Interview With ‘Wheat Belly’ Author Dr. William Davis, Part Two

Here’s part two of my interview with Dr. William Davis, author of the excellent new book Wheat Belly.  (Part one of the interview here.) If you haven’t read the book yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  You’ll never look at a sandwich the same way again.

Fat Head: Dr. Robert Lustig believes excess fructose is singularly responsible for inducing insulin resistance and other aspects of metabolic syndrome. You blame wheat. When I started showing signs of pre-diabetes in my thirties, I consumed almost no sugar whatsoever – I knew sugar was bad for me – but I ate a lot of pasta, cereal, and bread. Describe how you believe wheat consumption can lead to type 2 diabetes even among those who don’t drink Big Gulps or eat Little Debbie snack cakes.

Dr. Davis: There’s no question that fructose is indeed a big problem in the diet of modern Americans. Like wheat, fructose sources like sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, and agave syrup increase visceral fat, increase blood sugar, and cause a curious delay in clearing of after-meal blood particles (chylomicron remnants) that lead to atherosclerosis. So Wheat Belly, of course, does not argue that the only problem in the American diet is wheat.

However, as many of us have learned, cutting out sugar and fructose sources is a great idea, but does not solve the entire problem, just one aspect. And wheat is the culprit in people who believe they are following a healthier path by including plenty of “healthy whole grains.”

Two slices of whole wheat bread increase blood sugar higher than table sugar, higher than many candy bars. Oddly, this doesn’t stop dietitians and the nutrition community from encouraging you to eat more of it. Eat more wheat, blood sugar rises increase in magnitude and frequency. This leads to higher and more frequent rises in insulin, which, in turn, creates insulin resistance, the condition that leads to diabetes.

Those high blood sugars are also intrinsically damaging to the delicate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin, a phenomenon called glucotoxicity. Beta cells have little capacity to regenerate. Repeated beatings from glucotoxicity lead to fewer and fewer healthy, functioning beta cells producing insulin. That’s when blood sugar stays at persistently high levels — even when your stomach is empty: pre-diabetes, followed shortly thereafter by diabetes.

So the wheat we are advised to eat more of is not the solution to the diabetes epidemic that is expected to include one in two Americans in the near future, and 346 million people worldwide — eating more “healthy whole grains” is, I believe, the cause of this situation. And removing it sets us back on a course to stop or even reverse it.

Fat Head: You describe in Wheat Belly how today’s dwarf wheat contains more gluten proteins and causes a more dramatic rise in blood glucose than the wheat our great-grandparents consumed.  But Jared Diamond and others have made a convincing case that switching to a grain-based diet caused humans to become shorter, fatter and sicker even in pre-biblical times, when today’s mutant wheat didn’t exist.  So would you say wheat has gone from being a good food to a bad food, or from a bad food to an even worse food?

Dr. Davis: I’d go for the second choice, going from a bad food with adverse health consequences in some people, to an incredibly bad food with adverse health consequences for nearly everybody.

Of course, if you were starving and the only food you had was bread, you should eat the bread. There’s no question that wheat, as the product of early agriculture, served to feed humans when the spoils of the hunt or gathering failed. As Dr. Diamond points out, this calorie-filler, hedge against the poor return of the hunt, and convenience food had adverse health consequences even in early humans and in its earliest forms, such as einkorn and emmer.

We know for a fact that wheat consumption has been unhealthy for humans for as long as we’ve consumed it from observations such as those pointed out by Dr. Diamond:  humans being shorter, fatter, and sicker (bone disease, dental decay, cancer, perhaps atherosclerosis) with wheat consumption, as well as descriptions of the ravages of celiac disease as long ago as 100 AD.

It’s the changes introduced by geneticists over the past 40-50 years, coupled with dietary advice to consume more wheat, that have conspired to create this current mess we are in, turning wheat from a problem ingredient into a health scourge exerting adverse health effects on an international scale.

Fat Head: Let’s talk about some of the specific health problems that may be caused or accelerated by wheat.  One of my readers has a sister who was cured of multiple sclerosis after giving up wheat.  Others have told me they were cured of fibromyalgia, ADD, or depression.  Are they all nuts, or do “healthy whole grains” have something to do with those conditions?

Dr. Davis: Even though I have witnessed the incredible effects of wheat elimination in thousands of people over the past several years, even I still learn new lessons about its effects. It seems a week doesn’t go by that I do not learn about some new health benefit of wheat elimination.

I too have heard countless cases of marked relief, occasionally cure, of fibromyalgia, ADD, and depression. I have only a couple of instances in which I’ve witnessed improvements in multiple sclerosis, since the disease is uncommon in the population I see in my cardiac practice and my online heart health experiences. But, given the reach of wheat into so many aspects of health, I would not be the least bit surprised to see substantial remission of the disease, given the potential central nervous system inflammatory effects of wheat components.

Unfortunately, most of my colleagues dismiss this as pure coincidence, despite the fact that it can be turned on with wheat consumption, turned off with wheat elimination, turned on again at will—repeatedly, reproducibly, and in many, many people. The notion that whole grains are healthy has so deeply infiltrated the thinking of people in healthcare that they are very resistant to changing their views.

