You are BETTER than your bowel flora

As often happens in our Wheat Belly conversations, we end up talking about bowel health. After all, our unwitting bowels are the primary means through which we (used to) ingest this thing that annoys, erodes, irritates, and generally wreaks havoc on our health. The gastrointestinal tract, probably more than any other organ system, is the unhappy recipient of most of wheat’s destructive properties.

The composition of your bowel flora, the little bacterial critters populating your gastrointestinal tract and outnumbering the number of cells in the rest of your body (yes: you are mostly a bacterial organism, judging by numbers! over 2 pounds in total), are increasingly appearing to be major players in overall health. Witness, for instance, this talk of “fecal transplants” in which the bowel flora/stool of a slender animal is transplanted into the intestinal tract of an overweight animal–and the overweight animal loses weight. Fecal bacteriotherapy may, in fact, be entering mainstream treatment for Clostridium dificile infection.

The 1) number, 2) species, and 3) locations (e.g., duodenum, jejenum, ileum, as well as colon and rectum) of bowel flora can vary from person to person. Obesity, for instance, is associated with greater numbers of Firmicutes and Staphylococcus aureus and reductions in Bacteroidetes and Bifidobacterium (Ley 2006).

Fact: Wheat-eating humans have different species and numbers of bowel flora compared to non-wheat consuming humans, judging from the celiac disease population who eliminate wheat/gluten and experience shifts in bacterial populations (though also modified by the disease itself).

Before wheat/gluten elimination, there are greater numbers of Bacteroides, Clostridium and Staphylococcus species and reduced numbers of Bifidobacteria. Wheat/gluten elimination results in reductions of those species and increases in Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species.

The challenge comes when a wheat-eating human decides to stop consuming this gastrointestinal toxin called wheat: Bowel flora has to make the shift to a healthier profile of species, numbers, and locations. Ideally, remove the wheat and normal bowel flora species repopulate the gut, and normal bowel function proceeds with good digestion, normal bowel regularity, and normal stool character. But sometimes bowel flora fail to promptly repopulate with the right species and there is a period of bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, and poor digestion.

This is when probiotics can come to the rescue. Probiotics are nothing more than a collection of healthy bacteria designed to repopulate the gastrointestinal tract with “good” bacteria and crowd out the undesirables. While understanding of bowel flora is still in its infancy, repopulating with Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus seems to provide relief from many of these wheat-free “transitional” struggles. Most people do best with higher counts of bacteria, e.g., 50 billion “colony-forming units,” or CFUs, the usual method of quantifying bacteria.

It is not entirely clear just how much time is required to repopulate your bowel flora, a time period also influenced by how well other aspects of gastrointestinal health recover–or fail to–with wheat removal (e.g., pancreatic function, cholecystikinin release). Four weeks is too short to full repopulate and, provided other aspects of bowel health have recovered, we should not require them chronically. I have been advising 8 or so weeks and that seems to work well for most people.

Perhaps a high-potency probiotic should be something we all consider to smooth the shift to a life of wheatlessness?

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113 Responses to You are BETTER than your bowel flora

  1. Norma says:

    I have been wheat free for three days and am experiencing gastrointestinal issues, weakness, light headedness,loss of appetite (a good thing) and low blood pressure. I take BP meds as well as statins since having a stent emplaced six years ago. My concern is about the low BP (90/60 range)…. I know the WF diet does normalize BP but did not expect such a drastic change so quickly. Have had no health problems with the stent at all and recently had an appointment with my cardiologist and all was well. Up until now, have always had lots of energy and am never sick but have put on extra weight that I would like to get rid of and nothing seems to work. Also have high triglicerides and low LDL but they only used the calculated method to measure it so am not sure if they are the small or large particles.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Be sure to hydrate, Norma. Also, many of us need to add salt to our diet after wheat elimination. So consider sprinkling sea salt on your food.

      A BP of 90/60 is normal, but you don’t want to drop much lower.

