Wheat Belly: Enemy of Big Pharma

Having known many drug sales representative over the years, I’ve found them a mixed bag. While some are nothing more than pretty faces armed with enticing gifts, I have also encountered a good number who admitted–sometimes openly–that they worked for Big Pharma for nothing more than money.

Here are some comments from just such a pharmaceutical insider who, thanks to her and her daughter’s wheat-free experience, has gained a better understanding of her industry:

I feel compelled to share my story with you. I am a drug rep who advocates for you every single day. Did I mention that I happen to sell medications that treat diseases most likely caused or exacerbated by wheat (depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis, & erectile dysfunction)?

In 2009, my daughter had a febrile seizure at 15 months with ear infection #6. She was healthy her first 9 months, but within a 6 month period, had 8 ear infections. She received tubes after #4. Wanting to be the best mom that I could be, I nursed her for 14 months and followed the guidelines for when to introduce different foods. Month 9 was the introduction to table foods and Heidi loved couscous, bread, and all things whole wheat. After the seizure, I realized that traditional medicine wasn’t working, so I took Heidi to a holistic chiropractor who suggested that I remove gluten. Long story short, the chiropractor was right. I was later diagnosed with celiac disease and we went gluten-free. I stocked up on all good pre-made substitutes that were gluten-free so that my child could feel normal at day care and I wouldn’t feel like I was missing out. My daughter has been ear infection-free for almost three years.

Three years later, I had packed on 25 pounds and thought it was related strictly to stress, life changes, etc. Then I read your book. After my light bulb moment when you commented on the pre-made gluten free foods and recommended Maria Emmerich’s book, I changed the way we are eating completely. I had already committed to getting myself healthy this year and started down the path, even had my kitchen cleaned out of junk on the morning news. In August, I began cooking from scratch. This is a big deal for a single mom who was raised on microwave dinners and the only thing I used the oven for was baking sweets. I’ve dropped 18 of those 25 pounds, dropped my total cholesterol 54 points to 132 and triglycerides 24 points to 67. These are both all-time low numbers for me. I have also finally managed to make the head-to-toe rash that lingered for a year go away. Five MDs (primary care, dermatologist, and 3 allergists) couldn’t figure it out, but diet did.

I feel so much better after going sugar- and grain-free. I have shared my story and the fact that your book contains solid information that would help so many patients when talking to my customers.

Given my background in teaching and awareness of the medical community on top of my passion for others to be educated on what is really in the stuff that gets passed off to us as food these days, I want to help others. I also want to be able to explain to my daughter how I can directly help people and be able to actually give her quality time in the evening, instead of hurry her to bed so that I can get on the computer and do the computer work to keep corporate happy. It’s about being a healthy role model for my daughter and continuing to teach her through my actions. She will start kindergarten next year and there is so much opportunity to mold her understanding of what is really healthy.

I can’t thank you enough for inspiring me to pursue a career to educate others on nutrition and hopefully help them to not need so many medications. I only hope that I can accomplish my financial goals before the job cuts come. Thank you again for the inspiration to get myself healthy and keep my child healthy as well as to hopefully have a positive impact on others. Now you can understand how you have truly changed one more person’s life.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Lynne

    While sales is it’s own beast with very different compensation methods, the medical side of ‘Big Pharma’ is made up of doctors, nurses and researchers who care greatly about their patients and who are in a unique position of risking being barred from the industry if found guilty of ethics violations.

    No one would ever tell you to not eat healthfully. As my dentist says though – don’t eat sugar, but since you probably will, we’ll be here for you.

  2. AnnKC

    I LOVE your book. I am a PA-C and used to work at a GI clinic in Milwaukee. We’ve lived out on the east coast for the past 5 years and I am about to go back into a GI setting (after staying home with my kids for a few years). I have always been quite interested in Celiac disease/wheat intolerance. That peaked this summer after I somewhat randomly cut out wheat from my families diet for 30 days. My daughter who has complained of stomach aches and has had bowel “issues” for 18 months suddenly was totally better. I’ve had intermittent GI symptoms too but was told, when asked, that I didn’t need celiac testing done, had an EGD without duodenal biopsies, which was pretty normal. Anyway, I added wheat back into our diets and am having celiac serology for my daughter and myself completed this week. We’ll be a wheat free house after that no matter what the results but I think wheat free vs gluten free is quite a bit different and I want to have “proof” if my daughter rebels against it later in life.

