Wheat is hebetudinous

Darin posted this comment about his wheat-free experience in obtaining relief from depression:

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 [low-carbohydrate] 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 . . .

Darin’s post makes me wonder how many other people are silently experiencing depression, the sad, hopelessness that keeps you from performing optimally or just being happy, due to wheat consumption.

There is a real lack of formal research data on the association between depression and wheat consumption, except as depression can complicate celiac disease. But, going back over the many testimonials here and on the Wheat Belly Facebook page, you will see that many, many people are reporting substantial relief from longstanding, even lifelong, depression, most of whom likely do not have celiac disease.

If you are depressed or have suffered bouts of depression, there is nothing to lose in saying goodbye to wheat. Perhaps there are brighter days ahead without it.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Janet

    I would wake up early in the morning in a mood of complete DESPAIR. Things would be better when I finally roused myself up out of bed but the utter hopelessness was a blight on other parts of my life. This kind of depression plagued me all my life in some form: particularly when I was bulimic in my twenties. Saturdays and Sundays were depressing because then I would have to manage my bulimia and food in a more failure-prone manner than the rest of the week. But even when I was able to heal from the bulimia, there were other “head” issues to work through. I came out well in the end, but I tend to latch on to issues that will just depress me again. After eliminating wheat–a natural cheerfulness I had at times is returning now and I feel very hopeful on a regular basis. Someone came in to work last night I hadn”t seen for several months and she remarked I looked different–slimmer for sure she said, but more “alive” in my face and demeanor. We got to talking and she and her girls had also given up wheat with great results recently! Her sister had been diagnosed with MS some years ago and a Dr. suggested eliminating wheat–and after doing that, her MS symptoms went away. I could hardly stop talking to this gal, and neither could she to me! Changing my nutrition has given me strength to put out of my life another issue that was really dragging me down and I had no control over anyway. I have never felt so free and healthy in mind and body. I have bought another book, Dr. Davis, and will take it with me when we visit my daughter in April and leave it with her. She has weight and other issues (she is always tired, can”t sleep and gets headaches) and my granddaughter has asthma (she is only 6). Want to have a good talk with her. I often cringe thinking I tainted her with my food and eating issues plus depression. I want better for her and her family.

    • Little Sister

      Wow, Janet, what an great story! I also spent years lost in bulimia and cyclical bingeing and purging. What a nightmare. I was so happy when I stopped in 1986, but then the weight gain, because I only stopped getting rid of the food. The only thing that”s helped since then were the times I could stick to a low carb diet called Gray Sheet. It was so restrictive, I never lasted for long. Since then it”s been up and down and up and down and up and up and up and that”s where I am today. Being at my top lifetime weight :( I was feeling such despair, especially since the pain from osteoarthritis has greatly limited my activity. I”m 7 days clean now and just went with my husband to his doc. Like the old me, I was laughing and talking to the nurse, cracking jokes, having a great time. I had a tiny out-of-body moment where I was looking at myself ~ still very fat, but smiling and laughing (I think it”s been a year or more since I”ve laughed like that) ~ with shock. Could it really be the wheat? I am so hopeful. And this is the second morning I”ve gotten out of bed and have not had to hobble to the coffee pot with horrible stiffness in my legs. Still have pain walking, but it”s a definite improvement. Pretty exciting stuff.

      • Janet

        Lil Sister:
        Your story really touches me. Bulimia and the binging is hell on earth. Although we can stop the behavior, echoes of why we did it will stick for the rest of our lives, I believe, and maybe eating wheat keeps them around. I remember once early in my eating disorder when after purging several bowls of Cheerios, I felt so horrible and worthless I actually contemplated going out and walking in front of a truck. I remember that scary thought so clearly even now and that was 1968–when I was 19. In January, after a week wheat free I noticed my appetite was calm with no cravings. After 2 weeks I noticed that my aches and pains were gone–I hadn”t even been looking for that, but reading here it was happening to others made me realize that I hadn”t limped around for awhile and my hands were not hurting. I am 63 so any damage I have had from wheat all my life could be pretty set, but I am reaping rewards that are unbelievable. The only time I ever lost flab from around my waist was when I was eating practically NOTHING and that was not healthy anyway (was during a major depressive period). But the belly fat has just melted. I always liked low-carb diets–but I have settled in with Paleo/Primal LIFETIME eating–I won”t go back. I have some dairy (mostly heavy cream and hard cheese) and have added in sweet potatoes here and there. I enjoy cooking again. There is tons of info on Paleo out there and I read the blogs. Our bodies are meant to eat this way for maximum nutrition. I put in a deposit this week for 1/4 grassfed beef later this week. This animal lives just a few miles from me and will be chomping on grass this summer. I am giving up my excess garage saleing to cover the cost. Our health is worth the extra cost and don”t need more junk cluttering my house! I am forever indebted to Dr. Davis and you hang in there, girl, you have the plan that will change your life! Just do it in small steps and all will be well.

    • A wonderful story of success, Janet!

      It”s ironic, isn”t it, that this thing that is associated with depression brings addiction with it? It”s almost like having an abusive relationship you can”t break.

      Well, you”ve done it!

  2. I too have had a lot of relief from depression and anxiety since dropping wheat and going paleo. I was able to completely stop antidepressants for the first time in 5 years. I was talking to my psych about the paleo diet, about how its a real anti-inflammatory diet, and he commented that there is a known association between inflammation and depression/anxiety. And, of course, we have seen over and over again that eliminating wheat seems to help other issues related to inflammation, so it makes perfect sense why it would help in this context as well.

  3. Uncle Roscoe

    There”s a dynamic between wheat eaters and people who don”t eat wheat. Wheat eaters are so addicted to wheat that they form an unspoken culture of repression. If you don”t eat wheat with them, they have the temerity to constantly ask what”s wrong with you. I usually answer with something like “Nothing, as long as I don”t eat wheat”.

    This repression runs so deep that you find celiac websites crowded with obvious celiacs having to prove they have celiac disease so that their friends and relatives don”t ostracize them. There are all sorts of things wrong here.

