Book Review: Wheat Belly

by | Dec 14, 2011

I had no idea what to expect from Wheat Belly, the new book by Dr. William Davis. Several of you had asked me about it so I picked it up, not knowing much about the author or its content.

Davis is apparently a medical doctor who treats patients for heart disease and other ailments using a wheat-free diet. Though this isn’t particularly revolutionary I was immediately intrigued by the first chapter of Wheat Belly, which gives a detailed explanation of how modern wheat is different both physically and genetically from the wheat “our grandparents grew up eating.”

How interesting!

He explains that selective breeding and genetic manipulation to increase wheat yield have dramatically changed the chromosome number of modern wheat compared to earlier versions grown before the 1950s. This, he claims, fundamentally changed the molecular properties of wheat and we are supposedly not yet adapted to the new product.

I haven’t gone through all the plant biology to determine if any of these claims hold water, but the premise is fascinating. If modern wheat were really a primary cause of the health issues plaguing Western society, not only would gluten be off the hook (once I started reading I thought this was going to be another gluten-free diet book), but all other grains would be back on the table, even older versions of wheat.

Had Wheat Belly gone on to further explore the differences between modern and traditional wheat and, most importantly, how they affect people differently, then this could have been a groundbreaking book. Unfortunately, that isn’t what this book is really about.

Davis doesn’t present a shred of evidence that modern wheat has a worse (or even different) impact on human health than pre-industrial wheat. The only anecdotal case he makes is that he personally found a farmer who grows traditional wheat, made a loaf of bread, ate it himself and seemed to be fine. This is not science.

Instead the rest of the book focuses on how his patients have benefited from removing wheat (presumably modern) from their diets, a premise that is much easier to swallow but brings us right back to Dr. Atkins. Wheat is the most abundant refined carbohydrate, and refined carbohydrates are almost certainly the biggest contributor to human health problems on the planet. Is it any wonder that eliminating the major one—not to mention the ingredient that is most often paired with sugar—would make people feel better?

When push comes to shove, the bulk of Davis’ argument is not about modern wheat at all, but about the Glycemic Index (GI) of foods (he’s sure to point out that the GI of wheat is even higher than sugar). His prescription is not just wheat elimination or even gluten elimination, but removal of all grains, sugars and starchy foods like potatoes and even beans.

Haven’t I heard this somewhere before?

To his credit, Davis promotes a relatively healthy diet. He discourages the use of gluten-free flour substitutes because for the most part they are just another form of unhealthy food. Though these ingredients can obviously play a role in the lives of people with serious gluten sensitivities, I agree that they do not qualify as health food just because they do not contain gluten. But extrapolating from processed carbohydrates to nutritious whole foods like beans and potatoes that most of us can eat without increasing risk of disease or obesity is less than helpful.

But all my criticisms aside, I think there are some valuable messages in Wheat Belly worth considering. Gluten (and maybe just modern wheat, who knows) is known to be one of the most inflammatory substances consumed by humans and many people would likely benefit from cutting it out. Davis recommends eliminating wheat for 4-8 weeks to see if there is an improvement in symptoms.

If you regularly struggle with any of the following issues, a temporary gluten-free experiment may be worth it for you:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • arthritis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • autoimmune problems
  • attention deficit disorder
  • hair loss
  • bone loss
  • anemia

And there are probably many more. The nice thing is that while eliminating gluten for 4-8 weeks does take some effort, it is still a relatively simple, non-invasive way to troubleshoot health problems and potentially improve your life dramatically. If nothing improves, you can always go back to your bagels and Cheerios. It is important to keep in mind though, that many symptoms require an extended period without gluten before improvement is seen.

To summarize, I really wish Davis had done a better job of convincing me that it is modern wheat and not processed foods in general that is particularly problematic in the Western diet. From that perspective, this book is just another Atkins diet with a better title. That said, I do think Davis does a good job of illustrating how many ways patients could benefit from a temporary wheat elimination. The prescription is easy and harmless, and definitely worth trying if you have health problems you and your doctor can’t seem to solve.

Grade: B-

What did you think of Wheat Belly?

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54 Responses to “Book Review: Wheat Belly”

  1. thomas says:

    “Davis recommends eliminating wheat for 4-8 weeks to see if there is an improvement in symptoms.”

