Can gluten-free ever be . . . good?

Are there every situations where gluten-free foods can actually be healthy for us?

Readers of Wheat Belly and of this blog know that conventional gluten-free foods:

Make you fat–They especially cause visceral fat accumulation, i.e, Gluten-Free Belly.
Spike blood sugar–Few foods can beat the extravagant blood sugar-raising effect of the amylopectin A of wheat . . . except gluten-free foods.
Increase glycation–i.e., glucose-modification of proteins that leads to cataracts, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, partially reflected by increased glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c)
Trigger small LDL particles–the number one cause of heart disease in the U.S.
Increase triglycerides
–Likely add to cancer risk–via glycation and inflammation

In other words, processed gluten-free foods made with the usual suspects–cornstarch, rice starch or brown rice starch, tapioca starch, or potato starch–are awful for health. Yeah, yeah, they’re often marketed as a healthy alternative: “gluten-free multigrain bread made with only wholesome ingredients” sure sounds great. But just because they don’t trigger abnormal immune responses to gluten does not mean they are otherwise healthy. In fact, they are the opposite.

So when is “gluten-free” healthy? There are a couple of exceptional examples:

–When naturally gluten-free–Asparagus is naturally gluten-free, as are olives. So are garlic and basil, salmon and shellfish, eggs and avocados.
–When wheat- and gluten-free ingredients are actually healthy. The biggest mistake made with conventional gluten-free products is overexposure to processed carbohydrates. This is why in the Wheat Belly recipes I use ground almonds, walnuts, pecans, coconut flour, ground flaxseed and other ingredients that do not trigger all the undesirable effects of excessive carbohydrates. This simple change means we can eat cookies, cupcakes, and muffins with none of the health-destroying effects of wheat, none of the carbohydrate overexposure issues of conventional gluten-free foods. It means you can have something indulgent like Mocha Walnut Brownies and not feel guilty for an instant, nor gain weight, experience high blood sugars, or trigger small LDL. For those of you who do not need to monitor carbohydrate intake (like children and endurance athletes), then non-wheat gluten-free grains can be healthy, such as buckwheat, millet, and quinoa.

So most gluten-free food solutions are little better than low-tar cigarettes as a solution for smoking. What you want is wheat-free, gluten-free . . . and truly healthy!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Janne

    What about sorghum flour, chia seeds? I got a GF bread with those ingredients – what d you think?

    • Chia: great, Janne. Sorghum is a potential overexposure to carbohydrate issue in us adults, less so in kids or very active people. So go lightly!

  2. Pete Zerria

    Thanks for posting on this subject Dr. Davis, I”m in the (slow) process of trying to wean my wife off the (admittedly very tasty) “Against The Grain” brand GF breads and bagels. She was diagnosed celiac 6 or 7 years ago, and she immediately went on a quest to find the best GF breads. Upon me discovering and reading your excellent book back in October (which I took to heart and have since lost around 35 pounds, but thats for another post/testimonial), I have been making inroads to stopping or at least cutting way back on her consumption of GF breads, by making her lunch a few times a week – very awesome salads usually. This week for the first time I think she only had a GF sandwich once. While her digestive issues improved after she eliminated wheat 6 years ago, it never seemed to completely clear up. We”re thinking she may have other food sensitivities, she stopped consuming dairy, but I”ve been urging her lately to get her doctor to order blood tests through Cyrex Labs.
    There is added urgency now because she was recently diagnosed with a very mild form of lymphoma called maltoma. What I do know and which was confirmed by several doctors, including an oncologist is that maltoma seems to manifest itself where there is inflammation for extended periods with H. pylori thrown in the mix. I”ve done extensive searches and can”t seem to find much info on a definitive connection between celiac or grain-induced inflammation and maltoma. Is this something you may have come across?

    • Sorry, Pete, no specific knowledge or insight into maltoma, but I can say that (small intestinal, I”m assuming) lymphomas are not uncommon at all in people with celiac disease.

      Also, consider a nutritional assessment of bowel health, given her partial response to wheat/gluten-elimination to include, for instance, assessment for bacterial overgrowth and pancreatic function, especially lipase and proteases. Some people, having been exposed to the destructive effects of wheat for so long, don”t experience full recovery of intestinal and digestive function even after its eliminated.

      Please update us with your wife”s progress/solutions.

  3. Good, clear summary for people who haven”t read the book yet and are still confused about what comprises healthful gluten-free eating. We went to our one really nice local health food store today to see about buying Truvia or Stevia or some other substitute sweetener. Got so confused reading all the labels we ended up not buying anything. Obviously, the number of carbs in any sweetener is not the deciding factor as regular sugar had less than xylitol or some of the other recommended substitutes. We really need to push for GI labeling on all food products. While there we looked at all the Gluten Free products offered at this ”health food” store. They ALL contained tapioca flour, rice or potato flour. They offered many types of Kamut, spelt, ”ancient grain” breads. I”m starting to feel some concern about what will happen when enough people get on board with LCHF eating and all the supplies of almonds, chia seeds, pecans, cashews, chickpea flour and flax run out. I mean, I”m just one person and I think I”ve convinced at least five people to try it. If those five people convince five people and then those twenty-five people…well. It”s a revolution.

    • On the other hand, Grace, it may be a great time to be a nut, chia seed, or chickpea grower!

      I am confident that, given sufficient time, market forces will respond to shifting buying habits.

