Don't get all puffed up

Jodie tells her story of relief from the extraordinary puffiness characteristic of wheat consumers:

I can”t believe it”s been nearly 7 months since I went wheat-free!

It was last August when my whole life changed. I had been suffering from a mysterious pain in the lower half of my legs along with a serious lack of energy and acid reflux for nearly three years. The condition had been getting continually worse. I had put on weight and my blood pressure and blood glucose level had been rising, too.

I went on a diet to try to bring my health back in line. Lucky for me, the diet program I chose basically eliminated all grains in the initial phase. I noticed pretty quickly the dramatic change in my body, excluding the huge weight loss I experienced! I dropped 15 lbs. in less than 3 weeks! As it turns out, it was mostly water – eliminating grains had helped deflate some of my inflammation. My “puffiness” was gone!

Shortly after that, I read about your book, “Wheat Belly,” in a magazine. I immediately went to Amazon and purchased the book. I downloaded it to my iPad so I wouldn’t have to wait for it. I read it from cover to cover that same day. I was amazed at how little I knew about our current supply of wheat and other grains. I”m a huge advocate for non-GMO foods and these days try to buy organic local foods as much as possible.

I now know that my body also doesn’t process dairy well. So I”ve been wheat-free and dairy-free for the past three months. The pain and swelling in my legs are completely gone, the overall “puffiness” I had is gone and I”m back to exercising several days a week again. I feel great and have so much more energy!

Some other minor ailments have also subsided – I have a problem with flaky, itchy scalp which has basically subsided since giving up both wheat and dairy. Soon, I”m hoping to eliminate my medicated shampoo. I no longer need Nexium for the painful acid reflux I used to have.

Life is good. Yes, I”ve had to give up a few comfort foods but what I’ve gained back has made it seem like a very small price to pay. Thank you so much for your book. It”s completely changed my life for the better!

“Eat more healthy whole grains” . . . and be exposed to the wheat lectin, wheat germ agglutinin, that causes abnormal intestinal permeability to foreign substances, and gliadin that has direct inflammatory effects in the body, as well as the hundred or more other unique proteins generated in high-yield semi-dwarf strains of this creation of geneticists called “wheat.”

Reject “healthy whole grains” and life is, indeed, very good, Jodie!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Kirsten

    You might want to consider ditching shampoo altogether as a next step. I haven”t “washed” my hair in a couple of months – and I used to have a very dry scalp. I now do the “no-poo” method – I make a paste of baking soda (get aluminum free) that I put on my scalp while I shower, and then rinse with apple cider vinegar. I do use coconut oil between those steps, but I have very thick coarse hair so it needs it; friends who have fine hair find the coconut oil is too much for them.

    • Colin Conn

      Kirsten, if you run out, you could always serve up your hair as a salad.
      Sorry. I”m sure your shampoo works well.

      • Colin!

        After I received your wonderful magazine in the mail, I searched for your contact info but could not locate. So I was thrilled to see you post here again.

        Thank you for kindly sending me that wonderful piece of wheat history! I laughed and cried reading it.

        • Colin Conn

          Dr. Davis:
          You ARE the man. I”m down 25+ pounds since January 26. I no longer suffer heart burn, I have vastly minimized joint pain and I”m no longer the fatest guy at the Contra-dances we attend every week. My wife says I don”t snore anymore and I”m looking forward to walking (emphasis, walking) Wisconsin”s finest golf courses this summer. Of course I”ll need new clothes because my shirts and sweaters hang on my like stretched rags and my shorts, well, they”ll be too loose as even now need a new belt.
          I saw that magazine on Ebay and thought of you immediately. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I”m enjoying my new life without wheat.

          Have a great day and thank you,

  2. Little Sister

    Interesting to find this here, as I was just talking about the swelling I get in my legs when eating grains. It doesn”t happen with carbohydrates from fruits or vegetables, though I always thought it was all carbs. Nope, it”s the grains. And with the swelling comes enough discomfort that I only want to lie down with my legs propped up ~ hardly a healthy way of life.

