Lose the wheat . . . climb a mountain

Lisa tells a moving story of a life transformed by wheat elimination:

About 3 years ago I was struggling with crazy inflammation: moderate at times, but also spiking and leaving me barely able to walk.

I was turning 40 and felt 90. Doctors diagnosed me with “fibromayalgia” and “Auto Immune Disorder–Etiology Unknown” and gave me pain pills and steroids, which I tried but the side effects were terrible. I knew they weren’t the answer, but I had no idea how to figure out what was wrong.

I basically suffered for years until I found your book. Within a week–days, really–of staying away from wheat, my pain was gone. My stomach issues, which had plagued me for several years, as well: gone.

I climbed a mountain on my 43rd birthday with my two daughters. Two weeks prior (before I found your book) I could barely climb the stairs. At the top of that mountain, I cried like a baby, so thankful for the chance to do this with my girls and live a full life again. Sometimes I can’t believe I feel this good.

I now row on my rowing machine 1500 meters a day, and will do more as times goes on. It feels great: no joint pain, no trigger points. I could go on and on here, but all I really need to say is thank you.

Wheat can be crippling.

What is it about wheat that can so profoundly impair muscles, bones, and connective tissue, the body parts we need to carry out activities like walk or climb a mountain? Here are a few reasons:

1) The gliadin protein of wheat induces increased intestinal permeability that allows foreign substances to gain entry into the bloodstream. This is the first step in autoimmunity, the body’s immune system attacking itself. While it’s worst in people with celiac disease, it applies to everyone else (though varies in intensity, depending on haptoglobin 2 genotype; see http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/09/14/0906773106.full.pdf).

2) Wheat germ agglutinin–The lectin protein of wheat, in addition to its direct toxic effects on the intestinal lining, can also enter the bloodstream. Even in microscopic amounts, it is highly toxic and causes joint, connective tissue, and cartilage inflammation.

3) Anti-transglutaminase antibodies–We know that the gliadin protein of wheat oddly resembles the transglutaminase enzyme of the intestine, a situation of “molecular mimicry.” Celiac disease is diagnosed by a positive test for an antibody against transglutaminase, which cross-reacts with (deamidated) wheat gliadin. BUT there are emerging data that the antibodies generated against transglutaminase may also be responsible for inflammation in other organs even in the absence of celiac disease. This may especially involve joints, brain and nervous system, and liver.

4) The amylopectin A of wheat, the “complex” carbohydrate responsible for the high blood sugars of wheat consumption, triggers glycation of cartilage tissue that leads, over time, to brittle cartilage, then arthritis. (This part of the process of wheat-induced joint dysfunction is not reversible, however, so likely did not play a big role in Lisa’s case.)

In addition to being a perfect obesogen and perfect bowel-toxic food, wheat is also perfectly crafted to impair your joints, muscles, and connective tissues. Get rid of it . . . and climb a mountain.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Culinary Adventurer

    Dr. Davis,
    Thank you for posting Lisa’s story. How wonderful for her that she feels so much better! Cheers to her!
    This prompts me to ask the following question: (which I have wondered about often)
    Which conditions caused by long term wheat consumption will resolve and which ones will not? Are our bodies able to repair and reset all of the negative conditions caused by wheat or are some just not reversible by eliminating wheat?

    • mary eleazer

      Thank you so much for writing the book. My belly is going down but the best thing is no more cravings. I was like a drug addict for sugar and carbs all wheat. I have learned so much from your book and it all make sense. I hope to loose 50lbs I lost a few but I think my body is messed up from so many years of bad eating. Thanks again I hope to someday send a photo of before and after. Thanks again.

  2. Kerri

    Skin is considered connective tissue, correct? I have vitiligo, and was wondering if you’ve even seen it healed when “wheat” was eliminated?

