The Grain Producers Respond to ‘Wheat Belly’

Not surprisingly, the U.S. grain industry isn’t happy with Dr. William Davis and his just-released book Wheat Belly. The Grain Foods Foundation responded to the book with a press release and a blog post explaining why we all need grains to be healthy. Here are some quotes from their blog post.

Don’t be fooled by catchy terms like “wheat belly” and “bagel butt”….a fad diet is still a fad diet, no matter how you dress it up.

That’s why I’m no longer on a low-fat, grain-based diet. What a stupid fad that was.  Granted, I’d love to think avoiding the grains that make us fat and sick is the hottest new fad, but I’m pretty sure getting a tattoo on your (bagel) butt is still comfortably in the lead.

That’s exactly the story behind the new book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health that was released today.

Actually, the story behind Wheat Belly is that wheat (especially today’s genetically modified wheat) pretty much sucks from a health standpoint.

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What exactly is “too good to be true” about telling people they’ll have to give up a food that makes up a major portion of their diets – a food many of them love? Dr. Davis has had people leave his office in tears after telling them they couldn’t handle wheat and needed to stop eating it. I doubt many of them were thinking, “Well, this is just too good to be true!”

Cutting out one specific food is not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous.

Really? So if I cut refined sugar from my diet, that would be dangerous? I’m a dead man walking.

Omitting wheat entirely removes the essential (and disease-fighting!) nutrients it provides including fiber, antioxidants, iron and B vitamins.

Ahhh, that would explain why humans became extinct during the hundreds of thousands of years we didn’t consume wheat. Thank goodness those friendly aliens came to earth, planted wheat fields, then resurrected human life from some DNA samples they’d kept frozen.

Besides this, the advice dished out by Dr. Davis is completely counter to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the gold standard of scientifically-sound nutrition advice.


Last time I checked, the gold standard in research consisted of randomized clinical studies in which the data actually supports the investigators’ conclusions. But if you folks want to re-define “gold standard” to consist of observational studies that often contradict the very advice they’re cited to support, be my guest … although I’d consider that more of a tin standard.

The Guidelines call for the average healthy American to consume six one-ounce servings of grain foods daily, half of which should come from whole grains and the other half from enriched grains.

So the government agency whose mission is to sell grains is telling us to eat grains. Well, that’s all the proof I need.

Wheat is the basis for a number of healthful whole and enriched grain foods including breads, cereal, pasta and wheat berries that provide valuable nutrients to the American diet and have been shown to help with weight maintenance.

Can’t argue with that one. Wheat will definitely help you maintain your weight … at, say, 40 pounds above where you’d like to be.

So, let common sense prevail. When it comes to nutrition advice, look to the real experts and remember that weight control is all about one key equation: calories in must equal calories out.

Use common sense? Look to the real experts? I thought you said you wanted us to listen to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee! Make up your minds already.

The good news is that there were dozens of comments on the post, nearly all of them negative, with many citing examples of how eliminating wheat caused health problems to vanish. Others pointed out that the Grain Foods Foundation didn’t actually dispute any of the science in Wheat Belly, which is true.

Dr. Davis wrote his own reply a few days later, which you can read here. As in the book, he made his arguments with logic and science. That prompted another reply by the Grain Foods Foundation:

Over the weekend we received a number of comments in response to our previous post, Our Perspective on “Wheat Belly” and we’d like to take a moment to address them.

Then why didn’t you? The rest of your post doesn’t answer any of the many criticisms leveled by people who left comments.

First, your comments weren’t being ignored. Comments on this blog are reviewed before they appear to prevent the posting of spam or profanity. There was no attempt to censor this feedback – our team was simply enjoying the long holiday weekend.

I’ll bet it was kind of depressing to enjoy a long weekend, then go to work on Tuesday and read dozens of comments left by people who basically kicked your bagel butts.

Second, there were comments questioning GFF’s funding sources. The Foundation is funded through voluntary donations from private grain-based companies and industry associations. However, any nutrition information we share is rooted in sound science and reviewed by independent nutrition experts from our Scientific Advisory Board.

Yes, I’m sure if your advisory board discovered, say, that celiac disease is five times more prevalent now than 50 years ago, they’d inform you immediately so you could bang out a press release announcing that you’ll stop producing mutant wheat.

Finally, some of you question the merit of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are the gold standard of nutrition guidance in America.

The only reason we question those guidelines is that there’s nothing scientific about them, as even one of the committee members later admitted.

They are the most comprehensive review of the existing literature and are updated every five years to reflect new research. Every recommendation we share is based on these Guidelines. It is the most credible information available and we will continue to rely on them for our recommendations.

Let’s see … a government agency whose mission is to sell grains releases new guidelines every five years telling us to eat lots of grains … boy, I’m just stunned that the Grain Foods Foundation would continue to rely on the USDA for dietary advice.

So here’s how I’ve got it on my scorecard: Dr. Davis landed a flurry of punches in the form of hundreds of studies and dozens of case histories from his own medical practice. The Grain Food Foundation’s only counter-punch was to remind us that the USDA recommends eating grains.

If this were a fight, the ref would’ve stopped it halfway through the first round.


105 thoughts on “The Grain Producers Respond to ‘Wheat Belly’

  1. bec

    How hilair that they are saying “cutting out one whole food group is dangerous”. Are they having a laugh as they say this? Because the idea of the same group of people who told us saturated fat is a killer now telling us to be cautious about cutting out another foodgroup is making me give massive bitch side-eye in response.

    I don’t think they’re laughing. I think they’re desperately clutching at straws.