    Thank you for such a well written book. I will be introducing my new supervising physicians to it when I step into the office next week. Ha! Hopefully, they will be supportive. If we ever move back to WI (doubtful as the winters here are much better!) I’d apply to work in your practice!

  3. What an inspirational story. I have my own wheat-free story too, but that’s not the subject of this reply. While I’m delighted with my improved health, I’m frustrated with my total failure to convince anybody, including my wife, that the Wheat Belly regimen is scientificly valid and is worth the effort. I see people with all kinds of health problems who might be helped by this regimen but who won’t give it a trial. I’m sure other fans of Dr. Davis have similar frustrations.

    • James

      Hey Mike,

      My wife and I had dinner with her parents the other day. While my mother-in-law is very understanding and supportive, her husband is an old-school vet whose diet is at 180 deg. from ours, even though he is the kind of person that never gets truly fat or obese from excess sugar, bread, etc . However, he suffers from quite a few health problems which were not mitigated by having been a smoker for 40 years (he stopped a year ago after a threatening pneumonia).

      Anyway, we were eating a nice meal (fish, veggies) when at some point he could not hold it anymore, he had to ask us the reason for our “weird” diet. He did it politely but I know the man, the polite surface covered deeper undertones of contempt: he started to see us as “alternative people”, “hippies” or non conformist, even “religious” as we were following guidelines as an act of faith (that one made me genuinely laugh). There is a precedent in the family, he has a niece that is a little “new-age” and has only contempt for her because he is a former academic professor in veterinarian studies … so he started to include us in the nutcase bag.

      To cut it short, my wife and I had agreed to explain what we know about wheat consumption and consequences when asked but not to try convince anyone. And that is actually wise in some cases because my father-in-law kept trying to challenge us with, I must say, technical but quite irrelevant points. In the end, I just told him that I am my own experimental subject and after two weeks, I feel as I never have felt before, and what makes me feel like that is worth continuing for my and my family’s sakes.

      The truth is that some cultural aspects are so taken for granted that drifting away from them makes you look like you are rejecting the consensus, you are breaking the social circle or group you have until then implicitly belonged to. And some people react instinctively against such a “betrayal”. The hard part is to not throw things back at them and abort the potential conflict as soon as you see it. My way of eating is MINE, and this is no one else business. It remains that I would love to introduce these eating habits to my own family which I know now is suffering a lot from daily wheat and sugar consumption. I simply do not know how to do that. I live in a different country but I hope that the way I look next time I see them will convince some (I expect to be at least 15 lbs lighter with a flat and hard belly on my next visit :) )

      • I can relate. We usually have Sunday dinners with my parents and my mom through up her hands in genuine frustration and said, ‘well, there’s NOTHING you can eat here!’. Food/wheat is a very sensitive topic, wrought with culturally/family bound tradition and I have obviously offended my very wonderful mother by refusing (albeit politely) to eat what she’d prepared. No one else came to my support, and when my husband and I ignored the main course and heaped salad onto our plates, there were audible intakes of breaths around the table and slight head shaking all around. My sister then made a big deal thanking my mom for the delicious pasta casserole and how good it is…My brother-in-law cornered my husband and asked him why wheat? Why are you giving up wheat?

        I’m in a difficult position, though. My daughters (8, and 13) are getting mixed messages. I cannot force them not to eat wheat (especially at their grandmother’s house), but we go on and on about how bad it is for us…I don’t want to guilt them into not eating wheat, but the truth is, they’re young, we’ve always provided nutritious food and they, too, are wary of this new way of eating… And of course they are strong-willed. They’ve never been big bread eaters, so we don’t have any bread in the house – and we’ve eliminated all wheat-based pastas, so I suspect they don’t eat as much wheat as their counterparts..except in the form of sweets and chips on occasion…

        Sorry for the ramble!! All that to say, I can relate with trying to negotiate with others and find meaning in all of this…

        Oh, and my husband won’t seem to decline the beer he’s offered on Sundays….