  4. Sol y Sombra

    Dr Davis, I have a question about nuts, seeds and nut and seed flours. I think the recipes on your blog use mostly almonds, almond meal, flax seeds and coconut flour as a substitute for conventional wheat flour. This seems very well (although pricey), the photos look good and I am sure the food tastes good. But what about the PUFA content of these nuts and seeds? Flax seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, almonds contain omega 6 fatty acids, but as far as I know, both are prone to oxidation at high temperatures and are inflammatory for the body. Many primal/paleo proponents advise against a high consumption of nuts and seeds even when raw (because of the high omega 6 content) and definitely against use of nuts and seeds and nut flours in baking/cooking (because of the oxidation of PUFAs). What is your opinion?

    • I”m guilty, Sol, of focusing on the recipes to help people replace familiar baked products when going wheat-free and trying to avoid the usual junk carbohydrates of processed gluten-free foods.

      But I don”t want to give the impression that these foods should dominate. We should be eating fish, poultry, eggs, olives, avocados, etc., the sources of other fats. We should also maintain heathy intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the most important of all.

      So have a 3-egg omelet with olive oil for breakfast, salmon for dinner. But how about a cupcake (made with these recipes) for dessert? Overexposure to linoleic acid/omega-6 is not really an issue.

      • Sol y Sombra

        Thank you for clarifying this. Of course baked goods in any form should not dominate anybody”s diet. And overexposure certainly does not result from occasional consumption.

        • J.

          Wow…I hope I am not doing things completely wrong. Since I started the wheat belly diet in January…there isn”t a week gone by,sometimes twice a week, I am baking with the almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, almond meal, etc. I have been so intrigued with making the recipes in the wheat belly book and they taste so wonderful….now I am worried about the PUFA content as the above blog was talking about. I do eat lots of olives, vegetables, meats and cheeses, but also have the flax meal or coconut, or almond flour at almost every meal in some, way, shape or form. Should I be concerned ?

          • I”m not.

            If there is really any concern, you can always have an omega-6:omega-3 ratio run, or even actual quantities of fatty acid fractions.

            I suspect that, if you are taking fish oil, using monounsaturated like olive oil, and just using the recipes for cookies, brownies, etc. as sides to your otherwise healthy diet, this should not introduced major distortions in fatty acid composition.

    • Birgit

      I wanted to add that I also thought about this. There are two possible answers: The one is to use nuts and seeds only in raw recipes of which there are many available on raw vegan websites. Another is to focus on tropical oils like coconut and palm oil, coconut flour and coconut milk as these will not go rancid at higher temperatures.

  5. Nancy

    I think my heart stopped when I read in your book that Gluten-Free foods were as bad or worse than wheat! I wondered what will I eat my slice of Laughing Cow cheese with! So I switched to spreading it on celery sticks!

  6. Nathalie

    Can you explain why quinoa and buckwheat are considered grains? Technically, they are not…

    • Just a convenience of explanation.

      I don”t think it makes much difference, as they should only be occasional, if any, components of anyone”s diet.

      • Ive been following this blog since I went wheat free in early August after reading the book. I dont eat gluten free foods, and my diet really consists of eggs, venison, chicken, greens and vegs. Dont drink anything except, tea, coffee, almond milk, water. I had a great change at first. Ive only lost about 10lbs, and now I seem to be gradually going up and down 1-4 lbs. Ive lost energy. I have an addiction to ice cream at night, and sometimes dark choclate almonds. Any idea whats going on? I felt great the first few months. Now, not so much. Im very carefull reading labels, and havent consumed pasta, bread, or any wheat product. Is this all caused by the ice cream? There is really no other carbs in my diet. Help would be greatly appreciated. I need to lose about 15 more lbs and nothing is budging. And please dont tell me to measure, because that all has stayed the same too.

        • Boundless

          > … I have an addiction to ice cream at night, and sometimes dark chocolate almonds. …

          What”s in them and how much are you eating? They could be seriously high in fast carbs.

          • The ice cream I mostly eat is organic straight from the farm. No added chemicals and just regular sugar. I dont use any sweetner in my coffee or anything else. I drink it black. And any milk I may drink is organic. The almonds is just almonds coated in dark choclate. Not the kind from the grocery store. The ice cream does have heavy cream. I dont know, But, honestly I was eating that before I went on the Wheat Belly life. I have cut out all processed or boxed ,canned food. Try to buy as much organic as possible. Im thinking there is something more going on with me than I can figure out. Ive always been a healthy person. In my opinion, compared to whatevery one else is eating and what I eat, I should be full of energy and lost alot more than 10lbs.

          • Uncle Roscoe

            i, I have a strong opinion about what”s going on with you, ice cream and fructose. I think my grandfather”s brain hemorrhage death was caused by his addiction to ice cream. Fructose intolerances are an integral part of gluten intolerances.

            But I”m just a guy with an opinion. This ain”t rocket science. Stop eating ice cream for a month. Replace the ice cream with meat, fat and green veggies.

            See what happens.

          • J.

            Try making your own ice cream….this recipe isn”t exactly like the creamy, vanilla, etc ice cream that you get at the grocery store but it is very good….The key is to use frozen fruit and I usually stick with all the berry combinations…obviously sugar free…

            4 Tsp. of lemon juice
            3 tsp of water
            2 table spoons agavi ( I substitute with stevia ( one that doesn”t have the bitter after taste…(look on the internet)
            2 table spoons stevia (in addition to the above if you aren”t using agavi)
            2 cups of frozen fruit
            1/2 Tsp of xanthum Gum (very important)
            put all the above ingredients in a blender except the fruit and puree until is is mixed up. It is going to be a little on the thick side. then add your fruit and mix up again until it is all blended and chopped up. It takes a little patience because you have to keep moving it around with your spatula . You can eat it immediately or you can stick it in the freezer for a while.
            Enjoy…hope you like it. I am going to try to figure out a sort of vanilla type of ice cream soon…

          • J.