I liken this situation to living in a village where everyone draws their water from the same well. One day, 9 out of 10 people get sick drinking from the water; they get better when they stop drinking the water. Out of convenience, they return to the well for water and 9 out of 10 promptly get sick again; get better again with stopping. On again, off again in the majority. Do we demand a clinical trial to prove that there is indeed a problem? Do we insist that it’s all in people’s imaginations and that the diarrhea and malnutrition that results from drinking the tainted water is due to something else? That is the situation we find ourselves in with this thing being sold to us called “wheat.”

I don’t think I’m causing a case of mass hysteria, with everyone crazily pitching their wheat products out with the trash because I said so. People are relating their experiences of substantial weight loss without calorie restriction, relief from multiple conditions across an impressive range of diseases, as well as subjective feelings of increased well-being and mood. In fact, I would say elimination of wheat is the most incredible and consistently effective strategy I have ever witnessed for improving health that I have seen in practicing medicine for 25 years.

Fat Head: I gave up wheat and other grains primarily to lose weight, then I was pleasantly surprised when several nagging health conditions went away soon after … psoriasis, mild asthma, gastric reflux, and arthritis among them.  How often do you see results like mine, and why does wheat cause those conditions in the first place?

Dr. Davis: Results like yours are the rule, not the exception. In fact, it’s only the occasional person who says, “I lost 3 pounds in a month but nothing else happened.”

Conservatively, I would estimate that 70% of people experience a substantial benefit beyond weight loss. It might be relief from a chronic rash like psoriasis, relief from struggles with airway and sinus health like asthma and chronic sinus infections, relief from gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome, or it might be relief from run-of-the-mill arthritis or inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid. The range of conditions caused or worsened by this thing is nothing short of astounding.

There is no single component of wheat that accounts for its myriad adverse health effects. The gliadin protein is responsible for direct inflammatory effects, while also stimulating appetite. The gluten protein is responsible for the destructive inflammatory effects on bowel and central nervous system health. The lectins in wheat likely underlie the increased intestinal permeability to multiple foreign proteins that cascades into inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. The amylopectin A is responsible for the expansion of visceral fat in the abdomen, the “wheat belly” that in turn leads to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.

Fat Head: So it’s primarily the gluten and lectins in wheat that cause so many digestive problems, or is there something else involved too?

Dr. Davis: Incredibly, although wheat’s effects on disrupting digestive health is ubiquitous—it’s certainly a lot more than celiac disease—there has been little exploration as to the why. So I can only speculate on why wheat exerts such widespread and frequent gastrointestinal effects.

It likely has to do with the gliadin, gluten and lectins—one or a combination of any of them. I’m also convinced that there are components of wheat beyond these three that exert adverse health effects that explain why I see that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, i.e., removal of wheat seems to yield greater health benefits than each unhealthy component would suggest.

Fat Head: Are all types of gluten equally bad, or are some worse than others? If some are worse, is the gluten from today’s wheat particularly damaging?

Dr. Davis: The amino acid structure of gluten can vary widely, although all gluten shares the characteristic viscoelasticity desired by bakers and consumers, the property that allows the pizza maker to toss the dough in the air to shape pizza crust and allows dough to be molded into multiple forms from pita pockets to ciabattas.

The worst, most harmful glutens are the recent varieties created by geneticists. The changes introduced into the “D” collection of genes (“genome”) characteristic of modern semi-dwarf wheat likely account for the quadrupling of celiac disease in our time, the doubling just in the past twenty years. Less destructive forms of gluten are those found in the ancient wheat forms, such as einkorn, emmer, and spelt—less destructive, not non-destructive.

My view: Gluten, in all its forms but especially its modern forms, is potentially so destructive to human health that the ideal solution is to say goodbye to it completely.

Fat Head: Do you advise your patients to go wheat-free, or wheat-free and sugar-free?  I’m asking because if they give up both, some people would say it’s the sugar that was causing the problems, not the grains.

Dr. Davis: Yes, sugar is on the no-no list. There is no question that, at least for some people, especially younger people, sugar exposure in soft drinks, junk foods, and snacks is a big problem.

However, just eliminate sugar and eat more “healthy whole grains” and most people do not lose weight, but gain weight. This is the struggle of people who believe they are following healthy advice to limit sugary snacks and eat more “healthy whole grains” who then find themselves 30, 40, 50, 100 pounds overweight.

Switch the order, i.e., eliminate all wheat, and desire for sweets is nearly always markedly reduced, since the appetite-stimulating gliadin protein of wheat is now gone. It is a far easier task to eliminate wheat first, rather than to eliminate sugars first.

And, of course, it’s not just about weight. It’s about all the other effects of wheat that even sugar cannot provoke, such as joint inflammation, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, skin rashes, brain effects, water retention, etc.

Fat Head: In Dr. Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he described how people in traditional societies soaked or fermented their grains before consuming them.  Do you believe that makes grains less of a health hazard, or is today’s mutant wheat too full of problematic proteins to be made safer by those methods?

Dr. Davis: Soaking and fermenting turn wheat, a bad thing, into a form that contains fewer lectins and less gluten (among some other changes), a less bad thing.  But we’ve got to be careful not to fall into the same trap that fooled nutritionists and “official” agencies: Replace a bad thing (white flour) with a less bad thing (whole grains), then consuming plenty of the less bad thing is good for you. That’s the flawed logic that led us to this mess.

