Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting Rid of The Wheat Belly

I have been reading a book called Wheat Belly, written by a cardiologist named William Davis.  It has been a real eye opener for me.

There is gluten-intolerance in The Captain’s family… on his Father’s side.  Several of his Father’s siblings and their children have symptoms ranging from mild to severe.  His Father was diagnosed with a type of cerebellar ataxia in his 60s and experienced loss of feeling in his hands and feet and had several other symptoms including slurring of his speech and muscular dysfunction.  It presented in a manner similar to MS.  Too late to do him any good, we learned it was gluten-related.

The Captain’s older sister and her daughter are both gluten intolerant too.  So, the whole gluten question is something I have been interested in, and have been reading about for several years, off and on.  I thought it would be good to arm myself with some knowledge in case The Captain started experiencing  any symptoms.

Recently, one of our friends found out that she has what she calls wheat sensitivity and within a few weeks of going on a wheat-free regimen, she lost 13 pounds, her skin cleared up, she regained her normal energy levels and says she feels like a new improved version of herself.  Her weight has stabilized, she no longer craves snacks, and her doctor told her that her blood sugar levels are now normal and she is no longer experiencing  low blood sugar and the need to eat every couple of hours.

I can attest to the fact that she looks marvelous… shiny skin and hair, and although we are the same height – almost 5’ 11” tall, and a couple of years apart in age,  she weighs in at 135 and looks as sleek and toned as a racehorse.  The last time I had seen her she was pudgy and soft and pale and as energetic as a slug.  What a change!

When I heard what had brought about these changes, I was really intrigued and put this book Wheat Belly, on reserve at the library.  I picked it up yesterday afternoon and cannot stop reading it.

I am not one to jump on every popular health/diet/foodie bandwagon.  But when I read this book, I felt several chapters of it had been written just for me.  The doctor describes in great (and somewhat boring I think) detail how the wheat we are eating now is not the same as the wheat our grandparents ate..  and how is has been modified.

What I do find fascinating, is how this has affected a couple of generations of us… with blood sugar being too high, insulin spikes, carb addictions, obesity, unexplained weight gain, skin problems, signs of again ‘too early’ with cataracts and internal organ problems, schizophrenia, diabetes and so much more.

He goes on to give hope for reversal of some of these things by giving up wheat… and he does address gluten intolerance and celiac disease too.  Wheat free is not the same as gluten free.
Some of these health issues hit home for me.  And the carb sensitivity I already know about.. and the blood sugar spikes and the ‘hanger’.  I am also battling carb addiction right now and cannot seem to conquer it.  So, yes, I am very intrigued.

He discusses the differences between wheat and gluten very well.

I thought it was very interesting that he says don’t go gluten free by EATING gluten free. 

What?  Can you explain that, please?

It means don’t start substituting gluten free version of things such as rice crackers, gluten-free cakes and cookies, baking mixes, and etc, for the wheat/gluten version.  These things are generally made with rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, and/or cornstarch, and these ingredients actually raise our blood sugar levels even higher than the wheat products do.

And towards the end of the book he goes on to give some advice about how to become wheat-free either by eliminating it ‘cold turkey’ or by gradually giving it up.  And he has some really good looking menus and recipes.

Okay, I am at the point now where I am ready to do some experimenting with giving up WHEAT… not ready at this point to go all the way to giving up GLUTEN, or all GRAINS and STARCHES but willing to dip my toe into the wheat-free pond.  Do I see Paleo in my future?

I am committing to one week and going to record my eats and my reactions and assess at the end of the 7 days.  I think that will give me enough time to see how HARD it is, if I have any withdrawal symptoms, and then decided if I go further, or give it up, at that point.

I realy want to get off this carb-craving merry-go-round!

Today I purchased some rice cakes and some brown rice pasta... we shall see how it goes.

What do you think?  Have your heard or read anything about modern day wheat being a culprit in the deterioration of our health?


  1. I really think it depends on the person. I eat wheat, and it really doesn't bother me at all. I've experimented with going gluten free and didn't find that it made any difference in how I felt or looked. And I know other people who like your friend felt almost an immediate difference. Certainly it's worth trying out at least once for a few weeks to see how you feel, but if it doesn't make much difference for you don't feel bad about going back to eating gluten. :)

  2. I really am not sure if its the reason for the decline but I think its interesting to read about.

  3. Hi Elle,
    I came across your blog today and wanted to first say congrats! Wheat Belly is one of my favorite books and Dr. Davis is fantastic. I love the science that is presented in the book as well as the recipes, etc....

