Wheat: Brainless Grain

Read Jean’s story of neurological impairment and pain turned around with elimination of modern wheat, the most destructive grain ever devised for brain and nervous system destruction:

The Wheat Belly book and the wheat-free diet have saved my life, or at least my quality of life. Thank you.

I read the book and saw myself and my future. Bleak. I was walking like an MS [multiple sclerosis] patient, step-by-step telling my feet what to do. No connection between my brain and feet. Staggering, no balance. My husband would help me out of bed in the morning, stand me up, and hold me until I regained some balance. Then I would walk slowly to the kitchen, holding furniture and walls. Stand for a minute or two and have to sit down.

Terrible nerve pain in my legs and feet. Felt like the pain was right in the bones. I was prescribed Lyrica in higher and higher doses. Just made me feel sick and gain more weight. Then I was left with taking Tylenol and Advil in the maximum doses, worrying about the side effects. But what else to do? My physician sent me to a spinal surgeon. I have degenerating discs in my lower spine. He said I have spinal stenosis and needed fusion and laminectomies. He would fix my nerves while he was in there pulling them away from spine. Scary thought.

Then I heard about the Wheat Belly book, read it and went wheat free. Two months later all my inflammation is gone, peripheral nerve pain gone, IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] gone, sleeping in the afternoon gone, feeling like I was developing old lady incontinence gone. I have more energy and my health back. My pain is about 75% relieved. Lost a size in my clothes and can walk again. Very little problem with my back.

This is wonderful and I will never eat that poison called “wheat” again. Again Dr. Davis: Thank you.

Is there any other way to describe a food capable of such incapacitating effects except as a “perfect chronic poison”? Taking nasty prescription agents like Lyrica, even facing a major surgical reconstruction–No other component of diet cause cause years and years of bone pain, inflammation, neuropathic pain, fatigue, bowel urgency/irritation, incontinence . . . yet enjoy the widespread and enthusiastic endorsement of our USDA, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, and every other provider of “official” dietary advice. How does the “eat more healthy whole grains” mantra ring in the ears of people like Jean?

Critics claim that experiences like Jean’s are the exception, not the rule. I would argue that experiences like this, as well as gastrointestinal destruction, acid reflux, mood and mind effects, appetite stimulation, migraine headaches, worsening of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, a myriad of skin rashes, food obsessions, weight gain, diabetes, “high cholesterol,” high triglycerides, heart disease, cancer, and dementia, all consequent to consumption of this creation of modern genetics research, are so incredibly common that Jean could simply have become one additional casualty of modern agribusiness lost in the crowd.

Jean lost the wheat, then lost all the astounding health problems that it brought to her life–before she became irretrievably ruined by wheat.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. I was at Costco today eating my bunless hotdog and sauerkraut with my youngest son, and saw a lady who I think was in her mid to late 50s buying an 80 count pack of depends. I have to say I have say I am totally wheat-biased at this point, but my first thought was, I wonder if there is a link between wheat consumption and incontinence. When else in our history have adults had to buy diapers? Is this normal?

    Oh, and by the way, Dr. Davis, I would be interested in your input about this (which is totally off subject), but I have a weird theory about ear wax. I am convinced that ear wax is an inflammatory response to wheat. My family has been essentially wheat free for quite a while. We spent a weekend recently hosted by my parents where my boys had pancakes, cookies, cakes, etc. My boys have not had earwax at all since we have gone wheat-free. I checked my boys ears out of habit today, and it was gross! What do you think of this?

    • Kimelah

      Very interesting, re: ear wax.
      I have stayed away from wheat for about a year. My 17yog’s diet is atrocious, and her ears are always so full of dark-orange wax. Every week there’s a pile of orange-tipped q-tips in the bathroom garbage. And I have barely anything in my ears.

    • allisonk

      I’ve noticed that too. When I go wheat free all my bodily secretions go down. From ear wax(and itchy ears) to face oil to stinky armpits to snot. Any time I binge, which is getting much less frequent because I realize how much of an idiot I am and it’s finally starting to sink in that the temptation is not worth it, it all comes back.

