Is guar gum safe?


We are not fans of processed food products around here, given the many undesirable health effects that have emerged over the years: disrupted bowel flora composition from synthetic sweeteners like aspartame, disruption of the intestinal mucus lining by maltodextrin, changes in bowel flora composition and dispersal of the intestinal mucus lining by synthetic emulsifying agents such as polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose.

Those last two items, the emulsifying agents polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose, are especially troublesome, making their way into many processed foods such as ice cream, peanut butter, even pickles. The potent emulsifying properties of these two food additives disrupts the mucus lining of the intestinal tract, allows bacteria to contact the intestinal lining that triggers intestinal inflammation, and leads to profound changes in bowel flora composition. The bowel flora of someone repeatedly exposed to these compounds resembles the bowel flora of an obese type 2 diabetic, even if the person is a slender non-diabetic. They also increase appetite and cause weight gain. There is growing suspicion that exposure to such compounds may contribute to causing diseases like Crohn’s disease in which intestinal inflammation is the key abnormality. The effects of these two emulsifying agents, even in very small quantities, despite being classified by the FDA as GRAS—Generally Regarded As Safe—are so awful that we avoid them 100%.

We therefore opt for whole natural foods least modified by manufacturers and containing little to no additives. It means we choose foods like eggs, avocados, meats, and vegetables. We choose organic foods whenever budget and availability permit to minimize exposure to glyphosate and other herbicides, avoid meats from animals raised with antibiotics to accelerate growth, avoid farmed fish that are likewise treated with antibiotics.

But there are times when we also, for the sake of convenience, holidays, entertaining, and taste, carefully choose additives that have proven to be benign. Natural sweeteners such as stevia, allulose, and monk fruit are on this list, for example.

What about the gums such as gellan gum, xanthan gum, or guar gum? Like synthetic emulsifiers, gums like this also help keep foods from separating. They keep mayonnaise from separating into oil and water components, keep the solids in coconut milk suspended in water, keep fat from rising to the top in dairy products. They therefore promote uniformity and mixing of varied components. But are they safe? How much of an emulsifying effect do they exert upon contact with the intestinal mucus lining? Let’s focus specifically on guar gum for this discussion.

Guar gum is a polysaccharide (chain of sugars, as are all fibers) composed of the sugars galactomannan and galactose. Because it is a polysaccharide, it has potential to act as a prebiotic fiber, i.e., a fiber metabolized by bowel flora. It is sourced from a legume that originates in India, also grown in Texas. While humans lack the enzymes to digest guar gum, bacteria are capable of metabolizing to fatty acids such as butyrate and propionate. The partially hydrolyzed form (i.e., broken into fragments by an enzyme) is also used, a form that is less viscous and does not form a gel, unlike the non-hydrolyzed form.

I could find no evidence of substantial emulsifying effects of the sort we try to avoid. Experimental evidence also fails to demonstrate effects unique to emulsifiers, such as increased food intake, weight gain, or metabolic distortions.

Because guar gum acts as a prebiotic fiber, it has been shown to:

  • Increase intestinal butyrate levels—that nourish intestinal cells and mediate many beneficial metabolic effects in the host (i.e., you) such as reduced insulin resistance, reduced blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Provoke beneficial changes (though modest) in bowel flora composition—Bifidobacteria and Ruminococcus populations are increased. Bowel habits in people prone to loose stools also improved.
  • Improve bowel habits in people with irritable bowel syndrome
  • Increase populations of Clostridium butyricum—Clostridia are a mixed bag of healthy and unhealthy species. C. butyricum is among the desirable, even present in the Pendulum Akkermansia probiotic. C. butyricum completely degrades guar gum in the colon.
  • Increase efficacy of antibiotics (by 25% from 62.1% to 87.1%) in treating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO
  • Reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome—Though precisely why and how is not clear.

Due to its extreme ability to absorb water, adverse effects have been observed when large quantities of guar gum are consumed, with physical blocking of the esophagus, for instance, causing choking. The amounts that we might use are far smaller and are mixed into foods like yogurt, so such adverse effects are not a concern.

It therefore appears that guar gum, certainly the partially hydrolyzed form, does not exert adverse effects on the intestinal microbiome and, indeed, exerts beneficial probiotic effects.

I’ve given guar gum this special consideration because it would be a terrific advantage in making our fermented products without dairy but with coconut milk. Making, for instance, L. reuteri yogurt with coconut milk is a challenge, as it typically separates into oil solids and liquid, much of it inedible, not to mention not very tasty. Adding guar gum yields a uniform and much tastier mixture.

I shall be posting a recipe for coconut milk-based yogurt in coming days.

Lost microbes


We have all been exposed to numerous factors that disrupt bowel flora composition:

  • Antibiotics
  • Stomach acid-blocking drugs like Prilosec, Aciphex, and Protonix
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac
  • Statin drugs like atorvastatin and simvastatin
  • Wheat and grains–via a variety of mechanisms that include intestinal inflammation from gliadin and wheat germ agglutinin, activation of autoimmune gastritis and loss of stomach acid
  • Glyphosate–present in virtually all corn and soy products. Glyphosate is an herbicide, but it is also an antibiotic. (Monsanto filed patents for glyphosate as an antibiotic.)
  • Chlorinated drinking water
  • Emulsifying agents such as polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose in ice cream, salad dressings and other foods
  • Stress
  • Herbicides and pesticides in food

There’s more, but you get the idea: We swim in a sea of factors that disrupt the composition of microbes residing in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Many shifts in microbial composition have occurred, such as increased Enterobacteriaceae species such as Salmonella and Klebsiella, as well as a change in gastrointestinal location of microbes that have now ascended up the 24-feet of ileum, jejunum, duodenum, and stomach in many people, i.e., small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, and send their breakdown products into the bloodstream, a process called “endotoxemia.” Just as humans have introduced cataclysmic changes into the environment such as dropping ocean pH, shrinking coral reefs, and receding polar ice caps, so we have also introduced dramatic changes in our internal microbial environment. There are no forest fires or hurricanes in our guts, of course, but there is a wide range of health consequences for us from these shifts in microbial composition.