  2. Peggy Holloway

    My daughter ordered Wheat Belly and will loan it to me when she has finished reading it. I am very curious to see if there is any mention of the Mennonites who emigrated from Russian in the 1870s and settled the “wheat belt,” from Canada to Mexico. They brought Russian turkey red wheat, which is a type of winter wheat, and that is what turned this stretch down the middle of the continent into a wheat-growing region. (Winter wheat allowed wheat to lie dormant through the harsh winters and have an early start in the spring so it could mature and be harvested before fall frosts). My SOs ancestors were part of that Mennonite group. In the 1950s, his mother developed a de novo gene mutation that resulted in Huntington’s Disease ( a devastating neurological condition). Although her Huntington’s came from the mutated gene, she passed the gene down to one daughter who has the condition, and two of her children are now showing early signs of it. It may be a stretch, but since there are theories now linking insulin resistance to other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s (Ken’s mother also had Alzheimer’s), I am wondering if wheat consumption (the Mennonite diet was heavily wheat based, since that is what they grew on their self-supporting farms) could cause a gene mutation? (Ken would not be at all pleased to have me suggest that his ancestral livelihood caused this horrendous family affliction, but it has crossed my mind so I’m bringing it up) I’m interested in what Dr. Davis has to say about wheat and neurological disorders.

    He deals with that topic pretty thoroughly in the book.

  3. Prunella

    “Omitting wheat entirely removes the essential (and disease-fighting!) nutrients it provides including fiber, antioxidants, iron and B vitamins.”

    Yeah, and deadly nightshade has antioxidants, too. Good thing we have other ways to get those nutrients.

    Exactly. There’s zero biological need for grains.

  4. Peggy Cihocki

    I’m looking forward to a long plane ride tomorrow during which I plan to finish reading “Wheat Belly” in the Kindle App. on my iPhone. I also told my sister about it and will probably order a copy for her. I hope it becomes a #1 best seller on the NY Times list and and every other best seller list there is.
    It was very heartening to see all the anti comments on the GFF blogs. I think I could count the number of supportive comments on one hand and not need all my fingers! People are listening–to you, Dr. Davis, Dr. Eades, Jimmy Moore, Gary Taubes, and the list is growing. Wonderful!
    I’ve been cutting out specific foods one by one for several years now and my health isn’t deteriorating–it’s getting better. Grains, especially wheat are out now, too, and I expect even more improvement in health and weight. I also put one food back in. Well two, actually. Meat and fat.

    I hope the grain producers are scared out of their wits right about now.

  5. Sif

    I hate the “but we have been eating wheat for hundreds and thousands of years” argument, because we have not. Go though any medieval cookbook – and those books were made for the society elite – and you won’t find wheat as a base ingredient for anything but bread and pastry crusts. And these were the people who could afford to scarf it down every day. But they didn’t, they ate meat and barley. Bread was mostly used as a plate and then discarded or given to the poor.
    And the poor ate rye bread and barley and oats and kale and onions. Right up until the “agricultural revolution” they call the 1900’s, wheat was a difficult and low yielding crop. Wheat has never been essential to a human diet. Grain, yes (for the poor), wheat, no.

    I love wheat, but I hate it when people play the ancestry-card. It’s almost always based on ignorance. The only food we have always been eating, on every continent, though all of history of mankind, is meat. And fish.

  6. Laura

    I just finished ‘Wheat Belly’ and I’m not surprised the industry is hitting back. They must be scared to death and I agree; I’d like to see the book become a #1 best seller.

    Since being on Atkins, I’ve never felt better, lost weight and a lot of the issues I used to have went away when I eliminated wheat, processed sugar products and lowered my carb intake.

    I’ve also experimented a couple of times with a small portion (couple of tablespoons) of my old favorite whole wheat cereal, Uncle Sam, and, while it didn’t rev up my carb cravings, I paid the price a couple days later when it caused shooting pain in my belly and came out undigested. That tells me that I cannot tolerate wheat, even in small quantities.

    Thanks for recommending the book, Tom!

    I’ve had a similar experience when eating pizza. Eat the crust, and an hour or so later I end up taking an ibuprofen because the arthritic pains in my shoulder pay a return visit. Skip the crust and eat just the toppings, and I’m fine.

  7. BP

    All I can say is: I have such a great appreciation for all of this info. Simple, concise, FACTUAL, and without any agendas…except for educating folks on the dangers of diet/nutrition to our health. That being said, I have lost about 30lbs in the last year starting first with p90X, and now maintaining (with a little more weight loss here and there) without ANY exercise only by nutritional lifestyle over the past 3-4 months. Current daily goals: 1800-2000 cals/day, 50-75g carbs/day. Sure I could probably lose more if I adjusted these numbers…but the facts are that I am much more satisfied with how I eat, I am much happier, and I generally have a steady amount of energy every day. Oh, BTW, my BP and resting heart rates are lower than they have been in years!

    Thank you Tom Naughton, Gary Taubes, Dr. Davis, and the many others.

  8. WildFlower

    “Dr. Davis has had many of his patients remove wheat ALONE from their diets (as stated clearly in the book) and still saw remarkable health improvements.”

    I still seriously doubt that was the only change that was made. My guess is that they also moved towards a more whole-foods diet in general, and perhaps undertook some of his other recommendations such as omega-3 supplementation and exercise. Are you saying they eliminated wheat, but kept eating coke, ice cream, deep-fried chicken wings, margarine, and french fries and still saw these improvements? If they didn’t keep eating those things, they most definitely moved toward a more whole-foods diet in general and that leaves major uncontrolled variables.

    [You suggested he should try having people just eliminate wheat — because you haven’t read the book. He did have some patients remove wheat alone, as he stated specifically. If you choose not to believe him because that threatens your beliefs, go ahead. But you may as well just say you don’t believe his patients experienced any of the health improvements, or that there’s no such person as Dr. William Davis.]

    If they did eliminate just wheat and saw improvements, that doesn’t mean that modern, mutant wheat is to blame. Wheat avoidance would mean eliminating the majority of processed food – doughnuts, pizza, cake, cookies, McDonalds hamburgers. Many restaurant foods would be inaccesible, as would the majority of fast foods places such as McDonalds. So once again, wheat elimination cannot be interpreted as simply wheat elimination.

