Weight gain, acne, asthma, collapse . . . could it be wheat?

Mia posted this story describing her experience with the uncommon Wheat-Dependent Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis, or WDEIA:

Over the past several years, I have struggled with an occasional bout of asthma, while never really understanding what was triggering it or how to prevent it from happening. I had an inhaler for occasional use, which is odd, because I did not struggle with asthma while growing up and found it strange that I should need one in my mid-twenties. This past summer I took to jogging and power walking and, in spite of my efforts to eat lots of “healthy whole grains,” I just kept gaining weight. Jogging was extremely difficult, as I always struggled to breathe and could barely keep up a shuffle. “Why?” I wondered to myself, as I was only about 10 pounds overweight and relatively young! I was careful about what I ate, so why was exercising and losing weight so difficult?

Late in June, I came back from a typical jog and collapsed onto the floor. I had the worst asthma attack resulting in the onslaught of asphyxia I have ever had in my life and was sent to the ER in an ambulance. It took hours to get my breathing stabilized. I was prescribed a new inhaler, since my old one had expired (hence being unable to stop the asthma attack). I returned home many hours later, weak, shaky, and terrified.

I quit jogging and all forms of exercise. Ever since the “attack,” even bustling around the house doing laundry triggered an asthma attack. I was devastated, as I continued to gain weight while not being able to exercise, and felt depressed and discouraged. How was I going to get my life under control?

By a series of events that I attribute to God’s grace, I discovered your book. After a 5-month journey that began by going “gluten-free” to eventually wheat and grain-free, I have since eliminated the “random” asthma attacks. I haven’t used my inhaler in many months now, and I have resumed my walks in the neighborhood. Oddly enough, during my wheat-free journey, I deliberately consumed wheat twice as an experiment, like most people seem to do, to see what would happen. Guess what: asthma!! Bad enough to need that inhaler again. I was baffled each time. I also consumed gluten accidentally after eating a tablespoon of ranch dressing (modified food starch) and had another bout of asthma. After all of this, I was convinced that wheat was the root of all of my asthma woes.

Oh yeah, and I have lost 8 of those stubborn 10 pounds that I had struggled to get rid of for years! I’m amazed. Also, my acne has cleared up! I am telling everyone I know about Wheat Belly, even though they think I’m crazy and are sick of hearing me talk about it, haha. Thank you, Dr. Davis!

Mia’s experience is among the more uncommon–though more acutely dramatic and potentially life-threatening–responses to wheat. It is another example of the peculiar ways that us humans respond to this unnatural component of diet. WDEIA is usually attributable to the omega-gliadin fraction of the gliadin protein, the protein with protean effects on us humans, including mind effects like appetite stimulation, anger, anxiety, paranoia, and addiction; increased small bowel permeability, likely one important mechanism underlying autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis; as well as allergic and anaphylactic phenomena such as asthma and Mia’s WDEIA.

Can any other “food” generate the array of responses that wheat creates? Can any other food trigger asthma, anaphylaxis, appetite stimulation, mind “fog,” paranoia, anxiety, food obsessions, joint pain, acid reflux, bowel urgency, diarrhea, bowel hemorrhage, autoimmune disease, diabetes, small LDL particles and hight triglycerides, and an extensive array of skin rashes? None I know of. This is because wheat is not meant to be food, not meant to be consumed by humans, never meant to be harvested or cultivated. It’s not wheat’s fault; it is the fault of ignorant humans enticed by the taste, smell, texture, addictive potential, availability, or ease of procurement. Of course, the whole mess has been made much worse by the genetics shenanigans introduced by geneticists and agribusiness who change our foods, including grains, not for enhanced health but to satisfy some agricultural goal, such as increased yield-per-acre, increased predictability of yield, resistance to an herbicide, etc.

Consumption of modern wheat is for the ignorant, uninformed, or desperate.

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55 Responses to Weight gain, acne, asthma, collapse . . . could it be wheat?

  1. TERESA says:

    I have Bette Midler’s tweet to thank for me crossing paths with Wheat Belly. This is new to me – but am intrigued because like Mia – I have WDEIA, and have never met another soul who does. I had asthma as a child – but no episodes as an adult Then I started having hives after soccer games which I chalked up to heat. Then I started having hives after walking – which I chalked up to heat and springtime allergies. THEN I had the anaphylactic episode after a walk that nearly killed me. Thankfully I was at my parents house and had the ability to tell them to call 911 before it was too late. It took 2 doctors a year to finally figure out it was wheat/exercise induced. This was 10 years ago – and while I try to limit my wheat intake – what I’ve really been avoiding is exercise, as I am not diligent about avoiding wheat. I am terrified of walking, running, mowing, dusting, vaccuuming, etc if I’ve consumed wheat. I’ve been to the hospital a few times since the anaphylactic episode. I am going to order this book in hopes it will give me better insight. All I know to do at this point is buy things labeled “gluten free” but I see there is more to it than that. Thank you Mia for sharing your story.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I’m impressed that someone figured your story out, Teresa.

      WDEIA is a vivid illustration of just how inappropriate wheat consumption is for humans.

