Massaging the truth

Massage therapist, Jonathan Sugai, posted this interesting comment on Amazon:

I first learned about Wheat Belly back in September 2011 in Northern California. My friend Seamus was eating some chili out of a can while we were waiting for our class at a seminar to start. I asked him why he was doing that and he said, “You gotta read this book called Wheat Belly!”

After he explained what the book was about, how quickly and dramatically his situation improved (his digestion turned around very quickly!), it made total sense why he was eating chili out of a can even though we had plenty of food served (most of it had some form of wheat in it!).

I immediately downloaded the book off Amazon and finished reading it on my way back home to Hawaii and my view on food had totally shifted. Life would never be the same again!

I knew eating bread would contribute to weight gain, however learning about all the OTHER information about the hybridization, the Gliadin, and all the blood sugar, inflammation, digestive, and neurological effects, OMG!!!

I am a massage therapist and part of a family business and now it is clear why we have so many people coming in with so many aches, pains, & injuries from seemingly routine activities. It is clear to me that consuming a diet with wheat triggers inflammation and creates all sorts of systemic problems and their bodies are no longer able to tolerate typical activities.

I realize why I’m seeing more clients not responding to our techniques that used to work well. The techniques are great, however the clients that are coming in are unhealthier than ever with rampant inflammation, pre-diabetic / diabetic, high cholesterol, nervous systems interfered with by gliadin, overweight, etc. etc. etc.

All of our clients who have made the transition to wheat free have lost weight, have more energy, and most of the joint pains and stiffness have gone away and their massage treatments are enjoyable again and we aren’t putting out fires anymore!

It is our responsibility to share and let everyone know in order to create change. Our friends & family will continue to see their health degrade if they continue on this path.

Until reading his comment, it hadn’t occurred to me that massage therapists could provide some very interesting observations on wheat elimination. I find it fascinating that, once his clients said goodbye to wheat, they responded better to his efforts.

Any other massage therapists out there that would like to weigh in?

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Dan

    Dr Davis,

    This is off topic,but I just got some blood work done through a health screening at work and was concerned about the cholesterol numbers. I realize this was a basic test but my numbers were as follows: Total Cholesterol 329; HDL 67; LDL 251; VLDL 11; Triglycerides 55; fasting glucose 92. I am a healthy 40 yr old who weighs the same as I did in high school (29 inch waist). My only ”complaint” would be chronic allergies which have subsided since adopting the ”Wheat Belly” approach to eating these last 6 months. Based on the numbers above I would like to see a Doctor but do not want to go on statins. I currently do not have a doctor as I have never needed one before. Are there any resources to find Doctors that will look at alternatives before prescribing statins?


    • None I know of, Dan.

      Please be sure to take a look at the discussions I”ve posted on this question over the years at the Heart Scan Blog, my other blog. While it does not provide you with willing and open minded healthcare providers, it can help you understand the issues better.

  2. Karen Gies

    Dr. Davis,
    I had been suffering from “joint” pain for the past year, especially in my knees and elbows. As an active Kindergarten teacher, mom and Jazzercise instructor, I became extremely frustrated. I went to my family dr., a naturopath and a foot specialist (thought my shoes/feet might be causing my knee problems). NOTHING WORKED….and nobody knew how to help. I finally went to an acupuncturist. She didn”t even check my knees or elbow after telling her how much pain I have been experiencing for almost a year…..she checked my stomach! She told me my intestines and appendix were all inflamed. She did some treatments but also told me “no more wheat”. Well, I followed her advice and to my delight my pain was gone within the week! A few weeks later, I saw your book in Costco and bought it. It all makes sense now! I can now go back to teaching Jazzercise and attending class 5 or 6 times a week. I also want to say that your facebook page is a great support and information source. So glad that I can see there is a way to sustain this way of living and continue doing what I love to do. Thank you for all your knowlege….I know I will be following your words of wisdom for years to come!

