Interview with ‘Wheat Belly’ Author Dr. William Davis

You all (or y’all, as we say around these parts) submitted so many good questions for Wheat Belly author Dr. William Davis, we decided to make this a two-part Q & A.  We’ll probably have part two ready early next week.

Fat Head: You’re a cardiologist by profession, and yet you just wrote an in-depth book about the negative health effects of consuming wheat.  How did wheat end up on your radar?  What first made you suspect wheat might be behind many of our modern health problems?

Dr. Davis: It started several years ago when I asked patients in my office to consider eliminating all wheat from their diet. I did this because of some very simple logic: If foods made from wheat raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods (due to its high-glycemic index), including table sugar, then removing wheat should reduce blood sugar. I was concerned about high blood sugar since around 80% of the people coming to my office had diabetes, pre-diabetes, or what I call “pre-pre-diabetes.” In short, the vast majority of people showed abnormal metabolic markers.

I provided patients with a simple two-page handout on how to do this, i.e., how to eliminate wheat and replace the lost calories with healthy foods like more vegetables, raw nuts, meats, eggs, avocados, olives, olive oil, etc. They’d come back three months later with lower fasting blood sugars, lower hemoglobin A1c (a reflection of the previous 60 days’ blood sugar); some diabetics became non-diabetics, pre-diabetics became non-pre-diabetic. They’d also be around 30 pounds lighter.

Then they began to tell me about other experiences: relief from arthritis and joint pains, chronic rashes disappearing, asthma improved sufficiently to stop inhalers, chronic sinus infections gone, leg swelling gone, migraine headaches gone for the first time in decades, acid reflux and irritable bowel symptoms relieved. At first, I told patients it was just an odd coincidence. But it happened so many times to so many people that it became clear that this was no coincidence; this was a real and reproducible phenomenon.

That’s when I began to systematically remove wheat from everyone’s diet and continued to witness similar turnarounds in health across dozens of conditions. There has been no turning back since.

Fat Head: You cite quite a bit of academic research in your book, but you also cite case histories from your medical practice.  So, as a chicken-or-the-egg issue, which came first?  Did you start noticing that patients who consumed a lot of wheat had more health problems and then go looking for the research to back up your suspicions, or did you come across research that prompted you to take notice of what your patients were eating?

Dr. Davis: The real-world experience came first. But what surprised me was that there already was an extensive medical literature documenting all of this, but it was largely ignored or didn’t reach mainstream consciousness nor the consciousness of most of my colleagues. And a lot of the documentation comes from the agricultural genetics literature, an area, I can assure you, my colleagues do not study. But I dug into this area of science and talked to people at the USDA and in agriculture departments in universities to gain a full understanding of all the issues.

One of the difficulties that partly explains why much of this information has not previously seen the light of day is that agricultural geneticists work on plants, not humans. There is a broad and pervasive assumption followed by these well-meaning scientists: No matter how extreme the techniques used to alter the genetics of a plant like wheat, it is still just fine for human consumption …no questions asked. I believe that is flat wrong and underlies much of the suffering inflicted on humans consuming this modern product of genetics research still called, misleadingly, “wheat.”

Fat Head: So after pinpointing wheat as a driver of various health problems, you started counseling your patients to eliminate wheat from their diets.  What inspired you take the extra step – and it’s a big step – of writing a book?

Dr. Davis: What I witnessed in the thousands of people removing wheat from their diet was nothing short of incredible. When I saw weight loss of 70 pounds in six months, energy and mood surging, reversal of inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, relief from chronic rashes and arthritis — and the effects were consistent over and over again — I realized that I could not just let this issue pass quietly in my office practice.

Admittedly, the world is going to need more confirmatory data before wheat, or at least the modern genetically-altered version of wheat we are being sold, is removed from the world’s dinner plate. But the data that are already available are more than enough, I believe, to bring this information to the public for people to make the decision themselves. I liken this situation to living in a village where everyone drinks water from the same well.  Nine out of 10 people get sick when they drink water from the well; all recover when they stop drinking from it. Drink from the same well, they all get sick again; stop, they get better. With such a consistent and reproducible cause-and-effect relationship, do we need a clinical trial to prove it to us? I don’t.

This is going to be a long, hard battle in the public arena. Wheat comprises 20% of all human calories. It requires a huge infrastructure to grow, harvest, collect seeds, fertilize, herbicide, process, and distribute. This message is going to potentially hurt the livelihoods of thousands, perhaps millions, of people who are part of the infrastructure. It reminds me of the battles that were fought (and still being fought today) when it became widely accepted that smoking cigarettes was bad. When people within the tobacco industry were asked how they could work for a company that destroyed people’s health, they replied, “I had to support my family and pay my mortgage.” The eliminate-all-wheat-in-the-human-diet argument that I make will hurt many people where it counts: right in the pocketbook. But, personally, I am not willing to sacrifice my own health, the health of my family, friends, neighbors, patients, and the nation to allow the incredibly unhealthy status quo to continue.