Among the changes are a loss of various bacterial species, microbes lost from the microbiome of most people. This is vividly illustrated when we compare the modern human microbiome to that of hunter-gatherers such as Tanzanian Hadza or the Yanomami of the Brazilian rainforest, populations untainted by antibiotics, glyphosate, or emulsifying agents. They have numerous species that we lack entirely and, despite being on two different continents–Africa and South America–their microbiomes are oddly similar, thus leading to speculation that these populations harbor something close to Stone Age microbiomes, i.e., the microbiota of our ancestors.

Can restoration of some of these lost species provide health benefits to those of us living in the 21st century buying vegetables from a produce department, eating pre-killed meats, drinking water from a faucet? I believe they can. In fact, some of the benefits we obtain by restoring lost species can be significant.

Among the microbes that we have lost that, when restored, yield substantial health benefits are:

  • Lactobacillus reuteri—96% of us have lost this species. If you’ve been following my discussions, you already know that restoration of L. reuteri is associated with smoother skin with reduced wrinkles, deeper sleep, appetite suppression, restoration of youthful muscle and strength, increased libido, and increased empathy. Because L. reuteri also colonizes the upper GI tract where it takes up residence and produces anti-bacterial bacteriocins effective agains the Enterobacteriaceae, restoring this species may also provide protection against SIBO.
  • Bifidobacteria infantisB. infantis is a keystone species that 90% of modern newborns lack due to failure of their mothers to pass it onto them at birth or with breastfeeding. B. infantis possesses unique enzymes that allow it to digest milk oligosaccharides in breastmilk. Without this species, digestion of breast milk is impaired. Restore this species and wonderful things happen: fewer bowel movements (fewer diaper changes), less colic, less diaper rash, less eczema, longer sleep time, longer naps, and less asthma, type 1 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases later in childhood. The well-documented Evivo product provides the EVC001 strain of B. infantis that can be administered to babies, but I would go one better: Get the bacteria and ferment as yogurt, then consume it as a pregnant mother before giving birth. (I have a batch of B. infantis yogurt brewing in my kitchen right now.) This way, you are able to pass on this microbe onto the baby the way it is supposed to be passed on via passage through the birth canal and/or breastfeeding. Passing on a microbe in the context of other microbes makes it more likely that it takes up long-term residence, rather than taken as a probiotic in isolation.
  • Oxalobacter formigenes—Hunter-gatherers have plenty of Oxalobacter, but most of us have lost this microbe. This microbial shift is believed to be at least part of the reason why calcium oxalate kidney stones have increased 400% in incidence since 1970 and why kidney stones are common following a course of antibiotics. Restoring Oxalobacter alone, however, may be insufficient to reduce blood and urinary levels of oxalate; it may require a consortium of Oxalobacter and other (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) species that “collaborate” in reducing oxalate levels and thereby kidney stones.

This is a conversation that is just getting underway with many new lessons to learn. An experimental model of autistic spectrum disorder, for instance, suggests that restoration of three lost species of Clostridia reverses many of the characteristic features of the condition. Wow.

H. pylori: Do you have it, should you eradicate it?


Helicobacter pylori, H. pylori, has an interesting history in the medical world. For centuries, gastritis, heartburn, and stomach and duodenal ulcers were viewed as the product of stress, consuming too many acidic foods, and myriad other explanations, often treated with advice to avoid vinegar, tomato sauce, other acidic foods and drinking more milk. Then two Australian researchers, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, identified H. pylori in the base of human ulcers and published their observations in 1984, throwing the entire gastroenterology world topsy-turvy. It explained why people treated with only stomach acid-suppressing drugs frequently experienced relapse. Unfortunately, Marshall and Warren were ridiculed, ostracized from medical circles (even prompting Marshall to infect himself with H. pylori then have biopsy-proven gastritis develop). Subsequent work, however, proved them right, earning them a Nobel Prize for Medicine 20 years later in 2005. It is now clear that stomach and duodenal ulcers that are not caused by aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen are nearly all caused by H. pylori.

It has since become clear that H. pylori is oddly ubiquitous, essentially a parasite that can be found in about 15-35% of Americans (variation due to age, geography, and other factors), 50% of people around the world, with increasing likelihood of infection as we age. While originally identified as the cause for ulcers, then gastric cancer, it has become clear that H. pylori is responsible for a lot more, including alterations in bowel flora composition.

H. pylori: More than ulcers

Among the health conditions that have been associated with H. pylori are:

  • Increased stomach acid (hyperchlorhydria)—Particularly in younger people in which H. pylori infects the antrum of the stomach (towards the duodenum). This explains why acid reflux, reflux esophagitis, and ulcers respond to stomach acid-blocking drugs, the H2 blockers and PPIs, and why 80-95% of people positive for H. pylori develop stomach or duodenal ulcers. In later phases, hypo- or achlorhydria, i.e., low or absent stomach acid, can develop, the situation that sets the stage for stomach cancer. (The World Health Organization has classified H. pylori as a class I carcinogen.) Note that acid-blocking drugs can also provide relief from acid reflux and esophagitis, conditions separate from H. pylori-based issues.
  • Increased gastrin hormone levels—If hypo- or achlorhydria develop from H. pylori, increased gastrin hormone secretion in response to the lack of stomach acid can, over time, lead to stomach cancer, as gastrin provokes proliferation of stomach lining and acid-producing parietal cells. Stomach cancer is the third most common form of cancer worldwide with H. pylori as the leading cause.
  • Skin rashes—A variety of skin rashes have been associated with H. pylori, but persistent psoriasis and rosacea are among the most common. In the case of rosacea, eradication of H. pylori is more effective in reversing the rash than modern rosacea treatments.
  • Coronary disease—Especially virulent varieties of H. pylori (that express the CagA toxin) are more likely to be found in people who develop heart disease.
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)—An uncommon condition in which blood platelet counts dip dangerously low and bruising and hemorrhage can occur.
  • Autoimmune conditions—The list of autoimmune conditions that accompany H pylori and recede with its eradication continue to grow and includes ITP, Sjogren’s syndrome, Henoch-Schlonlein purpura, some forms of autoimmune nephropathy (kidney disease) and peripheral neuropathies.
  • A variety of lung diseases–Such as chronic bronchitis and other conditions.
  • Parkinson’s disease—People with Parkinsonism have greater likelihood of having H. pylori with improvement in Parkinson’s symptoms with eradication.
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)—may occur along with H. pylori in as many as 50% of people diagnosed with either.
  • Fatty liver, insulin resistance, inflammation—This combination of abnormalities improves with H. pylori eradication.
  • Deficiencies of vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron
  • Other cancers that include lung, liver, biliary, and pancreatic.