            Try making your own ice cream….this recipe isn”t exactly like the creamy, vanilla, etc ice cream that you get at the grocery store but it is very good….The key is to use frozen fruit and I usually stick with all the berry combinations…obviously sugar free…

            4 Tsp. of lemon juice
            3 tsp of water
            2 table spoons agavi ( I substitute with stevia ( one that doesn”t have the bitter after taste…(look on the internet)
            2 table spoons stevia (in addition to the above if you aren”t using agavi)
            2 cups of frozen fruit
            1/2 Tsp of xanthum Gum (very important)
            put all the above ingredients in a blender except the fruit and puree until is is mixed up. It is going to be a little on the thick side. then add your fruit and mix up again until it is all blended and chopped up. It takes a little patience because you have to keep moving it around with your spatula . You can eat it immediately or you can stick it in the freezer for a while.
            Enjoy…hope you like it. I am going to try to figure out a sort of vanilla type of ice cream soon…

        • Shirley

          Using no-calorie sweetener in my coffee makes me crave ice cream and dark chocolate covered raisins later in the day or following day. Are you using Splenda, Equal, etc?

          • Shirley

            Forgot to add that when I go back to evaporated cane juice in my coffee the cravings stop. I have not used the sweeters Dr. Davis recommended.

        • Pete Zerria

          J, IANAD but here”s some questions: Are you getting adequate Vitamin D? Are you getting enough fats? Is it possible you are getting too much protein, maybe too much carbs – especially with your late-night ice cream orgies? Have you had your thyroid function looked at? Could you be insulin resistant? Are you exercising at all? Eating chocolate late in the day could be affecting your sleep pattern. Getting enough good restful sleep is very important for weight loss goals.
          I”ve looked into this issue a few times myself since I embarked on a similar approach 6 months ago. Its not uncommon, and I”ve experienced it too, to lose some weight and then plateau for weeks even for a few months.
          An obvious suggestion is to cut out or severely cut back on the ice cream and chocolate.

          • Thank you for your insights. Since Ive been following the blog, Ive learned alot here. Yes, I do get exercise, as I am a horse enthusiast with my own farm and horses. I use to regularly exercise 5x week switching to rebounding or weights. Now I just dont seem to have the energy to do 2x week. I do take 5,000mg a day of Vit D, along with other vitamins too long to list. As far as sleep goes, I am a 58yr old female, and have never had trouble sleeping. I can sleep 9hrs straight no problem! Ive been told the thyroid is ok, but then again I dont have much faith in any doctor around here. I guess your right, I have to put my mind set and just go cold turkey on the ice cream and almonds. I do use coconut oil for cooking. I use chia seeds, flax seed, the olive oil. Thought maybe someone could see a pattern here with me, but I guess the cold turkey has got to be done. Hoping with warmer weather, Ill get out of this slump!

        • Also, J, consider:

          1) Taking a look at what in your thyroid panel was “okay.” More often than not, that”s not true.
          2) Cravings like this can be due to disruptions in the circadian cycling of cortisol. This requires 4 samples of salivary cortisol to evaluate.
          3) Too much sugar/carbohydrate, e.g., in your ice cream.
          4) Too little fat. Some people really need to purposefully load up on fat to break the addiction, e.g., add 2 tablespoons olive oil to scrambled eggs, be more generous with oils in the recipes.

          It sounds like your greatest hurdle is finding a willing healthcare provider to think about your situation. You may have to start your search there. The diet is powerful, but it cannot overcome all health conditions.

          • Thank you all and Dr. Davis for you insights. Yes,your right about finding a good doc. Not an easy task here.
            Im never going to back on the wheat for sure. I know if I do I will be right back with aches and pains and goodness what else??? I know the ice cream is a BIG problem. And I have to face it like a nicotene addict I guess. The brain hemmorage from ice cream is QUITE scary and maybe I should keep that in my head tonight when I want that bowl!!! Thanks everyone. Your all great!

        • Birgit

          People all have a different level of carb tolerance. I would think that between the milk (lactose is sugar), the ice cream (sugar) and the dark chocolate (sugar) that could be enough sugar to limit further weight loss. On the other hand if you only have 10 more pounds to lose you are probably looking to lose vanity pounds. The question is if it”s worth worrying about it.

          • I beleive the sugar is the culprit here. No, Im needing to lose 15lbs and not for vanity sake. Im 144 right now and only 5”4. I feel my best when Im at least 15 lbs less. I am an active person, and when I have no energy everything falls apart on me. Age does not help! Im going to try the 1 month no ice cream. If I see or feel a difference, it will give me the incentive to continue. Hey, if I could cut the Wheat which was my passion, I can do this!

      • Neicee

        I haven”t a clue why some of my messages don”t go through? I use Captcha to access one e-mail acct. and never have a problem? Oh well……tried to say earlier that we grasp onto anything that reminds us of foods we used to eat. But, my culprit turned out to be nothing more than potatoes/rice/corn. When I gave those up the inches started coming off and still haven”t stopped. Back to that old insulin spike thing. Gave up wheat and most grains some time ago. But, my doc was all too careful to point out I could still eat the other carbs….

        Have no idea how much I”ve lost because due to a multitude of OCD”s I don”t own a scale, I”d be checking it every 10 minutes!