Soaking, for instance, reduces lectin content by about 35% — better, but not great. You can still be exposed to all the adverse effects of wheat, which include gliadin protein appetite stimulation, high blood sugars from amylopectin A, inflammatory responses from gluten and glutenins, and increased intestinal permeability to foreign proteins by lectins.

Likewise, sourdough fermentation that reduces the carbohydrate/sugar content still leaves the other undesirable aspects of wheat intact.  Better, sure, but still not great.

Even geneticists are trying to re-engineer wheat to make it less harmful. One area of research is to try to remove all the most destructive gluten sequences. As usual, they understand the plant genetics but have no understanding whatsoever of the effect of consumption of this plant on human health.

So no matter what a baker or geneticist does to dress this thing up, it remains essentially the same, with all the same appetite-triggering, mind-affecting, inflammatory, autoimmune, and weight-increasing effects.

Fat Head: What about other grains, such as kamut, spelt, oats, amaranth, and buckwheat?  Are they good for us, or just not as bad?

Dr. Davis: Kamut and spelt are evolutionarily older forms of wheat. So they do not share the most destructive changes introduced into the “D” genome of modern wheat . . . but they are still wheat. It means they contain gliadins (though a less potent appetite stimulant compared to its modern counterpart), lectins that increase intestinal permeability, and they increase blood sugar.

Oats do indeed have modest immunologic overlap with wheat. But the problem with oats lies in their extravagant capacity to increase blood sugar. A bowl of slow-cooked, organic, stone ground oatmeal—no added sugar—can increase blood sugar in a non-diabetic to 150 mg/dl, 200 mg/dl, sometimes higher. In a pre-diabetic or diabetic, 300 mg/dl is not uncommon. One of the strategies I teach patients is to check blood sugars one hour after a meal to assess the severity of blood sugar rises; this is when I saw, time after time, extravagantly high blood sugars after oats.

Amaranth and buckwheat are non-wheat grains that are, in effect, just carbohydrates. They lack the immunologic, neurologic, and appetite-stimulating effects of wheat. Like oats, however, they increase blood sugar, followed by all the adverse effects of this phenomenon (insulin resistance, glycation of the eyes, cartilage, arteries, and LDL particles). So I tell people to consume these grains in small quantities, e.g., no more than ½ cup servings (cooked) in the context of a diet with limited carbs (e.g., 40-50 grams per day for most people).

Fat Head: What kind of response have you had on the book, or is it too early to judge?

Dr. Davis: The response has been incredible. Within the first 9 days after its release, Wheat Belly made The New York times bestseller list.

But even more important to me, every day I am hearing about the difference this message is making in people’s lives: rapid weight loss where little or none was experienced before; relief from chronic pain; plummeting blood sugars, etc. What has been especially gratifying is that, thanks to the instant feedback of social media, I am hearing about these stories just days into readers’ experiences. Even in my office practice, I’d generally wait several months to get feedback on patients’ wheat-free results. Now I’m hearing about it literally within days. The outpouring of positive feedback has been absolutely wonderful and has further reinforced my conviction that this is one of the largest health issues of our time.

Fat Head: Have you heard from any of the so-called experts who insist that whole grains are part of a healthy diet?  I take it you’re not popular with that crowd right about now.

Dr. Davis: Nutrition is an important topic. But it is also a surprisingly emotional topic. Dietitians and nutrition “experts” have been so deeply indoctrinated into the “whole grains are good” argument that their knee-jerk reaction is anger, that this is some passing silly fad for rapid weight loss. Anyone who has read the book realizes that is precisely what Wheat Belly is not. It exposes all the things you haven’t been told about this genetically altered grain, engineered to increase yield but also increase appetite.

Wheat trade groups, such as the Grain Foods Foundation, have issued press releases declaring their intention to launch a publicity campaign to discredit me and the message I bring with Wheat Belly. In response, I published an Open Letter to the Grain Foods Foundation that I also sent to various media, inviting them to join me in a public debate, TV cameras and all; they’ve not yet taken me up on my invitation—and I suspect they never will. With what I’ve uncovered, I doubt they want to allow a public airing of all these arguments.

Fat Head: Final question … Now that the book has been released, do you ever lie awake at night, wondering if the good people at Monsanto and Pillsbury are planning your demise?  Because if I were you, I’d avoid dark alleys for awhile.

Dr. Davis: Thanks for the warning, Tom! This anti-wheat campaign makes enemies out of some very influential forces, including Big Food, multi-billion dollar agribusiness, wheat trade groups and, to my great surprise, the drug industry. I was recently shocked (though I suppose I shouldn’t be, knowing what some people are capable of) to learn that at least one wheat trade group is largely populated by people on the payroll of the drug industry. Now that is really a worrisome thing.

What keeps me focused on broadcasting this message, however, are the wonderful stories I keep hearing every day of people rediscovering lost health, relief from pain, etc., all by doing the opposite of what our official agencies tell us what to do and walking away from “healthy whole grains.”

Fat Head: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions, Dr. Davis.  I hope the book sells a million copies.

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81 thoughts on “Interview With ‘Wheat Belly’ Author Dr. William Davis, Part Two

  1. Ben

    Great stuff Dr Davis and Fathead. I promise to buy my copy shortly. The below sentence is indeed worrisome. Is this something you expand on in the book or plan to at some point?