    Couldn’t you take a blood test for that and many other things at once?

    • Darya Pino says:

      He explains in details why blood tests often are not sensitive enough.

      • Yeah, a blood test won’t even pick up all cases of celiac, the most serious wheat-related autoimmune condition, but if you suspect you have that, it’s worth getting the intestinal biopsy. A blood test won’t pick up most cases of gluten sensitivity, a milder condition now recognized in the medical literature.

  2. Yes, I too was not impressed by this book. Lots of the wheat products he mentions, like doughnuts or sugary breakfast cereals, are bad for other reasons. It’s great that more people are becoming aware of celiac disease, but as you said, there is little evidence for modern wheat being especially bad for the average person in itself. I wrote a review on my blog.

  3. AJ says:

    I haven’t read the book, but I was curious to know more about what it’s all about. I really appreciate your review of the book, particularly its use (or non-use) of scientific evidence.

  4. John Athayde says:

    I’d love to see if you can prove or disprove the scientific aspects of the modern wheat variety. My brother is full-blown celiac and I’ve got a gluten sensitivity, so we avoid it as much as possible (and are much happier as a result).

    • Darya Pino says:

      You can prove it yourself. You know you are sensitive to wheat, but are you sensitive to farro, oats or barley? There are many different kinds of gluten (maybe you’re only sensitive to the kind in modern wheat?), but Davis argues that it is more than just the gluten that is a problem.

      • John Athayde says:

        Yeah, we’ve gone through the gamut. Rye, barley, and wheat (soft and hard, white and red) all have a varying effect on me. Oats does not, but that’s technically gluten-free (but processed in the same facilities, so it ends up causing problems). I think I’m out of luck on the tasty baked goods front.

      • Natalie says:

        My kids cannot eat gluten and I bake with brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat flours to name some of the healthier ones. There are also nut flours, bean flours. You are not out of luck on the tasty baked goods front!

    • Darya Pino says:

      If finding new ways to get fat is what you’re looking for, no worries! Like Natalie said, there are dozens of ways to make tasty baked goods without gluten. Check out Jenn Cuisine and Gluten Free Girl for great resources.

  5. I’ve been reading his blog since a few months and it seems to me quite biased towards wheat. The book sounds to me more like a niche marketing one, pointing to a new type of wheat, rather than a science-based one.

    The problems with wheat are well know from ancient times. For a good review I recommend Guns, Germs and Steel which explanis very well why we eat the foods we eat at present.

    What has changed a lot, I think, is the way we prepare the wheat right now, no fermentation, etc…

  6. brian says:

    My doctor suggested that I try a gluten free diet because of some of the symptoms you mentioned in your review. Although I haven’t gone gluten free, I think I have been able to cut my gluton consumption by about half. But, my question is whether simply cutting back is beneficial or would that cause my body to react even more adversely when I do eat gluten?

  7. Amy says:

    I’ve been looking forward to your review, thank you. I’m not sure about the evils of grains in general or wheat specifically, but I do know that when I experimented with quitting grains completely several symptoms disappeared within a few weeks. Frequent migraines gone. Widespread, unexplained muscle/joint pain and generally not feeling well gone. I had stopped complaining to doctors for fear of being marked a mental case. They never found anything wrong with me.

    After finding your site I switched to intact grains from “whole” and quite enjoyed them, especially the wheatberries. I’ve been losing slowly since, down 45 pounds with another 75 to go. When I quit the grains the weight loss stayed the same but I lost 7 inches in my waist and hips by the sixth week. I don’t know the scientific reasons, I just know I improved all around and that eating wheat products will bring symptoms back for a few days. I’m guessing I’m prone to inflammation and the wheat triggers that.

    Rice doesn’t bring back the problems I once had, so maybe there is something to the modern wheat. I plan on trying some homemade bread made from spelt, or some Kamut berries, to see if it is wheat in general or the modern stuff causing the problems.

  8. Eric Wilson says:

    Excellent review. You clearly extracted the value from this book while recognizing its many flaws. FWIW, I think Dr. Davis’ blog (pre-book release) is better than his book. As a reader of his blog, the book rubbed me the wrong way — it really felt like he was searching for a “hook” to make the book easier to write and easier to market.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Yes, finding a hook for a book is the hardest part when you actually have some valuable info to impart. So it goes.

