Wheat-eating humans?

Us modern humans, Homo sapiens, have walked the earth some 200,000 years. Our upright, bipedal, large-brained, and social hunter-gatherer predecessors, Homo erectus, walked the earth for nearly 10-fold longer, bridging the era when humans first began to eat animal flesh, whether via scavenging or hunting, and the relatively recent (500,000-700,000 years ago) harnessing of fire.

Before these two forms of Homo, we were preceded by Homo habilis (the “toolmaker”), believed to be the first to wield tools (remember the monolith scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey?), and by the varieties of Australopithecus, harking back to a creature more ape-like, with longer, curved fingers and toes, less of an opposable thumb, brains that were much smaller, vertically longer pelvises, and longer arms and shorter legs than more recent versions of Homo. All these forms of human and pre-human now reach back 10+ million years.

When was grain consumption, including wheat, added to the diet of humans? It wasn’t during the time of Austropithecus, nor was it during the reign of Homo habilis. Although the long-successful Homo erectus learned how to scavenge/hunt animal flesh, they did not eat any wild growing grains.

It wasn’t until the last 5% of time since modern Homo sapiens appeared that they learned how to first harvest wild, then cultivate, wheat–einkorn, of course. If we include the time of Homo erectus, then humans have consumed grains for around 0.5% of the time they’ve walked the earth.

My point: Given the relatively slow process of evolution, we need only look at the 2 millions years of eating habits of Homo erectus and the first 190,000 or so years of Homo sapiens to recognize that consumption of grains like wheat is a very recent change to the dietary habits of humans. For millions of years, humans evolved and survived without grains in any form.

Yes, harvesting of wild, then cultivated, grains provided the impetus for creating non-nomadic society and occupational specialization, a source of calories to supplement calories from animal products and plants. But is there any evolutionary or biologically plausible reason that we are now told that 60% or more of our calories should come from grains like wheat?

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Mike

    I had a feeling today. Imagine … We carry on eating habits based on grains / sugar. When we look at the rate of diseases connected with grains, sugar – glycation ( and what it does to our bodies ), fertility declines ( both men and women ). The question is , maybe extreme one, when we reach the point of no return ? I don’t want to know the answer.

  2. Andrew L

    I enjoyed the book very much and my RA is remarkedly better in only 2 weeks. I’ll post my sed rate at the end of the month. Great book, don’t buy the evolution explanation. Evolution theory is a dead, disproven scientific model.

    • Margaretrc

      Seriously? What scientific evidence contradicts the theory of evolution? (The Bible isn’t scientific evidence. Just saying…) The fact that it’s a theory means that the evidence for it is overwhelming, and it is. Read “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Richard Dawkins or “Evolution: What the Fossils say and Why it Matters” by Donald Prothero.

      And yes, I know. This isn’t the place for a debate about evolution. Or is it? If we’re talking about what humans evolved to eat…

    • Lynne

      Unfortunately reality tends not to bow to our whims, which makes pesky science so unaccommodating to denial.

      The theory of evolution is the foundation of biology. Physics may have their theories of relativity and gravity, etc., but biology pretty much just has evolution. Everything we study, everything we know from cell biology to medicine and zoology is explained by and interrelated to the theory of evolution.