    [The more you critique a book you clearly haven’t read, the more foolish you look. Dr. Davis had patients who were health nuts, avoided all junk foods and sugary snacks, but still had health problems because they fell for the b.s. about “healthy whole grains.” You’re clearly more interested in defending wheat (why, I don’t know) than in possibly learning something, so go ahead and shut that mind of yours as tightly as you can … or you could read the book.]

    “But the anthropological evidence makes it clear that many of our health problems began with the advent of grain-eating, and those weren’t bleached, mutant grains.”

    In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s we were eating far more wheat than we do today, yet obesity and diabetes were far less prevalent, some say almost inexistent.

    In his post ‘Wheat: In Search of Scientific Objectivity and New Year’s Resolutions’,
    Chris Masterjohn mentions the high wheat consumption in Crete during the 1960’s:

    “On Crete, the traditional diet is based largely off wheat and dairy. Studies in the 1960s suggested their rate of myocardial infarction in men over the age of 45 was 0.7%. See here . There was a somewhat higher rate of murmurs that were considered possible evidence of arrhythmia due to aortic atherosclerosis (7-8%), but they also had a very high rate of smoking — 55% of the men smoked and 35% smoked more than a pack per day. I think these numbers are pretty impressive and consistent with their wheat-based diet being most likely healthy for them.

    [Now you’re trying to have it both ways. Dr. Davis blames modern, mutant wheat for the rise in obesity and diabetes. His own tests showed that modern wheat spiked his blood sugar much higher than traditional wheat. Quoting health statistics from the days before modern wheat came along doesn’t help your case.

    That being said, when we adopted agriculture some 12,000 years ago, we became shorter and began developing health problems that were rare before, such as dental caries and arthritis. And by the way, heart disease was apparently relatively common in ancient Egypt.]

    There may be other examples. It’s difficult to say, because heart disease has not been studied with any rigor until the modern era, when the spread of wheat has occurred in the form of a global spread of white flour and sugar. Even worse, during the first half of the century when this spread was rapidly initiated, wheat was treated with nitrogen trichloride, which created toxic inhibitors of biosynthesis of glutamine and glutathione and led to hysteria in dogs. It was abandoned in US and UK due to concerns of potential human hysteria and in Canada because it was explosive and thus a risk to mill workers. Trying to tease out all these factors using a historical or epidemiological worldview would be incredibly difficult, so we need rigorous science in the form of publication-worthy literature, self-experimentation, and careful clinical practice.”

    He also had this to say about Dr. Davis in the comments section:

    “Dr. Davis impresses me very much as a clinician and I find his blog very useful, but I’m not very impressed with his experimental techniques. I think it is possible that wheat is atherogenic but I don’t think he has provided much evidence of this.”

    In the 1960’s, it is also possible that in Crete they were consuming hybridized ‘mutant’ wheat. In either case, whether you like it or not, at one point wheat was good for us.

    [You do understand the difference between “good for us” and “not especially bad for us,” don’t you?]

    So if you’re going to argue that wheat is inherently toxic, and the main cause of the modern obesity epidemic, you’ll have to argue that it only became toxic after the government tampered with it. That leaves other variables that need to be explored as well. Was it hybridization that made wheat toxic? Or was it increases in bleached flour consumption (they once used some nasty chemicals in the bleaching process, and still use questionable ones)? Or could it be the exorbitant amount of pesticides they spray on wheat, it’s growth on nutrient depleted soils, or the iron they add to it?

    [I’m not arguing that wheat is the main cause of the modern obesity epidemic. I believe the main cause of the obesity epidemic is the increase of all kinds of refined carbohydrates in our diets. Nor did I say the government tampered with wheat. The grain industry tampered with it.]

    Or, once again, was it that wheat – combined with refined sugar and vegetable oil – became the basis of countless processed junk foods engineered for over consumption. Occam’s razor would certainly suggest that is the case.

    [Occam’s razor doesn’t explain why health-conscious people who already avoided sugar and processed foods (including Dr. Davis himself) developed health issues that went away once they stopped eating those “healthy whole grains.”]

    Perhaps home cooked foods made with organic, unbleached modern flour is perfectly fine for most people to eat. It certainly is for me. I get heartburn and rashes if I eat too much bleached flour wonderbread though.

    [Yes, you may be fine with organic, unbleached flour. I would expect organic, unbleached flour to produce fewer health problems than white flour. That doesn’t mean organic, unbleached flour is good for us.]

  9. Galina L.

    I wouldn’t be scared if I were in a food production business. They will switch on crap made out of corn, soy, potato starch , label it “gluten-free”,charge more money and thank Dr.Davis for advertising the damage from gluten. They will survive that minor bump. If many people start eating LC, it would be harder for them to adjust. They are not worried much yet, otherwise they would find somebody smarter to answer to Dr.Davis.

    It could be they don’t realize how stupid they sound.

  10. darMA

    @ Wildflower
    I have to disagree in part with “just listen to your body”. Unfortunately there are so many “silent” diseases that could be sneaking up on you no matter how aware you think you are of what your body is telling you. Some examples: hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases are just a few. How many people have you known who say, gee, today I feel like I’m going to have a stroke or heart attack? Most people think they’re humming along just fine until the unseen/unfelt damage reaches the critical point, at which time it may just be too late to do anything about it.

  11. FormerTNGuy

    Just started reading the book and it is very interesting. After he explained how wheat really adds the weight around the belly i thought it my self how many inches have I lost around my belly since i have gone low-card (have cut out sugar and from now on wheat).

    I had actually measured by belly once before i started my low-card diet (about 6 years ago) I weighed 320 pounds and was only 6’2″ tall and had a belly circumference of 52 inches and wore a 46 inch pant around my waist. Now 6 years later I am 213 pounds and have a belly circumference of 38 inches. 14 inches of belly gone wow.