    Reading the Wheat Belly blog makes it patently obvious. Celiac disease only represents the tip of the wheat-disease iceberg. Wheat is responsible for an absolute plethora of autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases and autoimmune conditions. The wheat problem is so overwhelming that we”re discovering that many diseases thought to be unrelated to autoimmune and metabolic diseases in fact fall directly in their midst. And wheat causes them.

    Medical science has no method ……..NO method ……..of testing ANY of these patients for a link to wheat ingestion. Medical science can test for celiac disease after several years of exposure. Medical science can test for some associated antibodies to the related autoimmune diseases. But 1) Medical science does not officially recognize the cause of these antibodies as wheat, and 2) Most wheat victims have diseases which are not autoimmune diseases. They are metabolic diseases and autoimmune conditions …….like depression. There are no antibodies to detect.

    Then how do we know wheat causes all these diseases? Because when sufferers eliminate wheat? ………..their diseases go away.

    In any given person there is only one sure fire way to find out if wheat is causing symptoms. Eliminate wheat, and see what happens. What if wheat-addicted friends and relatives don”t like what you are doing?

    That”s their problem. Not yours.

    • Little Sister

      Yes, eliminate it and see what happens. AND THEN, be dismissed because your story of recovery is dismissed as “anecdotal.” Whatever. I am spanking new to this thing and feel better than I”ve felt in ages.

    • Well said, Uncle Roscoe!

      You make a crucial point: The on-again, off-again phenomenon can be repeated over and over and over to establish the cause-effect relationship. Proving this for the satisfaction of the masses will require markers that we can measure, but we have none that properly predicts all these phenomena . . . at least not yet.

      I am confident that these associations will sometime soon yield to clinical research and we will have a panel of markers or some means of identifying the adverse metabolic effect of wheat.

      • Uncle Roscoe

        Hi Dr. Davis,

        Thanks for the props. I wish I were as optimistic as you that research will establish markers for most wheat diseases.

        1. The wheat lobby is so rich, so powerful, that research funding gets denied for such things. 17% of America”s economy is medicine. The bulk of this multi-billion dollar operation is currently supported by wheat and sugar ingestion. A much larger portion of America”s economy is related to food.

        2) A substantial portion of wheat damage is done by forces ancillary to wheat. They are introduced into the blood by intestinal porosity, the result of ingesting wheat, sugar and other antigens like MSG. These ancillary forces contribute heavily to wheat diseases.

        Iron is one of the best examples. Iron transports oxygen, and oxygen is required for health. The body teams with iron. However, the form and use of iron makes all the difference in health. Wheat is loaded with iron. But wheat-caused intestinal porosity causes iron to bypass the body”s system of iron regulation. The process defeats the proper transport and use of oxygen. Iron behaving badly causes much of the listlessness reported by so many wheat eaters. When tested with standard iron tests these people show very few iron or wheat problems. But wheat is using iron to slowly choke the life out of them.

        When we start routinely testing for red blood cell clumping, transportin shortages, excesses of haptoglobin, and excesses of hepcidin, then we”ll start taking the first step. But then how will we associate these things with wheat ingestion?

        And iron is just one example, one cause, of ancillary wheat porosity disease.

        What if we were to officially recognize all diseases related to wheat ingestion? A large portion of Americans would become instantly healthy. But a large portion of Americans, including extremely powerful Americans, would become instantly unemployed. Food production would become a larger portion of America”s economy, but profit margins would trend downward.

        So for now let”s toast the growing movement of individuals smart enough to cast off wheat addiction and make themselves healthy. A toast also to you, Dr. Davis, for your book and your contribution.

        Wow, is anyone else feeling a little woozy?

        • As always, well said, Uncle!

          Yes, let”s celebrate that, at the very least, those of us following these discussions understand these issues. Perhaps we can spread the word, one person at a time.

    • Lynn_M

      Uncle Roscoe said:
      “Medical science has no method ……..NO method ……..of testing ANY of these patients for a link to wheat ingestion. Medical science can test for celiac disease after several years of exposure. Medical science can test for some associated antibodies to the related autoimmune diseases. But 1) Medical science does not officially recognize the cause of these antibodies as wheat, and 2) Most wheat victims have diseases which are not autoimmune diseases. They are metabolic diseases and autoimmune conditions …….like depression. There are no antibodies to detect.”

      I take issue with Uncle Roscoe’s first sentence above. So far medical science acknowledges 3 types of reactions to wheat: 1) wheat allergy, an IgE response, which causes acute anaphylactic reactions to wheat, 2) celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune disease, wherein antibodies are produced in response to grain storage proteins such as gliadin in wheat. Current blood testing for celiac disease is positive only after the disease process has led to small intestine villous atrophy. 3) Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), an innate immune reaction to wheat. NCGS is not detectable with celiac blood detects because there is no small intestinal damage. The damage is extraintestinal, i.e., outside the intestine, such as you describe above. As part of the extraintestinal disease process, the body may produce non-gliaden types of antibodies.

      Celiac disease and NCGS can be identified with HLA-DQ genetic testing. Celiac disease is most frequently, but not exclusively, associated with HLA-DQB1 0202 and HLA-DQ 8. Many labs only test for those celiac genes and not for the genes I discuss next.

      However, and this is where I disagree with Uncle Roscoe’s assertion about NO means of testing for non-celiac reactions to wheat, there are genes specifically associated with NCGS. I don’t know if there are other NCGS genes, but HLA-DQB1 0201 is a NCGS gene. I tested homozygous for that gene and negative for celiac genes in 12/2011 by http://www.enterolab.com. The symptoms that drove me to test were osteoporosis, joint pain in arms and legs, and some bloating and gas.

      According to glutenfreesociety.org, there are something like 143 autoimmune diseases so far associated with NCGS, among many other medical conditions. Now maybe there are non-IgE reactions to some of wheat’s components that aren’t explained by having the CD or NCGS genes, but I think the knowledge gained by a positive gene test greatly fortifies one’s ability to totally abstain lifelong from wheat and gluten. In my case, I know I can longer have even the occasional wheat product at special occasions or when something gluten-containing is the only food choice available.