In other words, H. pylori is not just about stomach and duodenal ulcers, but has wide implications for health across many health conditions.

Oddly, over the tens of thousands of years that this bacteria has coexisted with humans, it may also have developed the ability to provide beneficial effects such as modest reduction in potential for asthma, some forms of allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, and esophageal reflux and cancer. On balance, however, the benefits of eradication of the bacteria outweighs the modest potential for benefit.

H pylori is therefore more like E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus, i.e., species that can inhabit the human body without harm but have potential to exert pathological effects when circumstances permit, and less like, say, a Lactobacillus species that provides benefits but poses almost no pathogenic potential. It is therefore helpful to 1) identify whether you harbor this organism, then 2) take steps to suppress or eradicate the organism.

To know whether H. pylori is a health issue for you, there is a simple fingerstick blood test for the antibody against this organism or stool antigen test that is the gold standard, both available direct-to-consumer without a doctor’s order. Should you identify the presence of this microbe, then a course of eradication can be pursued. We have been having success using agents such as Nigella sativa (a seed much like poppy seeds), mastic gum, and several other agents. One particularly effective combination is mastic gum 500 mg, oil of oregano 50 mg, PeptoBismol tablets, each three times per day.

For anyone who tests positive and is interested in other natural options for eradication, my therapeutic program is detailed in my Undoctored Inner Circle website.

Plan for Your Wheat Belly Compliant Holiday Season

By Dr. Davis and April Duval


It is time to start thinking about what Wheat Belly compliant food options you will prepare for the upcoming holiday season.  Are you planning ahead for your success?

You and your family can enjoy nearly all traditional Thanksgiving recipes while staying on course.  It means that you will replace cheesecake or pie crusts with ground walnuts, pecans, or almonds. It means that you will thicken gravies with ingredients such as coconut milk, pureed squash, or cream. It means that you choose natural sweeteners such as stevia, monkfruit, allulose, or erythritol. It means that you should feel free to eat the skin and dark meat on turkey, or spread butter over grain-free muffins liberally without any concern for calories. It means that you sacrifice nothing in taste.  You get to enjoy delicious and satisfying meals without gaining weight and without developing the metabolic disaster that people eating conventional holiday dinners experience.

And keep in mind what we call the Wheat Belly one-way street: While other people can eat and enjoy Wheat Belly-compliant dishes without a problem, you cannot enjoy their wheat/grain-containing food without triggering unhealthy effects, most commonly diarrhea, bloating, and skin rashes, sometimes worse. It means that, if you are preparing dinner, you can make EVERY dish Wheat Belly-compliant and everybody can safely enjoy them.  By following such Wheat Belly swaps, there is therefore no need to prepare, say, a pumpkin pie for the grain-eaters and a pumpkin pie for the non-grain eaters. Just serve the wheat/grain-free version and everyone will be happy.

In addition to the many holiday recipes in the Wheat Belly 30-Minute Cookbook, here are some ideas for healthy swaps that incorporate the Wheat Belly principles.

Cauliflower Mushroom Dressing (Stuffing)

This dressing is heavier than the usual bread-based dressing or stuffing. Because it contains meat, it should not be stuffed into the turkey to cook, as this will not ensure a sufficiently high temperature. While this works best as a two-step process–-stove top to oven–-if time-pressed, you could just cook on the stove top a bit longer. 8 servings

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 pound pork sausage, preferably loose ground
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces Portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
4 ounce can/jar roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bring approximately 12 ounces water to a boil in sauce pan. Toss in porcini mushrooms and turn heat down to maintain below boiling. Stir every couple of minutes for 20 minutes.

In deep sauce pan, saute sausage (if encased, remove from casing) in 1 tablespoon olive oil, along with celery and onions, until sausage cooked. Drain excess oil. Place sauce pan back on low heat. Break cauliflower into small florets and add to sausage mix. Toss in drained porcini mushrooms along with approximately 4 ounces of the porcini broth (save remainder of broth to make gravy; below), remainder of olive oil, green pepper, roasted red pepper, Portabella mushrooms, flaxseed. Add onion powder, sage, thyme, tarragon, salt and black pepper and stir.  Transfer to baking dish and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

All-Purpose Baking Mix 

4 cups almond meal/flour
1 cup ground golden flaxseed
1/4 cup coconut flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground psyllium seed (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal/flour, flaxseed, coconut flour, baking soda, and psyllium seed (if desired). Store in an airtight container, preferably in the refrigerator.  Makes 5 cups

Thanksgiving Dressing/Stuffing (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)


1 cup All Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
1-1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
¼ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8X8 inch square pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl blend baking mix, sage, thyme and salt. Then add egg, butter and milk. Stir well then transfer to prepared pan, being sure to spread batter out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes then remove bread from oven and cut into 1 inch cubes.

Place bread cubes back in the oven for 10-15 minutes and then turn off oven and allow bread to harden overnight.  If not drying out bread overnight, lower heat to 325 degrees and bake bread cubes for 20-30 minutes or until bread has dried out.  Serves 6

Dressing Prep:

2 tablespoons bacon fat or salted butter
½ bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked meat (turkey, chicken or sausage)
1 cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9X5 loaf pan and set aside.

To a medium skillet add fat, chopped vegetables and salt. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat and stir in cooked meat and dried bread cubes.

Add stock and poultry seasoning. Stir well allowing the bread cubes to soak up the stock. Taste for salt and adjust if needed. Stir in egg.

