Wheatlessness: the happy, healthy state achieved by not eating wheat.
A frequently asked question: Once you eliminate wheat, how fast do the benefits occur?
Well, it depends. It depends on what health issue we are discussing, what organ system, and how far along the process of wheat destruction you were.
Nonetheless, there are a number of common patterns that develop once you decide to eliminate all things wheat in your life:
Acid reflux, bowel urgency–5 days is typical for these conditions to reduce or go away entirely.
Ulcerative colitis, Crohns–These complex inflammatory conditions require weeks to months. (Note that bowel flora is enormously disrupted by these conditions and can slow recovery. So it is VERY helpful to either undergo a bowel flora assessment and/or consider a high-potency probiotic for at least the first several weeks.)
The myriad rashes caused by wheat vary in their response. Seborrhea and acne generally improve within 5 days, while more complex skin conditions, such as psoriasis, can require weeks to months.
First you have to get through wheat withdrawal, the 3- to 5-day long withdrawal from the opiates that derive from the digestion of the wheat protein, gliadin. Many of us have to endure several days of nausea, headache, fatigue, and depression first, but then you feel wonderful with better mood and more energy. Likewise, sleep responds similarly, with sleep disrupted at first, only to become deeper and more youthful after the withdrawal process.
5-7 days are generally required to experience reduced airway spasm of asthma and reduced sinus congestion.
Pain and swelling in the wrist and fingers typically respond in 5 days, while larger joints such as the shoulder, knees, and hips require weeks or months.
The immune system gone haywire that characterizes autoimmune conditions generally require a longer time period to respond, likely due to the complex inflammatory pathways involved. The joint swelling of rheumatoid arthritis requires weeks to months to respond, not uncommonly with full response by 1-2 years. Other forms of inflammatory autoimmune phenomena, such as the skin rash of lupus and the muscle aches of polymyalgia rheumatica likewise require weeks to months.
The behavioral outbursts and struggles with learning and attention in children with ADHD and autistic spectrum disorder respond within days to weeks. Likewise, the paranoia and auditory hallucinations of schizophrenia, the mania of bipolar illness, the low moods of (“unipolar”) depression, and the food obsessions of bulimia and binge eating disorder tend to respond within days to weeks. (Note that, in
these conditions, the result is not usually cure, but substantial improvement in symptoms. Cure can happen, but it is uncommon.)
As with autoimmune conditions, the inflammatory destruction of neurological tissue caused by wheat consumption, resulting in conditions such as cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, gluten encephalopathy (dementia), and temporal lobe seizures, requires a longer time period to respond, typically months to years. Neurological tissue is very slow to recover, if it recovers at all. It is not uncommon to wait a year or longer for response.
Variable, but the typical response involves rapid weight loss of around 15-18 pounds the first month in people who were formerly avid wheat consumers. (It can also vary depending on the status of bowel flora, thyroid status, degree of insulin and leptin resistance present at the start, quantity of carbohydrates remaining in the diet, among others.) It is also not clear why some people lose waist circumference first without a corresponding weight loss–reduction in inflammation in visceral fat?
Blood sugar will drop immediately upon cessation of wheat consumption . . . unless weight loss develops.
If weight loss develops, it means that there will be a flood of fatty acids into the bloodstream, representing the release of energy from fat stores. These fatty acids block insulin and raise blood sugar and HbA1c (the long-term measure of blood sugar fluctuations) and persists for the entire period while weight loss is ongoing. Once weight loss subsides and weight plateaus, then blood sugar drops over several weeks, followed by a more gradual reduction in HbA1c. So the reduction in blood sugar that develops in diabetics and pre-diabetics depends greatly on the amount of weight that has to be lost.
There are others, but those are the most common experiences. Now, can you name any other food that, when eliminated, yields such extraordinary benefits? Wheat is the only one I know of–because it ain’t wheat!