      • Rose

        I now wake with very little ‘sleep’ in my eyes….go figure….no wheat, no grains, no dairy….works for me :-)

    • Gard

      Interesting point about the ear wax. I used to be allergic to chlorine and had to give up swimming in pools (my outer ear passage got red and swollen). After I cut the wheat this allergic reaction is as good as gone. Finally I can go back to swimming! :)

    • Bruce

      My wife has to buy Depends on a regular basis. For her 93 year old bed ridden uncle. Sometimes the people buying them are not the user. Just an FYI

    • It’s really interesting that I keep noticing little things that differ from the days when I was following the Ornish (quack) low-fat (fad) diet. Even though I eliminated grain from my diet over a decade ago, long before I heard about Dr. Davis. Ear wax was a problem for me up until that time, but I never connected that with my change in diet. I just posted an article on my blog about that.

    • JIllOz

      Kristen, Dr Davis has written elsewhere about this, i forget where though!
      he calls it bowel urgency.

  2. L.J. Carroll

    Kristen,

    I will say yes I think it is possible. Before I went wheat free about 2 months ago, I noticed that I was developing so much ear wax and I had never ever in my life had this issue. It is one of those issues that is more annoying than a big deal but I noticed it. After about 2 to 4 weeks of being wheat free, I noticed no more ear wax. It is gone and I have no clue what the connection is but maybe Dr. Davis might. Possibly an inflammation issue?

  3. Maggie

    Unfortunately those doctors who Jean saw will probably never accept that wheat caused so many problems, and that without it her health has much improved.

  4. shelly

    As a family medicine doc who treats chronic backpain patients, I discuss with them day one about the connection between grains and inflammation. I talk about Wheat Belly and recommend it to those that are “ready” and seem motivated. When I give people a handout my colleagues and I have created regarding what you are eating and what you SHOULD be eating, most people literally SCREAM. YOU WANT ME TO GIVE UP BREAD? PASTA? DOES THAT SAY DESSERT? DOC, YOU ARE KILLING ME. We just recently started on this road so I don’t have any success stories to report, YET. I will keep fighting the good fight because I KNOW that the frankengrains (all of them) are contributing to the inflammation and excruciating, chronic pain that I see all day everyday. Thanks for this report Doc, I think this is worth sharing with my patients. By the way, in my experience, I have seen patients on high dose Lyrica that have experienced urinary incontinence.

      • Dr. Davis

        Thanks, JB!

        Gotta keep on spreading the word. We are the David against the world’s well-funded Goliaths.

        • JoAnne

          Speaking of well funded Goliath’s… California has a “Right to Know” ballot initiative (Proposition 37) which – if passed – would be the first time U.S. food makers would be required to label products that contain genetically modified crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets. Monsanto has advertised heavily against the measure (no surprises here). Unfortunately, Monsanto’s ad campaign is working. The latest poll indicates an even split between those for and those against, within +/- 2.9 percentage points margin.
          http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/26/us-california-gmo-idUSBRE89P02M20121026

          • Dr. Davis

            It is shocking that ANYBODY would even consider not supporting the Right to Know, JoAnne. But such are the deep pockets and influence of Monsanto, Coca Cola, and other purveyors of genetic modification.

            All we can do is vote with our wallets and pockets: Buy nothing genetically-modified.

    • JIllOz

      Dr Shelly,

      it’s much less shocking to tell people they can still have bread and pasta, just NOT made of WHEAT.
      Perhaps you should give your patient a list of the wheat-free flours before they start shrieking!! :)

      Incidentally, I used to order a baguette with chicken avocado salad at a cafe – they noticed me leaving the baguette (after lots of practice!) and only eating the salad with brie on top! Now they call this a “breadless” baguette, and the manager found my breadless baguette chicken salad very appetising!

      One tummy at a time…;)

  5. Peter Cook

    I’m at the other end of this process. I had a large paracentral disc protrusion with left lateral stenosis at L4-L5 mid last year, and was ‘rushed’ (six days after symptoms appeared and four days after I presented into hospital) into an emergency laminectomy and discectomy. I’ve had a significant amount of neurological deficit ever since then, which my neurosurgeon labelled as Cauda Equina Syndrome, and told me to wait and I might recover in a year or two.