  3. Nancy

    When I saw the title, I thought it was going to be about the evils of puffed cereal, haha. (that”s a scary story, what that does to you, read Cereal Killer!)
    Knew about that decades ago, my now grown kids were raised with NO breakfast cereals at all :)
    But I digress-back on topic….
    I too have noticed puffiness decreased after giving up grain. Under my eyes used to pooch out for as long as I can remember. I hated it and it didn”t matter what kind of products I used- from the side my eyebags puffed out like they were inflated. That is gone as well as diminished dark circles.
    No wheat = free beauty treatment!
    My poor body has a lonnnng way to go, but that”s a great start :-)

  4. Darin

    Dr. Davis,


    You changed my life. Thank you. A thousand thanks cannot express my gratitude to you for taking the time and making the effort to write and get published Wheat Belly.

    I”d never heard of Celiac disease before reading your book. I”d always sort of rolled my eyes at the black helicopter hysteria about GMO in general and wheat in particular. I”d just finished Why We Get Fat and had embarked on a LC way of living. Then I started reading your book. Within the first 50 pages of your book I was wheat-free. Within a few days (I think) of removing wheat from my diet I quit getting headaches and heart burn. In 5 months (approximately) I”ve dropped 65 pounds (wheat-free and LC) and I feel better than I”ve felt in many, many years.

    Although I still get the occasional headache I haven”t had one iota of heartburn since dropping wheat and most gluten. The lassitude and hebetude that has plagued me for going on 20 years is gone! I was suffering from some very serious depression, which is a secret that I shared with no one and I”m willing to admit now because it has totally been erased from my life and hooray for anonymity on the Internet :)

    Thank you Dr. Davis and God Bless you and yours.

  5. Darin

    If you think it will help anyone go right ahead Doc.

    I”m 6 foot tall and I was 265 and rushing headlong to 300+. I am at 200-202ish and working my way down to maybe 185 or so. I think the recommended weight to height tables are just plain silly so mostly I am not paying any attention to them.

  6. Candy

    Let me just begin by saying I don’t want to do this!!! I don’t want to give up wheat but I have to try something! My husband heard Dr Davis speak this weekend at a confence and came home fired up so we downloaded the book. As I am listening to the audio version I get it. I am not at all excited about giving up bread, but i get it i think the hardest part will be fresh homemade bread. I love to bake fresh bread and can’t imagine not having but I can’t do this anymore! I had a physical yesterday and my blood text came back today. The Dr tells me I’m perfectly healthy and can’t explain to me why my lower legs and feet swell so bad I can’t wear shoes (this she says must just be hormones). She couldn’t tell me why I’m so tired all the time and why I’m gaining weight even though I’m trying to workout and eat smaller portions of healthier foods. She told me its because I’m approaching 40 and age does that. So I’m going to have to take this as a sign that I have to try this! What do I have to loss……I already feel terrible so it can’t get much worse.

    • Dr. Davis

      Ah, Candy: Spoken like a true addict to the gliadin protein of wheat!

      It’s not inconvenience; it’s the opiate that makes you whither just thinking about giving up your fresh bread.

      Have you seen the focaccia bread recipe on this blog? You will be more than satisfied!

  7. Candy

    OK-addict is right! NO I have not seen the focaccia bread recipe yet. We had eggplant lasagna last night and although I missed the noodles it was good! However, I did eat less! I am having a hard time finding the recipes on the site but I’m searching! I’m through chapter 7 of the book and am blown away! Monday is my goal to begin wheat free and lose the addiction to wheat!—–I do LOVE that stuff! Thanks for an incredible blog full of info! It’s quickly being a daily resource for us!

    • Dr. Davis

      Nothing we eat should be genetically-modeified, though this is becoming increasingly difficult, given the great success agribusiness has had in concealing it from us.

      While wheat stands apart as the most destructive grain by a long stretch, it does not necessarily mean that other grains are good for us: Something less bad is not necessarily good.

      There are more benign grains, such as buckwheat, wild rice, and millet that are essentially little more than carbohydrate challenges.