      Regarding the link to depression. CD and NCGS impair absorption of Vit B12. People with MTHFR mutations, particularly the A1298C variant, have lowered neurotransmitter levels and impaired methylation, which impairs ability to absorb cyano-and hydroxycobalamin forms of B12. They are prone to depression and other neuropscyh conditions. I think the depression associated with wheat-eating may well be at least partly due to lower Vit B12 levels.

      • Dr. Davis

        Noted and acknowledged, Lynn.

        I don’t mean to speak for the very capable and articulate Uncle Roscoe, but what I believe he was referring to were the other protean manifestations of wheat intolerance, e.g., acid reflux, effects on lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma, that are not explained via IgE mechanisms, gluten/gliadin, or identified by any of the conventional markers (excepting perhaps the emerging Enterolabs measures).

  4. Uncle Roscoe

    I STRONGLY suspect that wheat elimination with carb curtailment are curing diseases which are not even recognized as diseases.

    Yes, that”s what I mean. No, I won”t elaborate.

  5. Sandy M

    Just a little over two years ago, my husband of 45 years, the love of my life, my soul mate, passed away unexpectedly. I was devastated, inconsolable and horribly depressed. After a year, I was still severely depressed but managed to keep it to myself. I don”t think my friends or family truly understood just how bad off I was.

    In an attempt to pull myself out of that frightening condition, I began eating fairly low carb as I was a good 30 lbs overweight on my 5”, 61 year old frame. Slowly, I began to lose weight and then, in March, 2011, my youngest son and his family introduced me to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I began to lose more weight, but the depression continued, as did the severe acid reflux I had lived with for most of my adult life. Then, one day shortly thereafter, I saw this book, aptly titled, “Wheat Belly”. I was immediately intrigued and purchased my first, yes, my first copy! I stayed up all night reading this fascinating book and by the time I finished it the next day, wheat would never pass my lips again! The Gerd disappeared immediately and it was as if a dark blanket was lifted from my life. I began enjoying things again – a beautiful, sunny day, a walk in the park, etc. Life was beginning to look good again. I still have the occasional “blue” day, but I have dropped 22+ pounds and work out somewhat regularly. I feel pretty darned good and I enjoy getting up in the morning after a good night”s sleep. I am convinced I owe this to deleting wheat products from my diet. I recently purchased two more copies of Dr. Davis” book and gave one to my doctor. The other one will be donated to my local library where I hope many folks will read and heed it”s very important message.

    Thank you, Dr. Davis. I truly think you helped save my life.

    • That”s wonderful, Sandy!

      Eliminating this thing that contributes or worsens depression won”t, of course, bring a loved one back, nor will it get rid of all the sources of stress in life. But it can make it less difficult surviving all the trials of life and make the highs higher.

      And thank you for so generously supporting this cause! Your donation to your local library alone will likely turn around a few dozen lives!

  6. Emma

    The same thing is/was true for me. I was seriously depressed for no reason and had to take medication for it for two years, until I learned about the connection between wheat and depression. After removing wheat/gluten from my diet my depression went away and I have been medication free ever since. I hope medical science begins to take this seriously. They can”t ignore the results of so many people forever…or, will they? I hope not!

    I feel even better since following the primal/paleo diet.

  7. Tyrannocaster

    Dr. Davis: “If you are depressed or have suffered bouts of depression, there is nothing to lose in saying goodbye to wheat.”

    Yes, so true. But what astonishes me is how much pushback you get from people when you say this to them. From my perspective, what”s the big deal? If you give it up and there”s no difference then you don”t have a problem with wheat and you”re home free (well, we all know that isn”t true, but I”m trying to think like these people do). But every single one of them offers an excuse why they can”t even try this; something is fishy here.

    And my favorite line (I”ve heard this over and over): “Wow, you”ve lost all that weight, you have all this energy now, your depression is gone along with the eczema and the inflammation in your joints and all that because of dropping wheat? Well, that”s great for you, but plainly, you”re an exception.” If I hear that I”m an exception once more I”m going to shake somebody until their lips flap! Apparently, the fact that I am an “exception” means that my experiences have no bearing on anyone else”s, even though they may be overweight, have joint pains, depression, and/or elevated triglycerides. People only hear a message when they are ready for it.

    • Absolutely, Tyranno.

      Your observation makes me wonder if the people predisposed to depression from wheat are also the ones most addicted?

      • Irwin

        Yes, that”s a very good possibility.

        I”ve only been wheat-free for three months, and haven”t had a serious “down” day in that time, so I”m hesitant to make the connection. Depression may have as much to do with sugar as it does with wheat.

        The other day I had some sweetened yogurt, and I could sense the changing mood within a few hours. Many foods that contain wheat also list sugar in the ingredients, so to be on the safe side, I avoid wheat, sugar, dairy (except cheese) and go easy on sweet fruit.

  8. Neicee

    I was searching around after reading this post and ran onto a corroborating story about gluten and schizophrenia. This is from memory: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/6/1/10 – if it”s wrong look for the author, Bryan D. Kraft/Eric C. Westman.

    To all of you, thank you for sharing your stories. I”ve been lucky I”ve never experienced this condition of bulimia or anorexia. I do have someone close that has severe depression and guess I was searching to try and find something that would help her. Prayers and good wishes for your continued progress.

  9. Neicee

    In my searches on depression and gluten, and or wheat sensitivities I found R.D.Feinman.wordpress.com and spent some time there. He”s a huge advocate of academic societies getting together and proving their theories via approved studies. The ones telling us how to eat via the recommended food pyramids are full of it and one size doesn”t fit all for a diet. That said, I do think wheat is bad for everyone. Disease does not play favorites…we simply exhibit the signs at differing intervals. His best line though was “The nutrition world needs a Special Prosecutor” to make those responsible for advocating heart healthy grains to fess up and admit they haven”t done the studies to prove it”s healthy.

    • You make a crucial point, Neicee: The societies that provide licensure and/or certification, advocate health advice like “eating more healthy whole grains,” etc. all have their pockets lined by industry.

      They should be entirely independent and not leave room for bias or conflict of interest. This will require a major shift in the way these agencies operate. I suspect it means that, just as Feinman is suggesting, that entirely new organizations need to be formed, as the CEOs and executives in agencies like the American Heart and American Diabetes Associations are unlikely to give up their high-paying salaries and benefits.