    “at least one wheat trade group is largely populated by people on the payroll of the drug industry.”

    The book is published, but I’d like to hear more about that group.

  2. Be

    Thank you Tom & Dr. Davis. Tom, you hit all the key questions I had while I read this marvelous book.

    I do have one question that perhaps Dr. Davis will respond to – why is it that you accept peanuts from all other legumes as healthy? I understand that vegetable oils are unhealthy because they can’t be “squeezed” to produce oils. Can peanuts be naturally extracted and is that the difference?

    I can’t speak for Dr. Davis, but I avoid legumes except in small quantities. They bother my digestion.

  3. Stephen Love

    I am reading William Davis’ book: excellent stuff. …

    In a way I am glad I am a coeliac (diagnosed in 1989, although I was sick for 10 years before that). I can shun wheat and related products in a socially acceptable way (most people know about and accept CD is a ‘proper’ medical condition and not just ‘food fadism’). As a coeliac you learn a lot about social aspects of food and ‘tribal’ pressure to conform. It’s worse for someone who is not a coeliac who insists (rightly too) on shunning wheat.

    But I know that coeliac disease is just the tip of the iceberg, and Dr Davis shows this very nicely in his book.

    Steve L

    I confess: I’ve told people I have a wheat allergy as a quick and easy method of turning down their cookies, cakes, breads, etc. They don’t try to argue with me that way.

  4. Liz

    1–Cookies, crackers and baked goods: funny how when they tell you stay away from they never once mention sugar or carbohydrate; simply, “Trans fats.”

    2–Cured meats: While I agree that chemical preservatives are probably bad, I think it’s ridiculous to compare to sodium!

    3–Diet soda: they only mention it in theory, yet they say to drink juice, lemonade, or iced tea (which most people sweeten).

    4–Red meat: artery clogging, they say! Then they tell you to replace with low-fat meats, dairy, and soy.

    5–Canned soup: due to sodium.

    There ya have it! Can’t wait to eat bacon and eggs tomorrow.

  5. Lynda

    I’ve read the book and it has really hit home. All that he has said compliments all that you said in “Fathead” – you have both explained “why” we should eat differently not just the “what” to eat.

    I have been thinking lately though – will there be a Fathead book coming out? Seriously, there needs to be a book from you!

    We’re planning to produce an illustrated book for parents and kids. But it will have to wait until we get settled into the new house.

  6. Lori

    Re: dark alleys, the assault on Lierre Kieth sold another printing of her book, The Vegetarian Myth. All the same, I’d prefer Wheat Belly to sell on its merits.

    Perhaps we should stage a fake attack for P.R. purposes.

  7. Deborah M

    Thanks for that – I was interested to see what Dr Davis said about fermenting grains and what that does, as I’ve recently started doing that for my son and husband as much as I can. My system has to stay wholly low-carb, no question, but they don’t have my susceptability.

    My husband is over 6 foot and only 160 pounds with no health problems – yet he still eats mostly low carb for the health benefits. He’s not as strict as I am, but I’m happier having him at least eat fermented organic foods rather than store bought pizza, for example. The real challenge is my almost 3 year old son. Compared to most kids he’s relatively low-carb because most of the meals I make are low-carb, but given the chance he loves pasta and bread and of course sweets. And i just can’t make him eat eggs for breakfast, no matter how much I try! But I did make some ‘crunchy cereal’ yesterday from a Weston Price booklet that uses organic spelt flour, fermented, and yoghurt and milk etc, and he quite enjoyed that. Better than the organic sugar free cornflakes, at least.

    And he enjoyed the thai red curry with chicken and veg that I made for dinner the other night so much that he had more of it for breakfast yesterday! So there’s hope…

    Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt makes a breakfast cereal using mostly nuts, but I don’t have the recipe.

  8. Timm

    Thank you Tom, this is a very enlightening interview. What I am wondering is if it already helps to avoid wheats six days a week and only incorporate them in the diet one day of the week, as it is for example done in Tim Ferris’ slow-carb diet?

    Dr. Davis answered that in his interview with Jimmy Moore. He said giving up wheat 80% of the time unfortunately doesn’t provide 80% of the benefits. More like 20% of the benefits.

  9. Tammy

    “Switch the order, i.e., eliminate all wheat, and desire for sweets is nearly always markedly reduced, since the appetite-stimulating gliadin protein of wheat is now gone. It is a far easier task to eliminate wheat first, rather than to eliminate sugars first.”

    This is EXACTLY my personal experience. I tried to give up sugar for ten years with limited success and constant cravings. It wasn’t until I gave up wheat that I was able to finally dump the sugar and not even care. It literally was like a light switch went off.

    Thanks Tom again for the excellent interview.

    Interesting … I never craved sugar, at least not by the time I was an adult, but I absolutely craved my cereals, pasta, and breads.

  10. Justin B

    I wholeheartedly agree with the 2nd to last answer Dr. Davis gave. I’ve experienced this more than enough times to get depressed that people just don’t care what information is out there about their well being.