    • If you take too long composing your post, this program seems to time you out. I discovered that the first time I tried to post. My computer nerd husband told me to always compose on Notebook or some Word program, then copy and paste to the blog window. That always works. I”m using Firefox, BTW.

      • Neicee

        Thanks to all that responded. I”m betting it”s the timeout feature, thanks Grace. Now if anything has a solution of what to do with 5 lbs. of quinoa and 25 lbs. of Basmati rice I”ll have all my problems solved! The food banks won”t take them because they”ve been opened. ;)

        • Uncle Roscoe

          Niecee, Make sure you type the “CAPTCHA Code” into its dedicated field, and not into the “website” field. That tripped me up more than once. I also get the 501 error for unknown reasons when responding to posters. When I click my browser”s “back” button, it shows my text on the bottom of the page, ready to be posted as a reply to the topic. I simply click “reply” under the chosen post again, paste in my text in the post reply text field, and it works the second time.

  7. Dr. Davis,

    Do you know or would be able to look into the possibility of hybridization with rice?

    My uncle released 15 lbs over the last 3 months by eliminating brown rice from his diet. (160 lbs to 145 lbs)

    I made a similar change about 2 years ago and replaced my rice with quinoa and have been doing well since.

    I happened to look up Brown Rice at the Glycemix Index website:
    and we see a great variation of GI for Brown Rice from 48 for Uncle Ben”s to a high of 87 with Calrose Brown Rice in Australia.

    Differing strains? Have some been tinkered with?

    Jonathan Sugai

    • Hi, Jonathan–

      I am not as familiar with the genetics and manipulations of rice as with wheat.

      I can say, however, that rice has indeed been changed substantially, but I don”t think it has the save adverse effect potential as wheat just because it is a much simpler grain: no wheat germ agglutinin-like lectin, no gliadin, no glutens, etc. It is, I believe, simply a carbohydrate for all practical purposes.

      Perhaps this explains your uncle”s extravagant response.

      That all said, as you know we”ve all got to become increasingly vigilant about all our foods, given the changes introduced by agribusiness, who would like all of us to be kept in the dark.

  8. Ok, now I”m really concerned. I thought going off wheat was the answer for me and have been replacing traditional white flour pastas with brown rice pasta. I don”t eat a lot of gluten-free products but did make my own bread mix after reading about one in a cookbook entitled “Artisinal Gluten-Free Cooking”. The flour is made with 1 1/4 cup brown rice flour, 3/4 cup sorghum flour, 2/3 cup cornstarch & 1/4 cup potato starch, 1 Tbsp. potato flour, 1 tsp. xanthan gum. I also made a bread with this mixture from the recipe in the book and it was delicious but I can live without bread.
    Am I actually doing more harm now than good? And here I thought I had the answer!

    • Hi, K–

      This is precisely why I wrote this piece: To help people like you avoid this landmine.

      Yes, the flour you are using is very destructive. I would NOT use it. Take a look at the recipes in the Wheat Belly book and here and you will see how to use non-wheat flours and meals, but not the junk carbohydrate gluten-free varieties sold.

  9. So glad to have your response in such a timely manner, Dr. Davis. Just trying to make sense of all of this. Thanks for your advice ~

  10. Lynnieg

    Hi there ~ I”ve just started reading your book, have done some cleaning out of pantries and am starting the wheat-free way of life tomorrow. I”ve been on SugarBusters for around 8 weeks, lost a whopping 4 pounds, and gained 2 back. I think it”s no doubt due to my addiction to Triscuits (because whole grains are ok on SB). I did this diet 10+ years ago and did well – and then gained it all back of course.
    I”m going to stop all wheat beginning tomorrow, and will cut out more and more of the other “bad” foods later. There are two things I really love to eat, but I can”t find anything in your book or on the website: pickled beets and black olives. I see green olives listed, but not black. I”m guessing that black olives are fine, but what about pickled beets? The sugar part of beets I know will be a problem down the road, but what about for right now? Thanks!

  11. Kim

    I am very new to all this and trying to figure it all out. I have eliminated all wheat from our diet, including my children. I understand that “Gluten-free” is not necessarily “wheat-free”. I do look at the labels even if something is gluten-free and so far I have found that they generally don”t have wheat. My question may seem obvious but I”m going to ask anyway…is wheatgrass from wheat? Is it just the young wheat? I”m confused as the pictures of wheatgrass are not in anyway similar in appearance to fields of golden wheat. I do have one product left that my husband and I consume that contains wheatgrass and I would like to know if I should eliminate that as well. Thank you for the information.


    • Kim

      I think I should have said I”ve eliminated all wheat from our diet including FROM my children”s.

    • This question keeps coming up, Kim, but I do not have a definitive answer as, to my knowledge, a thorough and unbiased assessment has not been made.

      However, I suspect that it is okay, given the fact that most, if not all, of the evil components of modern wheat originate in the seed, not the grass. But that”s my speculation, not based on any documentable fact.

  12. Rae

    Hey Doctor!
    I love this post. I knew in my heart (and my gut) that all of these overprocessed gluten free alternatives were no good…but this is the first time that I”ve ever seen any such documentation about it. So thank you. I have a question: is there ANY way to continue eating NOODLES while still following you”re diet? I”m asian, and it hurts me to think about never enjoying a sweet bowl of home made ramen ever again. You”re response is greatly appreciated. thank you

  13. Rae

    Bummer…I thought you”d mention shirataki or kelp noodles. Too bad i just can”t stomach them. thanks anyway, Dr.