      And consider getting yourself a cardiologist who actually knows something about preventing heart disease, not just performs procedures when “required.”

      • pat says:

        It also has to do with drop in serum sodium when you go low carb , secondary to the drop in insulin spikes-so increase salt intake.

  2. Norma says:

    Thank you for the recommendations, Dr. Davis. How do you find the right type of cardiologist? Have wanted to change for some time but didn’t want to change from one “procedure happy” one to another.

    I was on leave from the ME, coming from sea level to 8000 ft elevation and was experiencing some shortness of breath and ended up with the stent…..no other symptoms and no repercustions from the “procedure”. Was prescribed medications and was on the plane back to the ME a week later. I have always questioned whether the whole thing was necessary. I have always been high energy and very healthly and continue to be, even after all this. There was not much time to shop around for doctors at the time as they treated it like I was having a heart attack, which I am sure I was not. They tested me overnight for antibodies and still weren’t sure what was going on. There was a blockage, however.

    I am monitoring my BP….it has been as low at 87/55 but have left off my evening dose of Metroprolol (25mg) to try to keep it from going any lower. Also take 20mg of Benicar and 40mg of Simvastatin daily, along with Fish Oil and 81mg of aspirin. Do not want to call my doctor for the obvious reasons. Would love to get off all medications, if that is possible.

    BTW…have lost 5 pounds….surely from the loss of appetite and the WF Revenge but it is a start…..30 more to go.

    So grateful for your book and this blog.

    Norma

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I hate to say this, Norma, but in Milwaukee where I live, if I were to develop heart disease, I might trust perhaps 2 or 3 of my colleagues out of over 100 in the city.

      Cardiologists for the most part have learned to put health second and profit first. It is a shameful situation. They are the first to embrace procedures and drugs, while poking fun at nutrition and natural methods.

      I think your best start is to identify a functional medicine practitioner, naturopath, or chiropractor, then ask if they know of any open-minded, honest cardiologists in your area. Don’t be surprised if they tell you it is a very, very short list.

  3. Linja says:

    I’ve been off wheat for two decades and have taken probiotics for much of that time. However, I still have all sorts of health problems and just got results today from a digestive stool analysis. It shows virtually zero lactobacillus and very high levels of two varieties of “bad” bacteria plus a parasite and some other problems. My doctor has added an antibiotic to the mix and I’m trying enzymes again.

    In short, giving up wheat is not a miracle cure. Probiotics may not work if something else is going on in your digestive tract. I haven’t given up but I am sure discouraged.

    • Walter Caero says:

      Hello Linya,
      My mother is also a long time wheat free advocate but has always had stomach issues.
      She recently has had much success with Olive Leaf Capsules which are historically known to fight off unhealthy bacteria.
      That is a very pretty name, by the way, much like my daughter’s who is called Senya. Kudos!
      Good luck !

  4. Kate Cook says:

    Hey Dr. D.

    Well, we’re very close to almost 2 months of being gluten (wheat, grain free).. I had a little incident the other night in the middle of the night.. and I have NO idea if this really is related to my healthy way of life.
    I woke up in the middle of the night to ah, well, go potty.. as I was ready to head back to bed.. I began to get sick.. horribly nauseated and thought I was gonna throw up.. also accompanied by a big cold sweat. Felt like I was gonna just die.. after about 5 min. (that felt like an hour) it all subsided and I crawled back into bed. And now to back up.. I had just been to the hospital that evening with news my 2 year old grand daughter who we are visiting here in S.C. was taken to the hospital in a seizer.. (turned out to be a fever seizer and she’s having an EEG next week to be safe).. I was quite stressed out of course.. but felt under control.. and it was the morning I woke and had this experience.. Now, I’m not looking for you to diagnose me for sure.. but was wondering if it is possible that this is related in some way to being off of wheat? Friends say I had an anxiety attack (I find hard to believe from just waking up).. I really am in good health.. have good cholesterol etc.. good heart rate (I check frequently)..
    I’ve posted before asking you about this BIG lack of appetite I have now.. and it still is very strong.. and since this incident I almost feel as though my stomach just feels kinda icky.. like I had the flu..
    This is the first real issue since we started going gluten free.. and I’ve noticed I am having more of the gas you speak of.. mainly at night.. (lucky hubby!!) Gad zukes.. am I really blogging about gas??!!!
    My question is.. can I start going through something this far into the new lifestyle? I haven’t experienced a hunger pang for weeks..!!!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Sure sounds unrelated to me, Kate.