Fat Head: The more of the book I read, the more I found myself thinking, “Wow, I knew wheat was bad for us, but it’s even worse than I thought.”  Did you have the same reaction while researching the book?  Were you surprised at how many physical and mental problems wheat can cause?

Dr. Davis: Yes. I knew wheat was bad from the start of this project. And there were times when I wondered if I was missing something, given the unanimous embracing of this grain by agribusiness, farmers, agricultural scientists, the USDA, FDA, American Dietetic Association, etc. But the opposite happened: The deeper I got into it, this thing being sold to us called “wheat” appeared worse … and worse, and worse, the farther I got.

I am mindful of the “For a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail” trap we can all fall into, but when you see disease condition after disease condition vanish with elimination of wheat, you can’t help but become convinced that it plays a crucial role in hundreds, literally hundreds, of common conditions.

Fat Head: You described in your book how today’s wheat is the product of energetic cross-breeding.  Is cross-breeding inherently bad?  Doesn’t cross-breeding take place in nature all the time?

Dr. Davis: Yes, it does. Humans, along with all plants and animals, are the product of cross-breeding or hybridization. Love, sex, and cross-breeding make the world go ‘round and make life interesting. The problem is that these terms are used very loosely by geneticists.

For example, if I subject wheat seeds and embryos to the potent industrial poison sodium azide, I can induce mutations in the plant’s genetic code. First, let me tell you about sodium azide. If ingested, the poison control people at the Centers for Disease Control advise you to not resuscitate the person who ingested it and stopped breathing as a result —just let the victim die—because the rescuer can die, too. And, if the victim vomits, don’t throw the vomit in the sink because it can explode (this has actually happened). So, expose wheat seeds and embryos to sodium azide and you obtain mutations. This is called chemical mutagenesis. Seeds and embryos can also be exposed to gamma irradiation and high-dose x-ray radiation. All of these techniques fall under the umbrella of hybridization or, even more misleading, traditional breeding techniques. I don’t know about you, but cross-breeding among the humans I know doesn’t involve slipping each other chemical poisons or a romantic evening in the cyclotron to induce mutations in our offspring.

These “traditional breeding techniques,” by the way, are markedly more disruptive to the plant’s genetics than genetic engineering. Americans are up in arms about genetically-modified (GMO) foods (i.e., the insertion or deletion of a single gene). The great irony is that genetic engineering is a substantial improvement over “traditional breeding techniques” that have gone on for decades and are still going on.

[Note from Tom:  I tried talking my wife into stepping into a cyclotron with me on our honeymoon.  She told me to stop drinking the champagne and go to sleep.]

Fat Head: I met you in person over a year ago, and you’re a very lean guy, so I was surprised to learn from the book that you used to carry around your very own wheat belly.  Describe the differences between you as a wheat-eater and you now, both in terms of your physique and your health.

Dr. Davis: Thirty pounds ago, while I was still an enthusiastic consumer of “healthy whole grains,” I struggled with constant difficulties in maintaining focus and energy. I relied on pots of coffee or walking and exercise just to battle the constant stuporous haze. My cholesterol values reflected my wheat-consuming habits: HDL 27 mg/dl (very low), triglycerides 350 mg/dl (VERY high), and blood sugars in the diabetic range (161 mg/dl). I had high blood pressure, running values around 150/90. And all my excess weight was around my middle—yes, my very own wheat belly.

Saying goodbye to wheat has helped me shed the weight around the middle; my cholesterol values: HDL 63 mg/dl, triglycerides 50 mg/dl, LDL 70 mg/dl, blood sugar 84 mg/dl, BP 114/74—using no drugs. In other words, everything reversed. Everything reversed including the struggle to maintain attention and focus. I can now concentrate and focus on something for so long that my wife yells for me to stop.

All in all, I feel better today at age 54 than I felt at age 30.

Fat Head: How has learning what you now know about wheat and other grains changed your medical practice?

Dr. Davis: It has catapulted success in helping people regain health into the stratosphere. Among people following this diet, i.e., eliminate wheat and limit other carbohydrates (along with the other heart-healthy strategies I advocate, including omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with fish oil, vitamin D supplementation to achieve a desirable 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of 60-70 ng/ml, iodine supplementation and normalization of thyroid dysfunction), I no longer see heart attacks. The only heart attacks I see are people whom I’ve just met or those who, for one reason or another (usually lack of interest) don’t follow the diet.  A priest I take care of, for instance, a wonderful and generous man, couldn’t bring himself to turn down the muffins, pies, and breads his parishioners brought him every day; he had a heart attack despite doing everything else right.

This diet approach, though it seems quirky on the surface, is extremely powerful. What diet, after all, causes substantial weight loss, corrects the causes of heart disease such as small LDL particles, reverses diabetes and pre-diabetes, and improves or cures multiple conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to acid reflux?

Fat Head: You’ve seen hundreds of your own patients become cured of supposedly incurable diseases after giving up wheat.  Describe one or two of the most dramatic examples.