  3. jclive

    You have just been a big part of a 20 minute segment of “Sunday” a weekly current affairs programme on NZ’s major publicly owned TV channel. One hopes it will bring a large response from our country which suffers the same dietary/health problems as North America as well as being the only other country that permits pharmaceutical advertising direct to the public.
    This item in my opinion is the 3rd significant TV exposure “going against the grain” figuratively and literally
    (your case and that of “Fathead” in the last few years). “Fathead” was on pay TV here several years ago (I already had the DVD) and it was from Tom’s site that I progressed to “Wheat Belly” and purchased 5 copies for distribution immediately.
    The other exposure (figuratively “going against the grain” of the establishment”) and a matter vital to managing ones health was a “60 Minutes” item in August 2010 on our channel TV3 which can be viewed at http://www.tomlevymd.com/index.html .Shortly thereafter Levy spoke in our largest city Auckland on the subject of the therapeutic use of high dose vitamin c. As I understand it although both major free to air TV channels have “on demand” facility so that programmes can later be viewed on their respective websites people outside NZ cannot use this facility. Levy overcame this by coming to some arrangement with TV3 so the above mentioned item is on his website and therefore available to the world.
    If you get to see the “Sunday” item (John Hudson reporter obviously traveled to interview you in the US) and decide it is an item worthy of wider viewing you may seek to come to a similar arrangement that Levy reached with TV3. I have been grain free for 10+ years and never better as a result. Only made change when my reading convinced me I was a “carb addict” and that at 59 years of age.

  4. Peer Clark

    The organisations selling modern ‘wheat’ are applying a selective pressure to the human population. Genotypes that have trouble with the metabolism of modern wheat will not reproduce effectively, those that do not have a problem with modern ‘wheat’ will reproduce effectively. After some (how many?) generations, humans beings will have developed resistance to the new ‘wheat’, those not having such resistance will have died out or failed to reproduce, while living shorter and troubled lives.
    These companies are genetically modifying the entire human race because it is in their commercial interests to do so.
    How reasonable is this point of view?
    Peter

    • Dr. Davis

      I believe that evolutionary force is indeed in effect, Peer, though I am uncertain how much is intentional.

    • regular

      Doesn’t work like that. Evolution is a negative selector. So yes, indeed, some people will encounter reduced fertility through a high-carb, grain-loaden diet, especially women with PCOS, and they will be negatively selected for and not reproduce. But the main burden (CHD, diabetes, stroke etc.) of our diet often hits the hardest *after* the reproductive years of 20-35. So you will have the lack of evolutionary selection *plus* a shitty diseased life. But hey, who cares, lots of money for Big Ag and Big Pharma and HMOs …

      • Lynne

        That’s an interesting point.

        The health and resources of a child’s grandparents though could greatly affect its life. If grandparents are sick they will be forced to spend their money on healthcare, and not be able to help out with college/piano lessons/etc. If they are healthy, they will be able to assist with childcare. This will affect the child’s reproductive chances when they grow up, although not directly and to a lesser extent.

  5. Chris Chelten

    Well said Dr. Davis!

    We can be grateful that wheat-based agriculture led to civilisations which led to the high-tech society we have today, but that doesn’t mean we should poison our bodies nowadays when it just isn’t necessary for survival. We’ve come full circle now thanks to the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and can now enjoy what was once impossible: all the benefits of civilisation with a healthy hunter-gather type diet!

  6. Lee Hurd

    I don’t consider that I’m on a “diet” but rather a new lifestyle, which I’m finding is really pretty easy. I’ve lost 6 pounds and lots of inches in the last 4 weeks, but now my blood pressure is getting really low..I have had to cut my dose of Losartin in half and hopefully may not need it anymore. I would like to know if this is because of going wheat/sugar free? That’s the only thing that has changed. I’m 77 and fairly active. Thanks Dr. Davis for all you are doing!!

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, absolutely, Lee: BP drops with wheat elimination.

      For this reason, you need less or NO BP meds, though work with your doctor. Many people who are wheatless actually need to add more salt to their diet to keep blood pressure UP!

  7. Boundless

    A small group of Neanderthals actually survived the general extinction of their species 30,000 years ago. They ritualistically incinerated and pulverized the remains of their dead, so that the competing Cro-Magnons wouldn’t know any Neans were still around. This is why Wiki doesn’t know about this.

    The Neans disguised themselves as shaman healers, and became wheat merchants to the Cro’s. The Neans had discovered that wheat usually killed off this competing species, and it was their master plan to become the dominant homonids. It didn’t quite work, because a subset of the Cro’s were slightly resistant to the toxic wheat. The wheat-eating Cro’s suffered a multitude of health problems. Life was short and miserable, but long enough for copious reproduction.