Pour dressing into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has hardened or the desired consistency of dressing has been achieved.

Turkey Gravy

If you follow the recipe for Cauliflower Mushroom Dressing (above), you should have around 8 ounces of porcini mushroom broth left over. This adds a wonderful mushroomy-meaty flavor to the gravy, a deeper character not usually found in standard gravies. Thickness is obtained without wheat, cornstarch, or other carbohydrate-rich thickener by use of coconut milk.

Because the quantity of drippings obtained will vary widely, depending on the size of your turkey, ingredient quantities are not specified. Rely on taste as you prepare your gravy to gauge ingredient quantity.

Turkey drippings
Coconut milk
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Sea salt

Heat drippings in the roasting pan or poured into a sauce pan on stove at low-heat. Pour in coconut milk slowly, stirring, until desired color is achieved. Gravy should be opaque, rather than translucent.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt to taste.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound loose sausage meat
2½ cups beef broth
½ can (13.6 ounces) coconut milk or cream
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dash ground black pepper

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté sausage, breaking up as it browns. Cook until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink.

Turn heat up to medium to high and pour in beef broth. Heat just short of boiling, then turn down to low heat. Pour in coconut milk and stir in well. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

Better than Mashed Potatoes (from the Wheat Belly Cookbook)

While potatoes, of course, contain none of the Evil Grain, they have problems all their own, including the potential for causing extreme blood sugar rises. Many potatoes sold today are also genetically modified, introducing a whole new level of uncertainty.  So here is how to recreate the taste and feel of mashed potatoes that are every bit as god as–no, better than!–the dish made with potatoes, but with none of the worries.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place a steamer basket in a large pot with 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place the cauliflower in the basket and steam for 20 minutes, or until very soft.

Remove from the heat and drain. In a blender or food processor, combine the cauliflower, cream cheese, butter, and salt. Blend or process until smooth.


1 cup shredded cheddar (or other) cheese
2 cups almond meal/flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
4 ounces butter, melted (or other oil, e.g., extra-light olive, coconut, walnut)

Preheat oven to 325° F.  In food chopper or processor, pulse shredded cheese to finer, granular consistency.  Pour cheese into large bowl, then add almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and butter or oil and mix thoroughly to yield thick dough.  Spoon out dough into 10 or so ¾-inch thick mounds onto a parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick withdraws dry.

Cheddar “Corn” Bread (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)

1 cup  All-Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
2 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon compliant sweetener (optional)
4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (approximately 1 cup)
½ tablespoon butter for pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Also place 8 inch cast iron skillet in oven to preheat. Allow skillet to preheat 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl add baking mix, eggs, sour cream, sweetener (optional), butter and cheese. Blend until all ingredients have been incorporated

Carefully remove pan from oven and add the reserved butter to the pan. Pour batter into the hot skillet. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the top of the bread begins to brown.

Note: An 8 inch cake pan can also be used. Do not preheat the cake pan but allow a few more minutes for cooking time.

Muffins: Lube the wells of a muffin tin with butter or use muffin liners. Using a ¼ cup scoop, divide batter into muffin tins. Bake until muffin tops begin to brown, approximately 18-22 minutes.  Serves 8


Acorn Squash Au-Gratin (from Wheat Free Market Recipes)

2 cups sliced acorn squash
1 onion, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup milk or almond or coconut milk
1 tablespoon butter (omit butter and double coconut oil if dairy-free)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 tablespoons All Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
½ cup cheddar cheese (omit if dairy-free)
5 slices bacon, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange squash in baking dish and layer onions over squash. Salt and pepper to taste.  In a small stovetop pot gently heat milk, butter, coconut oil and baking mix. Add cheese to pot and heat until melted.  Pour heated milk mixture over squash and onions. Top with bacon. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for 5 minutes to brown the top to desired level of browning.  Serves: 6


Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is one of those fixtures of Thanksgiving dinner that, when recreated without wheat, can be enjoyed without worry. No worries over weight gain, increased blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure. No leg edema, abdominal cramps or diarrhea.

The pumpkin puree poses only a slight potential carbohydrate challenge. The entire pie contains 36 grams carbohydrates; if divided into 8 pieces, that yields 4.5 grams carbohydrate per slice–a tolerable level for most people. Heck, even two pieces yields about the same carbohydrate load as half an apple.  Makes 8 servings

Pie crust:

1 1/4 cups ground walnuts (or pecans or almonds)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
4 ounces butter or coconut oil, melted

Pie filling:

2 cups pumpkin puree
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Sweetener equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar (e.g., 3 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In large bowl, mix together ground walnuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. In small bowl, whisk eggs and add butter or coconut oil. Pour liquid mix into dry mix and blend by hand thoroughly.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan with coconut oil or other oil. Transfer mix to the pie pan and spread evenly along bottom and up sides. If mixture is too thin, place in refrigerator for several minutes to thicken. For ease of spreading, use a large metal spoon heated under running hot water. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine pumpkin, cream cheese, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly by hand. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sweetener and continue to blend by hand.

Pour pumpkin mix into pie crust. Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until toothpick or knife withdraws nearly dry. Optionally, sprinkle additional nutmeg and/or cinnamon, top with compliant whipped cream or coconut milk.

Cranberry Sauce

Here’s a zesty version of traditional cranberry sauce, minus the sugar. The orange, cinnamon, and other spices, along with the crunch of walnuts, make this one of my favorite holiday side dishes.

There are 31.5 grams total “net” carbohydrates in the entire recipe, or 5.25 grams per serving. To further reduce carbs, you can leave out the orange juice and use more zest.

1 cup water
12 ounces fresh whole cranberries
1/4 cup Virtue Sweetener (or other natural sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar)
1 tablespoon orange zest + juice of half an orange
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

In small to medium saucepan, bring water to boil. Turn heat down and add cranberries. Cover and cook at low-heat for 10 minutes or until all cranberries have popped. Stir in sweetener. Remove from heat.