Dr. Davis: Two people are on my mind nearly every day, mostly because I am especially gratified about the magnitude of their response and because I shudder to think what their lives would have been like had they not engaged in this diet change.

I describe Wendy’s story in the book, a 36-year mother and schoolteacher who had nearly incapacitating ulcerative colitis; so bad that, despite three medications, she continued to suffer constant cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding sufficient to require blood transfusions. When I met Wendy, she told me that her gastroenterologist and surgeon had scheduled her for colon removal and creation of an ileostomy bag. These would be lifelong changes; she would be consigned to wearing a bag to catch stool at the surface for the rest of her life. I urged her to remove wheat. At first, she objected, since her intestinal biopsies and blood work all failed to suggest celiac disease. But, having seen many amazing things happen with removal of wheat, I suggested that there was nothing to lose. She did it. Three months later, not only had she lost 38 pounds, but all the cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding had stopped. It’s now been two years. She’s off all drugs with no sign of the disease left—colon intact, no ileostomy bag. She is cured.

The second case is Jason, also described in the book, a 26-year old software programmer, in this case incapacitated by joint pains and arthritis. Consultations with three rheumatologists failed to yield a diagnosis; all prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication, while Jason continued to hobble around, unable to engage in much more than short walks. Within five days of removing all wheat, Jason was 100% free of joint pains. He told that he found this absolutely ridiculous and refused to believe it. So he had a sandwich: Joint pains rushed right back. He’s now strictly wheat-free and pain-free.

Fat Head: Your patients are lucky – you’d rather change a patient’s diet than write a prescription whenever possible.  Unfortunately, you’re in the minority.  As I recounted on my blog recently, a co-worker’s wife was finally cured of her pounding headaches when an acquaintance suggested she stop eating grains.  She’d been to several doctors who merely prescribed medications.  So … why are so few doctors aware of how grains can affect our health?

Dr. Davis: I believe healthcare has detoured towards high-tech, high revenue-producing procedures, medications, and catastrophic care. Too many in healthcare have lost the vision of helping people and fulfilling their mission to heal. While that sounds old-fashioned, I believe it is a bad trend for healthcare to be reduced to a financial transaction bound by legal constraints. It needs to be restored to a relationship of healing.

I believe that many in healthcare have also been disenchanted with the ineffectiveness of dietary advice. Because dietary “wisdom” has been wrong on so many counts over the past 50 years, people have become soured on the ability of nutrition and natural methods to improve health. From what I’ve witnessed, however, nutrition and natural methods have enormous power to heal—if the right methods are applied.

Fat Head: Do you hope your book will educate more doctors on the topic, or is this one of those situations where the public will have to ignore their doctors and educate themselves?

Dr. Davis: Regrettably, many people will read the message in Wheat Belly, experience the life-changing health and weight transformations that can result, then they will then tell their doctors, who will declare their success “coincidence,” “mind over matter,” “placebo effect,” or some other dismissal. Many of my colleagues refuse to recognize the power of diet even when confronted with powerful results. That can only change over a very long time.

Thankfully, more and more of my colleagues are beginning to see the light and not look for the answer in drugs and procedures. These are the healthcare providers that I hope will emerge to assist people as advocates and coaches in conducting an experience like that described in Wheat Belly.

Fat Head: If more doctors were informed of the issues you wrote about in Wheat Belly, do you think they’d change their dietary advice, or is the “fat is bad, grains are good” mentality too ingrained in the profession?

Dr. Davis: There is absolutely no question that the “fat is bad, grains are good” argument will persist in the minds of many of my colleagues for many years. However, I believe if they were to read the arguments laid out logically in Wheat Belly, they would first come to recognize that “wheat” is no longer wheat but an incredibly transformed product of genetics research. Then they would begin to follow the logic and understand that the long menu of problems associated with consumption of modern “wheat” begins to explain why we’ve all been witnessing an explosion in common diseases. That’s when I hope we all hear a collective “Aha!”

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200 thoughts on “Interview with ‘Wheat Belly’ Author Dr. William Davis

  1. Al

    My wife insists on feeding my kids “cream of wheat” because she had it as a child. If I suggest oats, perhaps steel-cut oats (with a tablespoon of natural butter!) as an alternative am I improving matters or are oats just as bad and I’m better off banishing all grains (barley, oats, various organic porridges) from our kitchen?

    Oats don’t cause as many problems as wheat.

    Reply
  2. Janet

    Dr Davis has the healthcare attitude I have been looking for in a personal doc (I think).
    Thinking about it takes me back to when I was agonizing over the choices my teenagers were making. A very wise friend told me to be prepared for them to make wrong choices and help them learn from the consequences.
    She told me that my goal as a parent was to become unnecessary!! I could still have a longtime relationship with them but not as a hovering parent.