  8. Teresa Harvey

    The day my sister gave me your book was the beginning of a new life for me. All my life I was ruled by my appetite…barely finishing one meal before wondering what my next meal would be. After reading your book, I have completely given up wheat and I now feel like I eat to live instead of living to eat. I had no trouble losing the wheat after hearing of its punishing effects on the human body. I had hoped to get to a point where my weight was under control but found so much more. I have lost 13 pounds in 2 months effortlessly. I have a little more to go but am not fretting over it. I know it will come off slowly and healthfully. Thank you for this book! I’ve told so many people about it and they immediately say, “I can’t give up bread.” I wish people would just try it for a week and feel the difference for themselves. I will continue to advocate for wheat free living because I’ve discovered for myself what a blessing it is. Thank you again!

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s wonderful, Teresa!

      You can see how hard it is for many people to confront this demon: an opiate that drives appetite.

      You are, in effect, telling unwitting crack addicts that they have an addiction problem. It tends to not go over well at first!

      Let them all observe your glowing success, then ask how you did it. Maybe then it starts to sink in.

  9. April


    I am curious how you are doing now. I know it’s been some time since this post. I have had many things affect me due to wheat (possibly more). Like you, I am an addict. Also, my left foot swells on occasions for no reason (well now I am pretty sure why). My docs thought I had a blood clot-no not that. I had noticed that it seed to happen at certain times. When I drank alcohol and I hadn’t put it together but, it certainly makes sense now that it is the wheat/sugar that does it. I have been back on after a relapse Xmas and realizing how awful I felt, I feel I just have to make this a way of life. My doc was the one who had brought up trying no wheat and I am so glad she did. I hope to hear you have had success. I have read both the WB and have the cookbook. This blog is awesome! I have read a good amount of subjects that all sound like my issues. I only wish I could convince my whole family to go wheat free. I love to cook so I am going to try recipes on them and hope for the new year to convince them this is the best thing! Looking to drop about 50 lbs for the new year (and forever for that matter!).

  10. Moreen

    The topic “puffiness” caught my interest. Recently my whole body has blown up in the past few weeks like the Michelin Man, causing me to have to buy larger sized clothes and avoiding footwear as much as possible. I’ve been gluten free (mostly) for a few years, so this is new. Also have something like hives all over, including my scalp. Have had tests, cortisone creams etc, to no avail.

    I’m now reading Wheat Belly and looking forward to the recipes and becoming the healthy person I need to be.

    But I have a couple of questions.
    1. Why do you recommend only raw nuts, except peanuts? I eat roasted almonds and they seem to be OK, but if I must switch to raw ones I’ll give it a try.
    2. What about rice? You discourage using rice flour. Since going gluten-free I’ve been using rice products exclusively (cereal, milk, cooked).

    Looking forward to hearing more about Wheat Belly!


    • Dr. Davis

      Nuts ideally are raw, mostly to avoid the hydrogenated oils that food processors typically use to get salt to stick. If dry roasted without hydrogenated oils, you are on pretty safe ground.

      Rice is the most benign of all grains, but it still poses a carbohydrate challenge that can still lead to high blood sugar, as well as all the consequences of glycation–cataracts, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and dementia, if over consumed (e.g., more than 1/2 cup).

  11. CKZ

    I did a wheat free diet awhile back and realized the benefits immediately. Lost 25 pounds in a matter of few weeks and felt great. My Plantar Fasciatis is gone, my skin is much clearer, etc. So, knowing the health benefits of stopping wheat, my husband had been wondering what it would do for him. He was 225 lbs, 6″ tall and then he was diagnosed with a a fatty liver. That scared him, so he decided to make some changes. But this is the thing. He’s a lactose intolerant vegetarian. We called him the carbivore, because he would eat wheat (tortillas, bread, pancakes, scones, muffins, pasta) at every meal, combined with high sodium fake meats. He has now cut out wheat and fake meat products and has lost an astounding 35 pounds since December. He looks and feels great. But this is my worry…is he getting enough nutrition from eating vegetables, fruits, eggs and nuts? One of the better complete protein sources for vegetarians is beans and a starch (beans and brown rice, for instance). I’ve heard quinoa is also a great complete protein. Since he is an all or nothing kinda guy, he has been staying away from most grains, good for him, but again, I’m worried I will be married to a man with brittle bones who has wasted away to nothing by the time he’s 50. Any advice for getting complete nutrition as a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy?