  3. Loekie

    How terribly onhappy people can be living on wheat, thinking they have to eat it to stay healty. How many suicides it will have cost? Two of my uncles commited suiced. And one of them had big stomach troubles. (sorry for my English)

  4. Loekie

    I was nearly there in my twenties, I was suspicious at wheat. I read that in my diaries of that time. But unfortunately I went on with eating wheat. Tiredness, acne, stomach problems. The doctor who wants you to go to a therapist. I am so happy for all those people nowadays who have internet to find the truth.
    Don’t wait until you are fifty, like me, but go wheatless as soon as possible. I have neuropathie in one leg and it seems it is not reversible. I am angry at all the institutes that told me on and on in the past that I have to eat wheat. And they still do! I am wheatfree since february 2012 and a few days ago I ate a croquette, as a test. A few hours later the diarrhea started and it went on for hours. The next day I felt like I felt years ago, tired, unhappy. No, I don’t want to go back to the years in which I felt most of the time like that. I learned a lesson. Everything is fine again at this moment!

    • JillOz

      I sympathise with you Loekie.
      I think we might all have stories of doctors and medical types who have told us the wrong thing, insiisted on the wrong thing and dismissed our concerns.

      My current doctor is pleased with my progress – I recently recovered from an infection much more speedily than usual and she was amazed – but I’ve had medical practitioners tell me the wrong thing and do the wrong thing.

      There will be lawsuits. People will get angrier at the rubbish they’re being fed at all levels and will take legal steps to remedy it.
      i don’t think it will be pretty.

  5. VibeRadiant

    It’s successful stories like these that keep on the straight and narrow in times of temptation. Thanks for the post!

  6. Patti Miller

    I’m starting to wonder if my 20 year old daughter should try eliminating wheat.
    She is absolutely NOT overweight, if anything she may be underweight. She’s 5’5″ and weighs about 115 pounds, but she never seems to feel good. She has a lot of allergies, (though no food allergies. She was tested in 2011) She has acid reflux, is tired a lot and suffers from frequent headaches (which we’ve always blamed on the allergies)
    Could wheat be the problem?
    I have noticed that a lot of the comments on here mention losing weight when eliminating wheat but she really doesn’t need to lose any weight.

    • Loekie

      I was rather skinny too in my twenties. I was frequently visiting the toilet, I think because of the wheat. She could try it for a month, you have nothing to lose.

      • Loekie

        Although eating rice and corn is not recommended on this site – because most of the people want to lose weight -, in my experience they gives no problems and eating enough of those, and chocolate and so on, she will certainly not lose any weight. There are enough substitutes for wheat if you don’t want to lose any weight.

        • Barbara in New Jersey


          You’ve listed most of the problems associated with wheat reactions. Weight loss is mentioned because so many people are fatter than they should be with many of them obese. As Loekie suggested, diarrhea/constipation can cause weight loss. It is easy to determine whether wheat is the culprit.

          Your daughter needs to stop eating it for a few days or even a week as a trial. Checking ingredients for hidden wheat and starches like soy sauce, salad dressings is important too. Keep careful notes about bathroom frequency, allergy symptoms etc. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain….like feeling better, having energy, no acid reflux, fewer and milder allergy symptoms.

          Look at the Wheat Belly Quick and Dirty archive for a basic list of foods to eat and foods to avoid as a quide for that trial period. Most people have written that they were astounded that their miseries improved the longer they were wheat free. It is a shame that your daughter already has acid reflux, allergies, is lethargic and suffers from headaches at 20.

          • gingerbread

            HELP! I made a coconut flour recipe bread, but it is too crumbly. I don’t want to ditch the whole project because i don’t want to waste the ingredients. Does anyone have any suggestions for salvage? I am not much of a baker, so I am sure it was something that I did, but when I was stirring and folding in the wet and dry, it didn’t get moist enough. Dummy me, didn’t think to add water before putting into pan. Thanks for any ideas, I have seen you guys come up with thrifty, economical and funny suggestions on what to do when your recipe doesn’t ‘ go quite right ‘ , lol!

    • Dave II

      Bread is literally her source of income, so she is obviously biased. Once she started thumping the Bible, she revealed that she couldn’t be trusted with any scientific objectivity.

