age of 7, she had juvenile diabetes and rheumatoid. Mom became more vigilant in administering the vegetarian diet. Last time I saw the girl she was playing Little League baseball and went on to be a college softball player. I suspect her auto-immune problems remain. Please comment on my own and her situation.
        Years ago I read ‘The Grandmother’s Conspiracy’. The author stated that once white flour was introduced to indigenous cultures, many women had to have c-sections to deliver because of the increased pelvic bone size.
        Your book was a Christmas gift on Kindle (can’t flip to the back). I am very excited about it. It confirms some of the things that Atkins said about when American eating habits changed. He said, if I remember correctly, that people stopped eating meat and fat after the FDA produced their food pyramid in 1972. (apparently, a couple of LAWYERS developed it). The outcome, as you show, resulted in the ballooning of weight and Adult Onset Diabetes Mellitus in children.
        Thank you so much for your work and for informing us, though you can not be popular with Big Food.

  18. Dr. Davis,
    I’m a huge fan :) Started my website this month, and I’m going to be blogging about how life goes as I start my wheat-free journey! I had planned on doing my first giveaway (for when I reach 100 likes on Facebook) and giving away a copy of your book that I’ve bought. Then I got to thinking… would it be possible to get a signed copy from you to give away to one of my (randomly selected) Facebook fans? If possible, email me at howichow@gmail.com to let me know. Thanks Dr. D! I’ll be linking people over to your blog, I’m sure… :)

    Kara

  19. Janice

    Quite frankly, eating in general is depressing. The healthiest way to eat is certianly not the most cost effective and if you’re not in a large area with a Whole Foods or similar, it’s even tougher. The organic produce at my local grocery is not only expensive, but I think doesn’t move fast enough. Quality is definitely iffy.

    I was reading a much earlier post about dairy raising insulin. I wonder if that’s because it comes from the milk of cows who are fed such prodigious amounts of grain? Ugh. I want to throw up when I think about the way in which animals are raised, fed, and slaughtered.

    Genetically screwed with wheat, soy, and corn; grain-fed animals squashed in pens and up to their knees in feces and mud; hens stuffed together so they can’t move and worse; fruit full of pesticides, picked before its time that takes ages to get to market; vegetables coated with chemicals….

    Did you know there is sugar in the list of ingredients for Planter’s peanuts?
    Did you know that “nutricious” Nutella has some nasty stuff listed first on the label? (I can’t remember what it is, but I remember going “Gross” and putting it back on the shelf)
    What happened to luscious, red-through strawberries?
    What happened to long, oval watermelons WITH SEEDS IN THEM?
    Why are some of my lemons now ALSO lacking seeds?

    Let’s hope the pendulum has swung far enough the other way that it will now move toward the middle, leaving us more choices for healthy eating rather than increasingly fewer.

    • I think it will happen, Janice, provided you and I vote with our wallets.

      It means planning your backyard garden now and keeping herb pots on your kitchen shelf. It means subscribing to a CSA, if available in your area. It means going to farmers’ markets. More grocery stores are starting to serve this market, as well. As the market expands, prices will drop, also.

  20. juliette

    Hi, are old varieties of wheat no good as well? I don’t do well on anything but the flour I get from my local mill, who grows only old varieties. Is all wheat bad? Are there any studies you can point me to that compare the old varieties and the new?
    thanks
    Juliette

  21. WILL Barber

    I was politely asked to leave the endocrinologist office at my local VA when I said to the MD, who is an endocrinologist:
    “I don’t think you understand diabetes and you certainly don’t understand how to control blood sugars. You have given me contradictory information ever since I have been here. I read your recommended diet and it includes many foods that raise blood sugars. Let me show you.”
    My voice began to rise as I pointed to some of the foods he recommended (foods and recipes that contained flour, sugar (small amounts are o.k. he said in the margin), potatoes, oatmeal, rice); people were looking in the exam room to see what was going on.
    I then said:
    “I am surprised they gave you a license to practice medicine, especially in the field of diabetes.”
    He then said: “I think it would be best if you left my office and found another doctor.”
    I did find another doctor and he has actually read Wheatbelly..

