Wheat liberation

Abbey tells this story of life transformed minus wheat. I call it “wheat liberation” because her story makes me think that she was a prisoner of the wheat message, in pain all the time and not understanding why.

Let the Wheat Lobby and uninformed dietary community prattle on about how “healthy whole grains” while we witness success after success in regaining health.

The last few years a lot of my friends have gone gluten free and have ballyhooed how wonderful it is and how good they feel, but I had been of the opposite mind: “What? Give up bread and cereal? What’s wrong with breads and cereals? It’s what we’re supposed to eat!” But then stories kept popping up on my newsfeed on the internet and I would occasionally read them if they had what seemed to be an interesting or new angle. I can’t even remember what article I read over the holidays, but it prompted me to download Wheat Belly on my Kindle. I took my time reading it because I really wanted to make myself understand all the science stuff in it and, I guess in the back of my mind, I was hoping this wasn’t just another Atkins, South Beach fad (been there done that, couldn’t sustain it.)

So while I’m reading, I’m thinking ‘What if?” As in, what if all this is really true? You see, in my story, I’m a very active 46-year old woman who, since I turned 40, has had a bunch of weird things go on with my body and I have felt like I am 80-years old physically for the last 4-5 years. It started with a diagnosis of hip dysplasia which resulted in 2 total hip replacements in 3 years. And in between that I was hit by a drunk driver and broke both wrists, my left femur, left kneecap and left heel. In fact, my heel is fused with bolts and my ankle doesn’t bend like the other one. I have metal rods, pins, and wires all over my body! I walk with usually only a slight limp. But all this mess has caused me to not be able to lose weight because exercise, while I still love it, takes SO much longer to recover from. A five-mile hike takes a full day to feel ‘normal’ again. And we are a scouting family so we do a lot of outdoor stuff. I hike and kayak with my teenagers, but it has gotten SO HARD.

Well, in my head I’m saying, as I’m reading, “I’ll just do this for one week. Surely I can live without wheat for one week just to SEE how it goes and how I feel. I’m not going to think about weight loss, I just want to know if I FEEL better.” You see, the parts in the book about blood sugar and inflammation are what hit me the hardest–-maybe my aches and stiffness getting up in the morning aren’t ‘old age.’ Maybe the long recovery after exercise isn’t because of the accident. Maybe I won’t be creaky and wobbly and have to hobble to the bathroom first thing in the morning until I limber up. It’s already hard to put a sock on my left foot because of all the metal in my leg; maybe I’ll be able to bend more easily. Maybe I’ll even lose some weight.

I really didn’t hold out a lot of hope. I decided I wasn’t going to be OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] about the wheat because I don’t have celiac disease or diabetes. So I just didn’t eat my usual: bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, pretzels, pita chips (my latest addiction), or for the time being, rice and oats. Had my last wheat on Sunday, January 13, 2013.

On Tuesday morning January 15, I felt VERY DIFFERENT. Already I could swing my legs out of bed, stand and immediately walk to the bathroom, without having to center myself for balance, stretch, hear all the cracking and popping, and hobble to the bath. Very oddly, I didn’t crave wheat. I almost ate a cookie my daughter had made, but I realized that was reflex and I stopped before I ate. I love food so I am not counting calories but just eating mainly whole foods. I love the freedom to eat dairy and fruit! That is so key for me. I even had some (shhhh) candy. But the weirdest thing was that I was NOT craving wheat.

The next day I exercised and then I WALKED UP THE STAIRS WITHOUT THE HANDRAIL. I have to capitalize that because you just don’t KNOW how major that was. The next day I went to a movie and usually afterwards I have to do the whole stand, center, stretch, hobble routine that I do after any extended rest period longer than 10 minutes. I got up, walked to the aisle and did not use the handrail to get down the theater steps. Again, I can’t tell you the last time I did that. It’s been YEARS since my legs felt strong enough to do that.

Now I am almost 3 weeks into my wheat-free lifestyle and it amazingly has not been a bad adjustment. My husband is about ready to try it after seeing MY results. Oh, did I mention my increased energy and sex drive? (tee hee). I don’t miss the wheat at all because I feel so dang good! I’m still amazed and part of me expects the good results to stop, but they haven’t and I am loving it. I have also lost 8 pound without trying. I do have a weight loss goal so I will continue to increase my exercise and strength training now that I don’t fear being incapacitated by exercise. I can’t wait to try a 5-mile hike. I know my ankle will hurt by the end but that will be pure accident-related, not wheat related, and I’ll be just fine with that!