      • Shelley

        And hasn’t Dr. Davis made a fortune on his theory? He has certainly made money from me buying his books looking for answers. Truthfully, the few recipes I have tried are not that great. I ended up throwing out the whole key lime pie…it was awful. And I am an excellent cook. It’s good to have information from all sides so we can make intelligent decisions instead of taking blindly someones spin on things. I have been an advocate of Wheat Belly for over the last year but I have gained 10 pounds and experience constipation. So bad that I started eating organic steel cut oatmeal to get my system working. I have always eaten pretty healthy so I suspect that many of the people that have had such great results may have had a horrible diet to begin with. But good for them and if it is working for them who am I to say. All I know is that I believe there is a balance somewhere and I found this article makes sense. Thanks for sharing it. I have also wondered if grains and bread were so important in the Bible, why shouldn’t we be eating them? After all God made us and He knows what we need. I think my problems started when I was eating shredded wheat about every morning thinking it was healthy. So maybe the answer is staying away from the bad stuff and eating the good. There is so much truth to the fact that what we normally buy as whole grain and whole wheat is junk, not to mention all the processed and sugar infused wheat foods… so maybe this lady has some good points. And did you bother to read her whole article? Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

        • Barbara in New Jersey

          How does fresh milling the flour address the gliadin and agglutinin in wheat? Does the use of only fresh milled flour make them benign? I must have missed the answer in the article.

        • Loekie

          The knowing that many many people have some form of glutensensivity. Knowing that celiac desease and glutensensivity is largerly underdiagnosted. Still tell everyone that we all have to eat wheat and that YOU ONLY MAY STOP when the doctor tells you so, that is criminal. I have no other word for it.

    • Rich

      Just google Wheat Belly and look at the results. Filter out (mentally) the amazon.com hits and the links to this blog and you find a many entries just like the one you pointed out. They are written by various people, nutritionist and physicians among them.
      I’d say the HMS Wheat has been hit by a torpedo, and she’s filling up with water.

    • Dr. Davis

      Gee, imagine that: A retailer of wheat products and baking equipment objecting to the arguments made in Wheat Belly?

      Despite the length of this person’s comment, they clearly skimmed the book without giving it due consideration.

  7. Leslyn

    I signed up to participate in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3), a longitudinal study involving 300,000 people over the course of 20 years, that will look at the links between lifestyle and cancer (CPS-1 looked at smoking and cancer, CPS-2 obesity and cancer).

    While filling out the preliminary questionnaire, I found a “when did you stop beating your wife?” question and brought it to the attention of the volunteers there. It asked, “Do you regularly consume more whole grains than refined grains? ___ Yes ___No ___ Don’t know

    I wrote next to it that I never willfully eat ANY grains. But I’m sure that my response will be counted as a non-response. Unfortunately, this questionnaire has been used for several years now and if changed mid-stream it could effect the validity of the study, so I don’t think they will consent to changing it.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, prevention of cancer is a very tough area of investigation, given that you are preventing something, as opposed to treating an established condition.

      My suspicion is that wheat consumption is among the most carcinogenic things you could eat.

    • The ACS survey’s grain gotcha question is hard to interpret. It could just be normal consensus dogmatic ignorance, or it could be willful unwillingness to look under that rock. Neither interpretation enhances their credibility.

      A larger question about the ACS is: are they actually interested in a cheap. simple solution for the majority of cancers? Are they willing to become irrelevant?

      Cancers feed on glucose. Inflammation is probably the most frequent trigger. Wheat does both.

      A very low-carb high-fat grain-free low-omega-6 diet approach like Wheat Belly probably reduces cancer risk substantially. A full keto diet may arrest, if not reverse any cancer already started, and is likely even stronger prevention. All this just from changing aisles at the supermarket. No pink ribbons, race for the cure, or generous contributions to ACS required.