    • Dr. Davis

      Ah, Will: a fellow agitator!

      Endocrinologists should not have M.D. behind their name, but “007″: License to Kill. That would better describe their level of understanding.

      If their advice was just ineffective, that would be bad enough. But they are actively involved in CAUSING the disease, then dispensing drugs to treat their mistakes. Incredible and absolutely unforgivable.

      Please be sure to come back and update us on your progress!

      • WILL Barber

        Get a load of this Apple Crisp recipe from the good folks at the American Diabetes Association; it’s on their web site if you want to look:
        http://www.diabetes.org/mfa-recipes/recipes/bonus-recipe-apple-crisp.html
        Ingredients

        Cooking spray
        ¼ cup packed brown sugar
        ¼ cup all-purpose flour
        ½ cup old-fashioned oats
        2 tablespoons margarine, softened
        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        5 cups peeled, sliced red apples (about 5 apples)

        I am dizzy from just reading this recipe.
        I cringe when I see this kind of stuff and from people who are supposedly in the know.

        It gets worse:-)
        Now read this from the American Diabetes Web site:
        For many people, having about 45 to 60 grams (carbs) at meals is about right. Serving sizes make a difference. To include sweets in your meal, you can cut back on the other carb-containing foods at the same meal.

        For example, if you’d like to have cookies with your lunch, you need to substitute for another carb-containing food. If your lunch is a turkey sandwich with two slices of bread, here are the steps you would take to make the substitution:

        Your first step is to identify the carb foods in your meal. Bread is a carb.
        You decide to swap two slices of regular bread for two slices of low-calorie bread (with ½ the carbohydrate) and have the cookies—it’s an even trade.
        Your total amount of carbohydrate remains the same for the meal.

        O.K., so what did I eat this evening (about 15 minutes ago)
        Tofu, zucchini, onions, peppers, and a cucumber salad on the side. One of my favorite stir frys. For a nice little sweet: 70% chocolate, 2 very small squares is about 4 carbs. Dinner was about 18 carbs for a total of 22 carbs. Just right for me.

        Oh, one more thing. Just finished cleaning out my sweet daughter’s pantry: all flour products and sugar products are gone. She begged for me to keep the box of Saltines and I said sorry sweetie. We are all in this together. I took the trash with me so she couldn’t cheat a little, ha

        • Dr. Davis

          Good work, Will! Purge the shelves!

          Yes, the misguided advice of the American Diabetes Association is truly mindboggling. Hey, this would make a great blog post. Thank you for the suggestion!

  22. Boundless

    When the base article here was first posted, I recall responding (paraphrasing), in a reply I now cannot find, that …

    The chart doesn’t just represent a high level of a needless ailment, and it doesn’t show just an increase in a needless ailment. It shows an ACCELERATION of a needless ailment – an exploding pandemic. It might be expected to be causing urgent “sky is falling” proclamations from the usual suspects, with precise advice on what needs to be done immediately; but they are essentially silent.

    I have a couple of further comments about that:

    1. Can we get the historical trend charts for other ailments avoided by avoiding wheat? I’m guessing that a long list, from heart disease to acne, show similar trends, but I was not able to find any data at the time. It may be behind paywalls, perhaps routinely available to MDs.

    2. Grain advocates, grain apologists, diet “authorities” and medical professionals generally, need to be challenged on these charts. What is causing these trends? Just how does a conventional stay-the-course diet advice get these trends under control?