      • TERESA says:

        Yes – my allergist kept treating me with meds for seasonal allergies while I was continuing to have the unexplained hive episodes, living in fear that it would result in another anaphylactic episode. She didn’t do testing because I had been tested as a child several times and we felt like we had a good grasp of what I was allergic to. (plants and grasses) During my annual physical at my G.P.’s I mentioned the issues to him and he suggested food allergy testing. Wheat was off the chart, followed by corn. When I relayed the results to my allergist – she put it together and said there was this uncommon condition of food allergy combined with exercise. With this knowledge I am at least able to avoid the situations – but avoiding exercise is not really a solution! I ordered the book and am eagerly awaiting reading it!

  2. Rosemary says:

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    I have a very good friend who, I suspect, would do really well on the Wheat Free diet. Unfortunately, her daughters suffer from an extreme anaphylactic reaction to nuts, seeds and legumes. Since the alternatives to wheat in your program all figure prominently to be nuts, seeds and legumes, what foods would you suggest they eat on this regime. At the present time they would have severe allergic reactions to your work horse food preparations (particularly if they want to bake the odd ‘goodie’). Thanks for your help.
    My husband and I are both following the wheat belly program and are experiencing real health improvements !

    • Dr. Davis says:

      The only thing people like this can do is to maximize use of all the foods that remain, including avoiding the recipes that make use of foods to which they have sensitivities.

      An interesting side note: Many, though not all, people experience reversal of food sensitivities once they’ve removed wheat.

      • Corey says:

        As a teenager I began having severe reactions to many foods, mostly fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It was hard for my family to believe until I had an anaphylactic episode eating taco lettuce that nearly stopped my breathing. Unfortunately it took me until I was nearly 40 years old to quit accepting traditional food guidelines and begin optimizing my eating for me.
        After eating wheat free for a while I began to try foods that had been an issue. I can now tolerate and even enjoy many formerly “forbidden” foods.

  3. Sheryl Rex says:

    Self diagnosed gluten free. Tested for everything-all was good. They couldn’t figure out why I was literally choking on food-couldn’t swallow to the point of needing Heimlich..finally started eliminating things on my own, it was wheat products I was choking on-my throat was closing up. I have adult asthma…never had it as a child, I am lactose intolerant and my mouth feels like it is swelling when I eat Peanut Butter M&M’s (sad-because I never had that problem before either-I enjoyed them once in a great while). I have eliminated a lot of food from my diet, afraid I will choke again; but have lost 24 lbs within 4 months. I feel so much better. Wondering though, if I need to get my Adrenal Glands checked, because that is the only thing they have not tested on me. SO glad I am gluten free!! My Aunt bought ‘Wheat Belly’ book and told me I should read it. I have recently purchased it, but haven’t had a chance to open it yet, but look forward to learning more.

  4. Gwendolyn Rafter says:

    I have Samter’s Triad. I have asthma, nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis and I have a deadly allergic reaction to aspirin. I once took a baby aspirin and was rushed to the ER in an ambulance. I am on all kinds of medicines and shots. I am morbidly obese and I need to change my diet.

    • Angela says:

      I don’t have the seriousness of asthma attacks as the aforementioned folks; however, tt was not uncommon for me to have a bout of bronchitis once or twice a year, which then caused all kinds of asthma issues for me. It was a vicious cycle, asthma = bronchitis bronchitis = asthma. I’d sometimes have to make a couple of trips to the doctors because they wouldn’t listen to me when I told them my bronchitis wouldn’t respond to anything except Biaxin. I’d be really sick for about a week then I’d start on the mend, but would be left with an asthmatic persistent cough that would last well over a month or two. It also hasn’t been unusual for me to just start coughing without having bronchitis either. I started to notice that I would just start coughing like crazy after having a burger, but I’d put that off to it being from grease NEVER did I think it would be from the bun!

      Going down the cleaning isle of the grocery store or into a perfume department just sent me crazy. I’d get an instant headache and into the coughing. The odd time I’d feel my chest start constricting to the scents.

      Since going wheat/grain free (no “gluten-free” items either from the “Gluten Free” isle) I don’t have issues with scents OR my asthma/bronchitis issues. I still have a bit of a cough; however, it is going away and is GREATLY reduced since I’ve not eaten any wheat/grains of any kind. I’m so thankful for hearing about the Wheat Belly Book!

      • Dr. Davis says:

        We are hearing from more and more people who are experiencing similar improvements or even outright total relief from their asthma with wheat elimination.

        Having had asthma as a kid, I know what the attacks can be like. Congratulations on finding the answer!

  5. Michele Pavlou says:

    I have been experiencing rapid weight gain for the past two years, which coincided with the doctors discovering an allergy to grasses, under active thyroid and a severe intolerance to asprin. I have been unable to shift the weight despite daily visits to the gym and moderating my diet. I never thought about wheat, but had on occasion attempted to follow that ‘special k diet’ (tiny portions with skimmed milk) which spiked the weighing scales and had the opposite effect. Im going to try elliminating it completely. Thank you for a most informative website.