    I made a point at the time (long before I ever read Wheat Belly) about diet and neurological recovery, and the neurosurgeon scoffed at the thought.

    It’s too soon to tell but I have noticed significant improvements in my five weeks largely wheat free (save for a few lapses in week 1 and a one-off mistake on a chocolate without ingredients listed but that I later googled in week 4). Nothing of consequence has improved, I still need to self-catheterize 4-5 times a day and my BMs are still impossible without mains pressure water enemas every second day. However, on the plus side I am moving around more freely, inflammation that I never knew I had is easing up, I have a lot more spring in my step, the brain fog has eased and I feel more at ease dealing with the other people in my life, I’m losing weight, I’m sleeping better, and I have completely lost my snacking urges.

    The big problem with the extra spring in my step is that it’s making me move around more, while I still have serious issues (which I’m putting down to neurological issues), and thus I’m having more falls. As a 31 year old male carrying substantial extra weight that’s a bit of a problem, though less so than most people who have falls. Fortunately I have a mobility parking permit (which lets me park in the 3 hour parking lot across the road from work, rather than the large commercial parking lot on the other side of Canberra City, keeping my walks outside shorter and less risky) and I make sure to stay near things I can steady myself against wherever possible. Most of my falls are in my own flat and I usually recover against the wall, my furniture, or my bathroom safety rails (a very handy thing to have!) long before I actually hit the ground.

    IMHO having to save myself from more falls is not exactly a high price to pay for all of the other benefits, but it is noteworthy.

    • JIllOz

      Peter – have you thought of doing some gentle yoga? This will help to get your coordination back and is very good for general flexibility and mobility – and balance!!
      If you decide to try it, start with Hatha – this is the one of the gentlest and is a good way to ease into it.

      you do not need a svelte figure to do yoga and it is stimulating and relaxing at the same time.

  6. Dave

    Congratulations Jean. I’m glad you were able to finger wheat as the culprit.

    I lived with wheat-induced depression, anxiety, brain fog for many years, and your consultation with the spine surgeon reminds of my experience at the psychiatrist’s office. After the antidepressants failed to cure me, he recommended electroshock therapy! Luckily I didn’t go through with it out of fear.

    I’m very happy that your life is now back on track.

      • Dave

        Hi Wrotek,

        I’m pretty much cured from depression and brain fog. Overall, I’d say my health is about 80-85% better after wheat elimination. I no longer think of myself as being weighed down by a mental disability. To answer your question, yes I imagine the wheat caused some type of inflammatory reaction in my brain.

        While I’m mostly better, I still have residual symptoms that are characteristic of hypothroidism such as difficulty losing weight, trouble concentrating, and low energy. I also feel like I’m a little too forgetful. However, I don’t have thinning eyebrows, dry skin, or many of the other hypothyroid symptoms.

        My recent blood test results may be consistent with hypothyroidism. My TG, LDL, and TC are high. I was expecting lower TG, because I’ve been eating a wheat-free, low carb diet since spring 2011. My thyroid (TSH) is just under 2, and I have elevated eosinophils.

        You can see my full lab results here:
        http://s1076.photobucket.com/albums/w450/dmz191/pics/
        password: labs2012

        As predicted, my doctor said my thyroid was normal, but she was concerned about my LDL. She recommended doing cardio for 3-4 months, and then re-evaluate LDL. From reading this forum, I know that I have to look further into thyroid dysfunction. Right now I’m reading Datis Kharrazian’s thyroid book to get some background info, and then I’m going to order the full thyroid panel. Not sure if I need to order anything else. I’ve also been looking for a functional medicine doc in Chicago, and will probably just pick someone at random from the list of practitioners at functionalmedicine.org.

  7. A couple of months eating virtually grain free, and my post-workout BP was 117/76 this am….can’t remember the last time it was so good. I was sure I’d be joining the rest of my family in taking BP meds very soon, and I really didn’t want to. I’m 59, 100 lbs, with BP that was as high as 160/90 at times. Tried some sprouted grains in a salad a couple of days ago and I was nauseated the following day, which is very unusual for me. Couldn’t figure out why til my Wheat Belly-convert husband pointed out the sprouts. Human nature is strange: why do I keep needing to “test” the wheat- and grain-free lifestyle when I know better??

