About the Author

Who had the audacity to write such an against-the-grain book exposing “healthy whole grains” for the incredibly destructive genetic monsters they’ve become?

That’s me, Dr. William Davis, cardiologist and seeker-of-truth in health. Over 80% of the people I meet today are pre-diabetic or diabetic. In an effort to reduce blood sugar, I asked patients to remove all wheat products from their diet based on the simple fact that, with few exceptions, foods made of wheat flour raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods. Yes, that’s true for even whole grains. More than table sugar, more than a Snickers bar. Organic, multigrain, sprouted–it makes no difference.

People returned several months later and did indeed show lower blood sugar, often sufficient for pre-diabetics to be non-prediabetics. But it was the other results they described that took me by surprise: weight loss of 25 to 30 lbs over several months, marked improvement or total relief from arthritis, improvement in asthma sufficient to chuck 2 or 3 inhalers, complete relief from acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, disappearance of leg swelling and numbness. Most reported increased mental clarity, deeper sleep, and more stable moods and emotions. I witnessed even more incredible experiences like the 26-year old man incapacitated by full-body joint pains who started to jog again, pain-free. And the 38-year old schoolteacher who, just weeks before her surgeon scheduled colon removal and ileostomy bag, experienced cure–cure–from ulcerative colitis and intestinal hemorrhage–and stopped all medications. That’s when I knew that I had to broadcast this message. Wheat Belly was the result.

I’m not promoting drugs, fancy medical procedures, or costly equipment. I’m not promoting a process that makes a pharmaceutical company rich or helps a hospital gain more revenue-producing procedures. I’m talking about a simple change in diet that yields incredible and unexpected health benefits in so many more ways than you’d think. And it’s not just about celiac disease, the destructive intestinal disease from wheat gluten that affects 1% of the population. It’s about all the other destructive health effects of wheat consumption, from arthritis to acid reflux to schizophrenia, caused or made worse by this food we are advised to eat more of. It’s about being set free from the peculiar appetite-stimulating effects of the opiate-like compounds unique to wheat. It’s also about losing weight–10, 20, or 30 pounds is often just the start–all from this thing I call wheat belly. The key to understanding wheat’s undesirable effects is to recognize that the total effect on human health is greater than the sum of its parts.

In addition to writing, speaking, and practicing preventive cardiology in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I am Medical Director and founder of the Track Your Plaque program for heart disease prevention and reversal. This program was articulated in the book, Track Your Plaque: The only heart disease prevention program that shows how to use the new heart scans to detect, track, and control coronary plaque, as well as the online program by the same name (www.trackyourplaque.com). Wheat elimination along with the nutritional principles articulated in Wheat Belly serve as the cornerstone of my heart disease prevention efforts used in the Track Your Plaque program, as well.

While I’m not writing or cooking my unique wheat-free recipes, I can be found biking, sampling wines with my wife or competing with the boys on XBox, walking my two Boston terriers, or watching my tennis pro daughter, Lauren Davis, in her tennis matches around the world.

1,648 Responses to About the Author

  1. Lisa P says:

    Dr. Davis, I was just diagnosed with Celiacs. I will be reading your book. One dilemma I have is that both of my daughters are highly allergic to tree nuts, so nut flour substitions are out, unless I am cooking only for myself. Any suggestions?

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Many people do okay with seed flours, e.g., pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia. You grind, then (optionally) press out excess oils.

      Also, ground golden flaxseed is pretty versatile. Garbanzo bean flour is a bit carby, but helpful to provide a bit of lightness to your mixes.

  2. Debbie Micev says:

    I just read your book and sent a copy to my parents. In just a few weeks I’ve lost 8 pounds and my hunger has changed from insatiable to mild. I’ve also told a number of my friends about your research.

    I didn’t see a section for eye problems, but I was wondering if you had any information about the effect of wheat on glaucoma or increased pressure behind the eye. My dad recently had lasik surgery to relieve the pressure and it didn’t seem to work. I am concerned about him.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No data, Debbie. It doesn’t mean that wheat elimination doesn’t work; it just means that the question has never been formally asked.

      But there is no downside to trying. As you are experiencing, the improvements in health range far and broadly. There is no harm in trying and observing what happens. Wait for the research to catch up and you can wait 10-20 years or longer.