  14. J. C.

    with respect to ”can gluten-free foods …. ever be good”?
    I just picked up a bag of Beanitos – Pinto Bean & Flax Chips – made by Bean Brand Foods, Austin , TX – which says
    ingredients llist:
    whole pinto beans
    whole brown flaxseeds
    whole grain rice (brown and/or long grain white)
    pure sunflower oil
    guar bean gum
    sea salt


  15. You mentioned konjac flour above and I watched a couple of movies on YouTube about it. I don”t remember you mentioning it in your book and this is the first thread I have jumped on here. I sorry if I missed your discussion of it previously, but I would love to find out more about it.

    • Hi, Thomas–

      Konjac is one of the things you can add to add “body” to your baking, along with xanthan and guar gum.

      Use them sparingly, e.g., 1 teaspoon per cup almond or other flour, and mix the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding wet ingredients.

  16. Cathy Jackson

    Now I’m confused – I thought rice was a no-no and Dr. Davis is saying Benitos are ok, even though they have rice?? Is it only rice FLOUR thats not ok?? HELP!

  17. Lisa

    Is it possible to eat those foods without ill effect if you are already at a healthy weight? Frankly, I’d be close to underweight if I lost five lbs. I’m also muscular and active, and not diabetic. My a1 levels have been perfect. If I sneak a look at my own blood sugar (my dad is diabetic and takes his daily and curiosity sometimes leads me to do the same), it’s right where it should be.

    I like Little Stream Bakery’s quinoa loaf, and Food for Life’s brown rice wraps. FFL has some of the undesirable ingredients you mentioned, but I’ve been eating them for ages now without ill effect in terms of my real blood tests and how I feel. Any thoughts? fwiw, my carbs stay around 140-150 daily, and my fats around 70g. I’m wondering if the overall lower carbohydrate content, activity, and the fact that I eat a lot of your alternatives — namely flax, konjac, daily! — balance things out.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Lisa–

      First, I would classify a truly healthy HbA1c as 5.0% or less, healthy glucose levels as never higher than 100 mg/dl, fasting or after meals.

      Also, at some point, you might find it enlightening to check your small LDL particles via lipoprotein testing, e.g.,NMR lipoprofile. You might be surprised at the proportion of small LDL particles that are triggered by such high carbohydrate consumption.

      • Lisa

        The first bit is mostly Greek to me — I’m Canadian and we measure it in mmol/L. Thank you for the second tip (I’ll look into it!), but I’m surprised that 140g is thought of as high carb, especially since 95% of them come from fruit, veg, dairy, and I’m not trying to lose weight.

  18. Cathy Jackson

    J. C. says:
    March 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm
    with respect to ”can gluten-free foods …. ever be good”?
    I just picked up a bag of Beanitos – Pinto Bean & Flax Chips – made by Bean Brand Foods, Austin , TX – which says
    ingredients llist:
    whole pinto beans
    whole brown flaxseeds
    whole grain rice (brown and/or long grain white)
    pure sunflower oil
    guar bean gum
    sea salt


    Dr. Davis says:
    March 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm
    Yeah, I think they”re pretty good. I”ve had them a number of times.

    Just don”t overdo with the modest carb exposure.

  19. Phred

    I went to a health food store to buy almond flour. I wanted to use it in place of the traditional flour called for in recipes. They did not have it. They recomended “Perfect Flour Blend.” Perfect Flour Blend says it contains ” sweet brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour and xanthan gum.” Is Perfect Flour Blend an acceptable non wheat flour to use in place of almond flour, or are its ingredients harmful?

    • Boundless

      Perfect Flour would appear to be very far from perfect flour.

      If you read Dr. Davis’ remarks at various places above and below, you’ll see that rice flour and tapioca flour are quite pernicious, and to be avoided. Sorghum is causing blood sugar problems for a relative. I think I’ve seen Uncle Roscoe opine about xantham gum, for other reasons.

      But you’ve learned something valuable – the fine folks at your “health food” store know about as much as the USDA when it comes to what’s actually healthy. The percentage of stuff that’s unsuitable for human consumption at most “health food” stores is not much lower than at your regular supermarket, although possibly for different reasons.

  20. Sheila

    I am a marathon runner who has just gone wheat-free. What do you suggest I use for energy sustaining carbs which are supposed to comprise about 40% of my diet while I am training? Thanks-love your book!!

    • Dr. Davis

      Popular training favorites, Sheila, are bananas and other fruit, cooked sweet potatoes. Dried fruit can be helpful.

      Also, note that reliance on such carbohydrates diminishes as you become a better fat oxidizer.

  21. Cathy Jackson

    I can’t seem to get an answer – is occasional brown rice ok but rice FLOUR is not ok?

    • Dr. Davis

      The rice flour, in particular, Cathy, given the increased surface area of a pulverized powder, is especially nasty with regards to blood sugar effects.

      • Karmyn

        So if rice flour and rice flour are bad…is rice milk also bad? I drink Almond Milk but my son hates the taste so I buy him rice milk…now I’m worried that I may be creating a world of health problems for him .

          • Nivek

            I’ve tried coconut milk with him and he doesn’t like it *laughs* I guess I will just have to try again. I appreciate the response, I will not be buying that stuff anymore!