  8. Dynisha

    Off topic — has anyone else noticed the ladies are disappearing at the top of the page? You all may have already discussed this, as I don’t get to be here to read every day.

    Have a good day! And, as always, thanks for the great testimonials!

    • Dr. Davis

      Well, I know that some people WISH they would!

      But that isn’t happening on my screen. Your browser?

  9. TomR

    I know the topic of today’s blog is neurological impairment, but I had to share my most-recent lipid panel results that I received this morning. I went wheat-free in June and I’ve been restricting carbs (not to the levels recommended by Atkins), but I haven’t been extremely strict on anything except being wheat-free.

    Compared to last October, and after 4 months wheat-free:
    Total Cholesterol down from 158 to 152 (okay, not much change there)
    HDL (“good”) Cholesterol up from 47 to 64
    LDL (“bad”) Cholesterol down from 87 to 72
    Triglycerides down from 120 to 81. That’s a one-third decrease!

    And all of those improvements are with me eating bacon or sausage and a fried egg (usually fried in bacon fat) virtually every morning for the last four months! Not to mention bratwurst, ham or beef sausages, or hamburgers (no bun) for lunch, and steak or chicken with the skin on for dinner. And near-weekly wings (non-breaded, of course) with a couple of Bud Lights (per Dr. Davis’ recommendation for those who want to drink beer) when I’m out with friends. Oh, and my weight is down from 250 to 223. I could probably have lost weight faster if I had been stricter on avoiding grains other than wheat and if I had cut more sugar out of my diet early, but this is working for me and I’m gradually tightening up on those other things as I go.

    • Dr. Davis

      And your values will get even BETTER, Tom, as the transient perturbing effects of weight loss subside.

      You are likely to see values like HDL 70 or 80 mg/dl and triglycerides below 50 mg/dl–unimaginably great numbers from the perspective of my colleagues who are often astounded at values in such ranges.

    • Ruthann

      I also have had a change in all my blood levels but my glucose went up 10 points. Is this normal?

  10. Sherrie

    Jean,
    Your story could be my own. Everything you describe is what I’m dealing with and I’m on day five of wheat free, so you have really inspired me to continue. Thank you!

  11. Loretta

    Dr. Davis,
    Any word on the bread company venture? Haven’t read anything about it unless I missed it somewhere along the way. :-)

    Loretta

    • Dr. Davis

      Gary of Wheat Free Market Foods tells me that the first products will likely be rolling out within the next couple of months or so. He would like to start with a range of products, rather than just, say, a cookie.

      • Loretta

        And therein lies the reason that I originally bought your book when I was clueless about all this low-carb, wheat-free lifestyle–you made me laugh. Looking at excerpts of Wheat Belly on Amazon, I laughed out loud at your particular brand of humor. Amongst all the offerings and books out there on grains etc, I decided I wanted the one that made me laugh. Not exactly a scientific way to go about it. But works for me! Although, it was evident you knew what you were talking about. If it was just about humor, I’d still be 27 lbs heavier! :-)

        • Dr. Davis

          That’s great, Loretta!

          I took this approach because I recognized what a contentious, even polarizing, topic this was. It was too easy to just rant and that can be a turnoff. So I took this lighter approach.

          I’m glad it worked for you!

  12. Erin

    Does anyone have a success story for a person who has gone wheat-free with Parkinson’s Disease? My Mom is newly diagnosed, I’m 24 and I want her to be able to chase after her future grandchildren:) I have Crohn’s myself, diagnosed at 12 when it presented itself with a blood clot in my left leg (my leg ballooned and I was in a major flareup at the same time – the doctors fought about what to treat first). I’m on the wheat-free path now (and doing really well), but I’m wondering if recommending it to my Mom would help her?

    • kathy in texas

      Erin -
      I’ll be interested in any responses you get on this. My beloved doctor of many years has Parkinson’s. It’s all I can do to maintain the appropriate doctor/patient relationship and not suggest ways to “treat” his condition. He may be conventional in most respects, but he never sighs or rolls his eyes at some of the things I do to try to maintain my health and he supported me when I worked to get off 5 of the 6 Rx meds I was on. I never feel that I have to hide anything about my high fat/ low carb, grain-free lifestyle or any self-experimentation I do with supplements, etc.
      I’m wishing you and your mom the best. Don’t stop searching for answers.