    The Neanderthals are still trying to kill us off.
    Their cult persists today, disguised as endocrinologists.
    Some of them guide government diet policy.
    :), I think, but you have to wonder sometimes.

    • Dr. Davis

      Worthy of a full, motion picture fantasy series, Boundless!

      Sadly, it rings too true, too close to what has played out, thanks to the bungling ways of some sectors of healthcare.

  8. Steve

    I read an article recently about the high incidence of diabetes in Native Americans and the researches concluded that it was their ancestral grain/ high carb diet that led to their high predisposition to diabetes. Its too bad they couldn’t make that connection to the current dietary epidemic that is occurring today. Sometimes its bewildering just how good we humans are at ignoring the elephant in the room, or at trusting the government when we always speak of its corruption and dishonesty.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, indeed, Steve: Native Americans, in particular, have experienced a health crisis of huge proportions, thanks to grains, including of the “healthy whole grain” variety.

    • Murray

      The ancestral diet of North American aboriginals had no grain and was not high carb. The West Coast Salish, for example, lived from mostly meat and fat, with some berries and greens. They mastered a method of rendering Oolichan fish (sometimes called candlefish, because the fish such high fat content they could be used as a candle). The Oolichan butter they made was about 30% of their calories. Dr. Jay Wortman and Dr. Stephen Phinney had Ooilcah butter analyzed and they found it was the closest fatty acid profile to stored human fat than any other known foodstuff. (It is very high in oleic acid and pre-dated processing of olive oil. Olive oil might be called European Oolichan butter.) Oolichan butter was considered so valuable among Aboriginal groups that it was traded inland some 300 kilometres on Oolichan trails. The European explorers followed Oolichan trails to get to the Pacific coast. Another example is the plains Indians made pemmican from buffalo meat. Genuine pemmican was about 70-80% fat. Pemmican was the only food they took with them on long hunts. The fat of grass-fed ruminants was highly prized–they generally tossed the leanest cuts to the dogs.

      The introduction of grain to Aboriginal diet has been a disaster because they had not had 10,000 years of selective pressure to develop genes for better grain tolerance. Dr. Wortman conducted a fascinating study where much of a town took on the challenge of reverting to a modernized form of ancestral diet (basically a low-carb Paleo diet). The results were amazing. Many with diabetes were able to get off medication and there was significant weight loss. The Canadian broadcaster CBC did a documentary on it, called My Big Fat Diet.

      • Rong

        I read Wheat Belly, the scales fell of my eyes and the nutrition world seems so obvious. We just aren’t “made” to eat the diet we are being pushed toward by the powers that be. Shame on them.

      • Dr. Davis

        Excellent, Murray!

        Such lessons seem to be evident in many primitive cultures who convert from their traditional diet to one based on grains.

        Viewed from all these perspectives, we have to conclude: Grains do not belong in the human diet.

      • Lynne

        The one group I studied in college lived on the “grain” of acorns as their staple food source. I wonder though about the Asian world. The oldest records of the Chinese empires go back 4 thousand years I think, and they talk of rice even then.

  9. Emily

    While I have been off all flour and sugar for two full years, I hadn’t heard of your book. I just turned to this page. My first impression is that while there may be a good reason to stop flour and sugar (or wheat and sugar), I was more discouraged than impressed by the first sentence I saw, which starts “Us humans” and goes on from there. I gently would like to point out that it’s “We humans” but the sentence would be just as well written (or better) if you just started it with the word “Humans” and went from there. Sorry, but just that error alone makes me question you, and I’m already a convert to your way of thinking.

    • regular

      “Us” is the personal noun in the first person plural when “we” is used in object instead of subject position. The use of “us” in the given context is unusual, yet grammatically flawless.