      Stress, especially one as substantial as worrying about children and grandchildren, can have many strange effects.

      There are other issues that can affect us, too, such as contaminated or tainted foods, to consider. But I don’t think it’s the new diet.

  5. Iris says:

    I went cold turkey with wheat and maybe i should have slowly taken the wheat out of my diet. It’s been about 31/2 weeks since I cut out the wheat. My stomach has been really upset with gas and what feels like acid reflux. I truly do not feel well. Which in turn makes me very anxious. I have an appointment next week with a gastro doctor. I am taking lots of probiotics so I am hoping this helps. I also noticed that I have become moody. I hope this all settles down soon.

    • Kate Cook says:

      Iris ~

      Hope all goes well with you… I just added some plain yogurt to my diet..

      I know that I’m under stress from saying good bye to my daughter here on Monday as we drive back to Arizona.. and the hospital visit this week for my grand daughter.. So try not to get anxious.. I’m sure it will make you feel worse.. Guessing you’ve read the book Wheat Belly? He does talk about the withdrawal that one can go through.. I would imagine it might depend on how much processed foods you might have been eating before going cold turkey..??
      Anyway, hope all goes well with you.. hang in there.. I would imagine.. putting this poison in our bodies for as long as we have.. has to take time to feel better..

  6. Monica says:

    been wheat free / gluten free/ starch/ sugar..(wheat belly and paleo) for almost 3-1/2 weeks. Generally feel 100% better ! Even my coworker said my complexion and eyes looked brighter. I have lost 9 lbs. My problem is constipation. Before the huge diet changes I had bouts of diarrhea and constipation. Now only constipation. I believe I am eating plenty of veggies and never eat a whole meal of just protein (expect breakfast which is an egg).. any suggestions ? I have not eaten any fruit for fear of the sugar rush that could cause me to crave more and therefore not lose weight as I am hoping to.

    • Kat says:

      I have been wheat free for four weeks and I too am having constipation troubles as well as digestive issues. Is this normal? Does anyone have any helpful comments?

      Thank you!

      • Anne says:

        Yup, I third that….
        Generally helpful:
        – lemon squeezed into room-temperature water (or apple cider vinegar and water)
        - yoga
        - an apple before bed (I know, carby, but…gotta do whatcha gotta do…)
        I even tried to dissolve chia seeds in water and drink it…gel-like and not very yummy.

        Still, I’m into week 4 and suffering same issue…

        Hopefully just a stage….

        • jimrex says:

          Anne (and others),

          I have been on restricted carbs for years – taking it to an extra level this past week with wheat elimination. I have relied upon pysllium powder for years now. I mix a TBSP with 8oz water, 1 TSP lemon juice (unsweetened), and a stevia packet (I used to use honey). I add all that to a 1/2 liter plastic bottle and shake vigorously. Not too bad going down. You have to follow that with 8oz plain water as soon as you can.

          I used to do this twice per day, but I found that the evening dose didn’t allow for enough liquid consumption afterwards and sometimes caused it own blockage – it would catch up every other day (I know – TMI).

          CVS has plain psyllium powder for aroung $15. There are flavored varieties, but they either use sucrose are artificial sweeteners other than those discussed here.

          I hope this works for others as it works for me.

          JamesH (jimrex)

          • jimrex says:

            Addendum:
            Konsyl is the brand name found at most drug stores and grocers.

          • Tanya says:

            Magnesium!

            I used to use psyllium (still have a huge bag of it unused in the fridge) but it caused me bad bloating, gas, “the gurglies” (sorry for TMI) and if not enough water was used with it would, um, compound the problem, no joke.

            My ND suggested a magnesium powder such as Natural Calm. Worked great but at $25 a bottle it was just getting too expensive, and I needed 2 scoops a night. Found a magnesium oxide powder that is $9.99 and I only need a half-teaspoon or so to have an effect the next morning, sans bloating or gas. It takes some tweaking to get the dosage just right, not enough & you don’t ‘go’, too much and well you have the other end of the spectrum (usually only once or twice though!)

            My ND says not everyone can tolerate psyllium, and that he himself has the same effect from it, no matter how much water he drinks!

      • L.J. says:

        I am 32 day free of gluten, wheat and all grains. My bowel issues have finally cleared up. I found a site: Chris Kresser is his name. He has great articles and info that have enhanced my move to the WB way of life. Sauerkraut was the key that helped my bathroom issues. I don’t remember which post it was in. But I made sure to have it for breakfast and dinner a few times a week. I didn’t find out about the probiotic deal until a week or so ago. I also cut out potatoes and yams.
        I have been frustrated about lack of weight loss but after years of gut wrenching pain (not from diarrhea, just the feeling that eagle talons were scratching around in there) and the fact that its gone has kept me going. My job isn’t very active, massage therapist, so I think now that I’m feeling better I will add that in.
        I have also found my self defensive or outright hiding the fact that I’m eating this way because people really find it crazy!!! That was a huge surprise. It’s as though they truly can’t wrap their noggins around the idea.
        Anyway, the point was SAUERKRAUT. It worked for me. Good luck to all.

    • Kira says:

      Have you tried increasing your greens consumption? Easiest trick for me is to throw frozen organic spinach into my daily smoothies/protein shakes (vegan soy-free powder)… PeerTrainer Energy Soup is also a nice way to sneak in more veggies. I will also sometimes use a stronger probiotic for a short period of time — it’s expensive, but it definitely makes me regular quickly!

  7. Sean says:

    Hey Dr. Davis,
    is there a particular brand of probiotic that you recommend for your patients? I’ve done some looking around and the highest CFU I could find was 2 billion.

  8. Susan says:

    Two years ago I was feeling ill often and my HR dropped to 39, so I went to the doctor. Lots of test including a treadmill stress test. I was told I need a pacemaker and that I am very healthy otherwise. I refused to get the pacemaker until they figured out what was causing my other symptoms. The next year I continued to have extreme fatique, but not every day, confusion, feeling like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my brain (brain fog) and other symptoms. A year later I came to the conclusion that I might be allergic to soy. I mentioned this to my doctor, he then tested me for gluten intollerance, my result was positive (>29 which my doctor said is not that high). I stopped eating soy and wheat, and began feeling better. A month later I had two bites of a teriyaki chicken burger on a wheat bun when I realized there is soy in the sauce. Nine hours later I went into analphylaxis, vomiting and lost conscientiousness. I did not go to the ER because I did not seem to be having trouble breathing and I was aware as to what was happening. Called my doctor the next day and he was upset due to the risk of my HR going too low and going into coma. I tried my best to avoid wheat and soy, but soy is in so many things, and there is a learning curve. I continued to have problem days, so went off dairy and finally started feeling better. I still have occasional issues and have now started reacting to eggs and cashews. Anything I eat often becomes a problem, I’m running out of things to eat. I also discovered I have a zinc deficiency and a month ago started taking a zinc, vit C, B6, L-lysine supplement and behold a good side effect… my acne cleared up. My doctor thinks I might be malnourished, now waiting for latest blood work results. Just to let you know, I took antibiotics for years for my acne (who knew all I needed was some zinc), I believe this has distroyed my gut. Funny thing, since I stopped eating all these foods I have lost less than 15 lbs. I also have issues with constipation (this has been a life long problem, except while I was eating whole grains). I’ve tried probiotics and that causes so much bloating and inflammation that I had to stop. As soon as my blood work comes back I think I will try magnesium. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Dr. Davis, I love your book, Wheat Belly, it is terrific…I’m telling everyone to read it. Also love this website. Thank you.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Wow, Susan: You’ve likely got plenty of bowel injury to recover from that has created these multiple intolerances.