  3. Yes! I”m seeing all of it, too, in my massage practice. My personal experience of relinquishing wheat has been dramatic – 25-lb weight loss, improved digestion, less achy joints and hands, (I”ve been practicing for 19 years, so…), fewer allergic reactions, and a better sense of well-being. I”ll never go back to eating wheat! Funny, tho”, when my clients ask how I lost the weight and I tell them, they say, “Oh, I could never do that!” Further proof that it is addictive and not really food. Thank you Dr. Davis. A true prophet for those who are ready to hear a very important message.

    • Excellent, Layne!

      Please feel free to tell us some of your own personal encounters with the wheat-addled who then experience the benefits of wheat elimination from your unique perspective.

  4. Paula B

    Gotta watch that canned chili, though! ;) most of it contains wheat or GMO corn as a thickener.

  5. Sondra

    I just started getting massage therapy a little over a week ago to deal with neck/shoulder pain. My massage therapist asked me today (without me offering the info) if I had Celiacs and if I was gluten free. He was seeing things I guess that related to that. I thought that was interesting he could pick up on it… and maybe my cheating a couple times a week isn”t something that I can get away with.

  6. Mary

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I am a medical transcriptionist so I type all day. I had been getting carpal tunnel pain and aching hands/fingers which I simply thought was a job-related repetitive stress injury. Since going wheat-free, however, these pains have disappeared as if by magic. I still type all day. I also enjoy knitting, chopping vegies and cooking and gardening, but the pain is simply gone. For a while before going wheat-free I was thinking that I would need to at least get some hand splints, do some therapy, or take medication to stop the sharp pains. I have been very impressed with this aspect of the wheat-free experience. It”s an added bonus to the weight loss, normalized blood sugar numbers, lack of food cravings, clear thinking, restoration of energy, and restoration of digestive harmony. I can”t say enough good things about your book! It has truly helped restore a much higher quality of life for me, and I am thankful to you every day.

    • Very nice, Mary!

      The benefits on hand function and relief from hand pain is oddly common. Let”s post your story as a blog post for further commentary.

  7. Sean V

    Hi there, and thanks Dr. Davis.

    I started getting myself back into a healthy lifestyle approximately 2 months ago. I work as an Infanteer in the Canadian forces, and frankly my health in the past couple years had deteriorated to a deplorable level, and certainly to a point that was unacceptable in my occupation. Anyways, after I stepped on a scale over Xmas I was shocked, and made a transition to eating healthy. Shortly there after I stumbled onto your book, and before I was even finished I had decided to go Wheat Free.

    I have been plagued with Guttate Psoriasis since I was 14, and it can get as bad as approx 80% coverage of my body. I have not had a remission in years, and so over the course of the last few years I”ve tried everything from systemic medications such as Methotrexate, etc. I”ve ran the gauntlet of topical treatments, topical steroids, dovonex, and at present I utilize Dovobet (mix of steroid/dovonex – works great). In the past I was in communication with an Indian Ayurvedic Dr, who had given me a list of things to avoid dietarywise. I never could stick to his program all those years ago, and I realize now that he basically was instructing me to avoid inflammatory foods, including Wheat.

    I came back from a tour in Afghanistan in Nov 2010, and I had severe heartburn everyday requiring me to self medicate. I avoided an official diagnosis, I as I figured it was diet related anyways, and took a Zantac 150 extra strength every morning and night for nearly a year. And then, once I went wheat free, before the end of that first week, my heart burn was gone. Granted I also took up eating healthy around the same time, but the correlation to the Wheat is obvious.