  10. Terry May

    I can certainly relate to the many stories portrayed in this blog. I often approched my former physician about this uncanny feeling of fatigue and cognitive “fog” that went on for years. I felt goal oriented but had no energy to even get started on most projects. I was answered with statements such as “that just goes along with diabetes”, when responding to my raised concerns about fatigue and such. I tell you folks, they look at treating symptoms only and often miss the boat completely. Sadly, most of the time people just acquiesce and see no possibility for hope because the “experts” say it is so. I”ve got news folks… in my case, “they” were wrong. I started reading Wheat Belly 14 weeks ago and I was onboard because the content spoke volumes about my experiences and I wanted change.

    I have been and remain insulin free and medication free since February 22/12. I am 37 pounds lighter and last weekend bought pants with a 36 inch waist – down from a 40 inch waist. I”ve lost about 6 inches total from my waistline. I am jogging again at about 4 to 5 km (3 miles) four times a week. I”m 60 folks! I feel great. My bloodwork done on March 2/12 shows the best results, in all areas, in over a decade. In fact, my new physician (she is wonderful) felt that I should have my A1C re-checked only in about 3 months because everything was superb.

    So, as Tyrannocaster said: “there is nothing to lose in saying goodbye to wheat.” I too am astonished at how many people react to my story at times as if it is a cute anecdote. Thankfully, I now have medical evidence in the form of lab results. I sincerely hope that people who read these blogs and who share with friends and loved ones will consider the choice to say goodbye to wheat. What have you got to lose?: Weight? High Blood Sugar? GERD? and more…

    I beat wheat,

    • You are a wonderful story of wheat-free success, Terry–despite your former physician!

      Keep on going and distance yourself as much as possible from your wheat-riddled past. It just keeps getting better and better.

    • Tyrannocaster

      Good for you, Terry. The thing is, even when presented with hard evidence in the form of labwork these people will trot out that “anecdotal” excuse. My triglycerides went down 170 points in 30 days, documented with before and after bloodwork. Response: “Well, that wouldn”t happen for everybody,” in other words, “it”s only anecdotal evidence”. And the best one of all is “The plural of ”anecdote” isn”t ”data””. Yes, I”ve been hit with that one; it”s a real favorite among a certain kind of nay-sayer.

      Now, what could provoke such a visceral reaction? Could it be the knowledge that in actuality there is some truth in what we are saying? That”s the strongest reason I can come up with; people are usually defensive when they think they are wrong, and a good offense is the best defense.

      As for me, today I reached my weight goal; after five and a half months, I”m down to where I don”t want to lose any more weight at all. I”m in better shape than I”ve been in I don”t know how long (literally, since I suffered from this for at least 27 years), and I have photos to prove it. How many of these “anecdote” people can say that? I can even add in the occasional treat now – wheatless, of course. :-)

  11. Elena

    From the age of 15 I have suffered deep depression every winter (seasonal affective disorder) including almost daily suicide fantasies. I started medication 1995 and stayed on them each winter to 2005. The helped me function (my children were young then) but the cost was my weight creepeng up each winter while on meds until I wore size 20.
    I then turned to light therapy and natural medicine in form of Saint John´s wort in 2004. I functioned better on them than on medication, no sideeffects and dropped 1-2 dresssizes. I still had bad sugar cravings in the wintertime but not as bad as they were on meds.

    In the autumn of 2010 I started cutting down on carbs and lo and behold! I never fell down into that abyss of despair. Not until Christmas and its indulgences… THEN I knew I had to try to go full out lowcarb wich I did. My daily carb intake is 20-80 gr per day, all from veggies, nuts and a bit of dairy (oh, how I love my cream!). The rest is meat, puoltry, eggs and fish and all the natural fats I want.
    I have since then dropped 53 pounds and have enjoyed my second winter with my joy, my happinees, my energy, my zest of life INTACT. I could write a whole book describing how my life have changed and still not be able to capture how dramatic the change have been. I might wish for a cinnamon bun once in a blue moon but all I have to do is remember the nervous fluttering in my heart, the joint pains and my unhappy stomach to not want it anymore. It´s just not woth it.

    • Stories like yours, Elena, remind us just how profound the mental effects of modern wheat can be.

      It raises a tough question: Just how much of the enormously profitable drug business for depression is really just treating wheat consumption?

      I”ll bet it”s a substantial proportion. Even if it”s just 10%, it”s a “treatment” that involves no drugs, no adverse side-effects, essentially no cost, and lots of ancillary health benefits.

      • Dave

        I agree completely with what you’re saying here: the benefit:cost ratio of a temporary wheat elimination diet is so ridiculously tilted towards the benefit column that it’s hardly worthy of a discussion. Wheat elimination should be part of the first-line treatment for all people experiencing depression, and perhaps for other neurological problems as well.

        21 million Americans experience depression every year. If even 1% of these folks are depressed because of the neurotoxin(s) in wheat, then that’s 210,000 people who can achieve near instantaneous relief from their agony at absolutely no cost to the patient. And I think it’s safe to say that these 210,000 people will never be cured by antidepressants or psychotherapy; they need to remove the neurotoxin from their diets or they will suffer indefinitely.

        • Dr. Davis

          Hear, hear, Dave!

          Well said. It is a “treatment” that involves no drugs, only improved all around weight control and health.

  12. Carolyn

    The effects of gluten on depression, anxiety and other serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is very interesting to me. I gave up wheat long before I gave up whole grain rye crackers which I thought were good for me. It was not until I had an autoimmune illness, thyroiditis, that I tried going gluten free. I could not believe the difference in my life when my generalized depression and anxiety levels went down to zero. I read a lot about the primary role of the intestinal tract in producing neurotransmitters and its role in immune function. Doesn”t that make perfect sense? Where else would what we digest heal or harm us but in the intestinal tract where the absorption of nutrients takes place? Now if I could just understand how gluten can contribute to sinus pain. That one is still a mystery to me.

    • Uncle Roscoe

      Carolyn: “Where else would what we digest heal or harm us but in the intestinal tract where the absorption of nutrients takes place? Now if I could just understand how gluten can contribute to sinus pain. That one is still a mystery to me.”