      • Debbie Micev says:

        Thank you, Dr. Davis.

        • Lauren Teton says:

          Hi Debbie Micev, (November 16, 2012)
          I was reading this forum because I have been off wheat for many years and it has changed my life so much for the better. I got off wheat because my chiropractor said my knee pain was from wheat inflammation. Of course I said “NO WAY” but years later I am lighter, fitter, and have no knee pain since cuttign out the wheat (now mostly off dairy too!)

          Anyway, I’m writing to you because I also happen to be in the Glaucoma Laser business. I am pretty sure the laser your Dad had was SLT laser, not Lasik. SLT laser uses gentle cold laser energy to create a biologic response to elevated intraocular pressure, and in the majority of cases it does work. In other words, it stimulates the body’s defense system to help clean out the clogged “drain” in the eye, so the fluid can flow and the pressure can go down. It can be used instead of or with eye drops, and sometimes helps patients reduce or get off the drops completely.
          Or your Dad may have had the older, hot laser “ALT” procedure.
          Just wanted you to know!!
          Lauren Teton
          Option3 SLT Laser Center
          New York and the Northeast US

  3. Christine S. says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,

    I’m an extremely health-conscious 22 year-old who has been bothered by digestion issues, bloating, and unexplainable fluctuations in my weight since I was a teenager. For the past five years I’ve also had exceptionally high triglycerides and cholesterol. I recently saw a doctor who, unlike many of the other doctors I’ve seen over the years, was actually concerned with my unhealthy numbers. He told me I was eating too many carbs and wanted me to try removing all grains from my diet. I was a little leery about this at first, since it went against everything I had been hearing, but I did notice after a week of not eating grains I was noticeably less bloated. The next week I was at a book store and just happened to pick up your book. It was exactly what I needed – a logical and scientific explanation of what I needed to do to get my health back on the right track!

    I’m half way through your book now and I am really enjoying it. You’ve totally changed my perspective on what is healthy and it makes perfect sense. I also made your Pumpkin Spice Muffins yesterday and my family and I all loved them. I really think your diet could help my blood work. I want to strictly adhere to your book for a time and then get my numbers rechecked. I’m wondering, how long should I follow your diet before I should get my blood work done? Would a month ensure my previous eating habits didn’t interfere with my results?

    Thanks!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I am thoroughly impressed, Christine, that your doctor gave you such wonderful advice!

      I generally ask people to wait for 2 months into a weight plateau before checking labs, as the flood of fatty acids that develops with a shrinking wheat belly can distort the values during active weight loss.

  4. D Butler says:

    I have an off the wall question to pose to you! If the wheat we eat today has an opium ” type “of element in it…. can this be a contributor.. as it we.. to the fact that all drug usage has been on the rise for decades??? My thought was a reaction to what I red in the CBS this morning article on the web. I would like to ask one more question. Exactly WHEN ..did we, as a nation, begin using this type of wheat? Perhaps the protein/opium like thingy triggers the “need/craving” for the poppy drugs (or possible the other ones) that so many people find the need for and derive satisfaction of/from????? My reaction does come from the things I read. But, using some common sense and a bit of intuition ..it seems plausible that even though they mightn’t GO LOOKING FOR them (as in the drugs themselves) …. the people that DO GET HOOKED ON THE opium kinds of DRUGS DO FIND satisfaction when their body do finally ingest the drug. Is the craving they then have (many of which seem to be almost immediate) perhaps something the wheat has created ..due to the abundance of it that we as a country ingest???? Somehow I do not think it could be a prevalent in the rest of the world because they do not eat as much as we do and they are not the throw away country that we are (as in snacks fast food etc,) DOES any of this I am saying make any sense???? Or am I on a train of thought based on ridiculous contemplation?

    • Sherri says:

      I have posted the same theory to Dr. Davis and I believe we are on to something – what about alcoholics – wheat is in almost all beers and many liquors are made from wheat. For those with an addictive personality it makes sense to me that eliminating wheat from their diet may assist in breaking the addictive cycle of alcoholism and drug abuse.

    • Dr. Davis says:

      I suspect that you are actually correct on all counts!