        Cheers!

    • Sandy

      I work in a medical clinic and see so many people who would truly benefit from going wheat free, not to mention sugar and processed food free, but they are unwilling to go down that road. I just have to keep my thoughts to myself and let our doctors do their own thing. However, on the positive side, many of them are on the low carb bandwagon but stop just short of telling their patients to give up wheat and other gluten products. I wish I could place a Wheat Belly book in each of the exam rooms so the patients would have something “healthy” to read while waiting for the docs.
      In the meantime, I just answer any questions from my colleagues who would like to know what I have done to lose the 20+ pounds over the past year and why the constant rash on my face is now gone. I attribute it all to, first of all, Dr. Davis and Wheat Belly and eating the good, clean foods Mother Nature gives us. And yes, that includes lots of grass fed beef and other wholesome proteins.
      Oh, and BTW, our clinic no longer allows pharmaceutical reps to stop by. I fear they may soon be looking for other jobs.

  4. Evelyn

    I’m a pharmacy tech, so I see first hand every day what people are doing to themselves. It frustrates me to no end that doctors just keep writing more prescriptions instead of addressing the cause of their patients’ diseases. The “fast movers” section of the pharmacy is dedicated to meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol; with a few inhalers thrown in for good measure.
    We do occasionally see people who decide to change their own lives with diet and exercise. Just recently, an 80 year old patient’s daughter came in to pick up her mother’s medications, and said her mother no longer needed her metformin, and was not using her albuterol inhalers anymore. I carefully asked what had happened to mom, and the daughter said that she and her mom had adopted a strict, healthy diet of wholesome foods, and her mom had lost 20 pounds and was feeling much better. We love stories like that! Just yesterday, mom and daughter stopped by the pharmacy just to say hello, and what a difference in mom’s appearance! She looked healthy, bright-eyed, and just had a healthy glow about her.
    I so enjoy all the comments from your postings Dr. D. Those of us who ascribe to healthy eating are a weird lot, and may be viewed with suspicion; but that’s okay. In his day, Galileo was a freak, but eventually was proved right. :)

  5. Grace

    I find lots of push back as well. My mother though, is “kind of” on board. She gets the theory in her head, but she still isn’t on board with complete wheat elimination. At this point she is cutting back, but I guess that’s better than outright rejection. :-) But the vast majority of people I speak to think it’s crazy, and most people think I said I don’t eat “meat” when I said I don’t eat “wheat”. LOL. I guess maybe i need to learn to enunciate.

    But I also have a question for Dr. Davis. A celiac friend of mine just told me about this bread, and I am dubious based on what I’ve read in your book. But they do say it’s non-GMO, and I wonder what your thoughts are?
    http://www.julianbakery.com/bread-product/carbzero-regular/

    I would love to be able to eat a sandwich just once in awhile….. ;-D
    And my husband is having a hard time giving up beer as well – he is a major “craft beer” aficionado. He used to brew his own beer even. But he loves, loves, loves craft brews. I find it difficult to always say no to something he really does enjoy (in moderation).

    • Grace

      That last part was just a comment, not really a question. :) Really, that’s been the hardest part of the whole thing is my poor hubby having to give up his beer that he loves so much. He is German afterall (from Berlin!). I think it’s in his DNA to love bier….

      Otherwise we are enjoying being wheat free!

      • James

        I read somewhere on this blog that this bread simply tastes like cr…p.

        My own substitute that I quickly adopted and that I enjoy veryu much is almond meal based bread. It takes no time to prepare:

        Pre-heat oven at 350 F.

        2 full cup of almond meal / flour
        3 eggs (not small but not too big either)
        1 tsp of baking soda
        1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
        a bit of sea salt
        Optionally: some sweetener, I use 1 Tbsp of xylitol
        Optionally: some flavor. I used 1 tsp vanilla powder (organic, 100% pure vanilla).
        Optionally: turn some nuts into meal / flour with a power blender (I use the Vitamixx 5200

        Mix dry stuff, then add wet stuff. Mix until you get a nice dough.