      Carolyn, You said you have autoimmune diseases caused by gluten. So do I. The immune system uses different types of leukocyte antibodies for operating in different body environments. The body uses IgA leukocytes for operating in mucous, on the surface of mucous membranes. Mucous membranes cover the lining of the small intestine, the sinuses and turbinates, the bronchial tubes, and the female reproductive organs. When the immune system mounts a response in one of these organs, it often shows up in the others. These responses happen in response to antigens ……foreign microorganisms and proteins. Cytokines and inflammation are integral to eliciting an autoimmune response. I think interluken 15 is the cytokine which operates most frequently on mucous membranes.

      As our autoimmune diseases indicate gluten diseases are tied, not just to the absorption of nutrients, but to immune reactions in the intestine.


  13. Dave

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    Last May I read Gary Taubes”s book “Why We Get Fat” and decided to experiment with a low-carb diet for the sole purpose of losing weight. Three days after going completely low carb, I woke up one morning and my crushing depression–which had trashed my life for almost 14 years–had essentially lifted away. I simply couldn”t believe it. A low carb diet had accomplished what six different antidepressants, stimulants and dozens of therapy sessions could never chip away at.

    My symptoms over the previous 14 years were clinical depression, anxiety, brain fog, and debilitating fatigue, all of which began very suddenly in the summer of 1997. I had no digestive problems, no classic allergy symptoms, no joint pain, no skin problems…nothing else that would be characteristic of Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity. I–along with the dozen or so physicians and mental health care providers who treated me over the years–never suspected that these problems were anything but psychological in origin.

    Once I felt better, it took two months of Internet searching to determine that gluten-containing grains were the likely culprit, and not something related to blood sugar/insulin/carb-to-fat ratio. Shortly after this revelation, I underwent a gluten sensitivity stool test via Enterolab, and my results came back positive for elevated Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA. I know this test isn”t officially diagnostic of gluten sensitivity, but I think that too much time elapsed for a blood test to be valid…and I”m too apprehensive about consuming grains again just to get an official diagnosis.

    Right now I am trying to rebuild my life. I”m in my mid-30s, and over the past 14 years, I had quit several jobs, took an extended medical leave from graduate school, and socialized/dated very little because my depression had been so terrible. (Aside: Because of what happened to me, I”ve contemplated pursuing a career in health care, but would like to focus on promoting wellness rather than treating/managing illness. Ideas anyone?)

    I would like to find a doctor near me (Chicago) who can guide me towards optimum health. Other than continuing to eat low carb and grain-free, I”m not sure what else I should be doing to heal and promote my well-being (e.g. nutrient deficiency testing, other preventative measures, etc…). I don”t want to go to any ”ol doctor like I did in the past. How do I go about finding an excellent physician near me? Thank you.

    – Dave

    p.s. I lost a lot of weight on the low carb diet. :)

    • I”m glad you found the answer, Dave, though after considerable struggle.

      I believe your best bet are the functional medicine docs and/or naturopaths. They seem to be the most knowledgeable and adept at navigating nutritional and biochemical issues nowadays.

    • Janet

      Jimmy Moore”s website (http://livinlavidalowcarb.com) Livin” La Vida Low Carb has a list of physicians who are low-carb friendly by state. I am sure there were some Chicago area ones. On the right hand side of his site, “find a low-carb doctor” click on.
      Your story is an eye-opener. It can be a “mind-opener” for others too so keep us posted. Depression is hellish. Been there, done that–but not anymore if I can help it.

  14. Janet

    Dr. Davis,
    I talked about my bulimia above and the depression that went with it. A fact you may find interesting is that during those days in the early 70”s, along with the bulimia I had an “addiction” to wheat germ for awhile–the kind you buy in a jar and sprinkle on cereal or use like bread crumbs. I would just eat it out of the jar with a spoon or dump some in a bowl. Much more direct than the bread, which for some crazy reason, I ate little of because bread was “fattening”! There was no gluten involved, of course, with the wheat germ product but it was wheat! This was before the insane hyper hybridization, wasn”t it? But as I live Paleo now, just the grain aspect has not been good for humans, apart from the hybridization . Boy, I practically “mainlined” that stupid stuff out of the jar back then.

    • Little Sister

      Janet, I swear, YOU are my sister ;-) Because I had a wheat germ thing too. Straight out of the jar with a spoon. Something about it … like crack.

  15. Gretchen

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    I am a newbie to the whole concept of going wheat-free, and I am very hopeful that it will have positive results for me. I am 42, and have struggled with the paradox of having good fitness, yet being moderately overweight my entire adult life, wearing a size 16 at 5’7”. I don’t have diabetes or celiac disease (that I know of), but recently I have struggled with extreme fatigue and brain fog in a way that I never have before. I have a wonderful husband and a 13 year old son, and have just finished 2+ years of full-time college to get a degree. I had been chalking up my tiredness to stress, but I really do believe that it is something deeper and more basic than that! I have also dealt with IBS and chronic headaches since I was a teenager (with no known cause, was only ever given scripts for pain killers, which I won’t take), and it affects my moods and makes it tough to deal with normal life events with a positive internal attitude at times… even though people that know me, would never be aware of that because I am almost always outwardly positive and supportive. The last several months, I have started having pain in my knees, hips, and shoulders and feel that it just doesn’t make any sense for that to be happening! If truth be told, I have been pushing down this vague but persistent feeling that something is simply “WRONG” with my health for several years now. I am a big believer in natural remedies whenever possible, and have always worked to keep my family eating a healthy diet, while not overly restrictive; it focuses on veggies, lean meats, “healthy whole grains”, fruits and moderate dairy and fats.

    Well, I had gone to a party with friends on St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s the kind of gathering where you see people that you only see once or twice a year, at certain social events, yet enjoy speaking with. There were several people who were touting the benefits they enjoyed from going gluten-free, and there was even mention made of the Paleo diets and so forth. I guess that it was just the right message at the right time, because this time it resonated with me, and I made the decision to look into going without gluten. I am so tired of being tired! I started looking up blogs and websites, bought some specialty flours and starches to be able to do gluten-free baking, and felt that it was really something that I could get on board with, to eliminate the gluten and feel better.