    “Nutrition is an important topic. But it is also a surprisingly emotional topic. Dietitians and nutrition “experts” have been so deeply indoctrinated into the “whole grains are good” argument that their knee-jerk reaction is anger, that this is some passing silly fad for rapid weight loss. ”

    That’s why when people write me and ask how to convince (insert name of friend or relative here) that a low-fat grain-based diet isn’t good for health, I warn them that many people just can’t be convinced.

  11. Julia

    Thank you for this informative interview. I’m buying this book asap! Finally a Dr. who admits oatmeal isn’t a miracle food.

    I listened to some of my naturally thin friends and went vegetarian for about 5 months. I was basically living on oatmeal, salad, cereal, and rice. I was constantly hungry and gained over 20lbs. I used to be an hourglass, now I’m a pear. If I had the money, I’d buy thousands of this book, and copies of Fat Head, and drop them from planes.

    Sounds like an abbreviated version of my vegetarian phase.

  12. Howard

    I hope Dr. Davis’ book has to go through many printings, although I would gladly buy it in an e-book format (despite my dislike of Kindle).

    I’ve been looking for some things to feature as prizes in a give-away on my blog, and I think that Wheat Belly would be a good prize. I’ll be looking into setting up a contest maybe in October.

  13. LaurieLM

    I put my low-carb, no-wheat money where my mouth is. So far, I have purchased 10 copies of ‘Wheat Belly’ to hand out. Each one, teach one- or two or 10 or a million.

    Excellent idea.

  14. Liz

    @Julia, the exact same thing happened to me! In addition to 20lb weight gain, I suffered from depression and sleep disorders. I never realized that my friends were skinny b/c they just were skinny; it had nothing to do with diet, exercise or discipline. I remember reading “Skinny Bitch” and finding it hilarious and great until I came across an interview with the authors who admitted to never having been fat in the first place. What bullshit. I was ENRAGED.

    I became an omnivore again, cut calories, IF two days a week, and only weight lifted. I lost almost 20 lbs but that’s where thing seem to stall. It’s only in the past few months that I’ve been eating much more Paleo, and the payoff has been tremendous. I had a few off days these past few weekends (wheat and sugar!) and my belly bloated. Literally three days of Paleo eating has caused the bloat to come down. I still have visceral fat to take care of, but I honestly don’t believe that will come off unless I follow this style of eating (and watch calories).

    Here’s to high fat, high protein, ultra-low carb!

  15. Shaun White

    Hi Tom

    We’ve just celebrated a year wheat-free and I’m doing physical stuff at 40 I couldn’t 10 years ago.

    Our success story features on Dr Davis’ blog but I know that I can’t talk about it in “real life” because people get soooo angry and they all know wheat is great and meat is bad and they’re suffering with *insert disorder* because every second week they eat meat or eggs or cheese…

    Enjoy the book. It’s excellent.

    Wheat Belly arrived yesterday so I’m just starting on it. Cheers for the review and interview and for introducing me to Dr Davis’ blog

  16. Lori

    @Timm, I used to have a weekly cheat day when I’d eat wheat. But it wasn’t until I gave up wheat entirely that my lifelong sinus congestion disappeared. It’s been easier for me to eliminate wheat than restrict it; before, I’d always go back to eating the stuff regularly. (Cheat creep?)

    Some of my coworkers are excited because a sandwich shop is selling their sandwiches for $1 today. Take away the bun, though, and there’s almost nothing left. I guess they’re excited about a $1 exorphin fix; having had one of those sandwiches, it’s hard to believe it’s because of the taste.

  17. LaurieLM

    In April, at an airport we had about a 2 hour take-off delay. We found ourselves among a nice pod of teachers leaving for Europe for April break. They were chatting and I was listening and the subject of diet came up by a few of them. I did NOT say a word, but this is what I heard and observed. They were talking about how their Docs told them to ‘drink skim milk and avoid eating any cheese and never eat steak’. Two of them were quite overweight and a short while later I saw one having a snack (I have found I no longer snack or need to because I eat enough animal fat cholesterol and protein- and zero wheat). The snack was some ‘bar’ of a totally invented, man-made, manufactured cereal concoction- oats, chocolate, sweetener, fiber, ‘healthywholegrains’- what have you. So this woman is warned off real body and brain feeding and maintaining spectacular foods for- grains? The grains are winning.

    Let’s hope we can turn that around.

  18. Angel

    Deborah M – regarding your son’s dislike of eggs for breakfast – it’s possible that it’s the egg whites that are causing a problem. I never liked egg whites, even as a child, and I only found out a few years ago that egg whites have some anti-nutrient properties to them, even after they are cooked (cooking is supposed to neutralize the anti-nutrients, but based on my experience, I would say that it does not do so completely). I would suggest just fixing him some egg yolks – he might like that better. I eat lightly fried egg yolks as part of my breakfast and I love them.

  19. johnny

    On Saturday, the 17th, I dropped wheat from my diet (I am a LC but still was eating a limited amount of bread).



    By the way, diet drinks now taste funny.

    Sounds like even a little bit of wheat wasn’t good for you, just as the doctor says.

  20. Roby

    I’m still wondering why he said to limit butter… I love my buttered veggies.

    I went to safeway yesterday and noticed that they didn’t have regular cottage cheese.. It was all low-fat, non-fat, 2%. It’s actually really scary. Pretty soon they wont sell whole milk. Luckily I live in California and I’m 30 minutes from berkeley. Lots of farmers markets and yummy fatty whole milk.