      U natif speaka? Cuz me not. Go bye sum inglish!

  10. Heather Ann

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I am beginning my fourth week of being wheat free. The cravings for carbs has stopped, which is a miracle. Hooray !!! However, for the last week, I have been experiencing ongoing nausea, and have finally restored to taking an anti nausea medication under the direction of my doctor. I also vomited last Monday, which started the whole nausea thing. (Actually I also vomited once the previous week, but did not experience ongoing nausea.)

    Is it possible my body is having withdrawal symptoms from the wheat? I checked out this subject on the internet, and found that several people have reported these symptoms when they gave up wheat. I haven’t found much information on your website so far.

    Other than the nausea, I am thrilled that I finally have control over my cravings. I am able to pass up wheat based foods with no problems. I have been reading labels, and have not cheated.

    Do some people have a harder time giving up wheat than others? For the first week or so I did not experience any disagreeable effects, but now the nausea doesn’t seem to want to abate. If this is a withdrawal symptom, how long will it continue? I am determined to continue on a wheat-free path. I know this is the answer for me and my GI issues over the past several years. I’ve read your book cover to cover, and am sharing it with others. Thanks so much!

    • Heather Ann, I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I can relate – the first week or so, I didn’t really see much of a difference physically..no real mood changes or stomach issues…I’m also going into week 4, and this past week, I’ve been feeling very off…particularly digestion-wise. It’s been hard to figure out exactly what the cause is or how to fix it. I think my body was slow to realize what is actually going on here.

      I hope you feel better soon!

      Anne

      • Heather Ann

        Thanks Anne,
        I found the following explanation on-line at:
        http://www.futurevisions.org/health_detox_worse.htm
        This makes good sense. I am going to start drinking a bunch more water. The Zofran is helping with the nausea, thankfully. But I’ve been experiencing ongoing nausea for a week now. I hope it goes away soon. My body must be pitching a fit, that’s all I can figure. Thanks for letting me know you are going through the same thing. I hope you feel better soon too!

          • Annie

            Hi! It’s been 4 weeks for me too, and I’m having the same nauseas since last week… i wrote on this website last weekend, and Dr. Davis suggested me that (here’s the cut and paste):

            If this persists, Annie, it might signal some residual problem that persists after losing the wheat, such as failure to shift to healthy bowel flora, a lack of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), or insufficient pancreatic enzyme release.

            Many people obtain relief by starting with a couple months of a probiotic, e.g., 50 billion CFUs per day. If that fails, a formal evaluation by a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath might be in order.

            I practice what he suggest, and it’s already a relief for me. I hope these advices help you like they did for me, because it’s not easy to live with those nauseas…

  11. Steve H

    Doc
    I won’t get into the argument of evolution/creation. Because that’s a preferrance, that would make both of us look foolish. me trying to out prove your theories of evolution, as apposed to my religious beliefs. But i have to go with the present day experiences that i personally have while going completely wheat free. Although Doc, i could go into a long exhortation of what has happened to me since going wheat free, but that has been covered in many past posts. Although Doc, i have had positive and some minor negative results on going wheat free, i would be happy to relate to the ones that most effect me. I thought going into surgery for my detached retina, would be fairly routine and over and done with. I found out this is not what happened. You Doc being the heart specials, know from experience some symptoms and the diagnoses of these symptoms. This heart specialitsts that i seen durning the operation, and post opertions, have me being tested for blood sugar, high blood pressure, HDL and LDL, cholestrol, thriod problems, kidney check, they leave no stone unturned. I don’t exercise, but this has been a wake up call for me to start using my treat mill every day. The blood work and the echocardogram, that they have planned for me, well we will have to wait and see what the results are.