    So I have been off of gluten just over a week… then I stumbled on your Wheat Belly book this past weekend when stopping at a bookstore to buy children’s books for my grand nephew’s birthday party. That was Sunday. I read the entire book yesterday, I couldn’t put it down. I am a research-driven type of person, and all the science behind the evils of today’s wheat really rang true with me, and made sense. (I have long been a supporter of GMOs having mandatory labeling!! Let us speak with our wallets, please!) My husband is 100% on board with me, and we are going wheat-free together, cold turkey, no exceptions, we don’t want to eat what is called “wheat” anymore! I know that there will be some challenges, particularly with eating out and social events, but I know we can get creative. The rice flour and potato starch, sorghum flour, and xanthan gum that I purchased will just have to be saved for rare occasions, or go rancid, ha, because I can see that it is NOT a solution when the goal is to improve overall health and drop a little of the wrong kind of weight in the process.

    From stopping gluten a week ago, I can already tell the difference with reduction of joint pain, and am looking forward to many more benefits to come from changing our lifestyle and eating habits to low-carb as well as wheat-free. I want to run around telling people about what I have learned, but I am going to wait a month or so, so that I have at least anecdotal evidence of my own to share.

    It’s ironic to me that pretty much ALL NATURAL REMEDIES are relegated to only having anecdotal evidence to support their success, because it is NOT in the best interest of anyone who makes money on a large scale, to fund studies to show that we shouldn’t buy what they are selling! I am not a conspiracy nut, but the time has come to call a spade a spade… I think most people know that the system is flawed (if not outright corrupt) and that we are not being given advice that is not good for US… it is good for THEM. The addiction to wheat (and sugar), just like the addiction to cigarettes, keeps people in jobs both in the production of the products and in the treatment of the diseases caused by their consumption. What a downward spiral!

    I am just thankful that my eyes have been opened about the grain formerly known as “wheat!” I can start with myself and my family, and go from there. Thank you Dr. Davis for being brave enough to say what needs to be said and for providing a forum for people to share experiences!

    • Dr. Davis

      Wow, Gretchen: Seems to me that you could write your own book chronicling your own wheat-itis and your freedom from its clutches!

      Please be sure to come back and update us with your progress. I am hoping for a dramatic and life-changing turnaround.

  16. Sassy

    Great post!

    I just broadened my vocab today! I had to google lassitude and hebetude. Who knew I’d been a member of that club for years?
    I’ve been on the Wheat Belly plan for 2 weeks. I cannot say that I have lost much weight (too many nuts and dairy in the 1st week, not enough veggies) but I have lost some inches and I feel SO much better. Before I began WB I made of list of “complaints” that I’d been experiencing for years…..depression, daily headaches, GERD, fatigue, hip pain, brain fog….blah blah. The headaches were gone almost immediately. Cravings? GONE! I am totally sold on being wheat & gluten free. I love this blog….so much info from Dr Davis other WBers! Thank you!

  17. Walking Tall

    I almost did not read the flyer sent though the mail, due to my bad encounters with all kinds of Medical Personnel. My depression has lifted, from this Man-Made Human Pesticide–with a side-order of Control Freak–Wheat. Dr. Davis has stepped out side his Medical Model Box, concentrated on the root cause–and does what few and far do: Help The Body To Heal Its Self, rather than just manage a disease. I cannot reduce to words, the depth of depression and painful anxiety I had, as my only future, was more pain- more or exacerbated symptoms. It has been a few days over one month–and all I can see is more light at the end of the tunnel, the longer I abstain from this menace–Genetic Modified Wheat!

    Walking Tall

  18. Michelle

    Seasonal depression. I get it every 3 months when the weather changes. I’m so new(wheat free) at this so I don’t know what will happen. I’ll keep an open mind about it. I’ll report back in 2months.

  19. LaurieLM

    In the ‘Vegetarian Myth’ by Lierre Keith and in Michael Pollan’s writing they both talk about wheat and corn having domesticated us and not the other way around. Wheat has taken over some of our creativity, TV advertising and language. We humans may have invented TV, but the grains are playing us. Twilight Zone I know.
    I saw an ad for low-fat, high protein soup. At the end a young man and his Dad were wearing NFL jerseys and were standing in a golden wheat field.
    The anti-depressant Cymbalta has waving wheat fields in some of its commercials. Ironic because I think wheat causes or exacerbates the depression the drug is meant to ‘cure’.
    The hunger relief organization (and their hearts are in the right place to want to help and feed the hungry) has as its icon-logo a stalk of wheat.
    And our very language is altered by plants. The grocery store named “Whole Foods” sells some wildly and egregiously unwhole, fractionated, heavily-processed Frankenfoods that are not food and not whole. ‘Whole wheat’ is nothing of the sort either.

    • Dr. Davis

      It is truly peculiar, Laurie, how images of wheat are woven into marketing for foods, drugs, foundations.

      I suspect it is the result of ignorance or acting intuitively. But sometimes, especially when it comes to the drug and agribusiness industries, I’ve got to wonder how intentional some of it might be.

  20. Kama P

    Wow, my psyche told me I have had depression all my life, now I am thinking it was the wheat?

  21. Michelle Phillips

    I wanted to talk a little about my seasonal depression. I don’t know why but when the weather changes I tend to go into a deep depression. Well spring turns into summer and I got hit with it again but and thats a big one(no pun attended!!)I bounced back faster than ever. It was ok. I realized I was depressed, cried a little ,shared it with an understanding friend and life goes on. It was a VERY short stay this time. I believe instead of 2 weeks it was around 3 days and Im feeling better already. Now I really just started WB about 2 months ago. First month was half and half and then this month full time. So I’m wondering now as I go deeper into this how it will effect the depression I get. I can only assume as it was so short this time that it will only get better. Heres to hope!

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s wonderful, Michelle!

      After wheat elimination, vitamin D restoration is a major factor in mood. Have you been supplementing to achieve a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 60-70 ng/ml? Doing just that, which usually requires something like 6000 units per day (gelcap only) exerts major mood elevating effects.