Stir in orange zest and juice, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Transfer mixture to bowl, cool, and serve.  Makes 6 servingsthanksgiving-meal.jpg?resize=350%2C265&ssl=1

Apple Cranberry Crumble

Apple, cranberry, and cinnamon: the perfect combination of tastes and scents for winter holidays!

I took a bit of carbohydrate liberties with this recipe. The entire recipe yields a delicious cheesecake-like crumble with 59 “net” grams carbohydrates (total carbs – fiber); divided among 10 slices, that’s 5.9 grams net carbs per serving. (To reduce carbohydrates, the molasses in the crumble is optional, reducing total carbohydrate by 11 grams.)

Always taste your batter to test sweetness, since sweeteners vary in sweetness from brand to brand and your individual sensitivity to sweetness depends on how long you’ve been wheat-free. (The longer you’ve been wheat-free, the less sweetness you desire.)

Crust and crumble topping
3 cups almond meal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 cup Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to 1 cup sugar)
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon molasses
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Dash sea salt

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to ½ cup sugar)
1 Granny Smith apple (or other variety)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F.  In large bowl, combine almond meal, butter, sweetener, cinnamon, molasses, vanilla, salt and mix.

Grease a 9½-inch tart or pie pan. Using approximately 1 cup of the almond meal mixture, form a thin bottom crust with your hands or spoon. (Dip hands or spoon in water to smooth more easily.)

In another medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs, and sweetener and mix with spoon or mixer at low-speed. Pour into tart or pie pan.

Core apple and slice into very thin sections. Arrange in circles around the edge of the cream cheese mixture, working inwards. Distribute cranberries over top, then sprinkle cinnamon over entire mixture.

Gently layer remaining almond meal crumble evenly over top. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping lightly browned.  Makes 10 servings


Pumpkin-Pie Cheesecake

1 cup All-Purpose Baking Mix (see recipe above)
½ cup finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 teaspoons Virtue Sweetener

Pumpkin Cheesecake
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 1/2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  For the crust, add the baking mix, pecans, butter and sweetener to a medium bowl and blend well. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8” spring form pan and set aside.

For the pumpkin cheesecake filling, add the cream cheese, sour cream, egg, pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, sweetener and vanilla to a medium bowl and blend with a mixer until smooth. Pour the cheesecake cake batter on top of the crust.

Bake for 35 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool then carefully remove the outer ring of the pan by gently sliding a knife around the edges. Serves 12-16


Irish Cream:

This is an adults-only treat: a version of a delicious rum-based Irish Cream made without sugar or, in this version, dairy, unlike the widely-available commercial versions.

If you are a fan of the Irish Cream served as a liqueur or splashed over ice cream or other desserts, this is how you make a healthy version rich with all the flavor but with none of the sugar. I provide the dairy-free version here. Replace the coconut milk with an equivalent quantity of cream or half-and-half for a dairy version. Use the highest quality cocoa powder for the best flavor.

I’ve made this many times and presented it as a gift to friends in a decorative glass bottle, perfect for the holidays. Optionally, top with shaved dark chocolate, ground cinnamon, or serve with a stick of cinnamon or topped with whipped cream. For an alcohol-free version, leave out the rum.

If you use coconut milk, note that refrigeration will make it too thick to drink; allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour to let the oil liquefy.

Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups

1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
3 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Virtue Sweetener (or other sweetener equivalent to ½ cup sugar)
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups unflavored rum

In blender, combine coconut milk, cocoa powder, sweetener, coffee granules, cinnamon, rum and blend until well combined. Serve with optional toppings.  Store in airtight bottle or jar in refrigerator.


These Wheat Belly food swaps will allow you to have a safe and healthy holiday without weight gain, without the agony of wheat/grain re-exposure, and without rises in blood sugar.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

The microbiome and mood


The microbiome has a huge effect on your mental outlook: mood, emotions, sense of optimism or pessimism, your internal dialogues. Here is a recent study that highlights this effect.

In this study, 210 people with major depression, bipolar illness, or schizophrenia who had either attempted suicide recently (most within the past 4 weeks) or further in the past were compared to 72 healthy controls. Antibody levels to the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the gliadin protein of wheat, and bacterial lipopolysaccharide, LPS (the cell wall component of Gram negative species such as those in dysbiosis and SIBO) were measured. Here is what they found:



(Dickerson 2017)

The study is observational by necessity, as you cannot obviously assign participants to suicide or no suicide, so we have to be careful about discerning cause and effect. But the differences are so striking that the associations may indeed be real. (Recall that, with cigarette smoking, the increased risk for lung cancer and heart disease was established through observational studies, but the increased risk was so great that the observational evidence was sufficient.) It means that people whose bodies wage an immune response to yeast (as in beer and bread), the gliadin protein of wheat, and the LPS of pathogenic bacterial species may be at risk for suicide.

How to interpret this observation? I would take the development of antibodies to yeast, gliadin, and LPS as evidence of increased intestinal permeability, as higher levels of antibody response in the bloodstream requires that such antigens be blood borne to stimulate an immune response. It also suggests that components of diet—yeast and wheat/grains—can play a role in mental health. Other questions come to mind:

  • Is the high antibody level to yeast just a marker for increased intestinal permeability or is there something intrinsically harmful about yeast consumption?
  • Does the increased level of IgG against wheat gliadin suggest greater wheat intake? Does it suggest that an autoimmune process has been triggered by gliadin that may involve the brain?
  • Are LPS serum levels, not just greater antibodies against LPS, also higher, suggesting the bacterial endotoxemia is present that may influence brain function and mood?

Few conclusions can be drawn from this limited study, but the results are so provocative that it is sure to prompt further exploration of the questions raised. I believe we can at least agree that suicide is an extreme case of the mind being hijacked by some process that impairs or turns off the basic instinct for survival, a powerful impulse. It is also a reminder that diet and the microbiome play a considerable role in mental health.

Wheat Belly: 12 rules for healthy eating


Here is an updated list of the Wheat Belly approach to healthy eating, adding basic strategies for recultivating a healthy intestinal microbiome.