  22. Uncle Roscoe
    What exactly is tapioca?

    Tapioca is basically a root starch derived from the cassava, or yuca plant. It’s often used to thicken soups and sweeten the flavor of baked goods, and it makes a dandy pudding……

    COLUMBUS, Ohio – Cassava is the third-most important food source in tropical countries, but it has one major problem: The roots and leaves of poorly processed cassava plants contain a substance that, when eaten, can trigger the production of cyanide.

    ……an unprocessed cassava plant contains potentially toxic levels of a cyanogen called linamarin.
    The proper processing of cassava – drying, soaking in water, rinsing or baking – effectively reduces cassava’s linamarin content. But, said Sayre, shortcut processing techniques, which are frequently used during famines, can yield toxic food products.

    Chronic, low-level cyanide exposure is associated with the development of goiter and with tropical ataxic neuropathy, a nerve-damaging disorder that renders a person unsteady and uncoordinated. Severe cyanide poisoning, particularly during famines, is associated with outbreaks of a debilitating, irreversible paralytic disorder called Konzo and, in some cases, death. The incidence of Konzo and tropical ataxic neuropathy can be as high as 3 percent in some areas.

    People who get little or no protein in their diets are particularly susceptible to cyanide poisoning, as they lack the proper amino acids necessary to help detoxify the poison.

    …..The shelf life of a cassava root is very short once it’s removed from the stem, so there’s an urgency to get the food to market.

    “Roots can turn to mush in less than a week,” Sayre said. “Cassava’s fresh market time is very small, so it has to be processed immediately.”

    And that’s where consumers can run into problems — the rush to get cassava to the market may keep some batches of cassava from being processed properly.

    …..”Linamarin is converted to cyanide when eaten,” Sayre said. “Repeated exposure of low doses of cyanide over time can lead to health problems.”……

  23. Marcos

    I just ran into this book and I will definitely be picking it up. However, I have a quick question. Based on your studies where do beans fall. I am specifically talking about, Garbanzos, Black, Pigeon, Red Kidney, White. For a while I completely avoided bread and rice and my results were very good. So when I made my meat and vegetables I would use the beans and their broth/gravy as a type of dressing. That way I would avoid using too much Olive or Sesame seed oil on the salad. So are beans in moderation a good thing?

    Thank you and looking forward to reading your book.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, just be careful, Marcos.

      Most people can tolerate up to 1/2 cup at a sitting before they begin triggering such things as high blood sugar and small LDL particles.

  24. Walking Tall

    Dr, Davis,
    I left a comment on an older blog, Oct. 2011, as I am new to the net, and not very good with the Tech-World.
    Winning the Lotto would be less stress, because I could deal with that, one good thing, but, this–THIS emancipation from wheat, and the good things that have happened–is a cascade of good things, almost all at once, and it is a world of make-beleive that I have been living in, for a month. Material weath can be lost or gained, but physical health, I prize that above all–in this transient world. If just the bowel problems went away, that I have had, since I was 18 years old, was all the good that happend, that and THAT alone, would be enough. No, my joint pain has decreased, my eye sight has returned, especially in my left eye–as I need my glasses for marathon reading, only. My belly fat is shrinking, and I am looking forward fo my goal of 200lbs, as I am heavily muscled and heavy-boned, from years of hard labor, and hard Miltitary Life. Two Hundred pounds is thin, for my height and weight, despite a one-size-fits all chart. My brain-fog is going, going, and, soon, I have hope, GONE! I can now concentrate and can persue another type of Doctoral Program, other than the one I had to drop out of, due to inability to concentrate. My skin tone has returned, and my hair is darker, like it was, when I was younger. My blood pressure has stabilized, and my resting pulse rate is down, almost to where it was, when I was 18, as for decades, I have been an endurance athlete. I had to stop that type of life-style, due to acute joint pain, especially my lower back, and severe headaches, which I attributed to Service Connected Injuries. NO, I am too old, and have spent too many years in ill helth, and too many years, on my way back to health, to go back into the Military Service, but I can return to the world, and contribute Service in other ways. As I said, on the older blog, the list of symptoms coupled with the list of emotional despair, is too long to write about, but these are just a few things that I write, (not even close to Cliff’s Notes, or the Reader’s Con-Dunced Version). I do write this to thank You, and to encouage others, as their stories have encouraged me. My biggest stressor, how do I expain a youthful 50 year old, to others, without souding crazy? Big Bad Boogey Wheat, C’MON! Perhaps my appearance and the referecne to your site, will help–as many are too distressed to read a book. Many can be enticed to do so, if they only read your comment on your book, Wheat Belly, and read the success story after story after story . . . . . . .

    Walking Tall

    • Dr. Davis

      Continue to walk tall, Walking Tall!

      I feel for all of us who have, in many ways, lost decades of our lives, feeling that our lives were decaying from underneath us, losing control over mental capacities, concentration, energy, while getting fatter and accumulating a growing list of health problems . . . when all along it was due to this incredibly destructive advice to eat more “healthy whole grains.”

      You, like many of us, have come to appreciate the enormity of this nutritional blunder.

      Truly, should you ever decide to relate your story in a bit more detail, please do so. Others would love to hear more, as would I. Not to mention I need some great and gripping stories of wheat-impaired health for the Wheat Belly Cookbook I am currently writing.

      • Lori

        Yeah!!!! A Wheat Belly Cookbook!!!. I can’t wait!, as I have read and loved the book, and have been changing the way I eat and cook. I did fall victim to the Brown Rice Tortillas and Brown Rice Bread, thinking they were OK. But all the while wondering whether or not the rice flour and rice bran were ok to have. I am glad I discovered this site, as my questions were answered on that.