    I want a medical provider that will help me identify what is wrong, help me correct mistakes and then become unnecessary to me. We can still have an ongoing relationship to monitor how I am doing but not for a lifetime of medical treatment. My current doc’s, first question on an office visit is: “do you need any prescriptions refilled?” This is apparently a guy whose plan is to stay “necessary” with lifetime prescription refills. I know that being unnecessary doesn’t pay the bills for docs like angiograms, echocardiograms, stents, e-prescriptions, and stress tests do, but having those things done doesn’t help me pay my bills (and hasn’t improved my health) either. I noticed on the CardioBrief site that their “Save a milliion hearts” campaign is based on medications for all 4 points of their targets. Not a mention of really reversing any of those targets in any way other than a prescription pad (or e-prescribe).

    We need a lot more doctors like him.

    Reply
  3. Jenna

    I was reading a discussion of how the virus for the movie “Contagion” was concieved of, and I got to the last paragraph, which made me laugh!
    http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/2011/09/13/how-the-contagion-virus-was-born/

    “We tend to think only in terms of things that directly affect human health,” she says. “I’m following a weird strain of rust virus that’s attacking wheat crops around the world. So far, there’s no resistance. Worst-case scenario, the world has no wheat.” Now that’s something to really worry about.”

    Unfortunately, no wheat would probably mean a lot of people would starve. Let’s hope we find a suitable replacement or a better way of producing food.

    Reply
  4. mike

    “The eliminate-all-wheat-in-the-human-diet argument that I make will hurt many people where it counts: right in the pocketbook”

    He hit the nail on the head here.But,the U.S. Gov will never let it happen,as it’s all about money.They know what we know,and go to great lengths to keep this from us.It’s not about changing the Gov’s stance on nutrition.It’s about educating the public.But what happens when,we stop buying into the Gov’s garbage nutritional guidelines? Lot’s of jobs are lost.Not just in the grain industry,but due to heart disease,cancer,diabetes and more being greatly reduced,or even almost eliminated,50% of the hospitals could go belly up,the Big Pharma takes a huge hit,more job loss.The economy would take right in the teeth.But the sad fact is,it has to happen for the success of the human race,at least in the U.S.The Gov.does not realize that,by feeding us poison food and shoving killer drugs on us(,all because they want us,fat,sick,and stupid so we are under there control) they are breeding an inferior race of people,by way of increased rates of mental disease and just plain old basic stupidity.There is no easy way out of this mess.The econ will have to suffer a bit to change all this.

    True, but at one time our economy was largely driven (literally) by the railroad industry. We can adapt.

    Reply
  5. damaged justice

    “But what happens when,we stop buying into the Gov’s garbage nutritional guidelines? Lot’s of jobs are lost.”

    That’s what is seen. And what isn’t seen is the uncountable amount of productivity and wealth that could have been, but isn’t because people are sick and spending that money on health care instead.

    Bingo.

    Reply
  6. Quinlan

    I wonder about other cereal grains, I went from obese BMI to normal BMI when I cut out wheat and sugar, I noticed a number of health improvements. I have suffered eczema all of my life and as I changed my diet my eczema cleared up. Due to financial circumstances I started eating porridge for breakfast, almost immediately I had a full body itchy rash, I blamed my cat allergies, it took me a while to put 2 and 2 together but when I finally cut out the porridge the rash cleared up immediately, amazing.

    Another thing I wonder about is the wheat in different regions, is wheat grown in New Zealand less modified/damaging than wheat grown in the US for instance or is it a worldwide problem?

    I’m not sure. Someone from NZ can chime in.

    Reply
  7. Beau

    “The eliminate-all-wheat-in-the-human-diet argument that I make will hurt many people where it counts: right in the pocketbook”

    It’s not all doom and gloom for agriculture and the health industry. They can naturally transition into cattle farmers and veterinarians, plus we still need grains for all the cows to eat!

    I hope we can find a way to raise all our cows on grass.

    Reply
  8. Al

    Jeez, one other thought: what are the implication of this for the beer industry? Do they use the same wheat as the bakers? Given the way tobacco went the brewers might want to get in front of this one.

    I hadn’t thought about that. I don’t drink beer often, but when I do it’s usually Guinness, so I hope the Irish aren’t importing our wheat.

    Reply
  9. cTo

    Wow, fascinating. I cant wait for the second half. I am definitely interested in checking this book out now. If there’s anything I love more than hearing professional doctors critically analyze “standard nutrition” and come to the low-carb epiphany, its success stories of people taking control of their own health and making amazing improvements.

    Reply
  10. Raina Matson

    I’m in the best health of my life at 35 after dropping around 70 lbs (not sure how much I actually weighed, but I’m at 130 lbs now with my muscular build at 5’5″ and know I must have been at or near 200 lbs). I cut out wheat and get my carbs all from non-starchy veggies and fruit and I cannot even begin to believe the difference.