    I”m still waiting to see if being Wheat and Gluten free will provide relief to my Psoriasis, but I suspect being Wheat free will have more impact on length and duration of a remission then in the forcing psoriasis into remission. It”s unfortunate, but immune mediated conditions, especially ones where the exact pathogenisis is still not clearly understood, are difficult to comprehend and treat. I”m no dermatologist, or more importantly in my opinion, I”m no immunologist. But I suspect, that due to the roll of B cells in Psoriasis, that once the specific T lymphocytes are actively causing lesions, that the event is cyclic and self-sustaining. Meaning that despite the removal of inflammatory stimuli, until the cyclic and self-sustaining condition can be broken, the benefits of the removal of the inflammatory stimuli will not fully come to bear. If such were to be the case, I am curious if that modal implication would be present in other immune-mediated conditions that being Wheat free would benefit?

    • Kaylana

      Hi Sean,
      I too, have had psoriasis and am now wheat free. For the past 18 months I”ve been doing a lot of research on psoriasis and only recently was drawn into the wheat free debate.
      I”m not sure if you”ve read about the inflammatory connection with estrogen. Yeah, I know it”s a ”female” hormone, but the studies clearly show that wheat is estrogenic. (Over 100 other elements are also known to disrupt the endocrine system from our soap, city water, food, skin care products, etc.)
      When estrogen fills the progesterone receptors chronic inflammation occurs. In psoriasis, the T-regs population is suppressed and the T-17”s expand blocking the T-regs.
      Psoriasis lesions have a high number of progesterone receptors. (Progesterone is not just a female hormone. It is the precursor to testosterone and estrogen.)
      My suggestion is to do a little reading about progesterone cream and stick with the wheat free diet.
      I”ve been using it for two months in conjunction with being wheat free and have had a tremendous recovery! My 5 year old son too! Our short term memory has improved, his ability to focus is increased and life is so much more pleasant now.

      What if some day all wheat products will have to be labeled: “Warning, this product is a known endocrine disruptor. Consumption of this product may be dangerous to your health.” ?

      • Hear, hear, Kaylana!

        A warning that this product of genetics research is NOT healthy but the most disruptive food on the store shelves.

    • Hi, Sean–

      Sorry, but I didn”t fully understand your question. However, given your early gastrointestinal response and the usual longer period required for inflammatory conditions to recede, I would be very optimistic that you will enjoy at least partial improvement in severity/extent/duration of psoriatic flare-ups.

      Please come back and update us with your response in the coming weeks and months.

  8. 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 mu 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!

    • Hi, Jodie–

      Thanks for the detailed telling of your story. The loss of edema and puffiness is indeed a major benefit of wheat freedom.

      I”d like to post your story as a feature in a blog post.

  9. Patrick Inouye

    Hopefully this will post as I have not been having any luck with my comments…lol.

    So, this is a test and if a success, I shall post my feedback.

    Mahalo from Honolulu.


  10. Patrick Inouye

    So, I too am a CMT, and I can attest to many clients in the past who presented with the conditions Jonathan mentions. It defintely kept us massage therapists in business, unfortunately wheat played a major part in their diets…and if you ever suggested giving up wheat; people who act as if you were telling them to amputate all their limbs….:-(

    I am too in the process of being wheat free! YAY! i commenced my journey on 5 March 2012. At 45yrs young, and at 185pnds, I want to get back to how i was at 40 – 160pnds. I am around 5”9/5”10. This is doable, I know it, from all that i have researched….and reading the book and the success stories.

    Besides wheat; this is what I have given up in addition, desserts (which usually all are connected with wheat), and red wine for awhile until i drop the weight. I wonder if I could keep the occasional glass of red wine and just focus on the wheat elimination to see how that affects me and the weight loss. they say you should quit one thing at at time; for me, 3 at once may be too much of a stress! LOL :-)

    also, i am an active guy: lots of walking and yoga 4-5 x a week.

    Looking forward to hearing back from all of you.

    PS- i live in Hawaii and am going to schedule a shiatsu session with Jonathan Sugai!



      • Patrick Inouye

        Dr. Davis~
        Mahalo (thank you in Hawaiian) for the thumbs up on the occasional glass of red wine.