        Pour dough into a sprayed 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ loaf pan and smooth the top so you get a more regular bread. Bake for 30 to 40mn, let it cool for 15-20mn and enjoy :)

        My kids LOVE it. If you add a thin layer of jam or apple compote, you’re in heaven :)

    • Dr. Davis

      The Julian Bakery people were kind enough to send me two loaves.

      While it looks great, I fear it was kind of funky smelling and unusually dry. I did not like it very much.

      • Sheila

        I’m in California and they sell it in our stores. I bought the almond and the coconut flour bread (since all the ingredients were ones that are in WB recipes). Yikes….my daughter and I tried it…one slice (also tried toasted). Could hardly swallow it! We agreed to stick to the wonderful Dr. Davis focaccia bread (which I have also made into pizza…yum).
        Thanks again Dr. Davis!! Look forward to all the new posts and more WB info.

      • Grace Trendel

        Thank you so much for the response! I actually ordered a loaf of the coconut bread. Not sure if that’s one of the ones they sent you a sample of. I should have waited to hear the reviews here though before I ordered. :rolleyes: Oh well.

        Thank you ALL for the great recipe suggestions. I have printed them all off! We did try the almond meal pizza crust last night – that one wasn’t our favorite – we really prefer the cauliflower pizza crust. But I’m glad we tried it and I’m going to keep experimenting! Thanks everyone again.

        Last comment – we went on vacation the first week of September and pretty much ate whatever we wanted, and I have to say, I couldn’t WAIT to get home and get back to my normal wheat free diet! :D

      • Louise

        My daughter has peanut allergies and not sure about the almond meal. Is there a substitiue for almond meal with the Focaccia Bread?

        • Dr. Davis

          While I’ve not tried it myself, ground walnuts likely works just fine.

          To make a finer texture, you could add a tablespoon or two of coconut and/or garbanzo bean flour.

          • Marie

            When our stores are out of almond meal, I use hazelnut meal. Tastes a little different, but not bad. Hazelnut meal is also great for the brownie recipe.

    • Lindsey

      If you go to about dot com’s low carb diets site there is coverage on Julian’s Bakery bread. It’s like so many other things, mostly hype and triggers spikes for many.
      Google “oopsie rolls” for the recipe, with 0.6 net grams of carbs per roll, of a ‘bread’ for sandwiches and burgers. It’s made with eggs, cream cheese, and a speck of cream of tartar. Oddly enough it has the texture of a burger bun. : )
      And no wheat or ‘gluten free’ carbs.

  6. MariL

    Your cookbook can’t come out soon enough….I have always been an advocate of real, whole foods in everyone’s diet. I made my own veggie burgers and granola (can’t digest meat) and eating mostly vegetables as a staple in my diet. But I thought I’d try this diet/lifestyle on a whim, and it’s WORKING. My Bp, once 150/98 is now 107/71 OFF MEDS, and I am 8 lbs ligher. Just from cutting out wheat and grain. I can’t believe how it’s working….And I love baking, so I’m eager to find recipes I can make at home for my family to become more healthy.
    Thanks for nailing this for us, I wish I’d heard of this years ago.

    • Dr. Davis

      Great, MariL!

      It is really SO simple, isn’t it? Yet the world veers towards lives dependent on drugs for its “health,” rather than eliminating this thing that disrupts health in so many ways.

      Keep it going!

  7. JIllOz

    Dr Davis,
    I left a message on FB about you to a guy who does a radio show about helath and similar matters.
    Don’t know if he’ll contact you but thought I’d let you know.
    If you’d like more info, just email me.

  8. LorLor

    I would love to hear from anyone out there with Sjogren’s syndrome, and whether they have had symptom relief due to Wheat Belly. I have a co-worker I’ve been trying to convince to try this and she’s been diagnosed with Sjogren’s.

    Thanks!

    • Alene

      I have been tested for sjogrens (lip biopsy) that was inconclusive. I have not had further testing. I have a number of the classic symptoms. I was taking evoxac for dry mouth 3 times a day before starting on the wheat belly diet last May. I now only take it in the morning, it is not as bad as before. My brain fog lifted within a week. My eyes are not as dry. I did not have any joint pain issues, just dryness. Anyway my overall health seems better and my weight is down.