Thank you so much for this book. Your history of wheat really helped me understand the WHY’S of how we got to where we are and what you said just resonated so soundly in my life. I am so glad I gave it a try.

This entry was posted in Inflammation, Joint pain, Wheat-elimination success stories. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Wheat liberation

  1. Raed says:

    I have a genetic syndrome that affects all my joints. A collagen defect that makes my ligaments weak and makes my muscles work harder and act as my ligaments. Also some of my joints are not quite formed as they should be and glide off in weird directions. I’ve handled it for years and had a few surgeries to cope with the worst of it. But all in all I have had a very productive life with a college degree and working in science. Very normal.

    In the past 2 years, now that I have hit my 40s, my health has taken an awful slide. Joint pain out of this world. Nerves and muscles driving me insane. Stomach troubles making me lose weight (they blame it on the meds) and all of the above killing my sleep cycles and ultimately making me leave my awesome job and leaving me on long term disability not being able to walk well or do much out of bed for more than an hour at a time. I’m on so many pain meds it would kill an elephant.

    With 2 small children to also care for it has been a real challenge to deal with day to day life. How did I get here from 2 years ago I will never know. I have seen so many specialists. Had more surgeries on more joints. Been given no diagnoses, wrong diagnoses, bad diagnoses, and diagnoses I refuse to accept. I know these doctors are only human but they just won’t step outside their boxes.

    My next theory (And I think I am onto something here) is leaky gut syndrome. If the proteins have attacked all my tissues, it would explain all my symptoms. I finally came to this conclusion when for the past year I have been on a basically wheat free diet. I was ho hum plateauing but not getting better. Then I was getting lazy and sneaking in a bit of bread here and there. Then I had some pizza. Ohhh my I was sick. Coincidence I said. A month later, pizza again. In bed for 2 days. Hmmmm. 2 months later, pizza, violently ill. Hmmm must be the cheese, no diary. ….. I ate bread. I was sick. OK no bread. Stabilized but no improvement.

    I was still eating nightshades, corn, other grains, some dairy etc. I have come to the conclusion I have to give up all lectins. Well as many as I can. I am now on day 4 of this diet and I feel better than I have in ages. More energy and less pain than in months! Could it be this simple? I still have swelling in some of my joints but I assume that is going to take some time to go away.

    This is early days but I am so excited for my future. Why don’t health professionals mention this as a possibility? The information is out there!!!!!!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Great start, Raed!

      Yes, indeed: It could be THAT simple! This is why I yell this message, write books, blog, Facebook, and discuss with nice people like you: Because SO many people have not yet heard that this simple effort eliminating all wheat from the diet TRANSFORMS HEALTH!

      • Barb in NC says:

        It’s such a shame, really, that it’s almost too simple. I find myself telling almost everyone I talk to lately, about the wheatbelly book and the fact that this is what’s causing so much havoc on our bodies and minds. Most people just don’t want to hear it. They look at me with that eye roll, and usually I laugh, because it really does sound a bit ludicrous, when someone tells you they have aches and pains, and you want to lead it all back to eating bread and pasta. I mean, that is just not going to fly for most folks. For many people, at least in my experience, being sick and on medication is what makes them feel important – it’s tragic, but true. How dare we come up with such a trivial thing as food to be causing all these horrific diseases and syndromes!

        I just found my answer to the cartilage regrowth question, in one of your older articles at TYP – you really are an amazing doctor and human being, and for those of us who are smart enough to hear you, you’re a God Sent!


        Many thanks,

  2. Paula2 says:

    I’m curious if there have been any “un” successful wheat free stories? I have gone wheat free and I feel so good it crazy awesome how good I feel. My DH is reluctant to give up wheat even facing a possible knee and/or hip surgery. He has so much pain in his joints and was told there is already arthritis and bone spurs. He is getting an MRI in a week to see if there is a minescus tear or any other issue going on. I repeat many success stories that I have found about people facing surgeries, having arthritis or MS and having symptoms being reversed and becoming pain and symptom free. He says he believes that to be true for some but not everyone (and of course certainly not him) . I asked him point blank if going wheat free meant not having to have surgery would you at least try it? He said its not something he could do for a lifetime and was unrealistic. I just don’t get his thought process.