    I have been wheat free for 5months plus, so lets see what they come up with, my orginal blood pressure was 160/106, let me explain, i had been fasting, and i was without water for eighteen hours. They the doctors gave me half a blood pressure pill and within 24hrs my heart rate was 66 and my pressure was 127/80, quite a difference from the first check. Again Doc, lets wait and see what the results are, right now i am fighting a cold, caused by these eye drops, and for some reason they make me go to the bathroom a lot. Comments doc, or is this not enought info.

      • Steve H

        Doc,
        Is it necessary to be taken high blood pressure medication, when wheat free? Is it necessary to be taken cholestrol medication, when wheat free? Accordingly to the heart specialist, or not Doc. since you also are a heart specialists,

  12. Dr. Andrew Weil on carb density and overweight. Theory implicates flour, as well as sugar:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/carbohydrates-weight-loss_b_1937312.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1106139,b=facebook

    The quote:

    Modern food processing is, unfortunately, very good at boosting carbohydrate density. Two of the most powerful ways to do it are isolating and concentrating sugars from plants, and grinding dense seeds into highly compactible flour. In both cases, heat and pressure damage or obliterate the original food’s cell walls. To use Spreadbury’s terminology, sugar and flour are acellular — almost wholly lacking in intact cells.

  13. MJaydreamin

    I do hope you comment on Heather Ann’s post concerning her experience with nausea since becoming wheat-free. I am also having bouts of nausea, accompanied with incessant belching. This started occurring about the fourth week of being wheat-free. This doesn’t happen every day but does occur at least three times/week. I’m sure it has to do with some of the foods I’m not eating as a wheat replacement but so far haven’t been able to identify which ones. Thank you for your research and book.

    • Adam

      Casey, the books _Fats that Heal Fats that Kill_ , and _Brain Allergies_ might be of interest. Vitamin C (and other nutrients, maybe one of the B vitamins. . . ) supposedly play a major role in vascular health.

  14. Shirley

    Makes me wonder if non-wheat eating groups are less creative/motivated. Wheat eaters have accomplished much in the last 10,000 years.

    • James

      I believe Indians and Chinese, just to name a few, have also been extremely creative … I don’t recall their main staple food was wheat though …

        • Adam

          I do not know if Scandinavians, Polynesians, and sub-Saharan Africans traditionally ate grains, but I suspect they might not have.

          Scandinavians and Polynesians have great histories of travel, and in the case of the Vikings, conquest and adaptability. Not sure about the Polynesians. West and Central Africans have highly developed music, as well as a reputation for being great linguists. I think all have (or had) highly developed mythology/religion.

          There is a theory, I don’t know where it is from, that wheat is a food for slaves.

    • Uncle Roscoe

      The evolution/diet issue is DPPIV. DPPIV is a deamidation enzyme. It breaks apart certain protein sequences.

      Most if not all mammals have DPPIV in their blood. DPPIV slowly deamidates insulin. Mammals use DPPIV to limit the lifespan of insulin. About 2 million years ago human ancestors started placing DPPIV into their small intestines. In the small intestine DPPIV acts as a digestive enzyme. Its most prevalent roll is to break apart grassy grain proteins like wheat gluten.

      Wholesale evolutionary changes in a given species happen when, and only when, environmental forces kill the species down to a breeding pair or two. Remaining individuals survive if they possess mutations which allow them to survive in spite of the killing environment.

      So a person can reasonably assume that environmental forces 2 million years ago forced human ancestors to survive on grassy grains. The condition killed off all humans besides a breeding pair or two. Those individuals were mutants who excreted DPPIV into their small intestines. We are their progeny.

      Subsequent evolutionary forces have fine tuned human reactions to grassy grains, most notably the release of zonulin, and subsequent intestinal porosity. The best theory I’ve seen on these subsequent forces comes from Dr. Jack Kruse, starting at Brain Gut 1:

      http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-1-who-are-we-really/

      Wheat related gut permeability is our last line of defense against pathogens. We incorporate pathogens into our DNA, and code around them.