    • JillOz says:

      I disagree that this is a good review. SummerTomatao completely failed to mention the central proposition of why Dr Davis says modern wheat is so damaging.
      To summarise: wheat has been so altered by various hybridisation techniques from the four-foot high wavy wheat in the field to a high-yield dwarf wheat in which the giladin protein now acts as an opiate insofar it acts as an appetite stimulant.
      The gliadin affects the body in various inflammatory ways, giving rise to various inflammatory conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, mental fog, bloating, psoriasis and depression.
      Regarding other carbs, Dr Davis merely points out that other grain-type food – corn, oats – in fact anything causing a huge jump in your blood sugar is damaging to your system. This includes gluten-gree foods, which may not have gkuten, but often have too much sugar-raising elements.

      How on earth you managed to miss this primary piece of information re the gliadin protein I’ll never understand . Of course if you don’t mention this it seems like just another book telling us to stay aways from carbs!!

      • JillOz says:

        I made a typo up there, so just to repeat – it’s the GLIADIN protein in wheat that causes so much damage to the human body.

      • jonah says:

        I think her point was there is not a lot of science to back up the claim. Some people are picky like that.

        I’ve studied the issue quite a bit, I am technically an expert on agricultural markets specializing in wheat crops, and also have spent many many months in the hospital due to mystery digestive issues, with multiple surgeries and a near death miss. I am on my own diet now, something like paleo but that is coincidental to my trial and error approach.

        I don’t eat wheat, I am inclined to the Wheat Belly hypothesis, and also inclined to Dorya’s point that it is under the broader category of processed carbs (polysaccharides are not my friend). Modern wheat IS a mutant, and I too am interested in what using heirloom wheat would change.

        My problem with this is I doubt I would trust the science much even if it were being conducted. I think there are just too many variables for the effects of mass market commodities.

        I would suggest avoiding ALL row crops. From GMO to pesticides and herbicides, to petrochemical fertilizers (all before any processing takes place), there are so many points of questionable synergies to occur. Add the drought resistant or region-specific strains that allow for crops to grow where nature would have aborted them in days gone by. This creates breeding ground for aflatoxin and other microbial issues in an environment that is essentially artificial while it is still in the ground.

        Once additives and stabilizers, preservatives, and various processing methods are applied to a final product, you are ingesting a spectrum of probable toxicity.

        Of course if you’re healthy run with it. Wheat alone feeds over 2 billion people and the human body is amazing. But I wouldn’t eat any of the row crops (soy, corn, wheat, predominantly), and again this is the business I am in. Go with grass fed dairy, organic whenever possible, shop local farmers markets always first. Only removing wheat was not enough to keep me from getting sick, it was one of my first moves, and I think that is where Wheat Belly falls short in my opinion. It is a bigger issue than that for some, for some wheat alone may be the culprit. And there needs to be WAY more scientific study of all of it.

      • jamie says:

        Dear Jonah,
        Read your response to a review of Wheat Belly and was grateful you contributed your expertise, but also wanted to know more about your “row crops” observation–drought resistant and region-specific strains growing where they couldn’t (naturally) reproduce…leading to aflatoxin and other problems….” (find this a fascinating hypothesis or observation and would like to know more). It seems to be another teleologic (al) explanation for another modern problem and I’d like to have the conceptual understanding of it.

      • jonah says:

        Hi Jamie,

        It is overlooked by the marketplace for sure. I became more aware of the issue this year because of the drought that affected much of the Midwest crops. Aflatoxin is a highly carcinogenic microbe found in row crops, corn is especially susceptible. A healthy corn plant tends not to sustain the microbes. But persistent drought and the resulting stress on the plant makes a much more ideal environment for the microbes.

        One of the aims of GMO crops are to allow them to grow under severely stressed conditions, in fact to make them thirve under adverse conditions. Putting all other GMO issues aside, this is essentially aiming to make the plant grow where it otherwise could not. I,e, drought-resistant strains of modified corn that would normally die can now reach harvest, and in doing so create a chronic unhealthy environment for disease-happy bugs like aflatoxin to flourish and go into the food supply.