    I don’t see any reason to limit butter.

  21. James Schipper

    This one is in my pile to read. I’ve heard nothing but good info from it, and it exactly fits into everything else I’ve learned about nutrition and these problems. Good advice to stay out of the dark alleys, though :-O

  22. Cat6

    I went low-carb in an educated (by internet and by personal experience) attempt to cure myself of rosacea. Five months later, the results have been astounding. Not only have a I cleared the rosacea (once referred to as “diabetes of the skin” by a smart person), but my health has over all improved — I lost about 15 lbs and now have perfect blood pressure ( from 150/90 to 110/70, no drugs), which didn’t come from merely weight loss. I saw Dr Davis’s book featured in Wowbrary, a newsletter telling you what’s new at the local library, a couple of weeks ago. I requested it immediately. I read it and already bought a copy. His findings and advice strongly support what I discovered all on my own, and, of course, he adds much more important information. Thank you, Dr Davis. This is a brilliant book! You’ve given me the support to stick to my new lifestyle. Now I know my good changes are not “coincidence”.

  23. Nowhereman

    Tom wrote: “Perhaps we should stage a fake attack for P.R. purposes”

    I know you’re joking around, but why would we need to bother when the grain growers are already doing it for real? 😉

    At least they haven’t gotten physical yet.

  24. Debbie

    Great interview. I actually bought a copy of Wheat Belly this afternoon, though have not yet begun to read it. I didn’t lose any dramatic weight when I gave up wheat, but it was amazing how my GERD, arthritis, and even depression all instantly vanished!

    And thanks so much to you for a WRITTEN interview. Everyone seems to be into podcasts these days and I have to confess I *hate* podcasts. I’m not a listener. I like to read, and I like to have it all in black and white where I can go back and look at it again and again.

    I enjoy podcasts — great way to spend my commute time — but I’m also a big fan of the written word.

  25. Underground

    ““Switch the order, i.e., eliminate all wheat, and desire for sweets is nearly always markedly reduced, since the appetite-stimulating gliadin protein of wheat is now gone. It is a far easier task to eliminate wheat first, rather than to eliminate sugars first.”

    This is EXACTLY my personal experience. I tried to give up sugar for ten years with limited success and constant cravings. It wasn’t until I gave up wheat that I was able to finally dump the sugar and not even care. It literally was like a light switch went off.”

    I have noticed this same effect myself on the rare occasion I eat a carb heavy meal. Not a craving for sweets really, just a general appetite stimulation. Even though I ate plenty, I was almost immediately very hungry again.

    Regarding eggs, I didn’t like eggs as a child because no one ever cooked them properly. They always left them moist and slimy rather than fully cooked. A little butter and some seasoning can help make that more palatable. I like some Cajun seasoning or salsa on there myself. Maybe some coconut milk powder and a pinch of curry paste if he likes the Thai food.

    Starches are an appetite stimulant for me, probably because my blood sugar goes up and then down rather dramatically. I never noticed if wheat was more of an appetite stimulant than other starches, but that could well be. I suspect restaurants put free bread sticks and crackers on the table for good reason.

  26. Norman

    I am half-way through the book. I have known about sugar since I read Sugar Blues in the 70s, but was unaware that the source of my gut (a constant companion since the age of 11) was caused by the macaroni that I ate in large quantities. It wasn’t till I started eating according to primal/paleo principles that you can actually see my abs. For me, the addictive nature of pasta is not a metaphor. No other food, no matter how much I like it, triggers a little voice in my head to “take the most”.

    I have my own private theory about the wheat/fructose debate. There are two ways of being fat, fructose-fat and glucose-fat, and most Americans are probably both, since they have access to lots of cheap sugary products, including “healthy” beverages like orange juice. But in countries where sweets and juice-drinking are not common, people still get fat, but it doesn’t start till their 30s. In Georgia (as in Tbilisi), you never see fat kids. Never. Or fat university students. Georgians eat a wheat-based diet, khachapuri (a kind of stuffed cheese pizza) being a staple. Young people are slender, by and large, but once they turn 30, they start to thicken around the middle, so that you can count the number of Georgian men over 50 with a 32-inch waistline on one hand. Contrast this with the blubberiness of the fructose-fatness you see in the poor kids Dr. Lustig treats. This was brought home to me while waiting for my Munich flight at Tbilisi airport. There was a German family, mom and dad in their late 40s, both slim and trim, traveling with their two baby-whale sons, 10 and 12, by the look of them. What a shock!

    I agree; we can become fructose-fat or glucose-fat. When I was at my fattest, it certainly wasn’t from eating too much sugar. I didn’t eat sugar.

  27. TR

    *sigh* I’ve been wheat free for about a year now, but my psoriasis got worse!! However, it has gotten a bit better over the last few months. I do allow myself to eat wheat when I eat out (which is only about 3 or 4 times a month), so maybe I need to cut that out. However, I have lost a little weight (even though I wasnt overwheight at all), and I feel more satiated when I eat, and have more energy. The biggest result was my finger nails. When I ate wheat my nails always broke really easily, it seemed like my nails were made out of paper. Now they are strong and grown like crazy, without ever breaking.

    If only my psoriasis would go away!

    You may have an intolerance to something else in your diet.