  9. Ozlem

    Dr. Davis, please think about making a movie “Wheat Belly” for people who are not much into reading. I am sure it will be great. Please please think about it.

    Regards,

    • Dr. Davis

      Actually, we’ve had a number of conversations in this direction.

      I believe a Wheat Belly movie in some form will indeed materialize, but just waiting for the right mix of people to get the job done. I believe that is the catalyst for an even greater exposure and a reason for the Wheat Lobby to start looking for new jobs!

  10. I’m so excited I had to share. My Type II diabetic husband just returned from the doctor, who called the change in his medical profile “amazing” and gave him a round of applause. Three months on a no-wheat diet and he’s lost 17 pounds (could never lose weight prior to this), he’s down from 80 units of insulin to 10…some days none. His doctor was very interested in how he’d done this, since he said his own father has just started taking insulin. My husband explained, and the doctor said he planned to research Wheat Belly. What a groundswell this will become as more people in the medical profession get on board. His doctor told him to keep doing what he’s doing, and at his next appointment in three months he will evaluate all his medications, which include BP, etc. The best part is that it’s really become part of my husband’s lifestyle…he doesn’t feel deprived or hungry, he has more energy and he’s exercising….and he’s become a vocal promoter of a no-grain Wheat Belly diet. “Thank you” doesn’t come close to expressing my gratitude, Dr. Davis.

    • Dr. Davis

      That’s absolutely wonderful, Patience! You can see why I rant, rave . . . and provide recipes while I’m at it!

      You and your husband are witnessing precisely what I have been living these past several years: It’s not just about losing a few pounds; it’s about life-changing turnarounds in health.

      It truly is SO simple.

  11. Don

    Dr. Davis, my doctor at Virginia Mason in Issaquah WA gave me your book during my sept 1 checkup. I am 43, 6’1″ and was 242lbs on that day. I started following the diet immediately and am now down 15 lbs as of today Oct 17. I had about 3 weeks of withdrawal but now no cravings. Thank you so much for this chance at health. Thought you would like to know that some MDs are handing out your book, it’s changed me life!

    • Dr. Davis

      Very heartening, Don! I’ve been hearing about more and more of my colleagues openly embracing these concepts.

      Very soon they might have nothing to do, having all slender healthy patients! Keep it going, Don.

  12. wrotek

    Wheat belly… Is it really all FAT ? I was wondering why my belly is so much smaller in the morning and gets bigger in the evening… What could be making this change ? And i reached the conclusion that under the belly we have intestins, so perhaps it is an intestinal problem. Perhaps accumulation of toxins, ? Undigested food ?
    If intestines cant absorb food. they will accumulate it right ?

    What do You think ?

    • Lindsey

      Sometimes it’s just ‘bloat’ from gasses that form during the attempt to ‘digest.’

      If I ate a conventional brownie right now I’d look like I had a beach ball under my shirt, and be in agony, inside 2 hours. Weird but true. And later there’d be the bathroom visits. Ugh.

  13. Mark

    I have a family history of heart disease. My dad had five bypass surgery when he was 45. I’m 39 today and in March had an extended blood workup done. It showed that my cholesterol levels were decent but my LDL-p were elevated. From a family history perspective, my dr wanted to put me on Lipitor. I said give me six months to clean up my eating and start more exercise. I followed a diet very similar to what you have laid out and removed wheat from my diet. I went on a Men’s multi-vitamin (Garden of Life), taking two Fish Oils/day, and Vitamin D supplements. I increased my exercise as well. I’m not overweight and never have been. I don’t drink or smoke. Went back last week for my test and my blood work came back and the numbers went through the roof. My Triglycerides went from 137 to 250, Apo B went from 100 to 121, and the LDL-P went from 1200 to 2200. These numbers were horrible and depressing. The dr is pretty much pushing me now to go on statins. Any thoughts?