        Grain elevators are supposed to test deliveries for aflatoxin and refuse them if they have too high a concentration. This is very expensive for farmers though (not the test, but any positive results on a whole truck load of thousands of bushels of grain). If a farmer has a load rejected because a spot-check turned up high aflatoxin, the farmer (the ones I have discussed this with) will take the load, mix it up with some still at the farm, and send it back. They don’t really see anything wrong with this unfortunately.

        It;s one issue, but the whole mass food production is well represented by it. You don’t know where your food comes from. The people who grow it don’t know you. The middlemen (myself included) don’t know either of you and don’t even see the product a lot of the time. If a corner can be cut to save a nickel or make a nickel, it is probably going to be.

        Corn, soybeans, and wheat are the largest mass production crops. They are the most industrialized (messed with from start to finish). I no longer eat any of these, nor any of their derivatives (fructose, etc). If I did, I would only use locally sourced organics if at all possible. It isn’t just for health, though that is the biggest reason.

        The whole approach to mass farming is a mistake in my opinion. I know it isn’t going to stop, I’m not even advocating that it should be stopped by any other force beyond consumer choice. But somewhere we decided the words “edible” and “food” are synonymous. I don’t believe they are. I don’t believe that mass production is good for the planet or for people. The more it is relied upon, the more reliant we become on it, every billion more people who need Monsanto to feed them puts that much more stress on the system (from petroleum demand down), and that much more willing to accept degraded sustenance for the sake of efficiency or thrift or ultimately because it’s all there is.

        Just my two cents…. hope it helps.

      • michael kim says:

        What is amylopectin? Dr Davis mentions this “product of genetic engineering” which is the major culprit in refined wheat products. Someone with a degree in advanced biochemistry that can explain to the rest of us..

  9. Mike says:

    What is your opinion on Dr Davis thoughts regarding small LDL particles as being the most dangerous? And having your cholesterol measured the way he suggest?

  10. asuph says:

    Excellent critical review. That’s what differentiates this blog from many ‘health and nutrition’ category blogs – the health scientific skeptical approach. It’s easy to be misled by compelling narratives, but you seem to always take a step back and ask questions. Love this blog.

  11. asuph says:

    I meant: healthy scientific skeptical approach.

  12. Ian says:

    Good review, Darya. I am still working my way through the book; however, I was hoping for a bit more scientific testing and evidence. I teach Zumba classes three times per week and I do gymnastics one or two days per week. Due to these activities, I can sometimes have issues with inflammation from the high impact of the workouts, so I am frequently on the lookout for ways to minimize any sort of systemic inflammation. Anecdotally speaking, I can attest that removing wheat products from your diet can possibly help. In my case, it has helped immensely, but I may be more wheat or gluten sensitive than others.

    On a superficial note, since removing wheat from my diet, I have noticed that I am having a much easier time attaining my “six-pack”. I’ve got good abdominal tone but have had difficulty getting a really “cut” look. Without the wheat, the cuts are finally showing, so perhaps there is something to the book’s titular assertion.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Most people benefit immensely (and lose weight) from cutting out processed foods like flour. If you’re looking for even less inflammation, try cutting out sugar and dairy too. Vegetables have the opposite effect :)

      • Ian says:

        Absolutely, I avoid dairy like the plague. I also minimize sugar as much as possible, even though I know it can “hide” in pre-made foods and restaurant fare. As for vegetables, I ate half a head of cauliflower for lunch the other day. Plain, raw cauliflower. My wife thinks I’m crazy because I often get cravings for a really good salad. My only downfall is the occasional sugar-laden candy treat, but I know my triggers for those and keep plenty of apples and oranges handy.

  13. jplsr says:

    I think that Dr. Davis’ point is that celiac disease is only the last stage of a continuum of inflammation that causes metabolic problems across the range. He believes that because modern wheat is metabolized into glucose even more quickly than table sugar it is a major contributor to the storage of visceral fat (“wheat belly”). As for his science, what science went into the decision that no testing need be done to verify the safety of the modification of wheat chromosomes for human consumption? None, because it was assumed that no testing was necessary. Although I do not have gluten sensitivity, and had already modified my diet to eliminate sugar and other simple carbohydrates, the elimination of wheat did the trick and totally stopped hypoglycemic attacks between meals.
    What a great blog you have where we can discuss these things.