    Naturally I’ve been told by dozens how I’m destroying my health and it’s “not natural” to cut out those foods, which is actually kind of funny when I can run circles around any of them, and am able to lift a great deal more weight than these weekend warriors. I actually have to eat wheat every week or so to keep from losing weight now. The wheat slows down my metabolism, which seems to be extremely strong. I really don’t want to lose any more (I like my curves and don’t want to lose them), plus I’m wearing a size 0 pants from Old Navy and am too cheap to go to a fancier store or get $30 pant taken in. How awful is it that the foods that other people think make them get thinner is what I use to keep some fat on me??

    Despite the complete transformation (appearance and energy levels wise), do you think I could convince anyone that I’m not on some wacky fad diet? My mother & mother-in-law are both on so many pills that I know could be stopped by ignoring what they’ve been programmed to believe and by doing the research for themselves. I’ve ordered a copy for each of them and hope it’ll help. I can only try.

    Watching Fat Head all those months ago was an eye-opening and life changing experience, and for that, I thank you.

    I know the feeling. People who are on three or four prescription drugs try to tell me I’m going to kill myself with my diet.

    Reply
  11. Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat Pe

    Mike, ever heard of the “broken windows fallacy”? That’s the idea that you can stimulate the economy by breaking windows, forcing people to pay to have them fixed.

    The reason I bring this up is that eliminating the wheat-growing industry, and drastically reducing the diabetes industry, would suck for the major shareholders. But all that money that doesn’t get spent on medicine any more would be spent on new cars and vacations to Florida instead.

    (By the way … Yes, you can cause economic activity by breaking windows, and if nobody is spending on anything else it might be better than nothing. But if the goal is to get some money circulating, you might as well spend it on something worthwhile and long-lasting like roads and bridges.)

    I first read about the broken window fallacy in the wonderful book “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt.

    Reply
  12. Lori

    @Peggy Hollaway, certain medications like prednisone and other steroids can jack up blood sugar. So can illness and stress. And in a small portion of people, even a small green salad is too much carb.

    I agree with Tom that your sister should see a doctor who can help her with her blood sugars–they’re at a level that causes organ and tissue damage. Certain supplements might help her, too. She might also find a book called Blood Sugar 101 helpful.

    Reply
  13. Janet

    Dr Davis has the healthcare attitude I have been looking for in a personal doc (I think).
    Thinking about it takes me back to when I was agonizing over the choices my teenagers were making. A very wise friend told me to be prepared for them to make wrong choices and help them learn from the consequences.
    She told me that my goal as a parent was to become unnecessary!! I could still have a longtime relationship with them but not as a hovering parent.

    I want a medical provider that will help me identify what is wrong, help me correct mistakes and then become unnecessary to me. We can still have an ongoing relationship to monitor how I am doing but not for a lifetime of medical treatment. My current doc’s, first question on an office visit is: “do you need any prescriptions refilled?” This is apparently a guy whose plan is to stay “necessary” with lifetime prescription refills. I know that being unnecessary doesn’t pay the bills for docs like angiograms, echocardiograms, stents, e-prescriptions, and stress tests do, but having those things done doesn’t help me pay my bills (and hasn’t improved my health) either. I noticed on the CardioBrief site that their “Save a milliion hearts” campaign is based on medications for all 4 points of their targets. Not a mention of really reversing any of those targets in any way other than a prescription pad (or e-prescribe).

    We need a lot more doctors like him.

    Reply
  14. Jenna

    I was reading a discussion of how the virus for the movie “Contagion” was concieved of, and I got to the last paragraph, which made me laugh!
    http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/2011/09/13/how-the-contagion-virus-was-born/

    “We tend to think only in terms of things that directly affect human health,” she says. “I’m following a weird strain of rust virus that’s attacking wheat crops around the world. So far, there’s no resistance. Worst-case scenario, the world has no wheat.” Now that’s something to really worry about.”

    Unfortunately, no wheat would probably mean a lot of people would starve. Let’s hope we find a suitable replacement or a better way of producing food.

    Reply
  15. Ari

    My wife got relief from her chronic rash when she gave up wheat. My acid reflux DIDN’T go away, but I got so many other benefits from wheat elimination that I’m happy with the results. But that would have been nice.

    You may need to do some experimenting and see if something else in your diet is triggering the reflux.

    Reply
  16. damaged justice

    “But what happens when,we stop buying into the Gov’s garbage nutritional guidelines? Lot’s of jobs are lost.”

    That’s what is seen. And what isn’t seen is the uncountable amount of productivity and wealth that could have been, but isn’t because people are sick and spending that money on health care instead.

    Bingo.

    Reply
  17. Bevie

    Actually, I do not believe that eliminating the wheat/grain industry would be economically bad at all. Most of the things we eat instead of wheat are a bit more labor intensive, providing jobs for people that on a massive wheat farm are handled by machinery. Perhaps it is not socially prestigious to be a farm worker, but considering how many people right now are whining about having no jobs… well, picking broccoli in a field sure beats starving on Ramen noodles.