        I am 49 yrs. old and I have always been very active. Running 4-5 miles a day, and eating healthy, but I always loved my carbs…pretzels, whole wheat bread, sprouted bread….etc. But nothing compares to how I have been feeling since I read Wheat Belly and started eliminating wheat and gluten out of my diet.

        Dr. Davis:
        What about corn tortillas with just corn, water and lime in the ingredients?.

        Looks like I’ll be making and keeping your Flaxseed tortillas as my go to wrap.


        • Dr. Davis

          Hi, Lori–

          Thanks! Just submitted the manuscript to my publisher this week. Now all the internal fireworks begin!

          While corn is nowhere near as bad as wheat, it’s got its own problems. At the very least, look for organic, non-GMO corn, then consume sparingly, as it is a carbohydrate.

  25. Walking Tall

    Dr. Davis,
    I am in the process of writing a detaied account.
    I am thankful that you were able to breach your Medical Model Box, and think, rather than react to data–that runs counter to your Medical Training and Govt./Medical Community Conventional Wisdom.

    Walking Tall

  26. Walking Tall

    Dr. Davis,
    I cannot thank you enough for connecting the dots, and making information clear.
    I can tell you have had many non-medical professioals as patients, and you know how to talk to people without talking down at them.
    I could not understand what was happening to me, as I had no idea, about toxic Genetic Modified Wheat–and its multipe assault on my entire being.
    Many books abound on low carbs–but none could help me undertand the GMO Wheat Connection–and the rationale behind the low fat high carb emotive reactions, to those, including mediacal professioals, that have no clue as to GMO Wheat and Human Physiology. Your Medical Back Ground, is an asset . . . . rather than a hinderence . . . which adds to the value of your book, Wheat Belly.
    It would take quite a while to list the symptoms I have had, some of them from early teens, that have vanished. Worse is the emotiona despair–as I could not figure this out, as I was strict on my diet, and ate Healty Whole Grains–paid extra for it, as opposed to processed Wheat products.
    Now, thanks to you, I have a future–as my dream of becomming an Addictions Counselor can and will happen. I know it is not the highest status–and it is non-impressive, but it is my dream.
    I have read most all the posts, and your comments–and this is one of the most encouaging sits I have visited–as it is a progressing support group, not a distressing, stagnent support group, with hopless despair in common.
    The part in your book that is most relevent to me, is the brain addiciton aspect of GMO Wheat–as that Hunger Cycle and blood sugar level drop–Hunger Cycle was a Tyrant! It is upsetting to know that I was a Wheat Addict–and I had the symptoms of the more severe cases, but, I would like to know the truth, and make and informed decision, based on evidence–and your book and your site, more than delivered!

    Walking Tall

    • Dr. Davis

      Wonderful, Walking!

      The addictive aspect of this alone is worth an entire book. People are prescribed drugs, blamed for gluttony, feel shame and embarassment, develop multiple diseases . . . all to propagate this absurd message to eat more “healthy whole grains.”

      I think it’s spectacular that you are going to be an addiction counselor! You will have insights that most do not have.

      • Walking Tall

        My life has changed because of you–
        I know some do not beleive or see the reason or rationale for God, but I do.
        I thank God he has given some one like you, to inform the General Public.

        Walking Tall

  27. Mary

    Can you tell me what you think of Kind bars, made with nuts and dark chocolate? I’m trying to stay away from all processed foods, but they are convenient for times when there is nothing else available in the fridge… :)

    • Boundless

      Looks about like the Balance and Zone bars I’ve given up on.

      Higher carbs than I care for these days, over half it sugar, and half of the sugar is fructose (honey).

      Keep looking. Sooner or later, someone will get it right. Munch nuts in the meantime.

    • Dr. Davis

      From memory, I recall these bars being high in carbohydrates, as most bars are.

      I tried to access their nutritional info, but that seems to not be functioning right now on their website.

      The only currently marked bars with tolerably low carbohydrates are Quest, and these may have some problems, as some people have experienced high blood sugars with them.

  28. Mary

    Thanks so much! I will stick with a handful of nuts or some carrots when I need a quick snack on the go… :)

  29. Casey

    First off I have to say that I love your book and am trying to spread the word about the negative effects of wheat. I had a pretty healthy diet already but I think giving up all things wheat will increase my internal health. One of my previous staples was the crunchy peanut butter think thin protein bar. I ate it before intense work outs. The packaging says it’s gluten free (which I have learned means nothing) but I looked at the ingredients and didn’t see any obvious bad ones. I wanted to know what you thought about them.

    Here are the ingredients:


    I appreciate your help and again, love your book!

    • Dr. Davis

      Hmmm. Lots of maltitol, which acts like sugar with a bit of gas and diarrhea thrown in.

      Have you seen my Chocolate Bomb Bar recipes? You can add a protein powder to it.

  30. Rob Wolfe

    Dr Davis,

    Been pretty wheat free for a month now and it is good. Struggling with my love for Cajun food and the rice and bean content but otherwise good and andole sausage. Anyway I tried some glutton free flax and millet bread today and it was wonderful. Carbs are like 15g a slice. It has some brown rice flour and the final ingredient is ascorbic acid. If I have a sandwich with this some days and keeP the carbs near 100g how bad is it?

    • Dr. Davis

      Depends, Rob.

      Everybody’s carb sensitivity is different. If I followed your diet, I would be diabetic. However, others, especially people who do long-distance endurance training, can get away with this safely.

      Please see the blog posts way back about gauging individual carbohydrate sensitivity.