  14. Eric Wilson says:

    Agree that it’s important to note that it is in fact a continuum, not a binary “you’re allergic or you aren’t” type situation.

    My main problem with this book is he chose “modern vs. older” wheat, a hypothesis that has not yet had much scientific scrutiny. There are a huge range of other problems with wheat that DO have a lot more research to back them up that he barely touched on, if at all. The anti-wheat message was much less powerful because of this, in my opinion. I got the sense Dr. Davis was trying to differentiate himself and say something that hadn’t really been said before, for better or worse.

    Personally, I do believe I feel/think/look better while avoiding wheat, and I’m not low carb by any means (lots of sweet potatoes, bananas, etc) so it’s not a carb thing. When I do re-introduce wheat (or have an occasional beer or pastry) I always feel the effects, which for me manifest as a low-grade headache or general mental “fog.” So I try to eat wheat only when it’s truly worth it (an irresistable dessert, thanksgiving stuffing, etc).

    Is skipping wheat for everyone? I don’t know, but like Dr. Davis and Darya have said, it’s super easy and cheap to find out for yourself.

  15. I just finished reading “Wheat Belly” as well, and like you, I found the beginning quite interesting but was not as impressed with the rest of it. He seems to mostly rely on anecdotal evidence (his patients) to support his claims, and his anecdotal evidence contradicts my personal anecdotal evidence, that I was at my thinnest and very healthy for the two years that I probably ate the most wheat (in Morocco: fresh baked breads every day, plus pasta and couscous frequently). I also exercised a lot more due to not having a car, experienced very little stress and ate almost no junk food (it wasn’t readily available), which probably had more to do with the results. I also felt a sense of deja-vu with some of his arguments–his statement that wheat has particularly addicting properties has also been made by Neil Barnard, only Barnard was talking about dairy. And the whole argument about wheat perhaps causing type I diabetes was made in The China Study, only there the “culprits” were dairy and meat. Now wheat and dairy could possibly cause similar effects, in that they are both commonly not tolerated, but I did think it was weird that the anti-carb Wheat Belly sounded so similar to the anti-meat and dairy Barnard and Campbell at times. Not that I hated the book — I just wasn’t convinced.

  16. Mandy Seay says:

    What a refreshing review. I’m so glad you don’t support the anti-carb movement. Carbohydrate translates into our body’s preferred fuel source. It’s not the carbs, it’s all of the fat we’re putting on them! A small potato is healthy (one of the best sources of potassium), but once we pile butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon bits on top….well now it’s not so healthy anymore.

    • Eric Wilson says:

      Mandy, I think you’re projecting your beliefs onto Darya. If all you got out of this was that she categorically doesn’t support the low carb movement, I’d suggest maybe reading it again…

      Personally, my research has lead me to the position that fat is not unhealthy, with some exceptions like omega-6 heavy industrial seed oils, trans fats, and easily oxidizable poly-unsaturated fats. The reason you believe fat is bad is likely because of some very bad research from the 1950s (google Ancel Keys).

      I don’t consider myself low carb by any means (I probably consume 100-150g/day), but I am also pro-fat. Self-experimentation has shown me that I personally feel much better if I don’t overdo the carbs, and if I get a decent amount of good fat. The research I have found has backed this up, though I’m open to contrary evidence.

      The reason I like Darya’s blog is because she’s a good writer and takes the time to think through the issues rather than just repeating something someone else said. I would assume that Darya is current on low carb research and recognizes that low carb can have a therapeutic role for some people. Did Atkins get it right? Maybe not. Atkins had some issues. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart to demonize every other low carb approach.

      • Mandy Seay says:

        Hello Eric,
        I apologize if my post came across as projecting or demonizing. As a dietitian, I have done much of my own research and appreciate and understand the benefits of carbohydrates and fats. I also understand, and often counsel on, the need to eliminate gluten for those who are sensitive.

        Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation ever since the Atkins diet came about and I see people day in and day out who believe that carbohydrates are evil, yet are able to turn their health and weight around by learning how to eat them in proper amounts (just like any other macronutrient). Perhaps I am sensitive to that and mistook her statement saying that the prescription was the “removal of all grains, sugars and starchy foods like potatoes and even beans.”

        I should clarify that I am not anti-fat either, as these are also needed to support a healthy body. However, in the American society, more saturated fats (like the ones I listed on the potato and promoted by Atkins) are consumed than omega-3s and unsaturated fats.

        My personal beliefs can be summed up by the statement “all in moderation.”

      • Darya Pino says:

        Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. I don’t usually step in and correct someone I disagree with, but Eric is right that I’m not advocating a low-fat diet. I don’t even have a problem with saturated fat, so long as it isn’t from industrial agriculture. Here’s more on why.

        My general position is against processed foods be they carbs, fats or proteins. But I definitely agree with Mandy in that there’s room for a little of everything.

        Awesome readers like you guys is why I love blogging :)

      • Lance Strish says:

        What about this ‘What’s everyone make of this? Saturated fats and clotting

        “Saturated fats can also cause blood platelets to stick together and form blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke.”
        Transcend, Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman MD http://is.gd/tRLUHT

        Blood vessels and saturated fats
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH4qJ-FoVZ0&feature=autoplay&list=PLEB83EF5814779CC7&index=32&playnext=2&t=8m39s General UC Berkeley Nutrition lecture

        Dr Oz interviewing Gary Taubes @5m (says more likely to clot) and prevent vasodilating (constrictive)
        http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/man-who-thinks-everything-dr-oz-says-wrong-pt-2

        Gary Taubes GCBC book:
        In preventive medicine, benefits without risks are nonexistent. Any diet or lifestyle intervention can have harmful
        effects. Changing the composition of the fats we eat could have profound physiological effects throughout the body.
        Our brains, for instance, are 70 percent fat, mostly in the form of a substance known as myelin that insulates nerve
        cells and, for that matter, all nerve endings in the body. Fat is the primary component of all cell membranes. Changing
        the proportion of saturated to unsaturated fats in the diet, as proponents of Keys’s hypothesis recommended, might
        well change the composition of the fats in the cell membranes. This could alter the permeability of cell membranes,
        which determines how easily they transport, among other things, blood sugar, proteins, hormones, bacteria, viruses,
        and tumor-causing agents into and out of the cell. The relative saturation of these membrane fats could affect the aging
        of cells and the likelihood that blood cells will clot in vessels and cause heart attacks.’

        Denise Minger never replied
        http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10150418621279532&id=666889531

      • Dr. Nik says:

        Rather than quoting secondary sources from transhumanists and celebrity docs, your position would be better supported by quoting primary sources (i.e basic research showing the effects of saturated fats on inflammation and plaque formation). If you embark on this research journey you will find that over 95% on the data on saturated fats was done prior to 1998. What’s so special about that date? That was the year that margarine, vegetable shortening and other trans-fats (man-made fats) were taken out of the saturated fat category and given their own classification.
        The effects you are commenting on are well known with TFA’s and were used (in my opinion) the demonize saturated fats to several generations of humanity.
        Medicine is a field based on critical thinking (knowledge/understanding/wisdom or grammar/logic/rhetoric) and it must always be performed in the that order. Doctors (and other healthcare and scientific professionals) have been manipulated for years at the core of critical thinking – the grammar.
        If you don’t have a proper definition for a saturated fat, regardless of the sophisticated logic and rhetoric attached to it, then the conclusions of the study are invalid. The vast majority (>95%) of the studies done on the various health problems associated with saturated fats have TFA’s included under that heading and are therefore not properly defining saturated fats and are therefore invalid.
        By the way, if you do have the tenacity to search the primary sources – you will find many studies done after 1998, but you’ll actually have to read beyond the abstract and cross reference the bibliography. You will see that even the majority of post-98 studies are still drawing off the data from pre-98.
        Those of us in the medical and scientific community have a couple of brain cells working. The medical sophists who would obfuscate the truth from us are quite good at their jobs.
        If saturated fats are indeed so deadly, this “debate” can be resolved with one powerful (large number of subjects) study done with a valid definition of saturated fat. A dietary study looking for plaque would take 10-15 years to complete, so I say, what are they waiting for. As far I can tell, there is not even the beginning of a new study because the perception is that the science if over and done.