A hundred thousand years ago, you’d have no doubt what and how to eat. You would wake up every morning, grab your spear, club, or axe and go kill something, wander and gather berries, nuts, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers, or set traps for fish and reptiles. If you succeeded in the hunt, you would consume every organ that included thyroid, thymus, pancreas, stomach, liver, as well as meat. You’d drink water from streams and rivers and allow your skin surface to be exposed to sunlight. You would NOT shower with soap or shampoo, apply hand sanitizer, drink chlorinated water, consume foods laced with herbicides and pesticides or genetically-modified foods containing glyphosate or Bt toxin, or take antibiotics for a viral infection. You succeeded in diet without knowing anything about calories, fat grams, carbs, etc. but just following instinct and need.

While we’ve enjoyed many technological successes these past 100 years, we have also experienced what it means to be given awful dietary advice that ruins health and be subjected to healthcare-for-profit. While there is more to health than diet, just getting diet right is crucial. Let’s therefore consider some of the basic truths in diet that help you regain a toehold in health and weight. If you want to eat for health, not to satisfy some silly food pyramid or plate scheme crafted by commercial interests, then you should:

  1. Eat real, whole foods—Opt for an avocado or egg over protein powder or meal replacement shake or frozen dinner. A meal replacement shake is never an adequate replacement for the nutrient profile of real food.
  2. Never count calories—Of all things, the Biggest Loser TV show illustrated what happens when you restrict calories. Extreme exercise combined with limiting calories does indeed allow weight loss, even to extravagant degrees, in the beginning . . .  only to be followed by regain of all the weight when your body adapts by reducing metabolic rate. Nearly all Biggest Loser successes regained all the weight they lost despite maintaining a calorie-restricted diet. Limiting calories is misery and is ineffective for long term weight loss success, while also yielding gallstones in many people due to gallbladder inactivity and bile stasis.
  3. Don’t limit fat—Just as a wild human enjoying a fresh kill does not say “Just give me some of the lean meat and throw out the fat,” so you should never buy lean meats, trim the fat off meats, or turn away butter, olive oil, the oil left after cooking bacon, or coconut oil. Yes, throw away the corn, cottonseed, and safflower oils that corrupt agencies have told you are preferable because they are unsaturated, but don’t limit fats and oils of the sorts that humans have consumed for millions of years and yielded virtually zero heart disease.
  4. Don’t sweat the protein—When you do not limit fats, protein intake is self-regulating. If you feel like having four eggs rather than three, go ahead. If you strength train and feel hungry for more steak, go ahead. Do not count protein grams but follow your appetite and instincts that become reliable without the distortions of wheat and grains. Occasional indulgences in higher protein intake also breaks ketosis and its harmful long-term effects such as kidney stones, osteoporosis, and diverticular disease that result from the dysbiosis of prolonged prebiotic fiber deprivation.
  5. Ignore diet advice from mainstream healthcare professionals—We have a peculiar situation in which the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association and other agencies eagerly accept huge donations from Coca Cola, Pepsi, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Aventis, Merck, Kellogg’s, Kraft, General Mills and other commercial sources, making them willing to craft messages favorable to their donors. These interests in turn “educate” health professionals with messages such as “everything in moderation,” “move more, eat less,” and other ridiculous and ineffective messages. Their practices have made these agencies irrelevant and counter to your health interests. This also means that, if you saw it in a TV or magazine commercial, don’t buy it. Nobody is advertising eggs from pastured chickens or organic broccoli, so those are the sorts of foods you should choose.
  6. Eat no seeds of grasses—People are often shocked to hear that wheat and grains are the seeds of grasses. For the same reasons you cannot eat the grass clippings from mowing your lawn, you should not consume the seeds of grasses called wheat, corn, rye, barley, millet, sorghum, etc. as you are incapable of digesting the proteins they contain that thereby exert peculiar immune, gastrointestinal, and mind effects due to indigestible peptides.
  7. Eat nothing with added sugar—Which becomes easy once you have taste perception restored by banishing wheat and grains from your life. You begin to recognize that almonds are actually sweet, as are unsweetened yogurt and Brussel sprouts, while formerly tasty treats like milk chocolate become sickeningly sweet and inedible. There is no reason to add sugar or consume foods with added sugars. The sugar industry may have paid off doctors to conceal the dangers of sugar and divert public attention towards saturated fat, but you should not fall for such commercial shenanigans.
  8. Salt your food—People who are grain-free, as we are in the Wheat Belly lifestyle, need salt. By normalizing insulin blood levels and removing the sodium-retaining gliadin protein of wheat, we actually improve metabolic status by adding salt to our foods, not to mention foods taste better with salt.
  9. Limit dairy—Unlike the seeds of grasses (grains) that have no precedent in dietary consumption and are completely foreign to the human dietary experience, humans are mammals that survive on breast milk for the first two to four years (in primitive societies that follow instinct and not Nestle). But the amino acid sequence of casein protein in non-human breast milk are indeed an issue. We therefore limit dairy, choosing fermented forms such as cheese and yogurt that convert lactose to lactic acid and denature (break down) the immunogenic casein beta A1 prevalent in North America.
  10. Drink water—If you were a primitive human hunting for your next meal or digging in the dirt for roots and tubers, you’d stop for a water break at the river’s edge. You would not have access to fruit juices, soda, and the other ways that industry has corrupted beverages. Tea and coffee, being little more than water, are benign. But steer clear of orange juice, grape juice, soda—sugar-containing or aspartamed-up—and opt for the liquid that has sustained humans for millions of years: plain water.
  11. Eat fermented foods—Foraging for wild food means stumbling on foods that have naturally fermented, such as too-ripe fruit. Fermentation allows bacteria and fungi to grow on foods, species such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Leuconostoc that increase intestinal mucus production, convert prebiotic fibers to healthy metabolites like butyrate, and inhibit proliferation of pathogenic species. Veggies you ferment yourself, kefir, homemade yogurt, kimchi—there are hundreds of choices.
  12. Include prebiotic fiber-rich foods—Before supermarkets, before agriculture, you would forage in the forest, savannah, or jungle, digging with  rock, bone fragment, or stick to uncover roots and tubers that kept you satiated until the next successful hunt. You’d also pick wild fruit when the season brought bounties of berries, apples, cherries and others. You also learned which green plants and mushrooms were safe to consume. All of this nourished the Prevotella and Spirochetes you harbored in your gut.