  13. Lynda (FL)

    I have peripheral neuropathy and I have noticed that the fluid reduction of my wheat free eating has made the leg aches more tolerable. Of course, my neurologist says I’m diagnosing! He’s a nice guy but needs to walk around a day on these legs and he’d have a new opinion. For my money: wheat free helps.

    • Boundless

      > … what maltodextrin is …
      The Wiki entry looks like a reasonable starting point, and Dr.Davis has discussed it in:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/10/in-pursuit-of-sweetness/
      “Maltodextrin is also a source of calories, since it is essentially a chain of glucose molecules. While glucose provides 16 calories per level teaspoon, maltodextrin is digested less efficiently, it provides less than this but is variable depending on the length of the glucose chain.”

      Because it might be made from wheat, and although theoretically gluten-free, it might not be free of other wheat toxins.

  14. Shahrizai

    Dr. Davis, I’m just reading the recent NYT article called “The Island Where People Forget To Die”. It’s about an island in Greece called Ikaria whose inhabitants live very long and healthy lives. This passage struck me:

    “But more than that, they were also living about 8 to 10 years longer before succumbing to cancers and cardiovascular disease, and they suffered less depression and about a quarter the rate of dementia. Almost half of Americans 85 and older show signs of Alzheimer’s. (The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that dementia cost Americans some $200 billion in 2012.) On Ikaria, however, people have been managing to stay sharp to the end.”

    1/2 of Americans 85 and over show signs of Alzheimer’s? Wow..after reading your book and especially the chapter on wheat’s negative neurological effects, I’m only more convinced. I also thought of you the other day when I was in line at the grocery store and saw a magazine called “Recipes for Diabetics” or something like that. Right on the front was a picture of a pizza that said, “WHOLE GRAIN CRUST!”

    • Dr. Davis

      Every week, Jenny Jo, you are showing observable changes. Looking back over the entire 6 week experience, you look transformed . . . and it is going to get even better!

  15. Annie

    I’m from Quebec and speak french, but i’ll do my best to translate my story for you, cause it’s important for me, since it can help somebody else. I had a similar story to Jean: it was more than 5 years that I had back pain, and 3 years as I walked with difficulty because of foot pain. I passed all possible tests (bone scans, etc.) and no cause found. sometimes I had to use a cane, and acute crisis happened to me on a trip to the museum to use a wheelchair because I could not walk. I also took a lot of medication, including lyrica and gabapentin, in addition to muscle relaxants to reduce the pain, but nothing worked.

    I am a 38 year old woman, mother of 3 children and a police officer, were shaped all my life. I’ve always trained and ran marathons. my life was no longer the same, I could not do my job (patrol while I can not walk properly? impossible!) It’s been a whole month I’m no grains, and I no longer have joint pain in my fingers, and Miracle: pain in my feet is almost gone! My right foot is completely healed, while the left is 80% healed. thank you Dr. Davis to be entered into my life through your book. It has changed my life, even saved. I now intend to resume training (starting with brisk walking, for a long time ago that I do not exercise), and I hope to start doing my job as a police officer. I still have disabling pain (hip, elbows) but I know that I just need more time to heal.

    • James

      Salut Annie,

      Bon courage et surtout bon rétablissement!!

      Moi aussi, presque 4 semaines sans céréales, sans produits laitiers, sans sucres (à part du xylitol de temps en temps) et ma forme n’a jamais été meilleure!! Le blé, c’est terminé! Et comme j’ai vécu en France (je vis au Danemark actuellement), je peux te dire que refuser baguettes, croissants et autres viennoiseries bien beurrées, c’était pas donné … mais une fois la dépendance éliminé (ça m’a pris 2 ou 3 jours dans mon cas), on n’y pense pas :)

      J.

      • Annie

        Merci James pour votre réponse! Ça fait du bien, je me sens parfois seule dans cette aventure. Au Québec aussi les pâtisseries et viennoiseries sont délicieuses et très présentes, mais je n’en ai plus envie du tout… je me sens si bien!
        Je consomme encore quelques produits laitiers, tels yaourts et fromages, mais je m’apprête aussi à les arrêter, pour voir si la guérison en sera accélérée…

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, give it more time, Annie!