    Those are great results.

  12. WildFlower

    “He did have some patients remove wheat alone, as he stated specifically. If you choose not to believe him because that threatens your beliefs, go ahead. But you may as well just say you don’t believe his patients experienced any of the health improvements, or that there’s no such person as Dr. William Davis.”

    His patients CLAIMED to be extremely health-conscious. For all I know they were gorging on Cheerios and Wonderbread thinking it was healthy. So excuse me if I don’t take those anecdotes too seriously. You pick apart every uncontrolled study you see that condemns saturated fats and animal products, and dismiss every observational study on earth – which are more informative than these anecdotes. Yet here you are touting this uncontrolled information.

    [So once again, you’re simply choosing to dismiss the case histories you don’t like. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, you’ve decided nobody — and I mean NOBODY — could possibly have bad reactions to your precious organic, unbleached wheat, therefore anyone who claims to have cured a health issue by giving up wheat must be lying to Dr. Davis, or Dr. Davis is lying, or I’m lying, but somebody is lying, damnit, because WHEAT IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE!!

    Is that your position in a nutshell? That’s how it comes across.

    Yes, I pick apart uncontrolled studies and dismiss observational studies for the junk they are. Case histories aren’t observational studies. They’re a valuable source of information.]

    And while they were eating wheat on their supposedly health-conscious diet, was it bleached industrial wheat or organic unbleached/whole wheat? As I illustrated before, there’s a key difference there.

    [When Dr. Davis ran his experiment on modern wheat versus traditional wheat, he made both loaves of bread himself from organic whole-grain wheat — no bleaching, no chemicals. The traditional wheat raised his glucose by 24 points; the modern wheat raised it by 83 points.]

    When they eliminated the wheat, what did they replace it with? I think we can both agree that health-conscious diets are often anything but healthy. Perhaps they started eating more meat and seafood, or fruits and vegetables, and took in key nutrients that they were lacking beforehand. No matter which way you turn, there are major uncontrolled variables here. This is bad science. As I said, you are the last person who should be broadcasting it. It seems you are the one who is trying to ‘have it both ways’. I guess shabby science is okay for you, when it supports your philosophy.

    [Riiiiight. The countless stories I’ve heard from people who saw health problems vanish after they gave up eating grains — including the story I related about the co-worker’s wife whose pounding headaches went away — are all the result of people eating more broccoli and shrimp to replace the wheat. Couldn’t possibly be the wheat, because according to you ORGANIC WHEAT IS GOOD FOR EVERYBODY!! Right?]

    Imagine a woman from the AHA came on your blog and told you the entire low-carb movement is misguided, because she had a few patients lower their fat intake and they told her their health improved. You would have a fit.

    [No, I’d want to know what kind of fat they were eating and what other changes they made in their diets, as you suggested. But again, you haven’t read the book and therefore haven’t read about people who were told to make one change: stop eating wheat. And if you did read those stories, based on your responses, you’d simply refuse to believe them because ORGANIC WHEAT IS GOOD FOR EVERYBODY!! NOBODY HAS AN INTOLERANCE TO GLUTEN AND LECTINS!! Right? I’m just trying to restate your position for you so everyone can understand it.]

    “Now you’re trying to have it both ways. Dr. Davis blames modern, mutant wheat for the rise in obesity and diabetes. His own tests showed that modern wheat spiked his blood sugar much higher than traditional wheat. Quoting health statistics from the days before modern wheat came along doesn’t help your case.”

    I was mostly responding to your statement earlier that grain consumption destroyed the health of early agriculturalists. That may have been the case, but I don’t think that’s comparable to the sort of health problems Dr. Davis claims wheat is supposedly causing. Those early agriculturalists likely were eating grain as their sole source of calories and suffered all sorts of vitamin, mineral and amino acid deficiencies. I seriously doubt they added a few slices of bread to their pig roasts and started deteriorating.

    [Dr. Davis doesn’t blame wheat for all of our health problems either. He points out that many health problems are apparently related to grains, and also points out that celiac is apparently five times more prevalent now than 50 years ago, based on blood samples taken from soldiers then and soldiers now. Unless the soldiers 50 years ago were all coming to your house to consume organic, unbleached wheat, it’s a good guess that changes in the wheat we grow have something to do with it.]

    In either case, there are plenty examples of cultures eating ample amounts of grain as part of a mixed omnivorous diet today and in the not-too-distant past. I’m a tad more concerned about those statistics than anthropological evidence from 10, 000 years ago. Perhaps I could dig up anthropological findings showing that apes had a rough transition from a mostly fruit based diet to one high in flesh, and then tell you that disproves the paleo diet.

    [You’re referring, of course, to the not-too-distant past when people weren’t consuming mutant dwarf wheat. Those people also didn’t generally consume white flour, which Dr. Davis would agree is worse than whole grain flour.]

    “And by the way, heart disease was apparently relatively common in ancient Egypt.”

    Yet here we have the data I gave you showing a very high wheat consumption in the United States during a time when heart disease, obesity and diabetes were virtually inexistent. Once again, a touch more interested in that.

    [The word you’re looking for is “nonexistent.” And again, you’re referring to the days before mutant dwarf wheat was developed. I don’t blame wheat exclusively or even primarily for heart disease or diabetes — I blame the increase in refined carbohydrates in general, as I said before.]

    And I’m fairly certain the Egyptian mummies they base those findings on were all affluent royals – correct me if I’m wrong. If that is the case, they were likely very inactive, and feasted on the gourmet food of their time on a constant basis. If you’re at all interested in the food reward hypothesis, it’s not hard to imagine how they got so unhealthy.

    [Inactivity and a diet that included lots of grains and honey.]

    “You do understand the difference between “good for us” and “not especially bad for us,” don’t you?”