Beyond diet, recognize that modern life—NOT the diet—has created deficiencies of several nutrients such as iodine, magnesium, and vitamin D that, if not addressed, will limit health success. This is why the Wheat Belly lifestyle is based on eating healthily but goes further in addressing these common deficiencies. Also recognize that modern life has created a disastrous microbiome lacking beneficial species like Lactobacillus reuteri and Faecalibacterium prausnitizii while dominated by unhealthy Gram-negative anaerobes like Salmonella and Citrobacter.

I hope that this list illustrates just how far off-course the modern diet has wandered. Look around you and see the result: obesity, all-you-can-eat buffets, record-setting medical bills, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in every third or fourth American, and healthcare fat cats profiting from the health and weight disaster. But you know better than that. Follow your instincts. There are no obese squirrels, possum, or lions, yet they don’t follow a food pyramid or plate, don’t have dietitians to guide them, don’t have a health insurance card to cover doctor visits.

The next Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Challenge begins Wednesday October 14th!


By Dr. Davis and April Duval

Are you ready to take back control over your weight and reclaim your health?  Do you want to turn the clock back 10 or 20 years, look and feel better, be freed of numerous, if not all, prescription drugs?  Well then you are invited to join us in our next Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Challenge that starts on Wednesday, October 14th.

The Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox supplies you with carefully designed meal plans and delicious recipes to fully eliminate wheat and related grains in the shortest time possible. Perfect for those who may have fallen off the wagon or for newcomers who need a jump-start for weight loss, this program guides you through the complete 10-Day Detox experience. In addition to this quick-start program, I’ll show you:

  • How to recognize and reduce wheat-withdrawal symptoms,
  • How to avoid common landmines that can sabotage success
  • How to use nutritional supplements to further advance weight loss and health benefits
  • How to effectively navigate the grocery store and choose safe products
  • How weight loss and magnificent health are achievable without cutting calories, without hunger

To join the Detox Challenge:

Step 1: Get the book and read it (at least the first 5 chapters).

Detox Challenge participants should be informed and active in order to get the most out of the challenge and private Facebook group. READING THE WHEAT BELLY DETOX BOOK IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE. PLEASE DO NOT PARTICIPATE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK or else the conversations will not make sense and you will not enjoy full benefit. It is a very bad idea to try and piece the program together just from our conversations. (Note that the Wheat Belly Detox program is NOT laid out in the original Wheat Belly book.)


Barnes & Noble:


Step 2: Join the Wheat Belly Blog community 

Access the thousands of discussions that provide additional recipes, discussions about issues relevant to the Wheat Belly lifestyle, and access the newest ideas in the Wheat Belly Blog.  By becoming a Wheat Belly Blog community member, you will have access to the huge number of resources available on the Wheat Belly Blog: nearly 2000 posts with recipes, tips, new concepts, avoiding pitfalls, etc. You are also supporting the cause and covering the costs of Wheat Belly staff and projects.

The cost is $15.99 for an annual subscription. Here is why we have converted to a subscription process.  Please provide the name you registered with when requesting to join the private Facebook page:

Step 3: Join the Private Facebook Group.

Step 4: Prepare for the Detox Challenge

Head to the Private Facebook Group Tuesday, October 6th through October 13th for chapter discussions, tips, strategies, recipes, videos and discussions to help you prepare for your upcoming detox challenge.  Dr. Davis and site administrator, April Duval, will be posting and answering your questions.  April is herself an example of a fabulous Wheat Belly Detox success, she knows the ins and outs of this lifestyle like the back of her hand.  Our goal: to help you succeed in restoring your health and achieving your health goals.

Step 5: Join the Detox page conversations from October 14th to October 23rd.  Dr. Davis will personally kick off Day 1 of the Detox Challenge with a LIVE Facebook session.  It will be held on the Detox Facebook page Wednesday, October 14th, 12 pm EDT/11 am CDT/10 am MDT/9 am PDT. Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Facebook page

Why the Detox Challenge?

Through the New York Times bestseller, Wheat Belly, millions of people learned how to reverse years of chronic health problems by removing wheat from their daily diets. But, after reading the original Wheat Belly or the Wheat Belly Total Health book, or even using the recipes from the Wheat Belly Cookbook and Wheat Belly 30-Minute Cookbook, people still said: “I’ve read the books, but I’m still not sure how to get started on this lifestyle.

The Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox  Challenge helps readers navigate the core Wheat Belly lifestyle strategies. This is the quickest, most assured way to get started on regaining magnificent health and slenderness by adopting the Wheat Belly lifestyle.


Olive oil and Akkermansia


I’ve previously discussed the importance of the bowel flora species, Akkermansia muciniphila. Having abundant (around 5% of total bowel flora) Akkermansia helps minimize insulin resistance, fatty liver, reduces triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure. The benefits of Akkermansia on blood sugar are so substantial that there is now a commercial probiotic called Pendulum that targets people with type 2 diabetes. ($198 for a one-month supply! They clearly are going to go toe-to-toe with the Big Pharma diabetes franchise.)

Akkermansia is a keystone species that supports (via metabolites and stimulation of mucus production) other bacterial species. Supporting growth of Akkermansia thereby not only increases the numbers of this microbe, but supports other healthy bacterial species.

The numbers of Akkermansia in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract diminish sharply as we age and, with it, we become more susceptible to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and gain weight more readily. Loss of abundant Akkermansia also leads to a thinner intestinal mucus lining, allowing bacteria to directly contact intestinal cells, and increases bacterial endotoxemia, i.e., the entry of bacterial byproducts (such as lipopolysaccharide, LPS) into the bloodstream. Recall that endotoxemia is the process that explains how bowel flora can express effects on the skin as rosacea, in the brain as Parkinson’s disease, in the joints and muscles as fibromyalgia, in the legs as restless leg syndrome.