    It’s frustrating to say the least, I’m having a hard time being supportive of his pain or if he needs surgery, when he isn’t willing to at least try going wheat free.

    • Boundless says:

      > … “un” successful wheat free stories
      I’m going to argue “no”.

      I’ve been following this blog since shortly after it went live, and the complaints fall into several categories

      Confounding factors: my impression is that we hear here, from everyone who doesn’t get textbook results fast. Most of them are given responses pointing out the “Didn’t Lose the Weight”, thyroid and iodine articles. A percentage of the population has thyroid and/or adrenal issues. This can be a real problem for people, because modern endocrine care is largely malpractice.

      Challenging food prep: today’s food markets do not support a grain-free low-carb no-fructose diet. Eating the WB way is typically going to require that you cook, and not eat boxed food. A few people are not in a position to do this. It’s even more challenging for those who have allergies to common WB ingredients, like nuts. Allergies need to be carefully re-challenged once off wheat for a while. Food prep is even more challenging for those who make it so by their choice (vegan, vegetarian).

      Athletic fine tuning: WB is at least a borderline ketogenic diet. That has implications for endurance athletics, and the WB books and this blog haven’t really focused on it. Try Dr. Peter Attia’s blog.

      Acute wheat withdrawal. I see some odd complaints with no follow-up posts, but then we also see success stories that include comparably severe symptoms and harsh reactions. What are we to make of this?
      a. The blog is only censoring trolls and spammers. Serious complaints, whether real, imagined or transient, are let stand.
      b. If anyone had a serious negative reaction to reverting to a historical human diet, you’d have heard about by other means, if not here. Big Grain would jump all over a real horror story. Fact is, the horror is all their’s.

      Does grain-free low-carb no-fructose cure or relieve all conditions?
      No, but it’s so cheap and effective that the only reason for not trying it for a month is wheat addiction.

      > He said its not something he could do for a lifetime

      That’s the wheat talking. Surgery is usually permanent. Switching to this style of diet is not. You can always resume a suicide diet later. Our household switched a year and a half ago. We feel no need to revert to a glycemic diet.

      • Barb in NC says:

        Has anyone found it to help with bone on bone arthritis? or is that too far gone … I am scheduled for bilateral knee surgery in April, and have been wheatfree since january of this year. I have definitely reduced the pain drastically, esp. when sitting or sleeping, no more nerve pain, and even walking short distance, do not always have pain. but still can’t stand and walk for long distances, without having the knees lock up and start hurting a lot.

        I would love to hear from those who have gotten rid of all arthritis pain, and if they have had xrays of joints, showing deterioration.

        Can cartilage grow back?

        Even if not, I am happy to eat wheat and grain free for life, if it stops the inflammation, and allows for faster healing from surgery. And I do know that will be the case.

        Thanks Dr. Davis for sharing the information and your experience and advice so freely. I love that you answer questions and visit the forum so frequently. It is unusual, as are you …. in a good way!

        Barb ;)

        • Dr. Davis says:

          No, sorry, Barb: Wheat elimination will not regrow cartilage.

          It can provide partial relief from the pain, however, as wheat elimination reduces the inflammatory component of arthritis, just not the cartilage/bone regeneration.

      • Dr. Davis says:

        As always, Boundless, bursting with wisdom!

      • Paula2 says:

        Boundless, thanks for your response. The only reason I asked about unsuccessful stories was because my husband was trying to argue the point of going wheat free saying it isn’t true for everyone. He hasn’t read a thing about any of this and I have read countless success stories and many blogs, plus of course the Wheat Belly book, I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some source out there that would make his argument valid.

        I told him try it for a week anyone can do it for a week, then try another week by then you will be feeling good and you’ll get it!!

        I wasn’t successful getting my Mom to try it either, I can’t believe she isn’t willing to at try it, she has been on so many diets it would make your head spin! Maybe when I get further in my journey they will be more accepting to at least try.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, indeed, Paula: Frustrating when you understand just how powerful wheat elimination can be.

      But not everything and everyone’s complaints and conditions respond to wheat elimination. But, even if “only” 50% of conditions experienced by humans responded, well, why wouldn’t we do it anyway?