    • Dr. Davis

      You can, but it’s tough.

      Sure he won’t consider some liver, beef and pork fat, fish, shellfish, and meat?

  12. Marian

    Dr. Davis, Thanks for your books Wheat Belly and Cookbook. I’m so impressed with your excellent writing, backed up with research and common sense. I’m 85 and want to try the Wheat-Free Diet but must find some answers first.
    1. Can you suggest a wheat-free low-fat cookbook? (Comment: Your Cookbook is wonderful, but most recipes have too much fat for my digestion. Over 15 grams of fat in a meal, my stomach rebels.)
    2. Because of my concern about cyanide, I want to limit my ground flax seed intake to 1/4 cup daily. What can I use instead to provide omega-3s to balance omega-6s of almond flour?

    • Dr. Davis

      Oh, boy, Marian.

      I burned my low-fat cookbooks back in 1985, so I cannot recommend any of these books that CAUSE heart disease. I would work instead to find out WHY you are tolerant to only limited fats, e.g., lack of pancreatic lipase from years of pancreatic damage from wheat.

      I do not believe that your concerns about flaxseed are necessary. And flaxseed is NOT a reliable source of heart protective omega-3 fatty acids; it is a source of linolenic acid, not EPA and DHA.

    • Wheatless in Seattle

      Hi, Marian. I, too, have trouble digesting high fat. My naturopath feels it’s because I have low stomach acid. She prescribed digestive enzymes with hydrochloric acid several years ago. They work! However, about 4 months into this wheat-free lifestyle, I experienced stomach pain and acid reflux type symptoms. As Dr Davis suggested elsewhere in this blog, my entire digestive system was adjusting. So, I took probiotics for about a month as suggested, along with the digestive enzymes (not at the same meal). I’m off the probiotics, now, and feel great! But I still take the enzymes when I eat high fat or red meat meals. Of course, I make sure there are plenty of fresh veggies in my meals, too. Good luck!

  13. Damian

    I had no idea that wheat could be a primary factor in edema! I am newly diagnosed with Hashimotos Thryoriditis and am currently on 4 grains Armour but not yet at optimum health. My antibodies were extremely high so maybe that is to be expected.

    One ongoing area of concern is edema and pain in my legs from the knee down. My legs and feet ache terribly if I sit for more than a few minutes and I am stiff due to the discomfort. I have had continued swelling of my fingers and occasionally around the ankles.

    I started a wheat free diet yesterday! I weigh 196 pounds and I am 5’4″. I am very physically active but lost endurance in the months before begin diagnosed. A 45 pound weight gain over the past few years and a scary amount of fat around my middle and on my upper thighs has me feeling self-conscious and depressed. Also skin on my upper arms and legs has been hypothyroid-rough for years.

    Hoping the elimination of wheat will change my health and my life!

    • James

      Hi Damian,

      Nutritionally speaking, the best you can do to improve your body health is to adopt a so-called paelo or primal diet:

      – real foods: veggies, nuts, organs (liver, heart, kidneys), meats, fish, eggs – all organic and grass fed
      – no processed junks, no grains, no sugar, no legumes, no processed vegetable oils
      – limited fruits and highly glycemic foods like starchy veggies (potatoes)
      – increase healthy fats: naturally saturated (coconut oil, butter, high quality lard and tallow), monounsaturated (olive oil, macadamia oil just to name a few), and omega-3 (DHA, EPA from fish). Actually, I would recommend you eat the whole oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, halibut – and preferably WILD, not farmed).
      – get your vitamin D (fish roe is FULL of it, cod liver oil, and sunlight), magnesium, sodium, iodine from sea food
      – continue your daily physical activity (slow pace), throw in occasional heavy weight lifting and sprints.
      – and when you are fat adapted (meaning you’re good at metabolizing fat for your daily energy expenditure), throw in an occasional intermittent fast (skip a meal or two, eat when you’re hungry for real, not out of habit)

      With that, I guaranty you, you will feel the best you’ve ever felt within 6 months!