    I do, I suppose, but I don’t care. Perhaps wheat isn’t restoring my iron levels, or giving me a complete protein, or providing long-chain omega-3, but if it’s isn’t bad for me I don’t mind including it as part of a mixed diet. It tastes good and is convenient. And for me it digests very well, far better than meat. I do much better eating ample amounts of wheat than I do eating ample amounts of beef.

    [If it’s working for you, go for it. That’s what I tell anyone who says any diet is working for them.]

    And you may understand the concept of “good for us” and “not especially bad for us”, but beyond the basics, you haven’t the slightest clue as to which foods fit into which category for any single person on any given day. You can’t tell people wheat is bad for them. Not with any intellectual honesty, considering the science you’re using to back that claim.


    Does that pretty much sum it up? Or is it possible that wheat produces negative health effects in a large segment of the population? If it is possible, are you suggesting we’re doing people a disservice by warning them about the possibility?]

    “so go ahead and shut that mind of yours as tightly as you can … or you could read the book.”

    I’ve read his blog for the past two years, I have a pretty good idea where he’s coming from. And your attempts to defend his reasoning have yielded nothing but questionable science.

    [I’ve read his blog for the past two years as well, and yet the book was full of information I’d never read anywhere else before. You’re critiquing a book you haven’t read. You’ve decided ahead of time that you already know all there is to know about the genetic structure of today’s wheat and the possible health effects — because you eat organic wheat and it doesn’t bother you. So yes, you’re being closed-minded.]

  13. WildFlower


    “I have to disagree in part with “just listen to your body”. Unfortunately there are so many “silent” diseases that could be sneaking up on you no matter how aware you think you are of what your body is telling you. Some examples: hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases are just a few. How many people have you known who say, gee, today I feel like I’m going to have a stroke or heart attack? Most people think they’re humming along just fine until the unseen/unfelt damage reaches the critical point, at which time it may just be too late to do anything about it.”

    People become accustomed to poor health. They feel like shit and they keep humming along until they shut down.

    Davis recommends a low-carb diet for optimum health. I tried a low-carb diet and developed severe hypothyroid symptoms that vanished when I reintroduced carbs.

    Should I go my whole-life ignoring a low-body temperature, fatigue, hair loss and a weakened immune system because Dr. Davis says carbs will jack up my small LDL? No, I listen to my body. I eat as much unbleached wheat as I desire and I’m in great health.

    I’m sure I’ve just developed some mutant, one of a kind adaptation to the harmful hybridized wheat though. There couldn’t possible be anyone else out there reading this blog who probably tolerates it just as well, who will read ‘Wheat Belly’ and add yet another item to the laundry list of orthorexic obsessions that plague their mental well-being and social life.

    The hundreds of thin, healthy people I see eating wheat day-by-day are just a mirage I suppose.

    So let’s apply some of your own logic to you: was wheat the only food you gave up on your low-carb diet? Was it the only food you started eating again? Do you have evidence or case histories of people who were suffering from health problems and cured them by adding wheat ALONE back into their diets? If not, how can you attribute your renewed health to wheat? Maybe you just don’t do well on restricted carbs. (Dr. Davis has stated on his blog that some people don’t.)

    Meanwhile, there are thousands of case histories of people who waved goodbye to various health issues after giving up wheat. Do you believe wheat wasn’t the cause of their health problems? That is, do you believe everyone tolerates wheat as well as you? If the answer is no — if you’re willing to admit wheat may induce arthritis, asthma, depression, migraines, weight gain, skin rashes, etc. in many people — then why the hell are you so offended by a book that warns people who are constantly bombarded with the “healthy whole grains!” message of those possible effects?

    I didn’t say (and neither did Dr. Davis) that no one tolerates wheat. Some people tolerate smoking — as in your example of the population in Crete. That doesn’t mean smoking is good for us, and it doesn’t mean we do anyone a disservice by pointing out the many possible health hazards of smoking. As for the hundreds of thin people you see eating wheat every day, do you honestly believe that proves wheat doesn’t promote weight gain in many people? I work in a large company now. I see thin people eating wheat every day. I also see thin people drinking Coca-Colas every day. And I see lots and lots of fat people eating wheat every day.

  14. Dawn

    Read the book, then passed it on to my mom. Interesting information to all sorts of groups. I have a son who has the gene for celiac but no active disease (found out after an endoscopy), stuff to think about even without intestinal damage occurring. Thanks for the review!

    From what I understand, to be diagnosed with Celiac, the damage has to be pretty extensive. You can have issues with gluten or lectins without being diagnosed with Celiac.

  15. Tammy

    Well – I just finished reading the book over the weekend and thought is was great, very informative and easy to understand. I’ve read other books about avoiding wheat/grains but they’ve mostly been centered around Celiac. All I know is that wheat does make me sick and that’s a fact. I’ve been without it and much healthier since January 1 this year.

    Yup, there’s way more to this book than Celiac.

  16. earthmom

    Excellent work here! I do believe the grain manufacturers are scared by all this – but I believe their reaction will not be what is expected (or desired) but us. They won’t be shamed, or fix anything, they will launch a very expensive new marketing campaign ‘proving’ how healthy, safe and utterly delicious their poison products are!


    I think you can count on that.

  17. WheatNoMore

    I’m one of Dr. Davis’ patients and I’m thrilled to see that he’s completed this book. I was one of the many people who testified to the benefits of eliminating wheat from their diet.

    I’m not at all surprised at the backlash in defense of the beloved wheat. It is so thoroughly entrenched in our culture that the truth about it will be hampered for quite some time. Hampered by those who innately fear change and from those who benefit financially directly and indirectly from the pro-wheat dogma.

    To those of you protesting the loudest that wheat is beneficial or benign, I’ll wager that most of you would be unwilling to spend 90 days totally wheat-free and be honest about how you feel. You’d rather spend countless hours over the same 90 days spewing pro-wheat venom and citing every source, study, and argument that you can find on the internet, all in a hopeless attempt to convince those who have already experienced the benefits.