  28. Lizzy

    If anyone asked me how I lost weight I used to say low carb but that doesn’t go down very well with people. They hear “Atkins or just eat meat”. So now I say I gave up eating bread and flour/wheat products. They still find it hard to understand but if you back it up with how much better you feel and how you eat tons of veggies they seem to accept it and ask more questions.

    My wheat free diet has eliminated – indigestion, IBS, arthritic pains, depression, lactose intolerance, acne, bloating, brain fog.

    It has improved – attitude, happiness, balance, vision, hearing, exercise and stamina.

    Oh and I lost some weight too!!!!

    I tend to use the term “paleo diet” these days for the same reason. If you say “low-carb,” some people immediately write it off as “that nutty Atkins diet.”

  29. Rachel

    Am off to order Wheat Belly!
    I wonder if you have heard much of the GAPS diet by Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbride. This looks at the importances of having good gut flora to overall health including psychological conditions.
    Wheat is not allowed on it and so ties in with much of what Dr. William Davis is saying and the benefits found by those eliminating wheat from their diets.
    Here’s a lecture she gave explaining her theory:
    http: // /m/#/10507542
    If you not sure to trust the link you can always google
    ‘vimeo Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride GAPS Wise Traditions London 2011.’

    Would be amazing if you could interview her.

    I’ll give it a look.

  30. Rachel

    Sorry the link is wrong above. Don’t know why the hash was added, maybe because I sent it from my phone.
    Anyway this is the link

    Should have said it cuts out all grains and encourages consuming as much natural fat as possible so its a low carb diet, the thing that’s good is she explains how a diet full of processed carbs feeds the bad gut bacteria and yeast etc. and the negative effect this has on the body. I’ll shut up now and just let you watch it.

  31. Walter B

    RE: Dr. Davis commenting on drug companies for wheat.

    Well by the laws of this country they pretty much have to defend wheat, because if the know or have reason to suspect that wheat makes people sick, they have to support wheat as healthy people would reduce the need for drugs and hence reduce the profits of their company and this would be against their fiscal responsibility to the stockholders.

    Follow the money.

  32. John

    Fantastic interview. When I first heard of Wheat Belly, I didn’t really have any plans on reading it (even though it sounded like another solid book), because I would only eat wheat a few times a month, if that. Already eating low carb paleo for the most part, so what’s the point, right?

    I’ve changed my mind and am making this a must read. The background of dwarf wheat alone is fascinating to me. Also thinking that it might be time to eliminate wheat completely from my diet. I have had a skin condition most of my life (Keratosis pilaris, a purely cosmetic annoyance), and am wondering if wheat casued or exasperated it, and if the bit of wheat I do eat is keeping it from clearing up.

    I gave up wheat awhile ago and didn’t need to read Wheat Belly to be convinced. But it’s a fascinating read, even for those of us who already avoid grains.

  33. Raina

    Wheat Belly FINALLY came two days ago (Canadian Postal service is the worst — I could have crawled there and picked it up faster from their outlet if that was allowed). Already blew through 1/4 of it and I can’t wait to get home to read it (I used to read on the streetcar to & from work, but since my weight loss, I walk the 5 miles a day instead).

    I had lost around 50 lbs (from 200 to 150) cutting calories (but still eating those 100 calorie snack packs and whole grains every couple of hours). Honestly, I could barely see a difference, but I knew it had to have happened because I weighed so much less. Then the weight loss stopped and I was still unhappy with my appearance. My stomach was still covered in fat, as were my massive arms. So I cut out all of those flour-laden items and tried to eat foods as close to how it was when it was picked or killed — but would treat myself on weekends. All my carbs came from fruit, veggies & nuts, and I dropped another 20 pounds (all vanity weight) over another 6 months.

    After reading about the book, I decided to go full out “no wheat” even on weekends for a 30 day trial, and even though I’m already at a healthy weight, the results are astounding. I’ve lost an inch off my belly in 5 days that really wasn’t very big to begin with. My arms (always a problem area) are rock hard. I sleep better and can centre myself even in trying situations (when before I was prone to flying a wee bit off the handle). I’ve lost another 3 pounds (down to 126), so even cutting it down from low levels still results in loss. Can’t wait to get my mom to read it!

    I predict that after you go totally wheat-free for a month, you’ll wonder why you ever ate the stuff.

  34. Patricia

    @ TR re: psoriasis

    I would definitely look at what else in your diet my be causing it. Have your vitamin A & D levels checked. Think about your digestive tract and the bacteria balance there. Absolutely consult a naturopathic doctor.

    Most of all, be honest about your wheat consumption. The ideal amount is NONE. For me, the tiniest bit in unexpected sources can set off a chain reaction of issues. Ironically, I have no markers for gluten sensitivity, but even the smallest amount of wheat from a hidden source will set off pain in my joints, my little patch of psoriasis comes back overnight and my appetite rages. Though I’ve been lo-carb for more than 30 years, I just couldn’t understand why I was always hungry, gaining weight and “falling apart at the seams”. After all, I only ate bread 1 to 3 times a week. Probably would have been better of eating rat poison 1 to 3 times a week.

  35. Dina

    Ordered the book and can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    Thanks for asking about fermentation. I always thought that real sourdough is ok, but I guess it isn’t. Now I’m just wondering about other grains as rye and rice. Is there anything in the book about it?