    Reply
  18. Peggy Holloway

    Tom:
    My sister has been seeing a doctor regularly for years and is taking metformin and Januvia. She went to see Mary Vernon in desperation, about 2 months ago, and Mary isn’t offering her anything (she actually doesn’t follow-up or respond to phone inquiries or emails) except the low-carb diet that is reflected in the food logs I posted and more medications. Not what we expected and completely frustrating. So if low-carb doesn’t work, what does?

    Some people unfortunately do need the drugs.

    Reply
  19. Sabine

    Thank you, thank you, Tom, for bringing this book to our attention. Great interview: I’m looking forward to the second part.

    Reply
  20. Quinlan

    I wonder about other cereal grains, I went from obese BMI to normal BMI when I cut out wheat and sugar, I noticed a number of health improvements. I have suffered eczema all of my life and as I changed my diet my eczema cleared up. Due to financial circumstances I started eating porridge for breakfast, almost immediately I had a full body itchy rash, I blamed my cat allergies, it took me a while to put 2 and 2 together but when I finally cut out the porridge the rash cleared up immediately, amazing.

    Another thing I wonder about is the wheat in different regions, is wheat grown in New Zealand less modified/damaging than wheat grown in the US for instance or is it a worldwide problem?

    I’m not sure. Someone from NZ can chime in.

    Reply
  21. Beau

    “The eliminate-all-wheat-in-the-human-diet argument that I make will hurt many people where it counts: right in the pocketbook”

    It’s not all doom and gloom for agriculture and the health industry. They can naturally transition into cattle farmers and veterinarians, plus we still need grains for all the cows to eat!

    I hope we can find a way to raise all our cows on grass.

    Reply
  22. Drew @ Willpower Is For Fat People

    Mike, ever heard of the “broken windows fallacy”? That’s the idea that you can stimulate the economy by breaking windows, forcing people to pay to have them fixed.

    The reason I bring this up is that eliminating the wheat-growing industry, and drastically reducing the diabetes industry, would suck for the major shareholders. But all that money that doesn’t get spent on medicine any more would be spent on new cars and vacations to Florida instead.

    (By the way … Yes, you can cause economic activity by breaking windows, and if nobody is spending on anything else it might be better than nothing. But if the goal is to get some money circulating, you might as well spend it on something worthwhile and long-lasting like roads and bridges.)

    I first read about the broken window fallacy in the wonderful book “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt.

    Reply
  23. Lori

    @Peggy Hollaway, certain medications like prednisone and other steroids can jack up blood sugar. So can illness and stress. And in a small portion of people, even a small green salad is too much carb.

    I agree with Tom that your sister should see a doctor who can help her with her blood sugars–they’re at a level that causes organ and tissue damage. Certain supplements might help her, too. She might also find a book called Blood Sugar 101 helpful.

    Reply
  24. Ari

    My wife got relief from her chronic rash when she gave up wheat. My acid reflux DIDN’T go away, but I got so many other benefits from wheat elimination that I’m happy with the results. But that would have been nice.

    You may need to do some experimenting and see if something else in your diet is triggering the reflux.

    Reply
  25. Bevie

    Actually, I do not believe that eliminating the wheat/grain industry would be economically bad at all. Most of the things we eat instead of wheat are a bit more labor intensive, providing jobs for people that on a massive wheat farm are handled by machinery. Perhaps it is not socially prestigious to be a farm worker, but considering how many people right now are whining about having no jobs… well, picking broccoli in a field sure beats starving on Ramen noodles.

    Reply
  26. Lori

    @Ari, I had acid reflux so bad that it gave me an esophageal ulcer. Cutting out wheat helped, and gave me hope, but I also had to cut out fruit and keep the carbs really low. Others say that giving up milk helps them. If you’ve been on acid blockers, you might experience acid rebound once you’re off them.

    You might be interested in my post on GERD. In the comments, I have some suggestions for curing it. http://relievemypain.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-gerd-is-cured.html

    Reply
  27. Peggy Holloway

    Tom:
    My sister has been seeing a doctor regularly for years and is taking metformin and Januvia. She went to see Mary Vernon in desperation, about 2 months ago, and Mary isn’t offering her anything (she actually doesn’t follow-up or respond to phone inquiries or emails) except the low-carb diet that is reflected in the food logs I posted and more medications. Not what we expected and completely frustrating. So if low-carb doesn’t work, what does?

    Some people unfortunately do need the drugs.

    Reply
  28. Sabine

    Thank you, thank you, Tom, for bringing this book to our attention. Great interview: I’m looking forward to the second part.

    Reply
  29. Johan

    @ Mike – have you read ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley? Regarding the ruling class keeping the ‘worker bees’ sedated and ignorant by poisoning them with alcohol already in the womb, and pushing a daily allowance of drugs. Fashinating story, and to think that it was written already in the thirties. (the saddest thing is that much of it, as well as much of ‘1984’ has become facts of our everyday lives

    Reply
  30. Nowhereman

    “Yes, my wife has made some desserts using coconut flour, or almond flour, or some of each. Those flours don’t cause any issues with me, although I’ve pretty much lost my taste for desserts anyway.”