    However, I have one word of advice BEFORE you go completely gluten free... Get the bloodtest.

    See, I have a sister who has Celiac Disease (fully tested and positive) and 8 months ago, after I read Wheat Belly and listened to a couple of podcasts with Dr. Davis, I decided to go Gluten Free, too. However, I never had the blood test before going GF. It is recommended that all 1st degree relatives of someone with Celiac have the bloodtest. I didn't know this. :(

    Most of my adult life I have suffered from digestive issues mainly caused from a "lazy colon". I didn't have any issues from eating Gluten (that I know of); that isn't why I decided to go GF. It just seemed that the older I get, the worse it seems to get. So, when I went GF, I saw immediate and positive results. People were telling me I didn't look as puffy, I slept better and I didn't feel so "heavy."

    But, a few months ago, I started have some bloating/distension/and other digestive issues that were a lot worse than they ever have been in the past. I even ended up in the ER! I started to eliminate other things in my diet like dairy, eggs, peanut butter, etc... but I still had all of the same problems each evening.

    So, a couple of weeks ago I went to a (new) Gastroenterologist and she wanted me to have the bloodtest and endoscopy to see if I was gluten sensative, etc.... I said, "but I have been GF since Nov 1st, 2011 and I don't see how that could be the problem. But, if I am going to have the test, should I start eating gluten again for a couple weeks/months before having the blood test so the test results will be accurate? She didn't think I needed to do this but I still think that the results would be inaccurate so I decided to get a second opinion. Actually, I wrote to Dr. Davis on his blog and he told me to run as fast as I could to another Dr. for a second opinion.

    Just this past Monday, I took Dr. Davis advice and saw another Gastroenterologist for a second opinion. The second Dr. would also like me to be tested for Gluten intolerance BUT he has asked me to begin eating gluten again before the test. So, on my blog, from July 1st - August 1st, I will be documenting my experience as I return to a GLUTEN diet, so check it out :)

    Also, I eat a VERY clean and healthy diet (that's not to say I don't snack or have treats every so often) so it is going to be hard to return to the Gluten lifestyle. I don't want to start eating processed foods just because. That would be even more silly and definitely unhealthy. Try not to make substitutions for the foods you cannot eat any longer. GF food isn't healthier and many times it is very UNHEALTHY! Try and stick to whole foods and clean eating and you will do fine.

    Anyway, my suggestion is to have the bloodtest BEFORE you go GF to rule out any sensativity so that you don't have to go back to square one, eat gluten again just to have the bloodtest later on.

    :) Good luck!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story and it will be interesting to see what you experience in comparison to what Elle experiences.

  4. I am constantly aware of how my body (and behaviour to an extent) change the more wheat based products I consume. I get bloated, irritable, lethargic and what comes out of me is well basically sludge (sorry if TMI). I've not gone as far as total gluten free but wheat free seems to help me (I have not ever been diagnosed with any intolerance, I just go by how I feel). Thing is I'm not consistent at avoiding wheat .... still working on that.

  5. I'm interested in how it affects you. Please share!

  6. I agree with Suzi - some people can have incredible results just by dropping wheat, but not everyone necessarily will. Since I have a recent gluten intolerance, I stopped eating gluten and my life is 300% better - but only because of that intolerance. Even though I do the "substituting" - eating gluten-free foods that are still full of carbs - I do not get those sugar cravings or serious hunger like I used to.

    It can't hurt to try it for a week and see how it effects you!

  7. Very interesting. I have a wheat sensitivity but haven't tried to take it out of my diet. SO far it has been too hard and time consuming to figure it out. I may have to reconsider though. I will have to check this book out:)

  8. I have celiac disease-went off everything 3 years ago...very rarely eat gluten free breads, pastas..cookies...and have "gained" a ton of weight-onto my already overweight body. I have crohn's disease too....still have sweet cravings...all the not getting hidden gluten as I cook my own meals...don't know why the "weight loss" bonus has not arrived for me...but the opposite. I have heard of this happening to really relates to the assimilation of the nutrients in your intestinal tract...