        Let me say again, your book is stellar, and I am on day 4 of no wheat; and I can see some change happening in my bodily appearance. And knowing the anatomy of my body so well from a massage therapist perspective, I am elated at my initial progress.

        PS – I bought some raw unsalted macadamia nuts for the occasional on the go snack, I believe that these nuts although high in fat are ok?

        Love & Light,

        Patrick :-)

        • Hi, Patrick–

          With only occasional genetic exceptions, life should be high-fat! That includes rich, fatty, and tasty macadamians. After all, aren”t they in your back yard?

    • Myrna Silva

      Hi Jonathan,
      I’ve been in practice for over 30 years. I send my clients off with food. You can lead by example but they’ll just look at you and say..”You have skinny genes.” I give them a bottle of water and a care package of a small meal and a sweet treat. Nothing much, but enough to spark interest for the recipe. WB cooking tastes better than foods that don’t go moldy and no one says “no” to home cooking! Leave them ASKING for more (info)!

  11. Dr. Davis,

    Thank you for posting my comment! I had a new client, Patrick mention reading my review when he called, however I was thinking he had read the Amazon review and didn”t fully realize you had actually posted until I to stopped by again as I have been doing regularly throughout the week to look for more articles to print out and share with my clients.

    Another great story to add, my sister”s boyfriend Marc showed me his slimmer stomach yesterday and also reported his weight had released back down to 175 lbs (it was somewhere over 180lbs) after a few weeks of being more consistent about eating Wheat-Free. Marc reported more energy, less fatigue, and when he did consume Wheat, he definitely noticed the IBS symptoms shortly after.

    Since Marc loves to cook, he has been experimenting with some of your recipes and a number of other recipes from Paleo & Wheat free cook books and we have been making quite a few deserts with Quinoa flour, Almond Flour, & Coconut Flour. We have made cookies, bread, cakes, crepes, & pancakes with the alternative flours and we despite having at least 2-3 occasions per week of healthier desserts, it has not resulted in any increases in weight and in Marc”s case, he has improved and slimmed as well. As he said, he can eat 3 servings of crepes now and feel good physically and emotionally about it!

    I will continue to report more success stories from our clientele since we do see a large population of people who are suffering from Wheat related symptoms . I just received 5 extra copies of the book available for people to purchase or borrow and I”m even planning to do some presentations that involve sharing the information you have presented in your book.

    Jonathan Sugai LMT CKTP
    Honolulu, HI

    • Excellent, Jonathan!

      Keep the stories coming. You are in the front lines of seeing these stories unfold. Each new story teaches us something new.

    • Patrick Inouye

      Aloha Jonathan!

      I look forward to my session with you next week, and it will be inspiring to have you partake in my own pathway to a better me in better health.

      Speaking with you on the phone yesterday was like speaking to an old friend, you are truly part of my “Ohana” now.

      So much for us to talk about next week about the perils of “Wheat”! lol.

      A hui hou,

      Patrick :–)

  12. My mother started seeing an osteopath a year ago after decades of chronic pain. The osteopath recommended eliminating wheat and at some point in my mom”s research she came across the wheat belly book, and both of us are now happy ex-wheat eaters. My mother sees a massage therapist between osteopath appointments and both the therapist and osteopath have commented and how dramatically she improved after eliminating wheat, and also as to how much she deterioated after a brief trip back to wheat during vacation.

  13. I am a massage therapist and educator who also happens to have FMS. I first noticed the correlation between wheat-free and improved generalized inflammation back in ”06 when I tried the Atkins Diet. Reading your book was more of an explanation and confirmation for me than anything else. It is outside of the massage therapy scope of practice to make nutritional recommendations, but I do offer information about the benefits of wheat-free and low carb living to clients and students who inquire.