Short of taking an Akkermansia probiotic, there are foods that increase its numbers that I mentioned in my previous Wheat Belly Blog post on this microbe. This includes:

  • Melatonin
  • Fructooligosaccharides, FOS–An especially powerful trigger for Akkermansia, increasing its growth as much as one thousand-fold. (Inulin likely has a similar effect, though this has not been formally studied.) FOS are likely the “preferred” energy source for Akkermansia, as it is more vigorously consumed than any other potential nutrient.
  • Metformin–This drug commonly used as first-line treatment of type 2 diabetes increases Akkermansia and reduces lipopolysaccharide entry into the bloodstream, thereby reducing inflammation.
  • Various flavonoids/polyphenols–Black tea, red wine/Concord grape juice, and rhubarb increase the Akkermansia population.

Let’s add olive oil to the list, a vigorous trigger of Akkermansia proliferation. While many of olive oil’s health benefits are due to the polyphenols such as hydroxytyrosol (that microbes metabolize), the trigger for Akkermansia comes from oleic acid, the monounsaturated fatty acid that comprises 60-70% of the fats in olive oil. Oleic acid, in turn, is the precursor to an endocannabinoid, oleoylethanolamide (OEA), that is a vigorous stimulant for Akkermansia proliferation.

Recall that, while Akkermansia provides many metabolic health benefits, it can also turn against you if you fail to take in prebiotic fibers, as many people do on ketogenic or carnivorous diets. In this situation, while other microbes that rely on prebiotic fibers die or are reduced in numbers, Akkermansia proliferates, occupying 10-18% of all bowel flora due to its ability to feed on human mucus. As Akkermansia feeds on the intestinal mucus lining, it exposes the intestinal wall to bacteria, increases endotoxemia, and opens the door to conditions such as diverticular disease, ulcerative colitis, and autoimmune conditions. As long as you continue to consume prebiotic fibers, you keep Akkermansia from overconsumption of the mucus lining.

Use more olive oil in your daily dishes, enjoy the uptick in Akkermansia populations, see the phenomena of insulin resistance and inflammation recede, even if you have taken the bold steps of banishing all wheat and grains from your diet and limiting sugars.

Cholecystokinin: Key to appetite control?


I discussed a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK, in my Wheat Belly books. CCK is a major player in the regulation of human hunger and eating behavior, as well as digestion. CCK is released when food, swallowed, reaches the duodenum, stimulating release of CCK from the cells lining the duodenal wall.

Also recall that CCK is blocked by wheat germ agglutinin, the lectin of wheat and related grains that has been enriched in modern strains of wheat for its pest-resistant properties. In other words, farmers and agribusiness scientists selected strains of wheat over the years for increased wheat germ agglutinin content, as it helps resist molds and insects, advantages in farming. But the increased CCK content of modern wheat also means that there is exaggerated potential for effects on humans who consume grain products.

When CCK is blocked, a variety of abnormal phenomena develop, including:

  • Bile stasis—Because CCK is responsible for activating contraction of the gallbladder to expel bile into the duodenum that emulsifies fats, bile stasis can develop when CCK is blocked, i.e., bile is retained in the gallbladder and is thereby subject to crystallization, the process that leads to gallstones. Any food such as bread, bagels, or pancakes that contains wheat germ agglutinin therefore contributes to bile stasis. The process is made even worse if you combine wheat and grain consumption with reducing fat and/or calories that further contributes to gallbladder inactivity and bile stasis. In other words, conventional dietary advice to eat plenty of grains and limit fat and calories stacks the odds in favor of developing gallstones.
  • Inadequate release of pancreatic enzymes—Along with bile, pancreatic enzymes help digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Because wheat germ agglutinin is a blocker of pancreatic release of enzymes, this triggers symptoms of heartburn, impaired ability for complete digestion, and likely contributes to dysbiosis/SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
  • Increased meal size—When CCK is stimulated by food in the duodenum, it discourages continued consumption of food, a normal feedback mechanism to tell you when you have had enough to eat. When CCK is blocked, appetite inhibition is disabled, encouraging increased food intake, increasing appetite. This is another reason why wheat and grain consumption increases food consumption, adding to gliadin-derived opioid peptides that also stimulate appetite.

I hope that you appreciate how conventional dietary advice derails normal physiology, how far off-course it sends you and leads you down the path of gallstones, dysbiosis/SIBO, and unrelenting appetite. Have you noticed how much more in control over appetite once you became wheat/grain-free?

Wheat Belly and Undoctored One on One Program Support is Available

Our program coaches can answer your questions, offer suggestions, and direct you to resources.  The goal: to help you reach your health goals. Our two health coaches are deeply familiar with the ins and outs of the Wheat Belly and Undoctored programs.  Members who have participated in coaching have found support, encouragement, and strategies to help them succeed in the day-to-day following of these lifestyles.


April Duval is the main administrator for the Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Facebook page.  She is also part of the Undoctored team.  Here’s a little bit more about Coach April, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach:

” If your health restoration journey would be enhanced by support on how to live the core lifestyle strategies like choosing healthy foods, how to best plan and prepare for your day, strategies to manage net carbs, ideas to handle social situations or family members not doing the program, or how to time your nutritional supplements… then I invite you to sign up for coaching with me!I especially like helping people work through stalls in their progress. I look forward to helping you on your journey towards health!  Food is medicine or poison and we get to make that choice each bite, each meal, and each day!”Undoctored-April.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

Learn more about April’s coaching in her video:

Jennifer is a health coach on our Undoctored Inner Circle membership website. Here’s a little bit more about Coach Jennifer, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach:

“I am passionate about helping people regain control over health and weight. Having worked with Dr. Davis on a number of projects, I am intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of the Wheat Belly and Undoctored programs. I can tell you that getting the program right yields enormous benefits. I also have a special interest and expertise in gut health. My goal is to help you enjoy magnificent success and achieve all your health and weight loss goals.  As a mother and masters-level athlete, I am extremely passionate and joyful about food and cooking. I love sharing these passions with my clients!”Undoctored-Jen.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1

Learn more about Jen’s coaching in her video:


To sign up for personalized coaching sessions, choose your coach and session package here: