Safe sex . . . on weekends only

“I think totally eliminating wheat is too hard! What if I cut back, say, 80 or 90%? Can I still get most of the benefits?”

The short answer: No.

Let me explain. If you cut back on sugar by 90%, you obtain 90% of the benefits, right? 90% less weight gain, 90% less insulin provocation, 90% less dental cavities, etc. Simple arithemetic.

But, as with many things in this wheat-distorted world, that simple arithmetic does not hold with cutting back on wheat. Instead, a bizarre calculus of metabolic distortions apply because of several long-lasting effects of modern semi-dwarf wheat.

There are several reasons why just cutting back does not work:

1) Disruption of bowel flora
Wheat-eaters experience undesirable distortions of the microorganisms in their intestinal tract: different species, different numbers, and shifts in location (migration higher up into the small intestine, and even duodenum and stomach). Wheat-eaters have fewer desirable lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and more undesirable species of E. coli, bacterioidetes, and even Salmonella and Clostridia. Occasional wheat consumption, likely via wheat’s amylopectin A, wheat germ agglutinin, and gliadin, maintain undesirable bacterial and fungal populations and prevent a shift back to healthier species.

2) Small LDL particles that cause heart disease are triggered for 10 or more days at a time
Large, relatively benign LDL particles persist for 24-48 hours after formation, cleared by the liver promptly. Small LDL particles, triggered to extravagant degrees by the amylopectin A of wheat, persist for an unusually long period, much longer than the larger LDL particles. Once triggered, the human liver does not recognize unnatural small LDL particles, causing them to persist for an abnormally long time and allowing prolonged and repetitive interactions with the wall of arteries to create atherosclerosis (leading to coronary heart disease, heart attacks, stents, bypass surgery, as well as your hospital to boast about its record number of heart attacks treated).

3) The gliadin protein of wheat stimulates appetite
Even occasional exposure to the opiate-like exorphin polypeptides that result from digestion of the gliadin protein of wheat are enough to stimulate appetite. Appetite is stimulated, but not for more salmon or steak, but for carbohydrates–more wheat, more cornstarch, more candy, more soft drinks, more junk. Occasional wheat consumption therefore makes adhering to a healthy diet more difficulty, as your impulse control is under the influence of the gliadin opiate, an effect that lasts several days after every indulgence, occasionally longer.

4) Glycation is forever
Recall from the discussion in Wheat Belly that, whenever blood glucose ranges above 90 mg/dl (5 mmol/L), glucose-modification of long-lived proteins in the body, or glycation, proceeds at an accelerated rate: the higher the blood glucose, the greater the quantity of glycation.

It means, for instance, that you have, say, a Snickers bar and experience a blood glucose of 134 mg/dl and glycation occurs in the proteins of the lenses of your eyes (cataracts), the proteins in the cartilage of knees and hips (brittle cartilage, arthritis), the proteins in the cells lining arteries (stiff arteries, hypertension, atherosclerosis), and structural tissue of the skin (wrinkles, “liver” spots of aging). Have two slices of whole wheat bread as a ham sandwich and blood sugar peaks at 170 mg/dl (a very typical blood sugar after wheat consumption) and glycation develops at a greater rate. Glycation in long-lived proteins is irreversible–the effect cannot be undone: cataracts do not reverse, bone-on-bone arthritis does not regenerate, wrinkles do not unwrinkle. For all practical purposes, once you glycate, you glycate for good.

All in all, it means that cutting back on wheat by 80 or 90% does not yield 80 or 90% improvement in the health destruction wrought by wheat. Maybe it yields a fraction of those benefits, say, 20-30%. Cutting back on wheat, like cutting back on unsafe sex and practicing safe sex on weekends only, can still get you into a heap of trouble.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Stephanie

    Once you’ve given up the grains and have added a large amount of healthy fats to your diet, can your arteries heal at all?

    I have to admit, I was of the mind frame that as as long as I was good 90% of the time, that a splurge occasionally would be okay. Reading this, I don’t think the splurges are worth it, especially with glycation. And to think my doctor just told me recently that a couple weeks of blood sugar in the 180-200 range wouldn’t hurt anything…. can you hear my eyes rolling from here? (I was very sick and needed antibiotics and my blood sugar was a mess).

  2. Murray

    There appears to be a typo in the blog post. The blood sugar threshold should be 5 mmol/L, not 5 nmol/L.

    5 mmol/L does not seem all that high.

  3. Lou

    Yuck. Just the thought of eating wheat activates my gag reflex. My 15-year old daughter agreed to be 95% wheat free. She doesn’t miss it and she likes the 5% leeway so she doesn’t have to be the oddball with her friends. From her, I’ll take 95%.

  4. Sharon

    Thanks for the article. I am forwarding it to my husband. He has been about 85% on board with the explanation that he doesn’t need to lose weight. But, he does have some arthritis, reflux, and a chronic cough (7 years) which I hope will be resolved through this change in lifestyle. I am using this change of lifestyle to lose weight, eliminate some inflammation, and have more energy. So far it is working. I haven’t lost huge amounts of weight (5 pounds this month), but I am not gaining and I definitely feel better. The big change I am having trouble remembering is to add fat. I admit I drank the “fats are bad kool aid.” I enjoy coconut oil and have been adding more olive oil and butter to my cooking. This has been a fun journey for me. Thank you WB community for all of your suggestions and support.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, I fear there are many like your husband, the partially-committed wheat-deniers.

      But the benefits of complete wheatlessness are so much more powerful!

      • Janet

        I sent the link to this post to my husband so he could actually read something and read comments. He has cut way back on his carbs and wheat products just by seeing my success and listening to the podcasts I listen to (he is a captive audience in the next room) but he has not completely eliminated wheat. He has lost weight. He said he was reaching up to get something in the garage and his pants actually fell down around his feet! I think he will get to wheatlessness eventually. He is a stroke and heart attack survivor also from 1996 and 2003. Our diet had disintegrated .I knew we had to change our diet but wasn’t sure to what kind of plan back in 2011. Then I read Wheat Belly, lost the wheat and then transitioned to Paleo/Primal. My cooking has been revived also. Last night I made crock pot pork roast with apples, onions and ginger served with bacon acorn squash patties and broccoli with Parmesan cheese and Kerrygold butter slathered on top. The sounds of satisfaction and pleasure from my hubby were gratifying!

  5. Christina

    Your analogy doesn’t quite work. What people usually consider “safe sex” is more akin to eating wheat then throwing it up — all the good flavor with no evil side effects right? However, we both know that neither is safe.

    With most things, sometimes people need to take a gradual walk away from what’s harming them. From “I shouldn’t sleep with some random dude” to “I should only sleep with my spouse” to “contraception isn’t as healthy as I thought” are steps along the path to health. In the same way, “maybe I shouldn’t eat wheat all the time” to “I should avoid obvious wheat products” to “lets really try to purify my diet of all wheat” are steps along the path to health. I’m between steps two and three with wheat, I avoid all known wheat products…but the occasional Chinese food is accepted.

    • Robert Bloch

      Going totally wheat free isn’t a punishment… it is a way out of a bad place, physically, for a lot of people. Personally I am thankful for this knowledge and have benefited from it greatly.

      Eat wheat or don’t eat wheat, the choice is yours… but no one is forcing you. Either do it or don’t… but don’t make excuses and justifications. Wheat is bad shit, and only having a little is like only having a little rat poison.

      • I agree!
        Before WB, I was one of those “everything in moderation” people. That type of thinking gave me a double chin, a muffin top and daily food cravings.
        Like Dr Davis says, schedule a radical wheat-ectomy! And then never look back!

  6. Steve K

    Frankly, I’m scared to try it…even with my second bought of Diverticulitus in 3 years I’m nervous. I am a relatively health 40-something guy with the tire around my side. I run 40 miles a week, completed an Ironman and and active…but can’t lose that last bit of ‘pouch’. Everything you write makes sense but jumping in is daunting.

    Sigh…

    • Claudia

      Just commit to going wheat free for 30 days – forever IS daunting – and then see how you feel and decide if you want to continue on from there – the cravings should subside in the first week or so – you might feel a bit bummed out for 10 – 14 days, but it will pass – just 30 days – you can do it

    • Pam

      If you are worried there are resources for athletes

      I am 35 and thought I was healthy. I am on my sixth week now and don’t regret it.

      I have lost 7 kilos and have improved my running time by 1:30 per kilometer. Now that I am fat adapted I much prefer it.

      I feel like a LEAN MEAN FIGHTING MACHINE.

    • Bill

      Why are you feeling nervous and scared? What is there to be nervous & scared about? Sounds like you haven’t quite bought into the wheat-is-bad idea. You really need to visualize grains as ‘edible death’, and get over the tasty appeal of all those grain products (a lot of things that are appealing are bad for you; just ask an ex-smoker.)

      Believe me, it is worth it. I gave up all grains in April, haven’t looked back. And I used to eat half a loaf of bread a day, in sandwiches and toast. Now the only carbs I have are from vegetables, usually mixed up with chopped meat, tomato sauce, and bacon drippings or coconut oil, and nuked. For me, the items that I have substituted for grain products are tastier and more filling. I lost 20 lbs, mostly abdominal fat. Am now down to my college weight (not bad for a 62 year-old male).

      • Steve K

        Nervous about how my body will react to the change during my training. Will I get enough calories…and carbs for long runs and rides. That’s the nervous part. I don’t have a craving for a particular grain. I just want to make sure I properly fuel my body.

        • Hi Steve,
          I do marathons and ultras. I was apprehensive about not relying on carbs too. Using fat for energy is a transition but when it’s done, you’ll feel terrific!

          Last month I completed a wheat/grain/sugar free 12 hour race with no dips in energy. Next week I’m doing a 24 hour race.

          Besides Dr Davis’s excellent book, I also suggest you read “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” bu Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney.

          Good Luck!

        • Ketosis is miraculous. Once you make the transition to ketone-burning, you will be amazed at your energy and stamina. I’m not the athlete you are by any means, but my partner and I did some long-distance bike rides this summer on a no-grain, very low-carb diet. We often rode in excess of 40 miles before breakfast. I did a century ride the end of August following my usual low-carb lifestyle. At 75 miles, I stopped for a nice breakfast of hamburger steak and eggs, then did the last 25 miles feeling like I’d been on a “cafe ride.”
          I am almost 60 and my partner is 70.

        • Marv

          Steve,

          I’ll never do what you do, but if you’re running 40 miles per week and doing Ironman WITH the poison in your body, just imagine…

          Everything on me is running so much better since 12/14/11 (yes, you’ll remember your date too) I’ll never go back. Seriously consider a trial go at this. You’ll know if its right or not for your style.

          -Marv

    • Dr. Davis

      Perhaps it’s scary, Steve, because your body intuitively “knows” that you are addicted to the gliadin opiate and that ceasing the flow of it will result in an unpleasant withdrawal experience?

      All the more reason, in my mind, to quit the stuff.

      • Steve K

        Thank you for the replies folks! I started this morning. I was a tad hungry before my noon tempo run but recovered after lunch.

    • Jeff G

      Perhaps these links will help you make the change.

      http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/athletic_diet.html
      http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/athletic_diet2.html
      http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/athletic_diet3.html

      “Using three diets: normal, high-fat and high-carbohydrate, the study showed that the high-carbohydrate diet increased performance by an average ten percent over a normal mixed diet. Not bad, you might think, but the high-fat diet increased performance by a massive thirty-three percent. That’s much better. The authors conclude that restriction of dietary fat may be detrimental to endurance performance. “

      • Steve K

        Day one down. I ran at lunch today and felt the calorie loss. I need to pick up the pace on eating. I suppose I will find a cadence with that soon.

        I’ll stop using this as ‘my blog’.