  31. Lucy B.

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    You have mentioned many different types of starches to avoid, but what about arrow root starch? I love using this ingredient in cooking and baking but am willing to substitute it if I should. Thank you!

    • Dr. Davis

      Because it’s generally used in small quantities, Lucy, I believe you are okay with the arrowroot.

  32. Kim Daniels

    I am HIGHLY addicted to wheat. If I eat ONE bite of a muffin, bread, ect, I notice that it triggers an all day eating binge. If I do not eat bread products, I can control my eating all day long with no problems. Its CRAZY!!I have read conflicting information about Buckwheat. I do realize it is gluten free, but I have read that it does contain “gliadins”.
    Do you know if this is true? Will using buckwheat as a flour in any recipe cause the same opiate response and insane addictive qualities as wheat does.. I am a little scared to try it.

    Thanks for your help,

    • Dr. Davis

      It may contain gliadin-LIKE molecules, Kim, but I know of no data to suggest that buckwheat harms us in the same way as wheat.

      However, be careful of the carbohydrate content of buckwheat.

  33. Nivek

    How about tapioca flour?
    So is everything if rice flour and rice starch are bad, is everything rice related bad (rice pasta -ingredients say brown rice and white rice, rice milk, rice ice cream, etc)?

    • Nivek

      And baby rice cereal – am I hurting my infant child by feeding him his Nestle rice and banana?

    • Dr. Davis

      No, it’s the dried, pulverized form that has an exponential increase in surface area for digestion that is bad, the starches or flours.

      Rice is not entirely benign, as it is a potential carbohydrate overexposure, but is safe consumed in modest quantities, e.g., 1/2 cup at a serving. The real problems come when it is reduced to the starch.

  34. Karmyn

    I feel like I’m drowning when it comes to figuring out what to eat. While removing wheat in itself is not problematic… I find myself constantly looking at labels unsure of how many carbs to when I do (meal/snack). Is there a general rule to follow when trying to be low carb? I eat a lot of fruit normally (grapes, kiwis, apples) but now I am scared that I am spiking my blood sugar. I am not diabetic so without purchasing insanely expensive strips, have no way to check my blood sugar. I am scared about killing off my pancreas’s beta cells now with everything I eat and I’m driving myself crazy! I tried looking up foods on diabetic websites but am not sure if I should trust it as they all claim “whole grains” don’t spike your blood sugar and you should eat them. Should I follow the glycemic index? Than you in advance, and I just want to say that I think it is amazing that you take the time to respond to all of us on here.

  35. Carla Flegel

    It has been about 2 months of Wheat Belly diet. I am astounded with my results. What prompted me to embark on this was my pain. My muscles were constantly in pain. I felt like my muscles were on fire. There wasn’t a piece of me that did not hurt. And I took 6-8 Ibuprophen a day to try to manage the discomfort and some nights still be up walking the floor in pain. I also had numerous “crisis” events lasting more than a week where my blood pressure spiked as high as 225/115 ( guess I won’t stroke out as I seem to have pressure tested my vessels!)… My doctor suggested a third blood pressure medication and I said WHY is this doing this…adding more drugs just cannot be the answer. I’ve taken cholesterol lowering meds and hypertensive meds since age 40 (17 years ) because I had such a strong family history of cardiac disease. The doctor kept saying it was just bad genes. So within about 2 weeks I had virtually no pain. I haven’t taken an Ibuprophen in weeks. I am no longer hungry all the time. But it is the stunning plummet in my blood pressure that has made me adhere to this change. My blood pressure recently on ACE inhibitor + diuretic was on average 145/95 heart rate 80. Lately my blood pressure is averaging 110/60 and my heart rate 60 on just the ACE , guess we need to eliminate that now too! I’m about to have my blood work checked … I already know it will be improved. I just haven’t enjoyed the weight loss even without any gluten free goodies. I did a “test” with one dinner roll… Within 2 hours Abdominal pain, distension and diarrhea, same with some rice a few days later. It’s hard to believe these results but the numbers speak for themselves. The pain can be subjective but not the recordings! (Although my GP is still skeptical!) Thank you for making this information public!

    • Dr. Davis

      Very nice, Carla!

      Your transformation is interesting: relief from some unusual phenomena. You can see why I say that the total is greater than the sum of the parts in this wheat-free world.

      I’d like to post your comments as a blog post. Thanks for sharing your story!

  36. Cheryl Sandoe

    I have a grandson that is allergic to nuts. What healthy substitute can I use for almond flour? I have scoured the Internet and it seems most suggest coconut oil but since that is a tree nut he cannot have that either…can you suggest something? Thank you.

  37. Dear Bloggers, my spouse and I went gluten free 2 years ago as we read Wheatbelly book–we had a struggle.
    We are both on type 2 diabetes diets, and we decided to use Udi bread so we could have toast at night and we depended on sucralose, stevia and sweetnlow for our coffee and tea. After we sawDr. Davis on
    Atlanta PBS tv show, we had to review what we were doing! I found 4 bad starches in the bread and also maltodextrin and dextrose in our sweeteners. We are off the bread and are changing to Truvia and Sweet Leaf stevia products. This answers why we have not gotten the weight loss we wanted.We are trying Monkfruit in the Raw now, although it has dextrose. Husband’s glucose was 91 other day after food bar.
    We are adjusting to the Wheatbelly life anew. Thanks to Dr. Davis for being in Atlanta! There is a bread called Paleo bread made with coconut flour but is expensive. I don’t cook much since our dog passed but I am going to try pumpkin muffins from the book for Christmas.