  17. Erik says:

    True. I have two family members with celiac, so when I started Gavin vitamin deficiencies, it was something I wanted to be tested for. My blood test came back negative, and my intestinal biopsy also came back negative

    From what my doc tells me, it’s possible I still have celiac (maybe they biopsies an area that does not show celiac) or, maybe I just have celiac sensitivity which generally doesnt show on these tests

    Anyway, my doc has suggested I follow the wheat belly diet. He has a number of patients who have lost 30 pounds on this diet and he feels it would help me with my weight loss and vitamin deficiencies. I can’t wait to read the book and give it a try.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    For more detailed information on how modern wheat and bread making differs from the past, read Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. It’s a real eye-opener, even to those of us already convinced that there’s a lot wrong with the food supply today.

  19. craig harris says:

    I have lived with and been surrounded by alternative medical practioners (acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, traditional chinese medicine) here in Canada for over 20 years. The Wheat Belly book simply supports everything they have told me for that period. My MD, when I discussed the book with him last month immediately pulled out his prescription pad and wrote the book on it for me to write off as a medical expense. Thus having recently purchased and in media res with reading the book do I report, this is finally the allopathic medical establishment catching up with knowledge that has been available elsewhere for decades. Bravo Dr. Davis for a first class presentation. Simply put it validates everything I have been told and attempted to follow for over two decades. My MD has said to me that if all his patients were like me he would be out of business . . . I am recommending the book to everyone.
    PS, just came off a full second round of the 17 day diet and am now going to complement my dietary habits with Wheat Belly in mind. Lost 9 pounds and my wife lost 20 over two months.

  20. Loren says:

    Interesting review. I am actually skeptical of several of the author’s statements regarding wheat. He is trying to provide a “magic bullet”, which just isn’t possible. Modification/hybridization of all types of foods (veggies, fruits, etc.) has occurred, so I would say it’s pretty difficult to claim that wheat is the main culprit. If we could change the way food is hybridized/modified, that would be a great thing, but tell that to all the people in the world who would starve without these changes.

    I also can’t imagine that people with hereditary conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hair loss) going back generations can really be helped much by eliminating wheat. He does not even address these hereditary diseases, which does a disservice to people suffering from these conditions.

    My general feeling is that if people were to eat a moderate, balanced diet based on the exercise they get in a day without consuming too much of any particular product and made meals from scratch using little or no packaged/processed foods (I don’t actually think you have to eliminate flour or medium to hard cheeses), we’d have a healthier society. I guess this is easy to say if you don’t suffer from being overweight and from these diseases, but it seems to me to be common sense.

    Education in not overindulging and also treating food addictions (i.e. using food as a substitute for something else) as serious psychological issues seems to be something that needs to be explored even more. Having a slice or two of bread a day doesn’t hurt me, but eating the equivalent of a loaf certainly would! I can’t even imagine eating more. I don’t eat cereal every day, I don’t snack much: just the occasional popcorn, fruit and veg. It’s just something we never did at home, so I didn’t develop the habit. I don’t eat bread, rice or potatoes with dinner. We don’t have desserts except on occasion. We only eat out rarely (not even once a month). Being a happy individual most certainly helps!

    We also have a lot more problems in our modern age for several other reasons as well: people live longer, therefore the incidence of disease will of course be higher; people who would not have lived before the advent of insulin or other medicines are here today and passing on their genes. The introduction of penicilin and other antibiotics have changed our bodies as well. The more sterile we try to make our environment, the harder it would be for us to thrive if this modern age were to fall apart.

  21. roseanne says:

    I am curious about drinking beer. If his premise about altered american wheat is true, than wouldn’t it be OK to drink german beer made with european wheat????

  22. Jen says:

    Thanks for this review. I’m about to start reading Wheat Belly after learning about the FODMAPS diet for IBS and wanted to do a little research before diving in. I appreciate your insights.