      Neurological impairment, more than any other forms of wheat-induced injury and inflammation, can take 6-12 months or longer to recede and nerve cells to repair. Nervous tissue is unique this way, taking much longer to health than, say, gastrointestinal tissue.

      But it sounds like you are on your way! If you responded this dramatically in just 4 weeks, then I would be very optimistic that you will have extravagant and wonderful long-term results! Please keep us updated on your progress. As you point out, others read these stories and benefit from your experience.

      • Annie

        Thanks Dr.! I feel sooo much better now, i hope other persons who lives with disabling pain give it a try. They will NEVER look back after. Your kind words are increasing my hope to heal completely!

  16. Janet

    Dr. Davis,
    I work at a library (I have commented before). I read Wheat Belly last November so I am going on almost 1 year wheat free. I had our director order a copy in January as the 2nd copy in our consortium of 8 (small libraries). I checked and now there are 7 copies and 16 holds waiting in our system. The word is spreading. I promised you back in January I would make sure it was on display when it was returned to us. WELL, Wheat Belly has never been back long enough to put on display!! It is circulating constantly along with all the rest of the copies. Wheat Free Northern Illinois on it’s way!

    • Heather Ann

      At our library in Portland, Oregon, as of today there are 184 holds on the first copy returned of 28 copies of Wheat Belly — and 81 holds on 1 copy of the Wheat Belly cookbook which has been preordered. After a friend told me about the Wheat Belly book, I didn’t want to wait to get it through the library, but bought it straight away from Amazon. I’m on my 6th week of being wheat free and I feel great!

      • Heather Ann

        Correction – 81 holds on 12 copies of pre-ordered Wheat Belly cookbook. This is our county library.

  17. What a great story Jean. I hope you continue to heal. I have a friend who just had back surgery for similar sounding problem. He refuses to even consider that food could be related to this problem. I am happy to say that so far surgery has helped him but I am concerned that the inflammation has not been turned off.

    I had many health problems related to gluten. A few were peripheral neuropathy, sciatic pain, depression and stress incontinence. I still have some residual numbness in my feet, but there is no more leg or foot pain. Depression and stress incontinence are gone.

    Wheat is evil.

  18. barbara copeland

    Jean your story is awesome, Im starting next wk, to go wheatless, I have severe arthritis in my hips legs and back, i had the epidural, it did nothing, so Im going to try this, my sister swears by it.

  19. mark

    My journey with gluten sensitivity. About a year ago I noticed that I was walking to my left a little bit. This lasted for 2 days. I then started to feel tingling sensations in my legs. Eventually I started to loose the feelings in my legs when I was walking. My legs and brain were not communicating properly. I was incredibly frightened. My mother had just passed away 5 months prior after a 20 year bout with Parkinson’s disease. I have heard that this can be hereditary and thought I may have this dreaded disease. I immediately began searching for alternative treatments on the internet. I became acqainted with adult stem cell advancements. I jumped from link to link and listened. It was then I believed that I had multiple sclerosis. I made an appointment with a nuerologist. I had MRI’s from my lumbar spine to my brain. There were lesions found(scar tissue). The doctor wanted me to begin to inject pharmacueticals. I told him I was more interested in the regenative side of medicine and wasn’t keen on living my life on pharmacueticals. I the did more research and found out about Functional Medicine. I went to a nuerologist who also practised Functional Medicine. He is the one who told me about the book Wheat Belly. When my test came back I was very gluten sensitive. So I go from a recommendation of pharmacueticals to taking all natural supplements and eliminating gluten. Occasionally I will have an episode that lasts for 5 seconds and then disappears. But I used to have them 3-6 times a day. All I did was take supplements and eliminate wheat.

    • Dr. Davis

      More need to hear your story, Mark!

      When critics say idiotic things like “This is just about cutting carbs,” we have only to remind them that wheat destroys neurological health, including the brain!

      I’d like to post your story as a Wheat Belly Blog post. Thank you for posting it!