      • Michelle Phillips

        Thats interesting. I have to try that. Im a big believer in more natural ways to heal the body. I use garlic for an antibiotics ,vitamin C for colds..etc

        • Alice Louise Carroll

          I HIGHLY recommend Garden of Life Raw D vitamins. I was Vitamin D deficient for a very long time and could not overcome it with OTC vitamin purchases. I went to a Garden of Life seminar, tried their vitamins and within 3 months took a blood test at the Doctor and returned to normal range.

  22. Colleen

    I have a sneaking suspicion that wheat has been playing a role in my anxiety and depression. When I was eating wheat cereal as a “filling, whole grain” snack, I would get cranky and MANICALLY hungry within an hour. Of course, I would crave processed, garbage foods. I am researching ways to go wheat-free “on the cheap” since I’m a young person on a budget. My depression is starting to cost me a lot in my work, school and personal life.

  23. Julie

    I have been wheat free for 5 days now and feel amazing. My mental clarity has returned and I find myself not feeling tired, depressed and wanting more and more food. I have suffered from depression and food binging my entire life and avoiding wheat has given me a sense of understanding and control. It is amazing how addicting wheat is and I am a huge believer now. We need a Wheat Belly Cookbook!!

    • Dr. Davis

      I hear you, Julie!

      I submitted the manuscript for the new Wheat Belly Cookbook to my publisher just last week.

  24. NoWheatBeliever

    I discovered your book about 10-12 days ago and immediately eliminated wheat, completely. As did my wife. I’ve dropped 10 pounds already, and I am eating all I want. The great thing is that I don’t feel the need to eat much — I never knew wheat was such an appetite stimulant.

    But in regards to this post, I think it may be helping my mood. I never had any depression until a few years ago, and then used Cymbalta to treat it. I quit that last year and things have been mostly fine. But I always seemed to wake up with a bit of sadness still. Well, it’s only been 10 days, so who knows, but I do not have that feeling when I arise each morning now. I’ll report back in a few months.

    While we’re on the subject of benefits, here’s one I did not expect: my RLS has disappeared! Again, it’s only been 10 days, but I can tell, there is not even a minor tingling. Nothing!

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, NoWheat–

      Excellent on the lifting of your depression!

      By “RLS,” are you referring to restless leg syndrome?

  25. Pippa

    Hello and thank you Dr Davis for your wonderful book and website. Have been on the diet for just over 2 weeks and have lost 2kg and 8cms from waist. I am finding the diet very easy to stick to – if I eat anything I’m not meant to (unconciously, eg emulsifiers), I end up with a throbbing headache and the shakes which is just horrible. Just wondering however, if my depression/anxiety medication might prevent further weightloss long term – I really need to loose a further 15kgs to feel “normal” again. I currently take, Lithium Carb – 500mg, Valdoxan – 25mg and SeroquelXR 100mg per day. Any ideas?

    • Dr. Davis

      The Seroquel can disable your capacity to lose weight, Pippa.

      This is not a situation in which you can just stop it, however. I would raise your concerns to your healthcare provider and ask whether there is an alternative without this weight gain effect.

  26. Pippa

    Thank you for your advice. It’s taken 20 years to get to this stage of “calmness of body” and “normalness” of emotion. I don’t think it would be wise to try and change anything at the moment. I’m going to continue as is. I’m guessing that if I increase my exercise this may assist??

    • Dr. Davis

      If you are currently sedentary or using only occasional, low-level exercise, then yes.

      I am big fan of having fun during physical activity. Choose activities that you truly enjoy or, at least, are productive, e.g., raking leaves. I wouldn’t choose running on a treadmill unless that is something you truly enjoy.

      • Pippa

        Many thanks and congratulations on reaching No.1 on NY Bestseller list. I’m seeing my Pyschiatrist tomorrow and will discuss what you’ve advised. I think exercise is the most sensible option. God bless.

  27. Kimberly Pederson

    Two years ago I was 210 pounds, miserable and couldn’t breathe (I’m 5′[6). It was an effort to do anything, though I kept forcing myself to move. The arthritis in my knees was making things even more difficult. Then I started hearing about the HCG diet. Desperate, for I have tried everything under the sun to lose weight, I tried it. It wasn’t easy. I CRAVED bread and popcorn, my favorite snacks, but with the help of my sister who went on the diet with me, I stuck to it and lost 70 pounds! I felt wonderful the entire time. Restricted calories made it hard, but I ate what was allowed. What wasn’t allowed were breads and pastas. After getting off the diet, I slowly, but surely regained 40 of my lost 70. Frustrated, I went back on the HCG diet to lose 14 again, but by this time I had discovered that nuts and berries were easily added. Then 6 weeks ago I stumbled upon the Weat Belly book. By the first chapter I was hooked, and within the next 50 pages, I vowed to give up wheat entirely. What I had completely ascribed to the HCG as making me healthy had to be the elimination of wheat and wheat products, pure and simple. Now I am trying to convince my husband that many of the problems he suffers from are due to wheat consumption, and am working on my son and daughter-in-law (she suffers from depression and eats crackers continuously as a palliative). I am appalled that what I once believed was so good for us is not, and fear that I have “poisoned” my children and grandchildren over the years thinking I was making them good food! All I know now is that my regained weight is slowly coming back off, I feel great, and my arthritic knees are calming down again. I have become an avid lover of flaxseed pancakes and flaxseed hot cereal. I used to love Cream of Wheat, but now I just cringe when I see the box because I do think of it as poison. I am grateful Dr. Davis has pointed this all out to us. It has been quite a journey for me.

    • Dr. Davis

      You took a convoluted path, Kimberly . . . but you got here nonetheless!

      You can appreciate why I yell this message at the top of my lungs: So many people are taken down needless paths, charged all kinds of money, put their incredible contortions, all while the solution was really very simple: Lose this thing that stimulates appetite, causes inflammation, and sends blood sugar through the roof and health and weight are transformed. Wheat: the most incredibly UNhealthy grain ever conceived in a test tube.

  28. Michael Lasell

    I have posted my experience here before, but here goes again.
    After 2 months of no wheat, against my doctor’s recommendation, I gave up the ant-depressants Celexa and Trazadone that I had been on for 9 years. My digestive issues went away. Since my joint pain decreased I was able to start exercising regularly again. I lost 30+ pounds. I don’t know if it affects everyone the same way, but I was very allergic to wheat. If you are depressed, quitting wheat is the first step to try.
    Thanks again, Dr. Davis from a happy guy.