  14. Robin

    I have been following Wheat Belly since last Sept. I had great things happen. One of those things being water retention that I had for years. Today I have water retention, I started noticing it yesterday. I am drained of any energy I had by giving up wheat. I cant keep myself awake all day. Does this mean I am getting grains hidden somewhere?
    I have been taking
    Kelp (Iodine from kelp) 225 mcg @ 2 a day
    D3 – 10,000 UI @ 1 a day
    Fish Oil Omega 3 & 6 1000 mg @ 1 a day
    Mega-Zyme 2 a day

    VITAMIN D,25-HYDROXY,LC/MS/MS 02/21/2013 (#3980940, Final, 2/21/2013 4:16pm)
    Report Result Ref. Range Units Status Lab
    VITAMIN D 60.00 >=30.00 ng/mL Final TLAB

    COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL 02/21/2013 (#3980985, Final, 2/21/2013 4:16pm)
    Report Result Ref. Range Units Status Lab
    SODIUM 142 135-145 mmol/L Final TLAB
    POTASSIUM 3.8 3.5-5.1 mmol/L Final TLAB
    CHLORIDE 107 100-115 mmol/L Final TLAB
    CARBON DIOXIDE 27 21-31 mmol/L Final TLAB
    GLUCOSE 92 70-100 mg/dL Final TLAB
    BUN 15 7-25 mg/dL Final TLAB
    CREATININE 0.9 0.6-1.3 mg/dL Final TLAB
    BUN/CREAT RATIO 16.7 10.0-25.0 CALC Final TLAB
    CALCIUM 9.0 8.6-10.3 mg/dL Final TLAB
    TOTAL PROTEIN 6.5 6.4-8.9 g/dL Final TLAB
    ALBUMIN 4.1 3.5-5.7 g/dL Final TLAB
    GLOBULIN 2.4 1.3-4.0 g/dL Final TLAB
    A/G RATIO 1.7 1.0-2.8 CALC Final TLAB
    ALK. PHOSPHATASE 85 34-104 U/L Final TLAB
    ALT (SGPT) 32 7-52 U/L Final TLAB
    AST (SGOT) 25 13-39 U/L Final TLAB
    TOTAL BILIRUBIN 0.42 0.30-1.00 mg/dL Final TLAB
    GFR >60.0 >=60.0 Final

    VITAMIN B12 02/21/2013 (#3980939, Final, 2/21/2013 4:16pm)
    Report Result Ref. Range Units Status Lab
    VITAMIN B-12 892 211-946 pg/mL Final TLAB

  15. Help! My DIL just finished her masters in nutritional sciences and together with a ND, they started a clinic focusing on weight loss. Yep……I sent her a copy of WB……and nope, it didn’t take! I received the recipe link below today and I can’t eat anything without replacing almost all the ingredients! How do I keep the peace in an otherwise, congenial family?

    • Boundless

      You do realize that WB implies that conventional nutrition specialist education is a complete waste of time?

      > … masters in nutritional sciences …

      Normally this means that the MA is doomed. They dare not stray from the dogma.

      > … and together with a ND, they started a clinic focusing on weight loss.

      Naturopath? If you can wake up the ND, the subordinate MA might have a chance.

      > How do I keep the peace in an otherwise, congenial family?

      Look on the bright side. She could have joined some cutthroat cult. Instead it’s just a poisoning cult.

  16. I’ve only been on the diet for 2 days and last night I had the best sleep I’ve had in a very long while. As I read this blog I realized why… my lower legs didn’t scream and wake me up!! Could it happen that quickly?? I sure hope so!! Thank you Dr. Davis for all that you’ve put into your books in order for us to live healthier lives.

    For those who have issues with their shampoo…I have created a shampoo bar – gluten free!! wheat free!! ORGANIC verified!