    Oddly enough today while on my way back home I stopped in at my favorite little coffee and tea cafe. For the first time ever I noticed they had a gluten-free dark chocolate cake available. Well, expecting this to be another “hidden buggaboo” filled with another grain or soy, I got the pleasant suprise that it was made using a nut flour.

    More interesting still is that because the baker was out of almond flour when making the cake, so he substituted in another nut to make flour; hazelnut. I had to try this. So I broke my sugar and carb fast to give it a try and was astounded how damn good it was. Even better was the baker (bless him whoever he is!) did not throw in tons of extra sugar, and just let the natural sweetness carry it.

    Yeah, I went through my 100 grams of carbs limit, but I haven’t suffered the usual side-effects as a result!

    So lesson learned; don’t just rely on one or two subsitutes, experiment and find new things to try, especially if you may be allergic to the more common tree nuts, like almonds.

    Reply
  31. Lori

    @Ari, I had acid reflux so bad that it gave me an esophageal ulcer. Cutting out wheat helped, and gave me hope, but I also had to cut out fruit and keep the carbs really low. Others say that giving up milk helps them. If you’ve been on acid blockers, you might experience acid rebound once you’re off them.

    You might be interested in my post on GERD. In the comments, I have some suggestions for curing it. http://relievemypain.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-gerd-is-cured.html

    Reply
  32. Johan

    @ Mike – have you read ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley? Regarding the ruling class keeping the ‘worker bees’ sedated and ignorant by poisoning them with alcohol already in the womb, and pushing a daily allowance of drugs. Fashinating story, and to think that it was written already in the thirties. (the saddest thing is that much of it, as well as much of ‘1984’ has become facts of our everyday lives

    Reply
  33. Bill

    Tom said:

    “Unfortunately, no wheat would probably mean a lot of people would starve. Let’s hope we find a suitable replacement or a better way of producing food.”

    Wheat yield is about 5 tonnes per hectare.
    Potato yield is about 40 tonnes per hectare.
    There is no problem. We could produce far more food growing the humble spud!

    Hmmm … Now I wonder if perhaps wheat is more popular because it’s easier to transport without spoiling …?

    Reply
  34. Anthony DiSante

    @Peggy: for your sister, I’d suggest she try removing dairy as well, because it does cause problems for some people. I’d also recommend doing a consult with Chris Kresser: http://chriskresser.com/ I’ve never had the need, but I do follow his great blog and podcasts; and if I ever do need any kind of health/medical help, Chris will be near the top of my list of people to ask.

    Reply
  35. gollum

    (random)

    (Standard) beer is made from (suitably processed, sprouted, malted) rye, which is quite the same, at least to celiacs. Wheat may be added as filler(?) or for “wheat beer”. For me, copper still beer please.

    Were these mutant grains used in 1990? (Iron Curtain down – 1991 not good – anecdotal)

    Somewhere there is a meme that wheat has traditionally been rendered less deadly by traditional sour doughing. Does the book cover that? The unsafe wheat poisons (phytins? gluten?) are said to be reduced by this.

    A strange thing that wheat should be a staple food culturally ingrained (“bread and salt”) yet so deadly. Maybe there are some HLA groups better adapted to farming.

    I asked Dr. Davis about the soaking and sprouting, so that should show in the next Q & A.

    Reply
  36. Nowhereman

    “Yes, my wife has made some desserts using coconut flour, or almond flour, or some of each. Those flours don’t cause any issues with me, although I’ve pretty much lost my taste for desserts anyway.”

    Oddly enough today while on my way back home I stopped in at my favorite little coffee and tea cafe. For the first time ever I noticed they had a gluten-free dark chocolate cake available. Well, expecting this to be another “hidden buggaboo” filled with another grain or soy, I got the pleasant suprise that it was made using a nut flour.

    More interesting still is that because the baker was out of almond flour when making the cake, so he substituted in another nut to make flour; hazelnut. I had to try this. So I broke my sugar and carb fast to give it a try and was astounded how damn good it was. Even better was the baker (bless him whoever he is!) did not throw in tons of extra sugar, and just let the natural sweetness carry it.

    Yeah, I went through my 100 grams of carbs limit, but I haven’t suffered the usual side-effects as a result!

    So lesson learned; don’t just rely on one or two subsitutes, experiment and find new things to try, especially if you may be allergic to the more common tree nuts, like almonds.

    Reply
  37. Pat

    Prairie Garden Seeds (http://www.prseeds.ca/) carries old varieties of wheat, other grains, and tomatoes, for those who would like to grow their own. Disclaimer – I have no involvement in this company, just happy to see the old Canadian wheat and tomato varieties still available. Cold hardy, tasty, what more could we want?

    Reply
  38. Jussi

    “You may need to do some experimenting and see if something else in your diet is triggering the reflux.”

    For me it’s the coffee. Half a cup before 12pm is ok, but any more than that and I wake in the middle of the night with a burning throat.

    Reply
  39. Henriette

    Looking foreward to part 2.