  23. Mary says:

    Am reading the book. The first few chapters mentioned things I discovered myself when going grain-free about 80% of the time last year. Food cravings disappeared, after over 40 years of unsuccessful dieting, always stymied by intense food cravings and intense hunger by trying to include so called ‘healthy’ pasta, wholegrain bread and the like. By giving up grains on most days, I lost 25kg in 3 months and around 20cm off my belly. Yes, I followed a calorie-controlled diet – and I’ve kept meticulous records which demonstrate to my personal satisfaction that ultimately it is calories in /calories out that matters – but controlling those calories in is the hard part. Cutting grains makes it a ‘piece of cake’.

    More sadly, I’m just reading his section on deterioration resulting in cerebal ataxia, I recognized only too well the demise of a close relative over the last few years until she died starting with ‘ibs’ and moving on to full blown ataxia. Maybe if we had been aware of this earlier, she could have given up or cut down on wheat products and had symptoms alleviated.

    Maybe there’s not enough science in it for everyone, but it can’t be all things to all men, and interested persons can find out more by personal research. There’s enough in it for me at the required level.

    I’m on a facebook group where we discuss our weight loss struggles and most of us have found that cutting down on grains helps us control cravings, bloating and tiredness greatly.

    And I do wish to make it clear, my diet is NOT low-carbohydrate. It is approximately 33% carb/fat/protein.

    Even a collection of anecdotal evidence can be a useful starting point. It’s one way in which hypotheses are formed for further research to take place.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I just want to mention that I’m not at all opposed to the idea that processed carbohydrates are insidiously bad. The data for that is unequivocal. I’m just not at all convinced it’s grains, per se, and not the overly processed flour and sugar.

      Basically I’ve had all the same positive health changes you have, but I still eat grains. I just don’t eat much flour and stick to oats, rice, farro, barley, quinoa, etc. That said, to each their own.

  24. Dutchy says:

    I read this book, stopped eating wheat for2weeks
    I’ve gone from a relatively fit office loser to a bloke that has a body like a Greek god. Maybe you guys should spend less time hating on his book and try it. Best book I have ever read. By miles.

    • Darya Pino says:

      I clearly state that there are plenty of good reasons to read it and that flour isn’t healthy. I’m just presenting a critique of his argument as a scientist, which thinking people appreciate. I’m sure we all agree the world could use more Greek gods :)

  25. Pedro Sun says:

    Hi Darya

    Here is a review of Wheat Belly by Julie Jones PhD. She basically goes over the main points and looks at the available science, or lack there-of and I’m hoping there will be a rebuttle from Dr. Davis. Have fun reading :)

    http://www.aaccnet.org/publications/plexus/cfw/pastissues/2012/OpenDocuments/CFW-57-4-0177.pdf

    Pedro

  26. Mizwizard says:

    I have read wheat belly, the blood type diet, and many many others. I had decided a long time ago that overly processed foods are the problem. So as a 50+ woman trying to lose weight, work out, hike and get healthy I am open to just about anything. I started by eliminating all HFCS from my diet. Not so much because i thought it was bad but more because who needs the hidden sugar? fine, feel slightly better, less cravings but no noticeable difference otherwise. When comparing the blood type diet (I’m a B-) and the wheat belly the one thing they both had in common for me was avoid wheat. I had always done well and lost weight with no carb but could never maintain it. So I am trying wheat free (not gluten free, I do not have celiac). so in the last 10 days I have eliminated wheat. I still eat loads of pasta (brown rice), rice based crackers and whole cheese, whole milk and homemade yogurt. I have also gone down 1 pant size in 10 days! And I have been busy with work, school & a part time job and haven’t worked out or hiked at all in that time frame. Hmmm – what does that tell you? It tells me that something is working, especially since I am eating more not less calories (tracking it) and I haven’t been a good girl exercise wise at all during that time.

    So for right now, using myself as the experiment, I am sticking to wheat free. Not so hard and I can still eat my carbs (yum).

  27. George Murphy says:

    Darya,

    My friends and I are having a spirited debate regarding the merits of being gluten free. You say,

    Gluten (and maybe just modern wheat, who knows) is known to be one of the most inflammatory substances consumed by humans and many people would likely benefit from cutting it out.

    Can you point us to some rigorous studies that support the claim that gluten causes an inflammatory response in the body? Where do you see the strongest evidence for this?

    Thanks for you time (and blog)!
    George

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