      • Murray

        I read your reference to Dr. Kruse’s blog. He makes a very interesting point. thanks for that. However, gut permeability is the specie’s defence against pathogens. By allowing pathogens to affect DNA, it increases the variability of or DNA, enabling the species to adapt more quickly. Good for select lines of offspring within the species and for the species in the long run. Not so good for the individuals who suffer from the intrusion of pathogens via leaky gut.

      • Murray

        Developing Kruse’s point a step further, the invention of domesticated grains that trigger leaky gut has arguably accelerated or amplified the leaky gut adaptation. An interesting question is whether the increased velocity or intensity is maladative, or is it hyper-adaptive, in either case with hyper-pathological consequences for individuals.

        • Uncle Roscoe

          Dr. Kruse discusses around and through your “hyper-adaptive” issue without specifically pre-answering your question. Nerve viruses like Coxsackie, Epstein-Barr and varicella zoster travel and infect via pathways opened by gut permeability. They infect the vagus nerve, the brain hypothalamus, and the orexin/hypocretin system.

          The autoimmune diseases and conditions, including cancer, which devastate western culture are the direct result of the interplay of these viruses with carb-protein gut permeability. They are striking people at younger and younger ages as our food supply is corrupted and as people increasingly engage in risky behavior. As this trend persists it increasingly erodes our ability to procreate. The survivors of this milieu will be people who incorporate these pathogens into their DNA, and code around them.

          Why don’t you ask Dr. Kruse in his most recent blog?

          Europeans were able to conquer the Americas and Polynesia without really trying. Natives contracted European pathogens and ate European grains, the combination of which had already killed off non-adapted Europeans. The natives who could not adapt died. We’re still dying. War was simply a disease-transmission pathway, aided by grain society technology.

          I am one of the part-natives. I have little capacity for clearing fructose or alcohol. When I eat grassy grains and other carb proteins I get horrendous autoimmune diseases. My zonulin switch is stuck in the “open” position.

    • Uncle Roscoe

      Wheat based agriculture has fostered advancement in society. It started in small communities and expanded into the most advanced cultures we have today. The link between society and technology advancement comes from communication. No person living in the savannah, by him/herself, would be capable of designing or building, for instance, a jet airplane. Agricultural society has allowed humans to build on the knowledge of people around them, and people who came before them.

      Wheat based agriculture has been great for technology advancement. That’s just small comfort to a person dying of cancer. Wheat-based agriculture has drawbacks for individuals. It kills them. European wheat culture, along with its accompanying diseases, killed off the native cultures of North America. This created the population void which Europeans later exploited. The same kill-off has accompanied every European advancement into foreign lands.

      Today we have the advantage of knowing how this all came about. We also have the advantage of being able to create society through non-wheat agriculture. The problem will be, like China, choking on population density. And that points out that wheat abstinence, while good for individuals, does not necessarily help society or the human species.

    • Murray

      The Mongols became very advanced. Mongol rule exceeded the Roman empire in extent. It was the first government to implement rule of law. It was a very innovative and creative culture. You may find Jack Weatherford’s book on Genghis Khan of interest. Here is an interesting fact. The Mongols in battle ate meat and dairy. This gave them a decisive battle advantage over the grain-eating Jurchen Chinese because the keto-adapted Mongols could go days without eating but the carb-addicted Jurchen would get low blood sugar and glucose withdrawal before long.

      • Uncle Roscoe

        The time and breadth of Mongol influence was phenomenal. Interestingly Mongols, while eating meat, depend on grassy grains. Mongolian culture survives today as it has survived throughout history, on horses. Mongols raise horses on grassy grain. They ride horses, drink horse milk, and eat horse meat.

        In 535 ad Mount Krakatau in Indonesia erupted so violently that it blotted out the sun in a wide swath of the Northern Hemisphere. At the time Mongolians controlled a large swath of Asia and Europe, from the tip of the Korean peninsula all the way into Hungary and the Middle East. The sun shortage caused Mongolian grain supplies to dry up. Mongolian horses died, and Mongolian culture shrank back to the country today known as Mongolia.