  9. I like the "don't revert to gluten-free versions" idea. I think if I was to head down this route, I wouldn't want "fake" bread and pasta. I love brown rice and potatoes anyway!

    Let us know how it goes! :)

  10. Stay away from the wheat and the gluten. you can live a perfectly healthy and primal life minus those toxins. Dr Davis was a life saver to me. 40 pounds later and feeling 15 years younger I totally support everything about his book. This is coming from a career Army Soldier. All we're fed over here in Afghanistan is wheat this and wheat that. I made the change and I feel like i did when I joined in 1994. I think I'll go for a run now. Good luck..

  11. Stay away from the wheat and the gluten. you can live a perfectly healthy and primal life minus those toxins. Dr Davis was a life saver to me. 40 pounds later and feeling 15 years younger I totally support everything about his book. This is coming from a career Army Soldier. All we're fed over here in Afghanistan is wheat this and wheat that. I made the change and I feel like i did when I joined in 1994. I think I'll go for a run now. Good luck..

  12. Having gone completely grain/sugar free 9 months ago, may I make a few suggestions?

    Finish the book before embarking.....check in frequently to the FB "Wheat Belly" page for information & to ask questions.....try going completely grain/sugar free for at least a month, as it takes some bodies longer to heal than others, and in only a week, you may be in the throws of withdrawl (not a good time to toss out the way of eating!!!), and also you won't obtain all the wonderful results without going "whole hog" (giving up all the grains/sugar).

    Good luck and I hope you feel as great as I have!


  13. I can't wait to hear your story. How wheat affects us each is so different. Ironically, just the other day I was reading a bit about diets and blood types. If I were to follow that plan, I would cut back the carbs and cheeses in my diet. Go more paleo. Thing is, I love my carbs and cheeses but tend to eat them in moderation anyhow. I totally prefer turkey and veggies!

    I am excited to hear what you have to share since you are always so thorough and honest.

  14. I did a 21 day wheat elimination after reading wheat belly. I still ate rice, oatmeal (certified gluten free), and the occasional corn product, but mostly I ate fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, eggs, dairy, and whey protein shakes. I felt amazing. Digestive issues that I thought were just part of turning 40 disappeared (gassy, bloating, stomach pain). When I added back in wheat, they reappeared. I have self diagnosed wheat sensitivity. I give in every now and then (what's a little gas?) when I really want a burger on a bun or whatever, but overall, I have greatly reduced my intake of processed foods and consume much more real food. And I found abs I never knew I had.

  15. Hubby and I have been doing this since the end of Feb. IT WORKS! Big time it works but we did go off wheat etc. cold turkey and I could see a big difference in my joints not killing me just in 3 short days. Nope I'm not getting paid by anyone to say that. Just would love to help anyone I can with this because it's awesome! He has lost 60 pounds and loads of inches off his waist and arms and I have lost 34 with loads of inches off my waist and arms and all kinds of health benefits! Blood sugars coming down and my A1C was a little over 6 the last time I went and it started out at 10 something.

  16. After approx 1 week on the Wheat Belly diet, my insatiable cravings for carbs ceased. I wouldn't believe it if it didn't happen to me.

  17. Good luck! I know that a couple friends of mine have really benefited from cutting out gluten! Also, I think you are right about the substitutions. The same goes for vegetarians. I think that those fake meats are really just full of sodium and gross things I can't pronounce!

  18. Okay, at the risk of sounding REALLY ignorant, I had no idea WHEAT-free and GLUTEN-free were different. I know I have heard you should NOT eat GLUTEN-free if you do not have Celiac's.

    Now I am seriously wondering if I have a sensitivity to wheat as well. You have intrigued me enough to read the book! I firmly believe a lot of things we eat are contributing to the decline of our health as a whole, and now I am thinking wheat may be a large culprit for me.

    As you know I struggle with weight, carb cravings, insulin resistance, sluggishness, lack of energy, etc. even before I got sick with this most recent issue. I read the Paleo books and I find them intriguing as well, but have not been able to commit to that as of yet. The carb "withdrawals" if you will, are very difficult for me. I do firmly believe that processed foods are horrible for us and also contribute to our poor health!

    Thanks for all of this GREAT info. I am interested in reading/hearing more about how your journey is going and I am going to find this book!


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