    Interesting enough we have this guy Tor Noerretranders here in Denmark who has written a book
    http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=da&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=da&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fpolitiken.dk%2Fkultur%2Fboger%2Ffaglitteratur_boger%2FECE1146975%2Fnoerretranders-sender-en-vild-invitation%2F
    about giving up all grasses ( wheat, corn, rice etc ) in farming !! cause not only are they unhealthy( and unatural to eat) but also big part of the co2 problem – they make the soil less fertile etc. etc.
    Interesting thought imo but with the power semi-vegetarian groups and farmers haver here I don´t think we´ll see much change in the politics.

    Reply
  40. Bill

    Tom said:

    “Unfortunately, no wheat would probably mean a lot of people would starve. Let’s hope we find a suitable replacement or a better way of producing food.”

    Wheat yield is about 5 tonnes per hectare.
    Potato yield is about 40 tonnes per hectare.
    There is no problem. We could produce far more food growing the humble spud!

    Hmmm … Now I wonder if perhaps wheat is more popular because it’s easier to transport without spoiling …?

    Reply
  41. Ray

    Peggy Holloway
    “She is so desperate she told me “I’m afraid to eat anything because nothing I do seems to help.” Obviously, not eating at all is not the answer!”

    “Mary isn’t offering her anything … except the low-carb diet that is reflected in the food logs I posted and more medications.”

    If she was not taking medications, not eating at all actually IS the answer. Since she is already low carb, she could start by skipping breakfast and drinking only non caloric beverages. (if drugs are involved, monitor blood glucose levels carefully). Once that becomes easy, put off lunch as late as possible until you are eating one low-carb, high fat meal at dinner time. Give that eating pattern time to work. For more rapid results you might try extended 3 to 5 day fasts.

    You can google the “Newcastle study diabetes” and read about it; however, I would not recommend fasting (or low calorie) beyond 5 days.

    Reply
  42. Anthony DiSante

    @Peggy: for your sister, I’d suggest she try removing dairy as well, because it does cause problems for some people. I’d also recommend doing a consult with Chris Kresser: http://chriskresser.com/ I’ve never had the need, but I do follow his great blog and podcasts; and if I ever do need any kind of health/medical help, Chris will be near the top of my list of people to ask.

    Reply
  43. gollum

    (random)

    (Standard) beer is made from (suitably processed, sprouted, malted) rye, which is quite the same, at least to celiacs. Wheat may be added as filler(?) or for “wheat beer”. For me, copper still beer please.

    Were these mutant grains used in 1990? (Iron Curtain down – 1991 not good – anecdotal)

    Somewhere there is a meme that wheat has traditionally been rendered less deadly by traditional sour doughing. Does the book cover that? The unsafe wheat poisons (phytins? gluten?) are said to be reduced by this.

    A strange thing that wheat should be a staple food culturally ingrained (“bread and salt”) yet so deadly. Maybe there are some HLA groups better adapted to farming.

    I asked Dr. Davis about the soaking and sprouting, so that should show in the next Q & A.

    Reply
  44. timmah

    To all the folks worried about beer: most “wheat” beers are labeled such.

    For Tom: Guinness contains no wheat. It’s malted barley, unmalted barley and roasted unmalted barley.

    While it’s possible today’s barley is a mutant grain that adds to our waistlines more than it did 40 years ago, yeast do consume the proteins and sugars of beer during fermentation. So it’s not as bad as consuming bread made from a like amount of grain.

    And yes, I do understand that “not as bad as” does not equate to “good”.

    If you want alcohol without grains, choose wine or mead. Sweet, delicious mead…

    I’m relieved to hear Guinness isn’t made from wheat. I don’t drink much anymore, but if I’m in a mood for beer, it’s usually Guinness.

    Reply
  45. jethro

    No bread? Oh no!

    When I started low carb, I became extremely constipated.

    I solved my problem by adding five slices of high fiber bread: 25 grams of fiber, 40 net carbs.

    As I’m way under a 100 carbs, I’ve lost so far 25 lb. with 50 to go.

    If I drop bread, how much of what should I eat to get 25 grams of fiber?

    Some whole fruits, most green vegetables, and some nuts (almonds for example) are high in fiber.

    Reply
  46. Al

    Peggy:
    I’m curious what exercise regime she is following to burn excess sugar? Also, why is she eating cheese. almonds, dressings, and other dairy? If she must have nuts, Walnuts have fewer sugars in them and I’d avoid cheeses, rubs and dressings, even pre-packaged burgers in favor of plain cuts of meat she prepares herself. This is how I had to eat for weeks to break through a weight-loss stall and I’d be curious to see if it moved the needle for her. There is just so much added sugar in every type of processed food that you just can’t trust anything you haven’t made yourself from the most basic ingredients you can find. The other thing to keep in mind is speed of eating and meal size matters too. When I was wolfing down meals in record time my blood would spike hard no matter what I ate. Eating six smaller meals slowly might make a difference compared to three large ones in a gulp. Hope this helps.

    Reply

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