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s great, Michael!

      I agree: There are few conditions in which wheat elimination is not at least worth a try. It does not belong in the human diet.

  29. Laura

    HI Dr Davis,

    Thank you for your blog, its very beneficial. Really appreciate the comments and support. A quick question, baked potatoes! Are they an ok substitute for wheat and other grains? Ive just commenced on quitting wheat from my diet along with other grains.

    Kind regards

  30. Trying

    Hi Dr Davis

    Just stumbled upon this today. Listened to the radio interview – amazing stuff. What do you feel about rice?


  31. Erik

    Another interesting side note on Wheat and Depression.
    I have lived in the US, in Germany, in Switzerland and now live across the border in France. The French are
    *by far* the biggest wheat eaters I have seen. Their bakeries are like theme parks, with dozens of varieties of Baguette, Croissant, Quiche, Sandwiches, Cake and so on.
    Now here is the thing! The French are all thoroughly depressed. You never seem to see a happy, positive looking person in this country.
    By chance I came across this article :

    I am not surprised that the WHO found the French to be the most depressed people of all. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was their wheat obsessions that causes it … !

    – wheat free for more than 3 months, feeling great!!

  32. Todd

    Dr. Davis,
    This website is incredible. I am going to buy your book and start putting into activation your recommendations. Quick question, there have been potato chips at Whole Foods I have been buying that are Gluten Free, but in the ingredients, the first one mentioned is Potatoes. Isn’t that a wheat that is a part of the problem you mentioned? The company is Kettle Brand potato chips. Thanks. Todd

    • Boundless

      The problems with potato chips include:
      1. High carb (it doesn’t take many to hit your 15 gram net carb single meal total limit)
      2. Unwise oils that have been further degraded by the cooking of the chips.
      3. Added sugar, explicityl or stuff like maltodextrin.
      4. “Natural Flavors” – usually euphemism for monosodium glutamate
      5. Sometimes even added wheat.

      A useful summary on the oils topic is:

      Corn chips are even worse, and add considerable GMO exposure.

  33. irish bob

    hey DR Davis,
    i considered what you said in a youtube video and said i must test this information out, SO.. i ate nothing but pasta and bread for 3 days and boy was i in for a shock, the first few nights i noticed strange frustrating dreams (being having them most my life before my vegan diet change over) and id wake up more tired every morning, on the 4th morning during my test period i was totally ruined, my hands where shriveled with arteritis, my feet, knees, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips where hurting with arteritis ( and i only have slight arteritis in my hands, well thats what i thought before the test) my skin was aching on my lower back (i always wondered what that was when it was in other places on my body) my mind was what i imagine someone with add to be like, i had hunger and was snacking more than usual after the test. and i could feel my mood lowering to depression.
    i have being depressed most my life and had add like symptoms, rage, mind fog, drained of energy, and many more problems i couldnt put my finger on and either could doctors ect, i went on the raw organic vegan diet and felt absolutly amazing for 5 months but incorporated bread and pasta into my diet and the healthy amazing feeling left me and i have spent years finding out why it did, im so releaved to find your work, and im a bit angry to at people who should of had a duty of care let this poison ruin my life completly, and also the lives of many many people.
    its being a week or two of being wheat free and im feeling normal for the second time in my life,
    your info is HUGE, THIS IS ABSOLUTLY HUGE, and it raises eyebrows to the other gmo products out there.
    thank you so much, ill buy a heap of your books and spread the word. fair play to you

  34. James

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Two years ago I had to go onto Long Term Disability because depression debilitated me to the point of not being able to work. I’m fifty and have had trouble for about 25 years. I’ve been on over 20 different antidepressants with very little results, tried therapy many times but never found anything that caused my depression so we didn’t have anything to work on, read all the prominent books on the subject, tried faith healing, had people continually praying for me as well as myself but I continued to suffer it even worse. It never made sense to me because I’ve had a really blessed life with a strong marriage and two great kids.

    Anyway, I went to a naturopath and she suggested that I read Wheat Belly. I did and went on the diet really expecting nothing because I’m a skeptic about these things. I started feeling better but very gradually. After 6 months off the wheat I am practically 100% free of depression and feel better than I have for over 10 years.

    I really want to see a scientific study on this. I find it unbelievable that it’s not been done already. Please show me some other anecdotes from people with very similar experiences to let me know this is a real experience for others. We’ve got to get the word out.


    • > I really want to see a scientific study on this.

      Funded by whom? The normal funding sources are not keen on all this being true.

      > I find it unbelievable that it’s not been done already.

      It has, back as far as WWII. The vast majority of doctors don’t read nutrition papers. See “What’s Up With My Doctor?” (http://wheatfreeforum.com/index.php/topic,275.msg2387.html#msg2387)

      > Please show me some other anecdotes from people with
      > very similar experiences to let me know this is a
      > real experience for others.

      There’s a “depression” link at left in Categories, with a couple of more hits. If you use the Search feature of this blog, “depression” will find much more. It’s real. It’s common.

      > We’ve got to get the word out.

      It’s getting out, but it’s largely a grass roots movement so far.
      Don’t eat the grass seeds.

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      The fact that you are off all medications and feel better not eating wheat after 20 years of a depression debilitating enough for you to be placed on long term disability is wonderful! Congratulations on your accomplishment and taking steps to regain your life.

      If you need more proof, then read this blog as Boundless suggested. You also can do a quick internet search on Dr. Daniel Amen, MD whose work describes changes in your brain and resulting behaviors based on what you eat. He does before and after CAT scans and has much information available online and in print, including a PBS series. Many scientific references too.

      All of us here have gained so much from following Dr. Davis’s WB guidelines, we will never go back to eating wheat. We don’t eat other grains( except condiment sized portions) or sugars either. Many of our doctors have been surprised at our health improvements. Welcome to the club and keep that smile of wellness on your face!

    • Dr. Davis

      Terrific, James!

      Sadly, no formal data. Lots of similar stories here, but no formal data on “unipolar depression.”

      There are data on “bipolar depression,” however, that establish a link to wheat consumption.