  7. Linda

    I once heard an analogy regarding how just a “tiny” bit of something bad can be “far too much.”
    It goes like this:
    How much shit does it take to make shit soup? Would a tiny drop be too much, whether it be in a cup of soup or a gallon of soup? Think about it…

  8. Candy

    I agree with Claudia. You can do anything for just 30 days. I had the same fear that you expressed because I just could not imagine living without bread, and pasta, and crackers, etc.. But I made the commitment to try it for one month and am now in week 2. Starting to notice some definite effects, but haven’t weighed or anything yet. Sleep has definitely improved. As Nike says, just do it. Nothing ventured nothing gained! Good luck.

  9. Jill

    I believe that the ‘little’ wheat is different for everyone. For me personally, no overt wheat products and I do as best I can to eliminate hidden wheat. Both my body and my brain tell me that wheat and I cannot be friends. But that’s a very drastic step. Many people in our wheat addicted are unwilling / unable to make that leap. For them, cutting down on wheat is better than NOT cutting down. Sure, it would be ideal to go 100% but not realistic for some.

  10. Vivian

    C’mon, you weenies…change for a short time…EAT, but not WHEAT…just see what happens! No wheat since late July, lost 24 lbs. and feeling great. Knee pain, edema, gone…down a shoe size (not kidding), now wearing a size 12 instead of 2X!!!

    • Oh Vivian, that’s so wonderful! I can hear the happiness in your ‘voice’ :) Congrats on your success so far…

      Anne

  11. Robyn

    Hello Dr. Davis…

    (My family is very intrigued by your book, -have already started wheat-less eating.)
    I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Your thoughts on coconut sugar? “One of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market, organic coconut palm sugar is highly nutritious, ecologically beneficial and provides sustained energy with an inspired taste.”
    Thanks!
    Robyn
    Vancouver, BC Canada

    • Dr. Davis

      No, this is the usual trickery: If it contains fructose, it is indeed low glycemic index. But it still generates all manner of abnormal metabolic consequences, just like agave nectar.

      • Robyn

        Thanks for that!
        My husband is on day 4 of no wheat. Yesterday and today he had the sweats after eating his lunch (Salmon, cheese slices, carrot sticks, raspberries and yogurt and today a Cobb salad)
        I’m hoping this is a withdrawal symptom as he was quite a wheat ‘addict’.
        Sound normal?

        Thank you again for your time (very much)
        Robyn
        ps.
        also going to add that there is a small chance he MAY have had trace amounts of wheat here and there in last 4 days…we had a chicken dish made for us and i know there was onion soup mix and cranberry jelly on it…but couldn’t really check all ingred’s.. everywhere else we’ve been quite careful.

        • Dr. Davis

          Normal, no. Wheat withdrawal is a distinctly ABNORMAL condition.

          Expected or common? Yes. It is a form of opiate withdrawal, like having your own heroin addict in the house.

          Thankfully, it all passes!

  12. merl

    I agree with banishing wheat from your diet, but I think that some of the arguements in this post are a little weak.

    My understanding of the current research on heart disease is that it’s not the small LDL particles that are correlated with heart disease as much as it’s the high LDL-P count. Where LDL size is discordant with LDL-P, LDL size is NOT a predictor of heart disease.

    Similarly, glycation is a complex process and the first two intermediate steps ARE reversible. This post implies that every bit of wheat you eat immediately results irreversibly in advanced glycation end products, which I think is disingenuous.

    • Murray

      Merl, I’ve read recent research by Tom Dayspring and summaries by Peter Attia, whom I take to be representative of the research you refer to. I confess I did not find the evidence overwhelming. Also, it does not account adequately, it seems, to the protective effect of HDL and cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP). CETP forms a bridge between HDL and LDL and the HDL particle supplies cholesterol to the LDL particle. People in whom CETP activity is diminished have a higher rate of coronary disease. This suggests HDL is protective, in part, by keeping LDL particles from getting small.

      • merl

        @Murray: Yeah, I was talking about Peter Attia’s Straight Dope.

        @Dr David: Thanks for responding. I’m not meaning to attack you or say you are misleading people. Just that I thought that what you wrote there could be interpreted as being, well, wrong. I understand that you need to stay on message and to qualify everything would leave your posts far less focussed. Not sure what the solution is.

  13. steve H

    Hey Doc,
    I know the damage is done with glycation, as indicated by research. It just makes me wonder, how does the body regenerate itself, except through cell regeneration. So research says, that once the damage is done through glycation, it cannot be reversed. Then the end of our person, depends upon how much damage the glycation has done, to the organs. So we stay wheat free, and the consequences of our past indulgences with wheat, has done the damage, that is permanent. Cell regeneration, may or may not contribute to 100% repair.
    Am i right or wrong here in my thinking doc, please enlighten me.

    • Dr. Davis

      It requires years for the products of glycation to muck up each organ system. At some point–different for each organ–it interferes with function, regardless of the capacity for some parts of an organ to regenerate. The lenses of the eyes, for instance, contain the opacities, regardless of the capacity of some cells to regenerate.

      • steve H

        Yah that’s what i thought Doc, my left eye has most of the vision gone, today i will find out to what extent the damage is, permanent or partcile. At least the eye hasn’t gone any further. Not being able to see through a fog in my left eye is not fun, but i am thankful for the vision that i have in my right eye. How long that will last is any bodies guess, at least i will have a diagnose on my eyestoday, nothing like leaving it to the last minute, us men alway the procastinator. But thank god for your book wheat bellies doc.,it probably saved my right eye.

  14. Lynda Walter

    As a result of reading your book, my husband and I have eliminated all wheat products from our diets. We have also eliminated the starches, such as potato, corn, tapioca, etc. However, I noticed in one of your recipes that you used arrowroot, which is also a starch. Since you used it, I am assuming it is okay, but I thought I would get your feedback about it. Also, what about making foods from the other kinds of flour, like almond, millet, soy, sorghum, brown rice, white rice, flax, corn meal, etc. And what about gluten free cereals like Rice Chex? Are these okay? And lastly, we are not losing the weight like other people have. I am even using the glycemic index of foods and eliminating those which are high. What are we doing wrong? Thanks, in advance, for any input you could give.

  15. My wife and I gave up wheat completely, actually all grains and gluten. Our health and body composition have never been better. Wheat/ guten is something that never makes the cheat list. We don’t miss it or crave it. I look at it like any other inedible, harmful substance. I coach and train people trying to lose weight and the topic of the occasional cheat or the weekly “cheat meal” comes up. This post will be forwarded to all of them! Thank you for all your hard work and keeping the truth about wheat at the forefront. Thank you!

  16. Iris Alvares

    Dear dr Davis,

    I have written to you several times in the past whenever I was experiencing wheat withdrawal symptoms and you always responded with solutions. I stuck to the programme despite having problems after having quit wheat for 6 weeks.. I am so glad I stayed with this programme which is now my lifestyle.
    The benefits are far too many.. Weight loss, back pain gone which to me is a miracle, energy, better sleep, no bad breath .
    My husband all along has been of great support and is extremely proud of my determination. We live in india, was on a holidaying Canada and USA but stayed true to my lifestyle for 45 days.. The goodies on display everywhere I went did not tempt me one bit.. I had family and friends convincing to me to try some stuff but I refused to fal prey… In my mind wheat is poison and that has stayed forever..
    The good news is My husband now wants to go wheat free as well.. He is lean, no weight issues at all but has a problem with cholesterol. Unfortunately I do not know the details in terms of numbers.
    He has always eaten only egg whites, no shell fish in his diet, no cheese no butter..
    I need to know if I can start giving him these foods.. What to give him for breakfast becomes a problem..i have your book I just want to be super clear..
    This is his second week of being wheat free..
    Would appreciate your response..
    Thanks once again for all the work you do..

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, Iris, what I am articulating is appropriate for ALL humans, no matter their origin or political persuasion!

      But remember: What I am NOT advocating is a low-fat approach. It is a real food, reject the perverse products of agribusiness, wheat-free, unlimited fat and calorie approach. We should all revert back to the ways that humans evolved to eat.

  17. Uncle Roscoe

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I’d like to transport a fifth reason to totally eliminate wheat from a recent thread …..zonulin response.

    The duodenum releases zonulin in response to wheat …..*ANY* wheat. The zonulin response is an immune response. When the gut’s immune system detects even the smallest amount of grassy grain in the intestine, it releases zonulin. Zonulin makes the intestine walls porous. It passes the intestine contents into the bloodstream undigested. Everybody’s immune system comes to exhibit this trait, no matter who you are. The intestinal lumen which flows into the blood includes large particles and chemicals which the body normally excludes from the blood. Of course these particles include gluten, but they also include viruses, bacteria, complex sugars, antigen proteins, metals, etc.

    This problem doesn’t range from good to bad. It ranges from bad to disastrous. Eat just a little wheat, and systems all over the body get stuck trying to deal with this sludge …..and often failing. Don’t eat any wheat, and avoid the problem altogether.

    • Boundless

      > The intestinal lumen which flows into the blood includes large particles …

      Is this stuff conjectured to play any part in strokes?

      • Uncle Roscoe

        Gut permeability and blood brain barrier permeability are closely linked. Some pathways have been identified, but the whole picture is far from solid yet. It would be hard to believe that a substance like zonulin which makes the intestine wall permeable, and passes itself into the bloodstream, would fail to cause the same type of permeability all over the body. Bloodstream zonulin has been linked to leukocyte release of TNF alpha, and subsequent genetics-related cytokine storms. These storms can have strong ties to brain vessel inflammation.

        http://tristarpub.com/ddw2012/?p=121
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19241241

        I’d like to read any insight Dr. Davis might add.

    • Dr. Davis

      Ah, thank you, Uncle Roscoe!

      This is indeed yet another reason to NEVER again indulge in anything wheat.

  18. Sherry

    I have a question that I guess this is as good a place as any to ask. I have been reading Wheat Belly and been wheat free for 10 days. I have been eating salads more and have made your Apple Walnut Bread – yum. Not having any trouble eating wheatless. BUT – believe it or not, I am having MORE bouts of mild cramping and loose stool to full blown diahrrea bouts. I have only lost about 1-1/2 pounds, but being post menopausal, I’ve learned that weight loss does not come as easy as it did in my younger years. My concern is my new bowel issues. From reading your book I have learned that celiac disease and its related conditions often goes undiagnosed, but I thought these symptoms were supposed to GO AWAY by giving up wheat and gluten.

    • Dr. Davis

      You are in a transitional phase, more than likely, Sherry.

      I have been meaning to discuss just this issue. In the meantime, you might consider supplementing with a high-potency probiotic, e.g., 50 billion CFUs per day, for at least 8 weeks to help transition to healthy bowel flora to replace the disruptive and unhealthy bowel flora that developed while consuming wheat.

        • K. O.

          Hi Sherry

          Yeah I hear you too.
          I know that 50 billion is to be the best for probiotics but here is a great one.
          Acidophilus Ultra by New Roots. This product is of 11 billion 11 cultures, BUT this product is PH’D Enteric coded so it gets way down into the intestinal tract with out the stomach acids breaking it away before it gets in to the intestinal tract. They key here is – Enteric coded

          K O

      • James

        I suppose that humans not reacting to gliadin would most likely not go for a second serving of wheat food since gliadin is responsible for the appetite stimulation. Just a guess …

        Whatever, who needs grains anyway ? Birds maybe :)

        J.

        PS: Just an afterthought … modern wheat is revealed to be a true insidious poison for humans, and what do we do to correct this mess ? We try to make humans wheat compatible!!! This is truly INSANITY. By far, the simplest route would be to eliminate wheat from our diet, declare it a poison and be done with it. Just imagine the resources we would then free were wheat no longer mass produced!

        • K O

          Unfortunately declaring that the food supply is poisoned and telling the truth would the people in some sort of revolt. The system could never stand that. Also the last thing a group of people who control most anything we do in one form or another would want to do is loose one of their control methods. I bet they take all sorts of anti=theirdestrution shots and pills so just in case they eat and breath their own poisons.
          There are games being played and WE THE PEOPLE are not any of the players.

  19. Heather Ann

    Dr. Davis,
    Does wheat consumption have any connection to diverticulitis and abscess infections of the intestine associated with diverticulitis? Also, my high sensitivity C-reactive protein test results were quite high. Will eliminating wheat help with clearing up that acute inflammation and also prevent diverticulitis attacks? I was hospitalized last year with an abscess and want to avoid future hospitalizations and/or emergency surgery. I also want to lower my C-reactive protein count. I have been wheat free for two weeks, and am recommending your book to everyone. Thanks.

    • Lisa

      I also wondered about the connection with diverticulitis. My dad just had inches of his intestines removed that were so diseased from diverticulitis. However, his doctor has him eating a lot of whole wheat breads and fiber in the forms of bars, such as fiber one bars. He has lost weight and he feels better, but I wonder how much he would improve if he eliminated wheat (he would be very resistant to the idea…)

      • Heather Ann

        Hello Dr. Davis,
        Could you please address the issue of acute diverticulitis as raised by Lisa and I? The recommendation for diverticulosis is a high fiber diet. I was eating lots of whole grains and wheat for several months before I landed in the hospital last year with a large intestinal abscess which they seriously contemplated operating on. I felt so defeated, because I had been doing everything “right.” But after I recovered, I resumed a high fiber diet (more whole wheat and grains).

        I can’t help but wonder if the wheat may have been a factor in my ongoing GI issues. I’ve been wheat free for 2 weeks, and feel much better. I do think that removing wheat from my diet is helping to reduce inflammation in my body and my GI tract seems to be much calmer these days. I don’t see that you address diverticulitis in your book. Can you please comment? Thanks so much!

    • ellen

      Heather Ann,
      Just to encourage you, just as I was beginning WB in March, my C-Reactive Protein was 4.80. My (former) doctor told me there was nothing I could do to lower it. How wrong she was! I just had blood work done again, and my C-Reactive Protein is now…..TA DA….. .04. Yes, indeedy, .04! Ditching wheat will definitely bring your score down. It will also help w/ the diverticulitis; it sure helped me.

      • Dr. Davis

        Ellen–

        That is wonderful!

        You have experienced something I see every day: Inflammatory markers are dramatically reduced by elimination of wheat.

        No: You do NOT need Crestor to reduce inflammation, contrary to the billion dollar study that “proves” you do!

    • Dr. Davis

      Uncertain about the relationship of wheat and diverticular disease, Heather Ann. I suspect there is indeed a relationship, but we have insufficient data.

      But the reduction of inflammation: A wholehearted yes! Reducing wheat results in dramatic reduction or full normalization of inflammatory markers like c-reactive protein in the majority.

      • Hep

        Yes! Wheat is horrible for diverticulosis ! I never had another attack after eliminating all grain and red meat. No more pain either, at all, ever. I suffered for years until trial and error proved it for me. I also eat nuts and seeds again without issue! I eliminated red meat first, by about 6 months. That stopped the infections but not the pain. The pain stopped when I quit wheat.

  20. Stephanie K

    I had a ‘mild’ heart attach 5 years ago. A secondary vessel had grown like a cork screw, doubled back on itself in a few places, and blocked off in those places. This seems to be a familial issue for my dad’s side of the family. 3 hours of angioplasty and I was back on my feet with relatively no damage.
    I have been on 20 mg lisinopril and 20 mg lipator (the 4th statin based drug) since the incident and 81mg aspirin. .
    I have gone wheat free to see if the ciliac type symptoms the endoscopy report indicated, would abate. (altho I tested negative for ciliac disease). I have had stomach and intestinal issues since beginning the drug regimen.
    I have added almost every augmenting herb, vitamin, and probiotic along the way. Adding and eliminating to see what worked the best…
    I have tried several ‘diets’ along this path, even used HcG for 3 months without the drugs…my BP dropped so significantly while on HcG my MD told me to stop. I felt so alive during that time…but i was also off almost all carbs (not all) as a bread stick or 2, wasa or some other cracker were allowed.
    I am about 20 lbs over the suggested weigh limit for my height but have an immense difficulty losing the weight and keeping it off.
    Are you suggesting losing all carbs or only wheat carbs?
    Are you intimating that even organic wheat is included in the poisoning?
    Just in the searching for an alternative (at my MD’s suggestion) to eliminating the cardio drugs if at all possible.

    • Dr. Davis

      Where to start, Stephanie?

      Have you read the book? This is NOT about going gluten-free, nor is it about celiac disease.

      You might also consider looking at the program that led me down the Wheat Belly path, the Track Your Plaque program: http://www.trackyourplaque.com for more extensive discussions that are more relevant to coronary disease and coronary health. The causes for coronary heart disease can be identified and corrected in the majority . . . but it has NOTHING to do with cholesterol.

      • Stephanie K

        I have not yet read the book. Some of my daughters and I have been having a discourse regarding your blog. I am ordering the book and will read it. I have worked many years to move into an organic/natural foods diet. but have a cardiac familial issue with the twisty secondary vessels. Even while in the cath lab the cardiologist working on me said there was nothing in the major vessels that would be considered heart disease.
        However, after 5 years on the 20 mg of lisinopril and the 20mg lipitor, my body seems to rebel against the drugs by ‘finding’ the side affects of the drugs.Both my GP and I would like to find a way off them.
        Thank you for the response and the link to the track your plaque website.
        We all need to be heathier and I firmly believe we can get there thru proper diet.

  21. kelly

    Hi dr d. Afer knowing what we know aboutvwheat, i dont understand why any one would want to cheat. This poison almost killed me, so no i have no problem being wheat free FOREVER. I dont miss it, the paloe diet works great for us. Thanks Dr D, for your book, and saving us from bad nutritional advice from prof no less.

    Kelly is wheatless in sw wa

  22. cub

    Dr. Davis, you recommend 16 grams of carbohydrates per meal.

    At three meals a day this would total 48 grams of carbohydrates per day.

    What if I:

    1. Ate 48 grams of carbs in one meal and zero in the others?
    2. Ate 24 combined grams of carbs in two meals and zero in one?

    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis

      Very destructive, Cub!

      It has to do with your ability to process carbohydrates over time. Pile them up all at once and nasty stuff happens!

  23. david

    I have been wheat free for two weeks now and am feeling great. After the first couple of days, my cravings for breads and crackers are gone. However, I have noticed several instances where I have inadvertently eaten wheat due to not knowing the indgredients of a particular item (ie.gravy, powerbar). In addition, there may be social occassions where it is rude to refuse all of the wheat based items prepared – like when I my sister made that pumpkin pie the other night. As such, I am sure that I am 98% compliant. How big of a health issue is the rare non-compliance with the program ?

    • Dr. Davis

      It is a compromise, to be sure.

      Please refer to the arguments in this post, David, as they apply to the questions you raise.

      What if I asked: Is 90% ideal health good enough for you?

  24. Lisa

    First off, thank you for changing my life and eating habits forever! I am now wheat free, binge free (recovered bulimic), and I feel better than I have since I first developed an eating disorder around age 12. I have just two quick questions – 1. I noticed under your diet recommendations, you state that oil based dressings and mayonnaise are okay. However, I’ve noticed that all mayos have sugar in the ingredients and most oil-based dressings have sugar in them (although, I have found some that don’t and I do enjoy extra virgin olive oil and vinegar on my salads). Is the small amount of sugars in these two items something to be concerned about? Also, why do you recommend raw nuts rather than roasted? Is it because they are less processed?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Lisa–

      That is truly wonderful with your impulsive eating experience.

      Ideally, your salad dressings have NO sugars or high-fructose corn syrup. It is truly very easy to make your own dressings . . . and you, of course, will not add high-fructose corn syrup or sugars, just olive oil, vinegars, water, and a few herbs and spices.

      Raw nuts are ideal, as they do not contain the hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil that are so common. Roasting does indeed generate lipoxidation/exogenous glycation compounds, but this is an issue of lesser importance.

      • Janet

        I soak my almonds overnight in salted, filtered water. Then drain and put them in my dehydrator for the day. They come out nice and crispy with just a hint of salt flavor for just snacking. You can use an oven too, google for directions. Unfortunately, it makes them a much tastier and crispy treat that I can’t leave alone. The raw almonds I don’t eat as many of. My downfalls and cravings have always been crispy salty things, so I don’t give the almonds the soak/drying treatment very often.

  25. Freddy

    Dr. Davis,
    I found your comments on glycation very interesting. I know that sugar consumption accelarates production of AGEs but I wasn’t aware of the real life implications (arthritis, cataracts, etc.) of it. Could you direct me toward the research that demonstrates those implications?
    Thank you.

    • Dr. Davis

      To get you started on reading a very complex literature, Freddy, put “Vlassara” and “glycation” into your Pubmed.gov search and you will have many weeks of reading to keep you interested!

      This will be mostly about EXOGENOUS glycation. Once you understand these issues, start researching ENDOGENOUS glycation.

  26. It seems that people are living by the mantra 80/20… I think Pareto’s Law it is being misinterpreted. You derive 80% of your results from 20% of your actions. As this article demonstrates about eating wheat… one of the best high-impact things you could do for your health is stop eating conventional whole wheat. To stop eating grains fits into the 20% of activities that will drive a majority of your results. Too many times I see the 80/20 rule being thrown around like “just do what you’re supposed to 80% of the time and the other 20% doesn’t matter.” So far from the truth! I think I’ll start using the “safe sex… only on the weekends” analogy with clients. Thanks for a good article.

  27. I’m not completely sure where to post this…but I have a question about how many carbs one should consume if one is trying to lose weight…if I understand correctly, Dr. Davis suggests no more than 15-20 grams of net carbs at each meal….To what extent should I be limiting my intake of fruits and vegetables? I realize that a small apple has about 15 grams of carbs…does that account for all the carbs in a meal?

    We are on day 12 wheat free…it’s been excellent so far – have been experiencing some brain fog and slight digestive, ahem, adjustments…..no noticeable weight loss, but my clothes feel a touch more comfortable – I have a significant amount of weight to lose…will this happen gradually and naturally with a wheat free diet or do I need to be vigilant about carbs (we don’t eat potatoes or other starchy veggies…). We mainly eat greens…

    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis

      The carb issue applies regardless of source, but the 15 grams (not 20) or less refers to “net” carbs, or total carbs minus fiber.

      Yes, restricting carbohydrates really helps. And for the digestive adjustments, we find that a high-potency probiotic, e.g., 50 billion CFUs per day, really helps by accelerating the restoration of normal bowel flora. It may even accelerate weight loss.

      • Thanks so much for the reply. I (like so many others) really appreciate that you take the time to address questions here. It is somewhat difficult to know instinctively which choices to make around food. Right. 15 grams or less :)

        I suppose, then, that apples will have to be very small or eaten very infrequently.

        I sense this journey is different for those who have weight to lose and those who don’t, really. I do see wheat as the culprit behind my ‘inability’ to control my weight for most of my life – cravings, emotional eating, all of it came from wheat – what I don’t get is why it affects some of us more powerfully and severely than others – my feeling is that some of us more genetically predisposed to addictive tendencies than others…and losing control in the face of wheat-laden food definitely runs in my family (even though my brother and sister are not overweight)… The answers to these questions don’t really matter at this point, though.

        I admit, I can think of little else since embarking upon the wheat-free lifestyle. I’m angry that I allowed wheat to dominate my body/soul for so long. This has become so much more than simply eliminating wheat..it’s looking back at family culture, custom, tradition, comfort…

        We went to the market this morning and stocked up on our jumbo free-range and organic eggs, cheeses, lean ground beef and chicken breasts, and leafy greens…

        I will look for a probiotic, thanks.

        Happy Canadian Thanksgiving :) My biggest challenge will be refusing my mom’s stuffing – the ultimate comfort food – not because I want to eat it (because I don’t), but because she will be sorely offended.

        Thank you again..

        • Dr. Davis

          Sure, Anne!

          And you are absolutely correct: The experience differs for many people, for the same reasons that some people get celiac disease from wheat, while others get “gluten sensitivity,” appetite-stimulation, paranoia or depression, inattention, watery diarrhea, constipation, migraine headaches, psoriasis or seborrhea, or joint pain or activation of rheumatoid arthritis.

          But the essential point is: What the heck is this thing even doing in the human diet if so many people experience health destruction from it?

          • Wow..so true. It’s funny, because I’m starting to look at certain foods as non-edible, ‘not-meant-to-be-consumed’…

            We are getting our fair share of eye-rolling from family members. My mom quipped, ‘not another thing…I wonder how long this phase will last…’ Even our 13 yr old thinks we’re eccentric (even more so than usual) to be changing everything up around here….

            I can only hope that our loved ones begin to see how destructive wheat is…I actually cringed when I saw my 1.5 yr. old nephew shoveling wheat cereal into his mouth..I realize how intense our children have been around food, how demanding and unreasonable and it surely has to do with the fact that they are hungry…because of the wheat – and what do we do? Feed them more wheat…

            Jaw-dropping stuff, eh?

            Thanks!

      • Hello again,

        I picked up a probiotic, but at the time forgot which CFU you’d mentioned. The probiotic I picked up has 12 billion CFU’s – I am going to go ahead and take 3-4 capsules a day.

        Also, maltodextrin is listed as an ingredient, as is inulin. Will this compromise anything re. wheat free / sugar free regiment?

        Thank you!

        • Dr. Davis

          I generally obtain good results with 50 billion CFUs, so you are right in the ballpark.

          Because capsules contain such a small quantity, you are probably just fine. The inulin, in fact, may actually encourage growth of healthy bacteria.

          • Week 6 of wheat free living and I’m feeling a bit under the weather. It could be an ordinary case of gastroenteritis…but it doesn’t quite feel like it.

            I was taking a multi-probiotic, but stopped a couple of days before getting sick. I’ve been dealing with major constipation issues since going WF – probiotic didn’t seem to help with that. Now I am experiencing cramps after eating, sore and achy back, hips, and thighs, and slight fever. I’m worried it might be related to my pancreas. I get lost in all of the terminology, but could my blood have too much fat in it (as a result of giving up wheat and eating more fat)? Or could my cramps etc. be a side effect of stopping the probiotic?

            I’m very sensitive to any kind of medication, and I’d always prefer to resolve digestive issues using food sources – not keen on probiotics or enzymes…or even magnesium citrate (although I may have to resort to that…)

            I think it’s taken my body longer to realize that it’s given up wheat – I really think my digestion was dependent upon whole grains and without them, things seem to be going wrong.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back! I truly believe and have realized how wheat and it’s addictive properties is ultimately destructive -I’m just not transitioning very well.

            Another thing – hard to know what to eat for an upset stomach – I’ve been eating applesauce, chicken broth, and bananas and definitely munching on “Mary’s” gluten free crackers… somehow nuts or eggs just don’t seem appealing…

            Thanks for listening..

          • Dr. Davis

            Boy, Anne: This sure sounds more complicated than something we can just address in this blog. Eating fat with resultant “blood fat” is most certainly NOT a likely explanation.

            Sounds like you need a thorough and intelligent assessment that may include imaging like ultrasound, stool sample examination, etc.

            Eliminating wheat is indeed a very powerful strategy, but it cannot correct/prevent/undo all conditions, e.g., pancreatic disease, gallbladder disease, kidney disease, etc.

          • Hi,
            Thanks for the reply below…couldn’t reply to the reply :)

            I believe it is likely just a tummy bug, but my mind just went a bit wild. I’m turning 40 soon (gasp!), and am really trying to address my weight issue in a meaningful and smart way. I have about 50 lbs. to lose.

            I think I will lower the dose of the probiotic to one capsule a day (12 billion CFU), and keep doing what I’m doing. I love being wheat free. It’s given me a renewed appreciation for food preparation, nutrition, and healthy eating!

            All the best

  28. Enrica

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I am thinking of starting the wheat free diet for my family and I. We are all thin and don’t need to lose weight but I am always looking for ways to stay healthy. My son also suffers from Eczema, is there a link between eczema and wheat ?

    Thanks

    Enrica

  29. Patrick Hamilton

    Dr. Davis: I fully understand now about the appetite stimulation of gliandin…….after going off the wheatbelly regime for a few days(I was on holiday visiting friends, and didnt want them to make a fuss) I came home to a host of symptoms,(shortlived after I got back on track) but what lasted longer was my incredible appetite…..and cravings for carbs!!….I realize now that ANY amount of wheat is going to undo all the good progress I have made so far…..so zero wheat for me from now on!…..

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, exactly, Patrick: The increased appetite for carbohydrates from gliadin.

      It’s not an appetite for salmon or steak; it is incessant appetite for cookies, chips, and muffins. You can see why wheat has become the darling of the processed food industry.

  30. carrie

    I just want to be clear, are you saying that not cutting out sugar 100% is the same as not cutting out wheat 100%?
    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis

      No, cutting out sugar is important, but not nearly as important as completely cutting out wheat.

      Sugar has limited potential for destroying health, while wheat destroys health in so many varied ways.

      • carrie

        THANK YOU! That is what I thought you were saying form the post, but just wanted to make sure I understood correctly. I have a harder time quitting sugar completely than wheat.

  31. James

    Hello Dr Davis,

    My wife and I are on day 8 being wheat free. I notified this blog earlier that I gained a much better sleep after only 2-3 days w/o wheat. But let me expand a bit on our experience so far:
    – we not only removed wheat but also ALL sweet / sugary food including our beloved fruits and honey
    – we removed ALL dairy products, including my beloved french cheeses.
    – we are eating only veggies, nuts, healthy oils and meat / eggs. All is organic.

    I have been digging deeper into the “theory” behind than my wife who hardly has any time and relies on me for information. It has been a BIG WAKE-UP call. We had her mother for breakfast this morning. She is usually indulging a lot in wheat-based products, cheeses and sweet jams of all kinds, washed down with liters of coffee. My father-in-law is even worse. Anyway, when she saw what was on our table, her eyes were almost popping out of their sockets :D There were yesterday’s diner left-overs, raw cuts from pepper-fruits, avocado, carrots, cucumber, nuts, smoked salmon, omelet, green tea, a real feast actually! She was really amazed …

    My father-in-law finds our change of diet completely absurd. He’s an old-school vet who thinks he knows better. That’s OK, we don’t want to force anyone. My wife had a funny comment this morning: it is a REVOLUTION. And I found it actually pretty deep after a second thought: some people out there go and fight for whatever beliefs and trigger revolutions of a kind that usually only bring more of the same thing they wanted changed. This on the other hand is a true revolution, because it also affects the mind in a very subtle way. For example, I find myself less prone to being judgmental and aggressive during the usual conflicts, and my focus, although already good is even better. I feel energized in some way that is more than the usual bodily sensation, cannot really describe it. But I start to think that some of the global issues humanity is facing have something to do with the overall unsound diet based on grains and wheat in particular, not necessarily THE root-cause but at least a contribution factor. I believe there is a present-day danish philosopher musing around this possible link. I will try to find his name.

    OK, let me cut it short with a final practical tip: this change of habits is really helped a lot by using a power blender! I acquired one of those a few days ago and all I can say is wow! This is a tremendous help in eating healthily in no time! I find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen and I am finally enjoying it! :)

    Cheers!
    James

    PS: There is one thing that my wife has a little hard time with, namely social contexts. She is Danish and cherishes the famous danish cultural concept of “hygge”, which is hard to translate. It has to do with cosiness but also being among friends and family in a cosy home, around a nice meal all too often ending with a big sweet cake and coffe, topped with cream. The coffee time can also lead to candies, which the Danes really love. I have no such background and have no problem telling people that I am not eating this or that … however rude it may appear … but that’s a matter of personality. OK, time to go …

      • James

        Hi Bonnie,

        Plenty of things :)

        – Various nut flour or even butter (almond, cashew, etc)
        – smoothies
        – shakes
        – ice cream (so easy!! a few frozen berries, ice cubes, almond cream or milk, some vanilla powder and a piece of ripe banana or sweetener like xylitol and that’s it)
        – soups
        – hummus
        – etc

        Most of these operations take ~ 1mn to 5mn. I however always cook the soup blend in a conventional way after using the blender just to make sure all ingredients are cooked (super high speed frictions cook the ingredients but slow cooking is always best for soups, especially if you add onions).

      • James

        Psotscriptum:

        Since our first week being WF (it has been a little more than a month now), we reintroduced butter, full fat cream and some cheeses (swiss gruyere, tomme de Savoie, parmigiano – we live in Europe so those are easily found) and occasional berries or even a piece of apple / banana / pear once in a while. The reason is that we fluctuate between ketogenic to borderline diet with intermittent fasting and started to follow the primal blueprint principles. The latter have enhanced our new eating habits by A LOT!

        Cheers!
        J.

        • K. O.

          Hi there

          Yeah blending is about the best ways to gather a vast amount of nutrition in it’s better form. The amount of different and proper foods that can be blended in to a all day is smoothie is unbeatable.
          Though beside the nutrition it is that the foods are already chewed up. So the metabolic rate is reduced, and so is the energy used to break it down. The fastest way to nutrition is blending your food, and of course proper foods.
          Today my blender ( 2L ) took a load of Black Kale, Dark green Kale, coconut oil. A mixture of nuts, hemp protein powder, Carrots, Zucchini, Broccoli, Celery, sea salt, other dark green leaf, olive oil, and water.
          Remember drink slowly, there is a lot of substance in 2 liters.

          K O

  32. Jill

    I do have to say that this news (to me) is a tad disappointing but very informative. I am 90% grain free and kind of thought of the 5-10% as my moderation. I am reconsidering this. Could my 10% be other grains? How does 100% wheat free but 10% other grains work? I am thinking about this for myself and my children. It’s harder for my children – the pressures of society alone.
    However, (and I’m not sure you intended it this way) but you made me feel better about my 10% of sugar!

    • Dr. Davis

      Depends on what your goals are, Jill.

      If your goal is ideal health, then I believe that limiting non-wheat grains to no more than 15 grams “net” carbs per meal is a healthy practice to avoid provoking all the adverse phenomena of carbohydrate over-exposure. Kids can get away with more.

  33. Lou

    Dr. Davis,
    I’m reading your other book, Track Your Plaque, and have a question.

    I took your advice and had a heart scan. My calcium score is zero (yeah!). My cholesterol is 238 but I was told that the majority of my particles were small ones. My question is this. Where are my LDL particles if they are not in my arteries? When you reduce the number of small LDL particles, where do they go?

    Thanks…hope this isn’t a dumb question.

  34. Erin

    I am very interested in going wheat free but I am on a blood thinner and changes to my diet greatly affect my blood levels. Any advice or suggestions as to how this might affect my INR levels. Thanks.

    • Dr. Davis

      Usually goes down, meaning your warfarin dose may need to be increased. This is due to the increased intake of vitamins K1 and K2 (yes, there is a K2 in meats and dairy products). There may also be long-term changes due to shifts in the type of bowel flora that metabolize vitamin K1/K2.

      It just means having your INR checked, say, every 2 weeks or so to catch the shifts and make a dose adjustment. Very easy.

  35. wende

    My daughter and I have found adding flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed to a morning smoothie has been incredibly effective for healthy bowel movements. Also, a homemade flaxseed oil, balsamic vinaigrette for salads. Bowel issues have run in my family. I am 48 and since adding these daily, along with drinking more water, has given me normal bowel movements for the first time in my life!