    To me, this has been the single most revolutionary understanding of what wellness is–and it is in direct contradiction to what commonly passes as “wellness” wisdom! I would love to have a short but to-the-point brochure or article I could offer that would succinctly present the argument for wheat-free living. Any ideas?

    Karen Hobson, CMT
    Richmond, VA

  14. Dear Dr. Davis:

    I am forty eight years old and have been on a med called Triglide for the past two years (for elevated Triglycerides .)
    I just finished reading your book. I am on week 4 of no wheat. I have noticed a lot of recipes in your book contain coconut oil. Yikes! I”m allergic to coconut. Any other suggestions? Also, I am 5 3 1/2 and I weigh 138 pounds. I carry my weight ONLY around my abdomin. It is so DIFFICULT to get this down. I am at the gym on a treadmill at least twice a week,and do a Cardiac work out three times a week. I”m getting very discouraged. How long until I see results? I have noticed that your patients weighing in at 200 plus pounds seem to drop lots of weight. I seem to be in a holding pattern. Help! ANY SUGGESTIONS WOULD BE AWESOME. I was told I have genetically high Triglycerides. They did try to take me off meds<but put me back on because they went up. I go back to have blood work drawn in June, so we will see. Your book has truly inspired me. I am willing to do the work but feel defeated at this time.I look forward to hearing from you. God bless.


    Mrs. K

    • Hi, Mrs. K–

      The coconut oil can usually be replaced by other oils, such as extra-light olive or butter, while sour cream or Greek yogurt can be used to replace the coconut milk. Just be careful to not over do dairy (estrogen content).

      I have many people with “genetically-high” triglycerides. The ones who adhere to this diet and take fish oil have triglycerides of <100 mg/dl–easily. Triglide is prescribed by those who don't know what they are doing and have no idea what the next step should be.

  15. KYA NIJA

    My wheat free journey start today!
    I learned about the WHEAT BELLY book today from a colleague at work. I knew him when he was overweight and now he looks great. I overheard him talking about the wheat free diet to others. After lunch, I went to ask him about it and he let be borrow the Wheat Belly book. I became very curious because I am struggling with my weight as well. I am a 160lbs and 5″2 female. I don’t drink beer but I have a beer belly.
    I am going to start a journal and will let you guys know how it goes for me. Wish me luck.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Kya–

      Yes, please keep us updated with your progress! Everyone here loves to hear about wheat-free experiences!

      • KYA NIJA

        I cleaned my house and get rid of all wheat/gluten products. I was surprised to see that every food item in my kitchen did contained wheat/gluten. From oyster crackers to pasta boxes. Since the beginning of my WHEAT FREE JOURNEY, I have been eating lots of fruits and vegies and exercise 6 days a week. As of this morning, I am 152.5 lbs! I sleep better at night and have lots of energy in the morning. I don’t feel hungry as often anymore. It takes time at the supermarket to read all the labels but it’s worth it!
        Until next time!

  16. SuzyQ

    Hi Dr Davis

    (Kya did state 160lbs in her first blog!)

    Heard you on a podcast recently and thought I’d give it a try. I’ve tried the Atkins diet before and felt really well on it, unlike a few other friends who have tried it. Well, that was years ago and weight has crept up to 196 lbs. On a 5′, small-boned frame, this is really not a good look! Felt sluggish all the time, acid reflux, snoring driving husband mad, very unfit, trouble sleeping through the night – no trouble dropping off, staying asleep was the problem – lost joy for life.

    Now on day 5 of wheat-free, have lost 2 lbs but it feels like more. A lot of bloating has gone and I feel like I have heaps more energy. No acid reflux for 3 nights and I actually didn’t have to have an afternoon nap yesterday!

    One thing I would ask though, has anyone mentioned whether it has any effect on eyesight?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, a number of people have observed improvement in eyesight, though it seems to be a very occasional effect. Blood sugar correction, reduced inflammation? Don’t know.

      Keep it going! It sounds like you are going to have an extravagantly successful response!