      Yes, magnesium is helpful in at least the stool-softening world. Most wheat-eaters develop magnesium deficiency, anyway, despite the magnesium content of wheat. If a laxative/osmotic effect is desired, you might consider magnesium citrate, 400 mg twice a day. If too strong, the malate form, 1200 mg twice a day, is a good choice.

      I predict that the longer you are minus the foods that trigger your current reactions, but especially wheat, corn, and soy, the better you will get, perhaps losing at least some of the current intolerances. But I suspect this will take months, if not years.

  9. Liat Gat says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I read of a study that shows that Splenda reduces beneficial gut bacteria. As I’m now off wheat and trying to make the transition as easy as possible, I’ve been taking a probiotic. I’m concerned that Splenda (or TruvĂ­a or Stevia) might be making things harder. Have you read the study? What do you think? Here is a link:

    http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Splenda-may-damage-gut-bacteria-boost-weight-gain-study

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, I am aware of the study. But I don’t know how relevant this is to human health, as they used large quantities and it was, of course, in rats.

      It is the perennial problem in experimental model research: knowing how relevant it is to human health.

      That said, sucralose is not at the top of my list for sweeteners.

    • Nimbrethil says:

      Stevia (Truvia is a brand-name for stevia-based sweetener) is not an artificial sweetener the way that Splenda is. Since the article refers specifically to Splenda and makes zero mention of stevia anywhere, I wonder why you are assuming that a study on splenda would apply to stevia as well? There’s no cause to conflate the two: splenda is a lab-created artificial sweetener, whereas stevia is a plant that serves as an alternative to sugar.

  10. MGH says:

    I am almost 5 weeks wheat free and feeling much better. My IBS symptoms are dissipating, sinus issues less annoying, and I am taking less than half the amount of Allegra I took before embarking on a wheat-free lifestyle. I added ground flax seed to my diet to deal with the initial constipation issues caused by removing the fiber I used to get from eating wheat (Raisin Bran) breakfast cereal. I selected flax seed over other options because it tastes good and has actual food value. The flax seed does a better, far more consistent job of things than Raisin Bran ever did.

  11. Anna says:

    Hi susan,
    I am experiencing similiar issues with multiple food intolerances since the birth of my daughter..have you heard of leaky gut syndrome or candida? I think this is my issue but I don’t know how to heal my gut because I don’t know what foods Zi can tolerate :( good luck to you

  12. I have been wheat free almost 3 years now. Best thing I ever did. I also have low thyroid funtion for over 40 yrs. But my constipation cleared up right away and I lost weight Another thing is to stay away from all the sugar. I have had stomach issues all my life. I use zyphan and that helps I get it from Standard Process . I also stay away from any soy products & mushrooms

  13. Ixi says:

    HI Dr. Davis,
    I’m in the third week of my wheat belly diet and noticed that I’m dealing with a lot of string movement bowel and being very regular in going to washroom every single morning.
    As this wonderful diet cuts off carbs and sugar, I wonder if am passing parasites.
    Have your patients commented on expelling parasites naturally after a few weeks into the program?
    thanks!

  14. Miriam says:

    I just saw this post, so comment is a bit late, but I’m wondering if some “constipation” people think they’re experiencing is not constipation at all, but just not having tons of indigestable junk running through the bowels? I’m sure there IS constipation; just I wonder if there’s as much as people may worry over. I wonder this for three reasons:

    1. The simple fact that any machine that produces excess waste is not working efficiently. If the machine of the body is operating efficiently and actually using and digesting what it eats (instead of it just hanging around slowing things up as whole grains do) wouldn’t it produce less waste?