        At the time the European Holy Roman Empire, the eastern extent if Mongol influence, was totally based on grassy grain farming. I think it’s fair to assume that lots of Mongol horse feed came from Europeans. The Holy Roman Empire and its inhabitants were devastated by the “dark ages”. It stands to reason that the Mongol decimation was heavily connected.

        Mongols have had it right all along. Grassy grain is not food. You feed grassy grain to your food, then you eat the food. Mongols just got supremely unlucky.

        • Uncle Roscoe

          Uncle Roscoe wrote: “the European Holy Roman Empire, the *eastern* extent if Mongol influence”

          Oops …….Substitute “western” for “eastern”.

  15. Anne

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    Hope it’s okay I’m asking my question here. I’ve a friend who is 57 with an advancing case of Parkinson’s disease. She takes Sinemet and eats a low protein diet as protein interferes with her medication. I should also add, she’s very thin. You’ve recommended eating more protein and fat to prevent losing weight however given her medication regiment – that would be a problem. I believe the Wheat Belly program can help her as I know it’s helping my husband and I. Is there anything you can suggest given her circumstances?

    Thank you.
    Anne

    • Dr. Davis

      I’ve never heard of having to eat a low-protein diet for Parkinson’s disease.

      She may have been given bum information. While wheat elimination does not, of course, reverse Parkinsonism, it can help reduce any superimposed inflammation and/or neurological impairment that derives from the many inflammatory components of wheat.

  16. Anil

    Hi Dr.Davis!

    I started a low carb diet – cutting out wheat – and have lost 40 Lb. already (30 to go) and already feel much better. More energy, less headaches, less joint pains.
    However I still have a sweet tooth for real sugar, not substitutes.
    What would happen if I include sugar in my 15-20 carb grams per meal?

    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis

      Sadly, you would compromise health, if not weight. It’s the fructose above and beyond the carbohydrate issue, as sucrose is fructose + glucose.

      Have you tried xylitol? Sure comes very close.

  17. Dr. Davis – thanks for your work. I have been wheat-free for almost two weeks – my hemoglobin, hematocrit and RBC count was way down – recent surgery for melanoma – scary! Esp. since I really dislike being in the sun. I was feeling pretty tired….in any case, after being wheat-free (entirely) for only 6 days my RBC went up by 3 – it was 100 (usually it’s 117) and was 103 last Wednesday. I will get another blood test 2 weeks from that day to see if it has gone up more, which I suspect it might. Had endoscopy etc. to rule out celiac but “the doctors are stumped”. It is amazing how little many doctors know about food, metabolism, and the body in general terms! I will let you know what happens. BTW I wrote “The Book of Kale” which I now wish had no wheat in it but it does. Ah, life’s a little like that.

    • Uncle Roscoe

      Sharon, that’s very interesting about your hemoglobin improvement. I look forward to future information.

      Anecdotally, I had similar results. Eliminating wheat significantly improved my running endurance. I think two things are at work.

      1. Elimination of red blood cell clumping. Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) is the lectin in wheat. WGA is known to clump red blood cells together. Clumped red blood cells are incapable of transporting oxygen or passing through capillaries.

      2. Improved iron transportation. Read my post here:

      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/11/flash-in-the-pan-fad-diet/comment-page-1/#comment-5086

      I’m a firm believer that sugars, opioids, glutamate and aspartate from modern foods like wheat are primary causes of cancer everywhere in the body. You are on the right track. The Inuit Indians had no cancer as Europeans arrived in North America, verified through observational study. The Inuits ate diets of meat and fat.

      http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/cancer-among-inuit.html

      You probably aren’t up to a lot of typing. I can provide more information. Good luck.