  23. Silvia

    It’s been about 7 years ago I started to eat more “healthy”, organic fruits and vegetables, juicing, and other healthy foods, organic chicken, including 100% whole grain bread and pasta. Instead of losing weight I was gaining . I was in need to buy more clothes that fit since what I had was tight and refused to go to a biger size I really was desperate and even lost hope to lose the weight since I could no longer walk and exercize as I used to due to a knee injury. In the interview with Dr. Oz and Dr davis this past december I was really amazed.
    I started my no wheat lifestyle on january 14, 3 days later I had a headache that lasted for a few days, very sleepy, bad cravings but didn’t give up once I understood wheat is a drug. THANKS Dr. Davis for his book. I have lost 7 pounds. sooo happy, but even better 14 days later I started with and energy that really I didn’t know what to do with it. hahaha,,,, since I have a torned meniscus and can’t walk much. I feel great!!!!!!! when Im sitting down I no longer think to get up, I just get up. I have more concentration, no longer a procastinator. I know I can lose 20 pounds soon.

    • Dr. Davis

      You are on your way, Silvia, now that you have the answer!

      And very good on surviving your wheat withdrawal!

  24. Alex James

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I’m just wondering about wheat and the Glycemic Load… although wheat is obviously sky high on the Glycemic Index, it scores low on the Glycemic Load, due to the fibre content. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the elimination of wheat from the diet! This is not a defense of wheat; wheat is, for lack of a better term, evil. :) I’m just wondering how GL plays into this – could someone not argue that although wheat has a higher GI than sucrose, it doesn’t raise blood glucose and insulin as high or as quickly as sucrose, due to the fibre content? And people often have fat and protein with their bread (ie. eggs, nut butters) – could it not be argued that those elements slow the blood sugar effect as well, making it less harmful than white sugar? I’m sure you get these questions all the time! Your input is appreciated…I’m a nutritionist and wondering how to answer these questions in practice. Thank you!
    -Alex

    • > I’m just wondering about wheat and the Glycemic Load…

      The question has arisen before (admittedly not easily found).
      See it and the response from Dr.D at:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/08/the-reluctant-wheat-belly/comment-page-2/#comment-15682

      > … could someone not argue that although wheat has
      > a higher GI than sucrose, it doesn’t raise blood glucose
      > and insulin as high or as quickly as sucrose,
      > due to the fibre content?

      What was the result when you actually tested that? :)

      > And people often have fat and protein with their
      > bread (ie. eggs, nut butters) – could it not be
      > argued that those elements slow the blood sugar
      > effect as well, making it less harmful than white sugar?

      What was the result when you actually tested that? :)

      I see these conjectures raised from time to time, but never see cites to any actual trials (or even personal anecdotal tests).

      It’s no accident that you rarely see the phrases “glycemic index” and “glycemic load” in these blog pages (or the books). GI and GL seem to be self-deceptive concepts that people (esp. diabetics) use to fool themselves into eating things they’d be better off without.

      When blood sugar matters, what matters is actual blood sugar response, and not some food industry or ADA handwaving about what the hypothetical effect might be.

      Until we have information not presently on NF panels, the useful metric is
      “net carbs”
      less than 50 grams/day, less than 15 grams/meal (or 6-hour period) – pretty much a glycemic index of zero.

      Yes, mutant semi-dwarf hybrid goatgrass (sold to you as “wheat”) has fiber content, but it doesn’t take much to blow the 15 gram net carb budget (and takes even less for the spectrum of other techno-triticale toxins to have their effects).

  25. Bols Marina

    Hallo,
    Here in Belgium the book is also available. I read it 3 months ago and it was a wake up call. Know l understand a bit what the reason was that I did’n lose weight with a regular diet. My friend and I are both happy with the weight loss and also with the food we eat. Last saturday we had a family party and I eat a peace of applecake, homemade, yammie. I also drinked 2 glasses wine en 1 cava. Guess what: I felt really tired and nervous for three days. Is that possible that the wheat has that much impact??? Well I learnt my lesson and stay of, even for homemade cake etc…
    Wen we tell people here what we do they look at us as if we are crazy. But when they will see that we are progressing in healt and loos weight they will perhaps buy the book and try it.
    Thank you

  26. Deb

    For crying out loud he didn’t say everybody from West Virginia had poor oral hygiene and was toothless. Dr. Davis has an important message that could save the lives and or improve the quality of life for a lot of people.

  27. Blake

    He could have said rural Pennsylvania, and it would be equally true. Try to see the message instead of getting hung up on a detail?