    2. I noticed that when I took my dogs off grain-based dog food and put them onto bones and meat like they’re designed to eat that not only did their health improve in every respect (digestion, back, energy, joints, breath, coat, sight, reaction time, etc) but they also started producing bowel movements far less often. They had been very regular, morning and evening, on grain. On bones and meat they go maybe once a day, often once every two days. Their waste no longer stinks, nor is it “messy.” And they are both perfectly happy and healthy going on a year now. They never seem “constipated.”

    3. We’ve been very low carb to nearly meat-only for 4 months now, and saw the exact same result as our dogs. We never “feel constipated” yet we are never as regular as we were on our “healthy” whole-grain and tons of vegetables and fruit diet. Everything seems to be working just fine, especially minus all the gas and bloating that accompanied grains. And, yes, we DO know what constipation is, because we have experienced it once or twice when we had too much cheese. But really we didn’t really think about this aspect till others mentioned it on forums or blogs like this about low-carb diets; so it’s made me wonder if some of the constipation worry is just people thinking they have to be producing bowel movements two or three times a day when they don’t.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, I believe that you are correct, Miriam.

      Some people experience constipation and/or bloating and diarrhea, as well as passing undigested fragments of food, due to incomplete digestion of foods due to disordered pancreatic/CCK from a lifetime of disruption at the hands of wheat.

      If anyone experiences this and it is persistent, a formal evaluation of pancreatic function and/or supplemental pancreatic enzymes may be in order.

  15. DJ says:

    Hello
    I am into 3rd week of wheat and Dairy free diet. Had been having headache ,constipation and gassy. So I took excedrin for headache. Had a slice of bread and some tea thinking it will make it feel better.
    Is this approach correct?
    Thanks

  16. Josie says:

    Fascinating reading all your comments! This site is a real learning curve….! Just to add to the pot, having had tons of digestive issues for years really and especially the last 6 months, have recently been diagnosed with duodenal ulcers and mild gastritis….don’t smoke, don’t take NSAIDS, H.Pylori test negative. On meds now after initially being diagnosed last August with IBS and given Mintec – but my Doctor’s advice now I have a diagnosis is to increase greatly wheat products for fibre, telling me wholegrain better than white for peptic ulcer state. After a week of this, felt so unwell even meds were not working for me, removed wheat a week ago today (bit tentatively) and feel so much better and my digestive system feels calmer for sure. I know I am going against Doctors advice and feel how can he be wrong but I also know how I feel. Cannot find any reference to wheat causing or worsening duodenal ulcers though. Will keep reading posts, thanks for listening :)

  17. Nimbrethil says:

    The live-culture yogurt that I buy contains six different species of probiotics. I’m aware of your assertion that yogurt and other dairy products (except cheese) should be eaten in limited portions, but I’m curious if this will suffice to repopulate gut bugs as an alternative to probiotics. Even if it takes several weeks longer.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, yogurt tends to have too few organisms to materially contribute to repopulating your bowel with health organisms. Not to say there is no benefit, but that yogurt alone is insufficient if your goal is the accelerate the transition to healthy bowel flora with wheat elimination.

      • Nimbrethil says:

        Darn. I thought that was going to the case, but I’d hoped otherwise. Probiotics are expensive.

      • Nimbrethil says:

        Well, I got some probiotics in the mail from Amazon today. A small, inexpensive pack. Only ten probiotic strains, and a 30 day supply. I was looking to buy a supplement with more strains (saw several recommended brands that more than a dozen strains), and a longer supply, but I’m eager to get my digestive tract under control due to my body adjusting to the lack of wheat by going back and forth between mild bouts of both diarrhea and constipation, so I got what I could afford. We’ll see how it goes.