      And not all abnormal conditions reach perception. You can have, for instance, abnormal intestinal permeability that can lead long-term to any of 75 autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, but not have any hint whatsoever until you start to experience the symptoms after years of exposure.

    • April says:

      I would see if he is willing to try just 2 weeks, he probably feels like nothing short of surgery could possable help at this point. It’s hard to think that just that change would do so much, but also when you think about going without ANY wheat products it seems more daunting that it really is.
      Good Luck

  3. wildflower4 says:

    I was diagnosed with a “wheat sensitivity” about seven years ago. I was simply told not to eat it, but not given any further direction. I basically went away knowing that I should “limit” my wheat consumption, but didn’t know why. I cut back on the wheat but soon went back to eating it because it was everywhere and I didn’t understand why I shouldn’t eat it.
    Over the last seven years I have had periods where I don’t eat wheat at all. During that time I feel great. My pain goes away, I sleep better, I have more energy, etc…Then I start feeling so good that I start to eat it again. Generally within about 3 months or less, I’m feeling crummy again.
    Last summer, I went completely wheat free again. One more time, I felt great, the weight was falling off and I knew it was because of the wheat elimination, but still I did not understand.
    Around the Holiday’s I started eating wheat again. Since November 2012 I have gained almost 25 pounds!! I don’t eat a lot, but almost daily wheat has been a steady part of my diet. In addition to the weight gain, I have horrible pain and stiffness in my lower back. My hands, feet and ankles are swollen. I am tired all the time. I have been feeling like I am 90 years old lately. I’m only 40.
    A friend of mine who knows about my wheat sensitivity recently told me about the book “Wheat Belly”. I downloaded to the book to my Kindle and read it. Holy Cow! I get it! Now I know why and what wheat is doing to me. If I can keep on this path I am slowly killing myself. I know from my past experiences that wheat is the root of my inflammation and weight problems.
    Today I am proud to say that I am back on the path of wheat free living. This time I am empowered. This time I have knowledge. I have been educated and I look at wheat in a whole new light.
    I also see that a wheat free diet has to become a way of life for me. I’m anxious to start feeling better!
    Thank you Dr. Davis for educating me.

  4. Marci says:

    I’ve been grain-free, into my 4 month now. I’ve had some weight loss and stomach problems have disappeared, which I’m very grateful for. But I have had no improvement in joint pain in my hips and back. Would another food sensitivity cause the joint pain or inflammation to still exist in my body or does am I not giving it enough time to clear up?

    • Marci,
      My husband has had arthritic pain in his right thumb and wrist for years. Since he continues to play tennis daily, he probably keeps it agitated. A few nights ago, he noticed that he had more mobility and less discomfort…….bottom line, give it time…..these conditions didn’t happen overnight.

      • Dr. Davis says:

        And it could also be, of course, that your husband actually has a condition unrelated to wheat! Yes, it can indeed happen!!

        • You’re right….he did have an accident involving that area many years ago….but being off wheat/sugar he now is beginning to feel an improvement. He’s hopeful it will continue.

  5. Chris S says:

    I just ordered The Wheat Belly cookbook.

    Today, April 21 is day 1. I’ve just read a ton of blog posts and comments. Found my way here because I have a severe acid reflux reaction from wheat.

    Is it possible that that could cause gall stones – because I had a gall bladder attack in Feb, after a monster xmas cookie addiction in Dec and Jan.?

    In any case, I’m going to give this way of eating a 6-month trial. Will keep you posted on the results. I have 30 pounds to lose, but I’ll be happy to start not to every have acid reflux again.

  6. Pingback: What does wheat REALLY do to you....? - Page 10 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 10

  7. lynne frost says:

    I am 69 years old and have had joint pain for many years (controlled by NSAIDS). At 60 I had a total knee replacement and have functioned well enough with the meds. Five years ago I became very ill with colon issues and had 8 surgeries/procedures in 18 months, although there was not much improvement. Have recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which explains a lot of things, including the joint pain. Part of the treatment for Crohn’s was discontinuing the NSAIDS. I could hardly walk or close my hands. Continuing my fight to get my life back I decided to take off some weight I had gained during my last Crohn’s flare (bland, soft foods are mostly carbohydrates). I began a very low carb diet. Within a week I noticed my joint pain was almost gone. Wheat. The only thing I had changed was my diet – no carbs, thus no wheat.