  8. Have been off wheat since July except for two slip-ups. On both occasions I felt terrible, headache, stomachache, nausea, diarrhea, you name it, I had it. This last time was Thursday night and I have yet to figure out what I ate, rotisserie chicken (my grill), asparagus, and 6 tater tots. I think there must have been something in the chicken as it was wrapped and listed chicken broth as an ingredient. What was in the chicken broth? Who Knows? But next time I will ask for a free-range, not injected chicken, or maybe just buy a fryer instead of a broiler. Anyway, I got sick around 1:30 am and it lasted until this morning. All day Friday I felt sick (bathroom sick) and was still hurting. This morning I felt like I had been on a three-day drunk. Just like a hangover. Finally around 4:00 pm I started to feel normal. Since I also have Addison’s Disease “normal” is relative. One more thing I would like to report – just got my 6 month blood tests back last Wednesday and my total cholesterol was 186. Down almost 100 points, my HDL was 58, up almost 7 points, and my LDL was 76, down a whopping 80 points. Now tell me going wheatless is a fad. NO WAY!! And in April my doctor wanted to put me on statins. HA!!!

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      You might want to check the ingredients for the tater tots as well. Depending on the brand and flavor, there can be yeast, sugars, corn, various flours and un-named flavorings among the specialty chemicals.

    • Dr. Davis

      Great, Victoria!

      It sounds like you really need to be meticulous in your wheat/gluten avoidance. The Addison’s disease, by the way, may have been caused by wheat, too.

  9. Culinary Adventurer

    Hi Gingerbread!
    Ah, the coconut flour learning curve! We have all made a few “new” baked goods while learning to master these new flours. The remnants you have are still more useful and better for you than any of the old wheat based “Baked Bads”, as we call them!! ;-)
    Sounds like you might have the makings of a crumble topping for a baked apple cobbler! You could add some toasted coconut – it is a great time of year for these flavors. Or maybe if you add some xylitol and a little coconut milk and almond mea l- a bottom crust to a no-wheat cheesecake… Do any of these sound yummy?

    • gingerbread

      Okay, culinary,all of it sounds like a winner. I can definitely envision and see the apple cobbler crumb topping, and the cheesecake was a taste that I really like when I tried it once. You know, being very limited in baking, I was trying to wrap my mind around using the whole thing for another thing. Best suggestion I see is to find a variety of uses for it! Thank you soooo much!

      • Barbara in New Jersey


        There is a Roasted Apple Sauce and Charlotte Dessert recipe by Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe fame. You can use your bread for this and also for crumbs or stuffing. Freeze the bread you have. I’m not good with web addresses, but this was published in the LA Times. Carbs are a bit higher than we would normally eat, but this is a perfect caramel dessert for a special treat. Add some whipped cream or ice cream to serve.

        • gingerbread

          Hi Barbara! Thank you, I will check that one out too! Knew I could count on fellow wheatbelliers to help me out!

    • Dr. Davis

      Wheat-free: Michelob Ultra, Bud Light. Michelob is the lowest in carbs. They are not gluten-free, however, because they are made with barley malt. They are benign for those of us without exquisite sensitivities.

      Gluten-free: Bard’s, Anheuser Busch Redbridge, Green’s.

  10. Mary

    I’ve been gluten-free for 2 months and feel worse than before – fibromyalgia pain is worse, allergies are worse, skin itching intensified, more headaches, no weight loss at all. It doesn’t work for everyone.

    • > I’ve been gluten-free for 2 months …
      The Wheat Belly dietary recommendations aren’t just about avoiding gluten. What is your net carb intake per day?

      > … no weight loss at all.

      > It doesn’t work for everyone.
      Well, before we can discourse on that, we’ll need to know what “it” is. As the book points out, just dropping gluten-bearing grains isn’t the whole story, starting with what you replace them with.

      • Barbara in New Jersey

        Obviously you are still eating foods that your body does not like. Why don’t you eliminate 1 food group at a time for a few days or a week to determine what substance(s) are causing your problems.

    • Dr. Davis

      It DOES work for everyone, Mary. You just have some other process that has entered the picture that is blocking your success: distortions of bowel flora, hypothyroidism, prolonged gliadin withdrawal.

      Do you know a capable practitioner of functional medicine?