  18. Lynne

    “Given the relatively slow process of evolution…”

    You are not representing evolution accurately. When evolutionary change occurs, it often occurs extremely quickly, and can complete over just a few generations. Here you’re talking about relatively minor changes to our digestion track, not growing a third eye. It took about 20 years for a kangaroo population in Hawaii to gain 7 new liver proteins. Why would we look back over 2 million years for humans to make only moderately more complicated adjustments?

    “Punctuated equilibrium (also called punctuated equilibria [plural form]) proposes that most species will exhibit little net evolutionary change for most of their geological history, remaining in an extended state called stasis. When significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called cladogenesis….”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium

    • Agentzero

      1. It’s “digestive tract,” not “digestion track.”
      2. Punctuated Equilibrium, as a theory, has been seriously questioned, by Dawkins among others.
      3. According to the proponents of Punctuated Equilibrium, when evolution happens quickly it does so because there are severe environmental stresses, i.e., everyone without the desired mutation dies out quickly. Wheat has a slow effect on health; it doesn’t stop people from passing on their genes. The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium would not lead one to expect rapid evolution in response to wheat.
      4. Finally, many of the health issues seem to stem from modern wheat, rather than einkorn. that has been part of homo sapiens’ diet for 0.025% of its existence. Not even enough time for Superfast P.E. Evolution (TM) to work!

  19. I find the best way it was explained was by the Paleo Mom, here: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/07/why-arent-humans-adapted-to-grains.html

    Yes, we’ve had a LOT of time to adapt, but, as stuff like Celiacs catches up with you AFTER your prime reproductive age, humans who weren’t adapted to grain-eating (most of us and our ancestors) weren’t removed from the gene-pool. Basically: just because grain wasn’t dangerous enough to stop us breeding doesn’t mean that we, as humans who want to be healthy AFTER 40, shouldn’t avoid grain.

    • Dr. Davis

      Interestingly, Alice, celiac disease appears to be on the rise in children, expressed often as type 1 diabetes (average age of onset 4 years), failure to grow/thrive, and, of course, “standard” symptoms of celiac disease, average age of onset 8 years.

      It is an interesting notion that the HLA DQ8/2 genes that predispose to the immunological cascade leading to intestinal destruction characteristic of celiac disease may, in effect, represent evolution at work, only now accelerated by the misguided shenanigans of agribusiness.

    • Rong

      Excellent article. While we are young and robust we can tolerate many, many things that aren’t good for us. All nighters and binge drinking come to mind. Hit your 40’s and the price becomes too high for such foolishness. However, what goes on inside us with grain consumption his far more subtle and for many of us more potentially damaging. I completely agree that anyone over 40 can’t afford to test if they are “evolved” enough to risk grain consumption.

      I have been off all grains for a year now and cannot imagine going back. My much improved health at age 68 is astonishing.

  20. bill

    Toby does appear to have gotten some of her direction from Julie Jones. I just finished reading Julie’s purported refutation of Wheat Belly. It was inadvertently funny in places, like here, where she tries to say that eating wheat bread is just fine: “…some sourdough whole-wheat breads have a GI <56, which is the value quoted for a Mars bar.” Well then, I'll just put some peanut butter between two Mars bars and have a real healthy sandwich.

  21. John Staley

    Do gluten or gliadin affect the lymphatic system. I am seeing some benefit of self massage following the [not too clear] instructions for performing self massage recommended to clear the lymphatic ducts.
    I have been trying to be gluten free for about 6 months, and have given up other grains [with the exception of rice] as well.
    I would appreciate others opinions regarding these efforts.

    John

    • Dr. Davis

      Don’t know, John: good question.

      It does, of course, activate lymphocytes to exert abnormal inflammatory effects. But I know of no specific effect on the lymphatic system. It wouldn’t surprise me for a second if it did, however.

  22. Bob

    Is there somewhere a point by point response to the statements made by Julie Jones in her article written for the cereal industry? On the surface, many of her points seem valid. I doubt that is the case, but it would be nice to have a refutation to point to.