    Sourdough is better, but that doesn’t make it good. The book is pretty much focused on wheat, but he does mention that other grains still have some of the problematic substances in them. I believe rice has little or no gluten.

  36. LCNana

    Even a slice or two of toast with a rare restaurant breakfast of eggs and bacon causes some cramping and bloating. Do we become more sensitive the longer we’re off wheat? Great stuff from the good doctor – thanks.

    I think we do lose our tolerance for harmful foods once we give them up.

  37. Cat6

    There were two specific things that made me think for decades that wheat, particularly in the form of pasta, was good for you. Dr. Davis or Tom, do you have any idea why I read so many times that 1) Models ate pasta in order to get that [I paraphrase slightly] “all-important vitamin B to keep their skin nice”. 2) That athletes, particularly marathon runners and competitive skin divers, would carb-up the day before an event? In fact, before the NYC Marathon there’s a carb party in Central Park at Tavern on the Green (or on the grounds there, where the shuttered Tavern now stands). I had friend who went there for this as late as 2 years ago. The skin diver carbing idea was furthered in a beautifully-filmed movie about the sport (not a documentary) a few years ago.

    I don’t get it. Even if the general public is fed B.S. (or W.S.!) about the benefits of wheat, wouldn’t athletes have figured out the fallacy?

    Is there a type of human who actually thrives on wheat? (e.g. those who succeed at modelling (keeping clear faces and flat bellies) and at sports (growing the right muscles).

    Thanks you. 🙂

    Dr. Steve Phinney has done research demonstrating that if you are keto-adapted — that is, you’ve trained your body to burn primarily fat instead of glucose — you don’t need to carb up before an endurance event. B12 of course can be obtained from lots of other foods besides wheat.

  38. Katy

    Just watched a Dr. Phil show re: an obese 4 year-old boy, approx. 120 lbs. His mother believes she’s doing the right thing, serving him whole wheat bread, low-fat yogurt, gummy snacks, whole wheat burritos, etc. He asks for sandwiches all day and says he’s hungry. And I believe him! Low-fat/high sugar/wheat, wheat, wheat! Of course, Jillian Michaels and Dr. Phil say she’s giving him too much food, and sure, they’re probably right, but I do think he feels hungry, as that’s what high carb and low fat will do.

    The boy eating too much is a symptom. The cause is a diet that’s making him hungry.

  39. davoid

    Could the Doctor supply a reference for the gliadin-appetite link? I can only find one reference of web of knowledge, and that does not deal with such a link.


    He has references in the book.

  40. The Older Brother

    Doctor Davis just hit the big time. He had about a five minute interview at the bottom of the hour (6:30 am Central) on the cable “Fox and Friends” show.

    He did a great job of hitting the main points of “Wheat Belly.” Hopefully it will get a few more people to start questioning the conventional wisdom.



  41. Tori Girl

    Wheat has been around since Biblical times and I don’t think GOD would have put it on this earth if it wasn’t good for us. I believe the altered genetic changes EX:
    by Monsanto have made it bad, That in addition to all the over processing is harmful. Plus everything in moderation.

    God created lots of poisonous plants too. They’re still not good for us.

  42. Galina L.

    @ TD about psoriasis

    As a member of a family where everybody is allergic to several things and everybody has an eczema(close relative of psoriasis), I can tell that it is more that just wheat to give up in order to get relieve from your skin condition. In general, you have to avoid foods like oranges, strawberries, chocolate, pineapple,hot foods,too much tomatoes, smoked meats, also alcohol, painkillers,antibiotics. Add to that any food you are personally is allergic to. In my son’s case it is chicken and fish. What I am telling you is not just my personal opinion, it is the standard treatment in Russia. What doctors in Russia don’t know – LC diet helps a lot as well. With LC I am able to reintroduce drinking wine for special occasions. Painkillers are still a problem and I have to combine it with a claritine on rare occasions when I have to take it.

  43. LXV

    @ Tori

    God also made belladonna, botulism bacteria, hookworms, mosquitos, rattlesnakes, lions, and the hard vaccuum of space. There are many things in this universe that are actively harmful to mankind. Also, according to Genesis, when did man start farming? After the fall from Eden. So the argument that God did not intend for us to eat seeds remains theologically sound.
    And “everything in moderation” is just a bad idea. Who would help themselves to a little bit of heroin (in moderation!)? Of course that’s just silly. Obviously you don’t mean that we should do things that are harmful to us in moderation. Well, for many of us, wheat is harmful.

  44. Lori

    So can you eat gluten free bread and pasta or is it total meat, veggies, fruit??? What do you eat if you want a sandwich???

    A lot of gluten-free products are made with corn starch or rice starch and will jack up your blood sugar. Best to avoid those. If I want a sandwich, I put the meat between two slices of cheese.

  45. Cat6

    Lori, Have you tried putting sandwich fillings between layers of Romaine? I admit, it’s not something you can eat in a setting where everyone else is hand-munching bread sandwiches, at least not right away. 🙂 You can practice at home. Also you can try making flaxseed wraps. I think these are OK. My book’s in the other room, but didn’t Dr Davis mention these? You can find recipes on line for wraps made mostly of flaxseed meal and eggs. I’d love it if these were commercially available.

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