  11. Macghie

    I’ve been wheat free for almost 3 weeks & think I’m ready to try fasting as you wrote about in your book. All carb cravings are gone, so I’m pretty sure I can do it. I’m thinking about starting out with a 24 hour fast a couple of times a week, then extend to 2 or 3 day fasts when I think I can handle it, staying wheat free throughout (I.e. forever). Do you have any additional tips on how to make my plan a success?

    • Dr. Davis

      Hydration is the key to intermittent fasting, Macghie.

      Also, be aware that there may be issues specific to various medications.

      • Macghie

        Thanks, Dr. Davis! I’m half way through my first day of fasting & no problems so far… actually, more than half way since the 24 hours started last night at 8:00… so, I’ll be having something light to eat after 8:00 tonight… I spent a considerable part of the morning exercising — intervals with NordicTrack skier & kettlebells, then yoga… I feel great!.. so exhilarated… keeping hydrated with water & green tea… I’m not taking any prescription meds, only vitamins & a few other supplements… nothing that will be affected or affect me by taking them on an empty stomach…

        I’ve done intermittent fasting in the past, but it was so hard… I realize now that it was because I was addicted to wheat & the discomfort I felt during the fast was wheat withdrawal & the cravings were the result of wheat’s effects on my brain… I wish I had known all this years ago… I might not have spent the last 20+ years puffy & gaining weight (seemingly) uncontrollably…

        Thank you, Dr. Davis, for your book & your help… I’ll be eternally grateful.


        • Dr. Davis

          Ah, yes: intermittent fasting becomes a breeze, an enlightening and uplifting experience, without the appetite stimulation of wheat gliadin!

  12. Hi Dr Davis

    Please can you tell me if wheat/gluten intolerance can cause chronic gastritis? I cannot beat this despite continuing on Omeprazole and Ranitidine. I am at a loss as I tested negative for H Pylori, no NSAID use, no alcohol use, no particular stressors, diet pretty good as I see it, though out of everything in my diet, I have always felt that any quantity of wheat above a tiny amount can slow everything down and make my digestive system a bit grumpy! Docs say no, wheat/gluten cannot be a cause as I had negative blood test results for both Celiac Disease and wheat allergy but I cannot help thinking there may be a connection?

    Would appreciate any advice from yourself or anyone who can guide me. I just don’t know where to go from here. Your book arrived for me yesterday and I am just about to start educating myself :) Thanks…

  13. Sidra

    As of today, I’ve lost 41 lbs since 6/1/13 when I gave up wheat and soda! I started eating more veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds instead of grains. Since I don’t like to cook (it’s a chore), giving up wheat type products completely (breads, cakes, cookies, etc.) was much easier for me then trying to figure out how to replace them with a wheat free version. Instead of soda, I started drinking more water and a couple of Sobe Lifewaters (0 calories sweetened with Stevia) a day. Not only have I lost 41 lbs, but my thinning hair feels thicker, my depression, acid reflux, stomach aches, bloating and gas are all much better, but still room for improvement, so plan to continue healing and stay wheat and soda free! My blood sugar has also dropped from 110 to 94, so I’m no longer edging towards pre-diabetes! I have to add that I’m not 100% careful when eating wheat-free like some of you probably are. I also still eat some fast food including KFC’s grilled chicken and Wendy’s chilli! On occassion, when I have cheated (like a slice of birthday cake) I paid for it that evening with cramping, bloating and gas. My only real problem has been that I’m still addicted to sugar! I don’t drink my sugar anymore and don’t eat sugar products that are also made with wheat, but I find that I’m eating more candy, and have absolutely become addicted to Charleston Chews!!! Help, I know I can loose more weight and feel even better if I give up candy, but it seems to have a big grip on me right now! Any suggestions on how to lessen the sweet tooth? Thanks.

  14. Dawn

    If you suffer from gluten related disorders, there is a free online event that is to take place next week. Each day, 3-4 interviews with leading experts on this topic will be available for a 24 hour period. I used to suffer from multiple migraines each month and since going gluten free a little over a year ago, I rarely get headaches!

    If interested, click on this link to go to the registration page. There is no cost to attend! https://gg110.infusionsoft.com/go/tgs/dfralick/