    You’re like a drunken alcoholic who is preaching to the recovered that they’re not really feeling better because the booze is gone from their lives and that they should just start drinking again.

    Good luck with that.

  18. timmah

    I gave in to peer pressure at a two-day conference last week and ate cinnamon rolls or breakfast pizza for breakfast, and then the pasta-rich lunches.

    I felt something in the aftermath of said conference: the apathetic haze that was a part of my character throughout my late teens and early 20s.

    I sat on the couch and didn’t care most of Sunday. When I did something (after being prodded to do it several times), I left out an important detail that resulted in intervention from others before harm came to myself or others.

    Without going into too much detail, I’m pretty sure my wife wants to beat me with a garden hose right about now. It was that bad.

    I’m pretty sure she’s not going to accept “wheat and excessive sugar” as a reason for my behavior.

    No ‘Twinkie Defense’ for you, I guess.

  19. WereBear

    It was thanks to reading Dr. Davis’ blog for a year that I gave up wheat entirely to see “what would happen.”

    This is AFTER I had eaten low carb for seven years; quite happily, too.

    I lost five additional pounds effortlessly. The arthritis pains in my hands subsided and as of last Christmas are going away. My mood, already rather bouyant (ask my friends) bounced up even more. And NOW I have serious stomach pains if I accidentally get some.

    I believe Dr. Davis.

  20. mcmemom

    I have been reading this blog since watching Fat Head but have been “shy” about posting until reading the posts from “Wildflower”. I have been active, healthy and lean my entire life (I am 40 with 4 children). About a year ago, I took up running with the goal of completing a 10K. About a month into training, I developed a strange rash. Doctors kept telling me it was just “dermatitis” and prescribing ointment. It drove me crazy and itched so much I would scratch myself bloody. During one of my night classes (in nutrition) my professor talked about intolerances to wheat and grains and how sometimes people develop rashes. I spoke with him after class and he urged me to get tested or at the very least cut out grains. I was very doubtful because I have never “had an issue” or so I thought with grains. Sure enough, I tested positive for a gluten intolerance. I was shocked because I “felt good”. (Dr. Davis actually talks about this wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA) in his book – I only seemed to have the rash part). I immediately cut out wheat and the rash DISAPPEARED completely. My husband and I were amazed. But the best part, I no longer have “PMS headaches”, “joints that ache when it’s cold because of past sports”, “bloating because of blah, blah, blah”. All the time that I spent “listening to my body” did not work because I believed I was normal and healthy – everyone gets headaches and some aches etc, etc. The crazy part is that now if I have any wheat at all I get sick within an hour. We have since taken our children off wheat and their allergies are mysteriously clearing up and my daughter’s “IBS/nervous stomach” disappeared. I am a believer and I honestly think my children will be so much healthier because of it. As a side note, other family members took wheat out of their and their children’s diet and had similar results. Good thing we didn’t “listen to our bodies” or our doctors!

    WildFlower will of course contend that you merely needed to switch to organic, unbleached wheat.

  21. Natalie

    I have not yet read the book, but I have a couple of questions. First of all, I wonder whether it is not just wheat, but all grains or possibly all carbs. After a diabetic coma last year, I decided to go reduced-carb, and gave up not only bread and pasta, but also rice, potatoes, corn and peas. I do get carbs from dairy products, because I feel there are essential nutrients in them, and eating Greek yogurt has helped a lot with intestinal problems. I lost 30 lb. and feel better these days.

    And I’ve definitely lost visceral fat, because although my weight went down, I gained subcutaneous fat, so the only source of the weight loss has to be visceral fat. However, the subQ fat I gained has concentrated around my belly, not hips, butt or thighs. So I question the title “wheat belly” because in my experience, giving up wheat has not changed my body shape.

    I wonder whether there is a genetic predisposition to where you deposit your fat, because all the women in my family, on both sides, dating back to the 1880’s before the introduction of modern wheat, have collected their fat (although none were obese) around their bellies. I have pictures to prove it.

    I have been followed by a cardiologist for 20 years now, because I had a coronary artery spasm in 1992, but the angiogram was perfectly normal. I had chest pains last April, so I had another angiogram, and again, I was free and clear. Plus I have diabetes, and a paternal history of early heart disease.

    Again, eliminating ALL high-carb foods has improved my blood lipids and blood sugars, so I’m not totally sold on the idea that it is only wheat.

    And I’d be happy to have your reactions to my comments! 🙂

    Where you store fat is definitely genetic. Dr. Davis urges his patients to reduce carbohydrates in general, but believes wheat is the worst of the grains for all the reasons he spells out in the book.

  22. Judy

    I ordered the wheat belly book in hopes of losing weight and controlling my insulin resistance but after reading it I am convinced that total wheat elimination could help my mother, who has crohn’s disease and my sister who has rheumatoid arthritis. No doubt about it, this book really opened my eyes and I no longer believe that wheat, or any grain for that matter should be part of a healthy diet.

    Losing weight is a small benefit compared to overcoming so many other wheat-related ailments.

  23. Fred Hahn

    What did you expect Tom? And be careful – wheat advocates are sneaky. They might slip you a gluten-mickey!

    If they’re smart, they’ll plop it in a Guinness when I’m feeling indulgent.

  24. Paul Verizzo

    Hey, are any of you “I eat lots of wheat and I’m thriving” folks, ahem, elderly? I ate SAD and was skinny in youth, appropriate in middle age. By my late 50’s I was FAT. But even worse, I can still remember the day in February 2009 I was almost crying to my sister about my body aches and pains. I was 62 and with my family genetics had that to look forward to for another 30-40 years?

    In June of 2009 I went PGP – Pretty Good Paleo. I lost 55 pounds by fall. But what happened even faster was the loss of my aches and pains within a week of going paleo! GONE! I later noticed that my toenail fungus stopped it’s steady march and was in retreat. Eventually I completely lost my visceral fat, the appropriately named wheat belly.