      We need better validation of the drug connection. Anecdotally, for instance, I’ve had a number of people tell me that quitting cigarettes became easy once they were wheat-free.

      So make no mistake: wheat contains an opiate.

      • Amanda says:

        I have been thinking a lot about this too, for me as I am totally gluten intolerant, I remember feeling so unwell, so sick that I can not even describe it. I wonder if some people look for the “high” of drugs just to feel well. I remember thinking that I would give anything just to feel normal. As I was getting older I was getting sicker but I felt so unwell when I was young that if I had been around drugs I probably would have tried.

  5. Tracie says:

    Can you comment on where you practice in Miwaukee? I live near there, am looking for a cardiologist as mine has retired. I have High Grade AV Block that I believe occurred from years of mis-diagnosed Celiac. I was diagnosed, finally, 4 years ago. I’d love to see if we’d make a good patient-doctor team. :)

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Sorry, Tracie, but I am not taking any new patients and am in the process of a significant downsizing of my practice.

      If you call my office, my staff can provide a list of alternative practitioners, however.

  6. D Butler says:

    Can you tell me when we were unwittingly switched over to this kind of wheat? I am curious as to.. around.. what year this happened. Also, how can we ALL pursue this subject and draw attention to it? Although I am a Christian.. I do not normally stand on soap boxes or impinge upon people about my beliefs. But, having said that, I am a firm believer that “The MAKER made it better”. What is it with people who cannot leave well enough alone? Even if you don’t believe in God.. you have to admit that our planet and everything on it was formed with the idea and intention of everything working smoothly together. These people that have to tweak everything that’s out there.. do not know what the end result of all of their changes is going to be. Then you consider what is going to happen when ..ALL OF THEIR CHANGES REACT TO OR AGAINST EACH OTHER. Please…… talk about a dna.. food bomb.. about top go off in our bodies. What makes me shake in my shoes is this. I am very afraid that all of the changes they have made are causing ..or contributing to.. the cancer rise, birth defects… new diseases/ailments, etc. From cancer to lupus to fibro. Everything we eat is broken down and absorbed to some extent into our bodies. We are basically poisoning ourselves with every fresh veggie we eat ..as Dr. Davis says. So what do we do to stop this mess and reverse it? IS THERE a way to stop is?

    • James says:

      Hi D,

      The world is a “chaotic” system with fragile equilibriums (if you know chaos theory, you will understand what I am talking about):

      If you modify a variable just slightly, the outcome can be totally unpredictable. The mistake humans are doing in general is to see the world as a linear approximation, regardless of the evidence out there. Well, that depends, weather forecasters know well that they will never be able to predict the weather with great certainty beyond one or two days because of the fundamental chaotic nature of the weather processes.

      When it comes to ecosystems and bio-processes, we are dealing with the same chaotic processes (have you ever read stuff by Ilya Prigogine ?) But we humans seem to simplify (or ignore) complex processes into linear ones for ease of understanding, i.e. input -> some processing -> output. But more often than not, output is also input and you get positive or negative feedback loops (and things can get highly non-linear and hairy to deal with, especially when you have stochastic elements in your equations …). So yes, we have yet to see the results of our blind experiments. The scary part is when a system has critical levels, discontinuities when reaching certain thresholds after a period of meta-stability. Because then, the system will suddenly leave this zone of metastability and enter the “unknown” without warnings. That’s what feeds the (relevant) concerns of some climate experts: once a critical threshold reached (be it global average temperature, CO2 levels, what-not) -> bam! we all of a sudden leave the comfort of the pseudo-equilibrium we had enjoyed so far and go through hell until we reach another relatively stable zone of the phase-space (I think these zones are called “strange attractor” in chaos theory).
      These principles have also been applied to the study of the dynamic of human societies as well (cybernetic).

      OK, we are way off-topic … sorry :)

      J.

  7. Damon says:

    Dr. Davis, I just finished reading your Wheat Belly book. I had a question regarding Einkorn wheat as a straight up “carb”. You spend time talking about the differences between modern wheat, and traditional einkorn wheat . . . but you also mention that pretty much all the other types of flours are also not that great for you (tapioca flour, rice flour etc. ).

    So, my question . . . is it worth seeking out traditional einkorn flour from the variety of online sources that sell it? I feel certain you will concede that it is better for you than new flour, but can it be consumed as a wheat alternative? Is making einkorn bread a worthy alternative, or would it simply fall into the “well, it’s better than wonder bread, but still terrible for you” category?

    Thanks in advance for your response! I am looking forward to starting the “cold turkey” method on Monday!

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, you got it, Damon: Einkorn is less harmful, but not harmless.

      I do not feel that any form of wheat, ancient or modern, is part of an ideal diet. Inclusion of any form introduces various levels of nutritional compromise.

  8. Lauren says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I just got done reading your book and had some questions about a couple of the recipe suggestions. You had put in the recipes sugar alternatives. For people that are not pre-diabetic is regular sugar reasonable?( Obviously using moderation about eating too many sugar… )Also you mentioned regular dairy milk is not great for adults, why is this so? And what do you think of real maple sugar? Thanks!
    Lauren

    • Lauren says:

      PS The reason I asked about the sugar is I have heard many harmful effects of sugar substitutes.

    • Boundless says:

      > For people that are not pre-diabetic is regular sugar reasonable?

      No. Several issues:
      1. Regular sucrose is 50% fructose. Search this site for “Goodbye Fructose”.
      2. You don’t need any sugar, at all, period. Your body will make the ketones (or glucose) that it needs from the other stuff you eat.
      3. Carefully selected available sugar substitutes today pretty much cover any desire for “sweet”, with negligible side effects.

      > And what do you think of real maple sugar?
      Undifferentiated from sucrose, metabolically. I’ve switched to Nature’s Hollow Sugar Free.

      > I have heard many harmful effects of sugar substitutes.
      See:
      http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/10/in-pursuit-of-sweetness/
      Note that there is a subhead: “Sweeteners to not use”
      Note also that aspartame and saccharin are not mentioned at all. My assumption is that this is not an oversight.

  9. Christian says:

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    A few months ago, I read “It Starts with Food” and adopted a very strict Paleo diet. In other words, I cut all grains, dairies and processed foods from my life. I wasn’t obese, yet, I lost 17 lbs. I’m the lightest I’ve been since I was 16 (5′ 7″, 153 lbs)! My body fat is down to 13.3%. Even though I eat as much as I want (but the good ‘stuff’). I’m now reading your book and am thinking eliminating gluten might be the largest contributor to my health improvement which manifested in this manner:

    - Afternoon mood swings are gone, much calmer in general
    - Much improved digestive function (IBS symptoms have vanished)
    - My sprained wrist hadn’t improved in two months and the pain disappeared in 2 weeks (caused by systemic inflammation supposedly)
    - Faster recovery from hockey, limited aching the next day, more stamina
    - No longer waking up with muscle and back pains (incipient rheumatoid arthritis which runs in my family?)
    - No after-meal scratchy throat (which I believe was an allergic reaction)
    - Discovered several tasty recipes, and cooked more at home (thus, we tend to appreciate our meals more)
    - We became members of local organic food coop

    Thank you for writing this book and taking on the industrial food complex! :)

    Sincerely,

    Christian

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Yes, elimination of wheat is a common factor in many diets, including Paleo/Primal, Atkins, South Beach (phase I), etc. Unfortunately, because most did not appreciate the unique effects of wheat specifically, they add “healthy whole grains” back.

      Grains, especially wheat, are not suitable for human consumption. You know too well what it can do to you!

  10. Jennifer Winn says:

    Dear Dr. Davis,
    Can you point me to the clinical studies that you used for your research? I am currently listening to it on Audible, so please forgive me if they are listed in the print copy.
    The reason I ask, is that I am attempting to go gluten free (wheat free if you will), whilst living with a bit of a cynical skeptic. I’ve managed to avoid most wheat for the past 6 months, and while I haven’t had dramatic weight loss, I have noticed many other positive changes. In spite of being fairly active, my husband is fairly overweight himself, but I get the “eye-roll” response from him whenever I suggest he possibly follow suit due to the potential for placebo effect. I must admit, that I would also love to feel more confident in my decision to eliminate wheat from my diet for this reason, and to be able to sight the facts when challenged would be very helpful. NIH links or similar would be great!
    Thanks for any information you can share.

    • Boundless says:

      You apparently need the print copy of the book, which has something like 265 footnotes, most being cites from the lit.

      But the easily-tested bottom line is: flush wheat from your diet for a month – see what happens. Better yet, switch to a full on ketogenic diet. See what happens. If anyone had had serious on-going adverse reactions to either, you’d have heard about it.

      • Jennifer Winn says:

        I’ve actually been primarily gluten free for more than 6 months. I put a little back in around Halloween, and splurged through most of November. I don’t want this information to convince me, but rather to shut up the people that roll their eyes at me and call it placebo effect. My standard answer is actually, “I don’t care if it IS placebo effect. I feel better, and I’m less bitchy, so what’s your issue?” That said, I don’t do anything on faith alone, and my husband is 10 times more of a skeptic than I ever was. I would like him to consider eliminating wheat as well, but he will call it pseudo science if I don’t point him to an actual clinical study.. or 10.
        I will check out the print copy in the library or something.

  11. Justin says:

    Ok, so I can feasibly cut wheat out of all of my home cooking and limit it to the occasional meal out with family, etc… however, what about a side of brown rice, couscous, quinoa, etc?

  12. Hi,
    I have been healthy all my life and was a personal trainer until I became too sick.
    I have been pretty much Paleo all my life but not always as strict.
    When I eat strict Paleo all my bowel problems clear up, I no longer have pain in joints, sinuses are clear it’s all amazing in that sense.
    BUT… I then suffer from chronic fatigue I can’t move from my bed and totally lose my appetite I can’t eat.
    Each time I eat Paleo foods my blood sugar shoots to a LOW dangerous level.
    If I then introduce any sugar back into my diet to ease things I am constantly starving and m sugar levels get worse BUT if I have even a tiny bit of wheat I feel instantly better can go for a few hours and feel good not starving BUT all my symptoms return I am no longer chronically fatigued BUT I feel awful.

    What would you suggest? This literally lasts for months and the fatigue is so unbearable I then have to eat wheat again as I can’t even leave the house I am too weak….

    Doctors seem baffled so I wondered big you could shed some light for me?

    Thanks x

    • Boundless says:

      > When I eat strict Paleo …

      Describe that diet.
      “Paleo” isn’t necessarily a reliably specific set of principles. For example, paleo may allow high carb, and even honey, which are mistakes.

      I’m also guessing you haven’t read the Wheat Belly book, or you’d be more horrified about the wheat relapses.

  13. Hi, my name is Pam and I coordinate programming for the GreenAcres Healthy Half Hour which is actually becoming an hour-long program on stations in KS, MO and OK. We would be honored to have Dr. Davis be a guest expert on one of our shows in January. While we broadcast on Sat. morning in KS and MO, and on Sunday afternoons in OK, we actually tape on the Wed. before at 11:40 a.m. CST. Dr. Davis could do our show remote. GreenAcres is a small, family-owned chain of health food stores which values health education as its mission. We sell Dr. Davis’ book Wheat Belly in all three of our stores, and it is very popular. If he has any interest, please contact me and I will send links to our shows, Facebook pages and website. Thank you for every consideration. –Pam Porvaznik

  14. Julie says:

    Dear Dr. Davis,

    Can chronic sinusitis be cause by gluten/wheat? I’m menopausal and since then (for about 4 years) I’ve noticed that I’ve become allergic year round. It’s not infection, just sneezing, constant clear runny nose etc, and it’s affected my sense of smell and taste. I was wonder if gluten could be involved? Thank you so much!

  15. Michelle says:

    Dr. Davis,
    Hello! Thank you for this information. I have had stomach and digestion issues for years. I am UNDERWEIGHT actually(5’7″ and 122 pounds) and can’t seem to gain any weight anywhere except in my belly area(which looks like I’m pregnant!!…I’m not!!) I went to the Doctor and he said I just had IBS and needed to do an elimination diet to see what it is I may be “sensitive” to. Diary and wheat seemed to be the triggers for the pain. My question to you is, why is the fat just gathering in my belly region and not distributing elsewhere and could gluten or wheat be the reason for the large belly? Thanks so much!
    -Michelle

    • Dr. Davis says:

      No, not the gluten; it is likely the amylopectin A in wheat.

      In other words, gluten is only one problem ingredient in wheat; there are others, such as the amylopectin A responsible for the glucose/insulin triggering that causes the “wheat belly,” exacerbated by the appetite-stimulating effects of the opiate in wheat, gliadin.

    • James says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Are you post menopausal ? If so, your gaining fat in the belly area is normal as your female hormones aren’t produced as much as before the menopause. It is accumulation of visceral fat and it happens in men much earlier than in women who tend to store it in the hips, thighs and butt before menopause. So, female hormones (estrogen) pays an important role in your fat distribution.

  16. Mina says:

    Hi Dr. Davis,
    I’m 5 foot 4 inches and 133 pounds with some subcutaneous fat in my abdomen area and my buttocks area. I am reading your book Wheat Belly and would like to follow the diet in your book, but I have a problem digesting fat. Do you have any recommendation for a lower fat version of the diet or other ideas?
    Thanks – Mina

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Well, it may not be as straightforward as cutting fat, since cutting fat is an eminently unhealthy thing to do.

      First step: eliminate wheat, then gradually increase fat intake. It could be that your apparent “fat intolerance” is really a consequence of the extensive disruption of bowel function from wheat. Most people do fine just by eliminating wheat. Only an occasional person needs to do such things as supplement bile salts and pancreatic lipase.

  17. Tony in Toronto says:

    Dear Dr. Davis,
    I am writing tonight to give a further follow-up, having been off of gluten products for over two months. In my previous updates, I have reported great success – I am a 63-year-young man who has regained a flat tummy after years of frustration, “good” diet, and exercise. Some reflection and some recollection after my Sunday meal tonight has prompted me to write in a question, and that question is “do you think I’ve been gluten-sensitive all along?”.

    Here’s my point. Prior to dropping gluten, meals such as roast beef and pasta dishes would cause me terrific discomfort. These two menu choices have something in common of course; the gravy in the roast beef dinner was thickened with wheat flour, and of course pasta is actually just wheat flour. In my gluten-free regimen, I thicken gravy with gluten-free agents and I don’t have any discomfort whatsoever after eating. (I don’t have these roast beef dinners often at all, to be frank about it, and I have now eschewed pasta completely). It seems to me that great discomfort and bloating after meals has become a thing of the past.

    So, what is your opinion? I am betting that I am in fact more gluten sensitive than I thought – but I have not been tested, I only have the empirical evidence; the bloating and discomfort that went with wheat products, and the absence of same without wheat.

    By the way – I am blessed with a doctor here in Toronto who approves of your work and your book, and he likes what has happened to my waistline, acknowledging that I have improved my chances at continued good health.

    Many thanks!
    Tony

    • Dr. Davis says:

      Hi, Tony–

      It may have nothing to do with gluten specifically, but everything to do with wheat. In other words, there are several components of modern wheat that could be the culprit in your gastrointestinal distress.

      The key: Forget the gluten; lose the wheat! You might also avoid other gluten sources to be extra safe, e.g., rye, barley, oats. But the entire package of wheat is, by far, the most destructive of all.

  18. Dan Tegel, Ph.D. says:

    Dr. Davis,

    I am developing a gluten free product line, with a focus on low – to – no glycemic carbs. I am looking for a medical/nutritional advisor. Would you be open to exploring a consulting role?

    thanks
    Dan Tegel, Ph.D.

  19. Anna says:

    Dr. Davis, Over the past 18 months I have transistioned from an almost vegetarian diet full of grains to a grain-free diet. I also cut most dairy from my diet, and now eat only butter or an occasional teaspoon of cream, no cheese or yogurt or milk, etc. I eat maybe 1 tsp of sweetener such as honey per day and a couple pieces of fruit per day. My current diet is high fat (coconut, avocados, nuts, butter) and low carb. Although I have never had any significant health problems, I feel better now on the grain-free “paleo” type diet. (I have never been overweight – I am a 40 yr old woman, 5’2″, 105 pounds, athletic.) However, I have had adult acne for years and it seems as bad, or worse now than ever. Any ideas about this? Thanks so much.

    Anna in Atlanta

  20. Anna says:

    The only dairy I really eat is butter.

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