        • Jeanine says:

          I’m about 3 months free of wheat and grains and feeling great. I almost feel like my body is being re-sculpted. I started a 50 billion probiotic about 2 weeks ago, even though I felt fine, intestinally speaking. I figured I’d take it for two months…just because I liked the idea of having an even healthier intestinal system. Because my whole life until now has been a mix of intestinal issues (always feeling bloated, discomfort, constipation…) I’m not sure how a healthy intestinal system should work. So my question is how do I know if the probiotics are working–or “over working”. I’m feeling great, but was feeling great before the probiotics.

          On another note, I want to thank Dr. Davis for promoting the wheat free way of healthy living. People who haven’t seen me for a few months are literally doing double-takes and commenting on how great I look. They’re not quite sure what’s different. My lovely secretary told me I’m transforming before her eyes–that I look so healthy and slender. I didn’t tell anyone I was going wheat free. I just started because
          I was sick and tired of feeling crappy. The thing that bothers me now, though, is that as a public school administrator, I feel like I’m betraying my students by feeding them food required by the national school lunch program. I hang out with them at lunch. They’re eating mac and cheese, while I’m eating pecans and blueberries. Not sure how to systemically tackle that one. I hire staff whom I would want my own children to have as teachers. But I’m providing food that I wouldn’t allow my own children to eat. NOT a good feeling. Forgive this digression…but it’s been on my mind–every lunch period.

          • Jimmy says:

            Hello Jeanine,
            I hear what your saying about feeding your students according to the school lunch program being not very healthy. The students can bring in their own lunches that are healthy if they want. The lunch program at school is out of your jurisdiction. Maybe let them know what you are eating and leave the food choices up to them.

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  19. William Veitch says:

    Many years ago (1996) I was diagnosed with IBS. Not sure how much of wheat belly is relevant to IBS but I will relate my story and see if anything appears relative. I was originally prescribed a product called Dicetel which I took for a couple of years without noticing any significant change in symptoms. A family GP then suggested I replace the Dicetel with a non prescription product called Flor-A-Stor (saccharomyces boulardi). Again I tried this for a couple of years and again not sure that it offered any significant change. The foods that tend to cause the worst or fastest discomfort (diarreah) are apples, strawberries, lettuce, soy, and any kind of hot (spicy) items like chapotle, etc. — like using a very strong laxative. These particular foods other than the spicy ones just don’t seem to make sense that they react the way they do. I am now trying a new (non-prescription) product called Align (bifidobacterium longum), a probiotic. I have been on it for 30 days and as with the others I do not notice any change in symptoms or discomfort. Overall in my diet I do eat a regular amount of breads (white or whole wheat) but they do not seem to have an effect on me that I can notice although at times if I change to a multi-grain for an extended period of time I do wonder if maybe?
    I have read about a product called Donnatal on the internet which has relatively good reviews regarding IBS but need to do more research into it and talk to my doctor as it is a prescribed drug.
    If Dr. Davis reads this and has any knowledge or comments on my experiences I would appreciate his comment or input.

  20. Pippa says:

    I’ve been wheat free for almost a year now. Best thing I’ve ever done. However, the only issue I have is my bowel movements are almost always very large and solid which can hurt to pass. I drink a lot of water. I’m wondering if you could pls recommend a stool softener which won’t include wheat in the ingredients? Thank you.

    • Jeanine says:

      I would try the probiotics rather than a stool softener. They worked really well for me. I get mine at Whole Foods and get the 50 billion count.

      • Pippa says:

        Thanks very much Jeanine. I’m Australian and not sure whether Whole Foods is a health food shop? What brand probiotic would you recommend?? You take them every day?

        • Jan says:

          Pippa…..see if you can find “Ultimate Flora” in your area….I had great success with this brand.

        • Jeanine says:

          It’s called Ultimate Flora. Whole Foods is an over priced grocery/health food/supplements store that caters to folks wanting organic and healthier food choices. Big on whole grains, but I just go past those aisles. I think this is a good product. Good luck!

      • Dr. Davis says:

        Yes, probiotics have really helped people transition from the disrupted bowel flora of the wheat-eater to the healthier bowel flora that has to develop minus wheat.