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Mark–

      No need to panic. I just answered the very same question, so I will cut and paste:

      1) NO decisions about “cholesterol” should be made during weight loss or when weight loss was recent. See this Wheat Belly Blog post on just this question: I lost weight and my cholesterol went . . . up! This can happen even with modest weight loss of, say, 3 pounds.

      While there can occasionally be unexpected distortions in cholesterol values with reducing wheat/carbohydrate intake, most of the time it is simply the distortions that are expected during weight loss. Among the exceptions: having one or two of the apo E4 gene. But I wouldn’t even begin to consider such things until at least 2 months after weight loss has plateaued.

      2) Get a new doctor. It sounds like you’ve got one who falls in the “A drug for every issue” camp. We need to boycott them, as they are little more than whores for the drug industry, an unforgivable behavior pattern.

      3) Get a full lipoprotein analysis that includes quantification of small LDL particles to tell you how much more responsive you will be to further carbohydrate reduction. And be sure to obtain lipoprotein(a)–you are almost CERTAIN to have this genetic pattern, given your family history.

      4) Consider looking at the Track Your Plaque program. That’s where we discuss issues relevant to heart disease.

    • wrotek

      I just add 2 cents that perhaps increased water intake would help You ? Heard about hydration therapy of Dr Batmanghelidj ? People on increased water intake decrease their lipid as well, also coffee is lipid increasing cholesterol etc because of diterpens cafestol and kahweol in it. So if u drink coffee switch to tea.

  14. Tracy

    As somebody who has gone down this journey myself, I hear so much frustration to educate others in the above comments. The fact is that most people won’t change their habits unless they see a reason so compelling to do so. That was definitely the case for me. I didn’t try pushing this down people’s throats. I keep at least 1 spare copy of his book on hand to “loan out” because when you drop 21# in a few months, people want to know what you’re doing. As far as explaining it to children, there are some books that discuss foods & why. Earth Fare has kids eat free night on Thursday & some great trader cards I use to talk through why we eat how we do. For the family gatherings, why not bring some yummy dishes to share? Help others have the opportunity to taste what you’re eating because part of the misperception is that we can’t eat anything or everything will taste like cardboard.

  15. K. O.

    So
    I guess if you/BigArsssPharma vaccine all the up and new comers to this playing field then they will be fit to eat your crops of poison. Interesting huh? So here is a Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine and it has a similar effect of a gluten free diet…. Science is so wonderful huh, it’s full of bull—- with hidden agendas. like most anything to do with Authority & Austerity. Living with in a Global Scientific experiment…

    I came across this the other day, and I am still shaking my head…!!!

    The Opportunity
    This license opportunity offers a gliadin-based vaccine, which has proven efficient as means
    of preventing type 1 diabetes (T1D) in an animal model of the disease. The vaccine is
    shown to work by an immune regulatory mechanism, hindering T1D development. The anti-
    diabetic effect of gliadin vaccination is similar to the well-known effect of a gluten free diet.
    The technology represents the first successful application of an environmental antigen in a
    regulatory vaccine approach for prevention of T1D.

    http://erhverv.ku.dk/english/licensing/commercialdeals/lilla_Business_Opportunity__Novel_Vaccine_Approach_for_Treatment_of_Type_1_Diabetes_X.pdf/

    • Dr. Davis

      Yup. There are ongoing efforts to try to make wheat something truly healthy, mostly by finding ways to get humans to not react to the gluten/gliadin.

      But they forgot about the amylopectin A, wheat germ agglutinin, unique alpha amylase inhibitors, omega-gliadins, and all the other evil pieces that remain!

      • K. O.

        Good Evening Dr. D
        Yeah I figure that,
        So I am sure thru screening they will tell you that you have the genetic markers for what ever dis ease’s are possible form G/G and you will need vaccine 1) a-d or 2)e-h, or what have you, and maybe even a super pack of shots Like a-z. Thru inhalers or hey who knows maybe electronic Digital implants to control the brain…. I am sure it’s endless for the mad men… Just imagine the world wide brain. Were the world wide web becomes obsolete. A body and mind that’s not healthy will not qualify…
        When money and health become ONE.
        Tyranny take or go home….
        Our voice must get Larger, our sovereign selfs must be Realized.

        K O