    I subscribe to what the father of toxicology said: “The poison is in the dose.” I still eat wheat, but minimally and rarely. What’s a Fourth of July hot dog without a bun?

    So, all you young sprats that think wheat isn’t hurting you, revisit this topic in your head in thirty or forty years, OK? And oh, I recently looked at some pictures of me in the pool and jacuzzi thirty years ago, when my weight was appropriate and was doing a lot of working out. But now, what do my eyes see? Subcutaneous body fat. A bit of an “Innie” navel. Why? Lots of SAD, lots of bread and grains.

    Never again.

    I have the same reaction when jocks in their 20s and 30s tell me how lean they are despite eating lots of carbohydrates. Talk to me in 25 years.

  25. Paul Verizzo

    Would it be safe to say that if one “Has to” have some bread – rarely, of course – the specialty breads I’ve seen at Hole Foods might be a less problematic choice? I’m thinking spelt, I don’t recall what else I’ve seen.

    Those would be less damaging than the mutant wheat variety, according to Dr. Davis.

  26. Marielize Goldie

    “The Guidelines call for the average healthy American to consume six one-ounce servings of grain (read grass seeds) foods daily,” … “Wheat (only
    ONE kind of grass seed) is the basis for a number of healthful whole and enriched grain foods including breads, cereal, pasta and wheat berries”

    The above statements and the fact that the whole big bottom part of the food pyramid is mainly grains (read grass seeds) and the fact that the whole world is swallowing it hook, line and sinker, is one of those things that are so weird it blows the mind!

    To see it for what it really is imagine we use another mono seed, to replace the grass seed strata in the food pyramid…

    Lets say we had a major agricultural success with, oh lets say, fennel seeds or tomato seeds or, coconut “seeds” or broccoli seeds, apple seeds, lettice seeds…

    Then convince the whole world that the ONE kind of seed from ONE plant species on its own is so important that it can not be replaced by the thousands of other whole foods available. And remember to get most of your kj from it!

    Sounds like a plot from a bad Sci Fi movie? – but what the hell, we’re living it without batting an eye.

    So we’re living in a bad movie.

  27. Susan

    “…half of which should come from whole grains and the other half from enriched grains.”

    In other words, “grains aren’t for shit, so make sure you eat the ones with the industrially produced, synthetic-vitamins-powder added.”

    So sayeth the grain people.

  28. kal

    I dont have time to read through all the comments… Was there a discussion in the book about sprouted grain bread? I eat bread that contains no flour, only sprouted grains (one of which is wheat). Better? No different?
    For anyone who cares, the biggest change for me has been entirely eliminating dairy from my diet. The improvement has been monumental. The scary thing is I thought I felt fine and didnt react to dairy at all before I decided to eliminate it for a “short time” just for experimentation. That was ages ago and I’m never going back.

    Better, but better doesn’t mean good. See part two of the interview, in which he discusses other grains, sprouting, etc.

  29. ravi

    Hi – forgive this related but odd comment – out of curiosity i slid over to one of the links supplied by a naysayer above – to huntgatherlove and was rather appalled that melissa – a seemingly bright blogger in the paleo realm, would be dissing Wheat Belly –

    being in the group that needs not read Wheat Belly since i am already totally convinced of wheat’s evil and having been a reader of Dr Davis’s blog (ok, i will read it when i get my hands on it), i wrote her a response that perhaps was a bit to acerbic for her to approve. Now i know that Denise Minger would post my response were it her blog, but then again, i cannot imagine ever having to write such a comment to Denise – so through and intelligent are her posts. So for anyone who wandered over to huntgatherlove and in the event she does not approve my comment – i offer it here for my (and perhaps your readers) edification (or maybe my vilification!… 🙂 )

    (response to Agronomy Fail, Hunt Gather Love)

    melissa, to be what is blatantly condescending to a clearly sincere individual with real life experience (how’s your patient count these days melissa…? oops – forgot yer just a kid!) is pretty rude and self-revealing of your own arrogance (and ignorance…). Dismissing the whole of an experienced persons opinion (of course, NONE of what you expose is just “opinion”, is it?) when he is in essence supporting many of the basic premises that you too hold dear is pretty – well – narrow-minded? I personally am a eager meat eating lacto-paleo, so don’t go off about me being some vegan troll –

    … and BTW – i think that even vegetarians (not vegans) can hold to a paleo approach to nutrition and with adjustments, be healthy. Be kinda good to have some vegetarians supporting the avoidance of neolithic poisons, don’t ya think?

    slamming a book without having cracked the cover is just about the most insidious form of arrogant laziness – maybe you slide over to Denise’s blog and get a few pointers on how to disembowel someone with whom you disagree with some class, wit and substance–

    i wish Dr Davis a long stay on the NYT bestseller list–

  30. 358sportsman racechick

    I read all of the comments to date. Please read Going Against the Grain, Nourishing Traditions, and the Perricone Promise. These books dovetail nicely into Wheat Belly.

    I think it’s important to look at all the foods recommended and those on the “for limited consumption” list. Soy is so genetically modified and high in phytoestrogens, so why eat it? There is no corn on the planet that isn’t messed up by cross-pollination. Don’t overlook raw nuts (soak them first) and avocados as a basis for raw puddings & ice kream substitutes (stevia sweetened). Try making raw food style wraps with sprouted seeds and veggies (low glycemic). Don’t forget your dark leafy greens (read Victoria Boutenko and the nutritarian guy).

    Some suggestions: If you are eating unfermented and/or pasteurized dairy, you might be mistaking bloat for subcutaneous fat. When I give up dairy, I get sculpted arms. Oh yeah, if are caffeinated, you could be holding onto excess weight.

    I’ve cut way back on dairy, but I’ll give up my coffee when you pry it from my cold, dead, still-shaking hands.

  31. Jez

    I have known I was allergic to wheat for more than ten years but refused to do anything about it. The thought of giving p wheat was just too much to contemplate. But for the last 3 years my skin rashes have become more intolerable and slathering on steroid cream just wasn’t doing it any longer. My sister is a Celiac and so I knew there was some stuff going on. After reading Wheat Belly I decided to finally cut wheat out. I’ve been off it completely for 2 weeks and I have to say I already notice changes. My skin has almost cleared up completely after at least 5 years of an unsightly rash. My thinking seems clearer and I’ve already started to lose weight.
    While I find thinking about what to eat a constant challenge I have noticed that when I don’t eat the high glycemic foods I do not have cravings the way I used to and instead of eating lunch right at noon I find myself noticing it’s 1:30 before I think about eating. That in itself is a small miracle!
    The thing that really made me want to try this was that I started to think about what kind of inflammation was occurring inside my organs that I couldn’t see. I have always struggled with depression and was that because of wheat? The only thing to do was to go wheat-free and see the results myself. So far I’m very positive about this change and I think I may finally shed the 60 lbs of extra weight that I’ve carried with me for so many years. Wheat Belly is a very interesting book and so far I think it’s life-changing.

    I wish you well on the wheat-free diet. Trust me, you won’t miss the stuff after awhile.

  32. Ann Power

    Hi there! I have had psoriasis all of my life. After my divorce, it has become worse and I’ve developed large patches on my legs. Can anyone help with this? Do you think becoming wheat free can help? Oh, I also have chronic migraines. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks!

    Definitely try a grain-free diet. I had psoriasis (not to the same extent as you) that went away when I gave up grains.

  33. Pat Goldberg

    Forget the debates – all you have to do is try it for ONE week. Anyone should be able to give up wheat for 1 week and see what happens. I am extremely skeptical and didn’t really believe I could be allergic/intolerant of wheat but I have severe asthma and some arthritis developing so I thought it was worth a shot. After 3 days I thought I was breathing better. After 5 days I thought about my longtime favorite foods, pesto pasta and a nice whole grain toast, and realized with shock that they didn’t appeal to me at all. I lost all interest in wheat products. It has been 4weeks and I am absolutely not interested in eating wheat again. I have lost a few pounds (not my intention but making me happy), my breathing is better and my developing arthritis has actually decreased. I feel great! Try it for just one week. There is a good chance you will feel better. I will never eat wheat again!

    Good advice. If it doesn’t work, all you lost were a few servings of wheat.

  34. MD B

    One key point the author missed- the wheat today has been genetically modified, it is not the same wheat of out ancestors, also packaged foods made with wheat, have many chemical preservatives.

  35. Ken

    I’ve been on Dr. Davis’ diet for some time now. Works great; I eat as much and as often as I want and my weight doesn’t change. I weigh the same today as I did when I graduated college; lost 15 lbs, mostly from my waist overall. I used to be a size 36 waist and now wear a size 33 (or 32 depending on cut); my shirt size is the same. My blood numbers look better (cut out wheat and grains and your LDL will go down and your HDL will go up) and I don’t get that mid-afternoon lethargy that I used to when eating grains.

    The idea that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie is flawed science. When you eat sugar (wheat looks like sugar to the body, even whole wheat) you get a spike of sugar in the blood and the liver, which evolved to be efficient at storing calories, converts what it can to fat.

    Before eliminating grains I did pretty well reducing grains and eating them last as the glycemic spike is reduced if you eat protein first. Using that logic: pizza is better for you than bread since the cheese and tomato sauce (an acid) both slow down digestion and prevent a very high glycemic spike.

  36. kate jenkins

    I too had my lifelong asthma disappear virtually overnight with the removal of gr!ins from my diet, but I also discovered pretty early on that i don’t cope too well with a meat-rich diet either. The one thing that bothers me about any new diet advocates is that they tend to make sweeping statements about its application to every person on the planet. As a mother of three, I made the same mistake with my children, believing that what worked for my body woul# also work for theirs. I have one daughter who is strict vegetarian, and another who suffers massive yes/th issues if she has almost any carbs at all. It wasnt until a dietician queried their blood types that I researched the blood type diet and was alerted to the concept of different types being able to better digest different kinds of foods. Turns out my ve%etarian is an a-type and my paleo kid is type o. Perhaps the people most likely to suffer from what and grain intolerance are all type o? That is the most common blood type. And the pe4son who said they benegited more from cutting out meat might possibly )e an a or ab? Just a thought.

  37. Dave

    Ah, me and my family are moving to a more rural area of the states. After moving in about 2 months, I’ve decided that’s the point I’m going to cut out all refined carbs, added sugars, and wheat. (Mostly because we’re on a very tight budget and I’m not currently in charge of buying food for everyone) Any carbs I eat will be from fruits or vegetables. I’m looking forward to the experience and expect good things.

  38. Vin

    Asian, latino, polynesian and black populations are especially prone to diabetes and heart disease from eating wheat because it is not a traditional food our genetic structure and our ability to metabolise carbs does not respond well to the sugar conversion making us more vulnerable to chronic disease go back to eating traditional fare or go wheat belly …

  39. Yvonne

    loooooooooooool the lies they tell haha. Eliminating wheat was one of the best things I ever did. You wrote this well.

    Yee-up, doesn’t matter they say; when people experience the results of giving up wheat, that says it all.

  40. Ray Merkel

    After only three weeks without wheat I had the lowest blood sugar levels in the last twenty years, including levels well within the normal (non-diabetic) range two hours after eating. The American food industry is only interested in maximizing profits; this is why they have small armies of lawyers defending their cattle feed lots, which cause gross amounts of environmental damage; their practice of submerging ground beef in ammonia (to kill the bacterial blooms created by their feed lots); and the clouds of poisons they spray on our field crops and orchards, which are killing off the bees that are essential for pollinating many of these crops. Despite their propaganda, they are all about Frankenfood genetics and voodoo chemistry.


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