Sourced from: Wheat Belly Blog, by Dr. Davis,
originally posted on the Wheat Belly Blog: 2013-01-12
This 2013 Wheat Belly Blog post is mirrored on the Inner Circle
PCM for historical reasons (it’s referenced by other mirrored blog posts).
The original (2011) Wheat Belly book did not have this concise list.
The later Wheat Belly Total Health did. The current program
has similar lists and site resources with evolved detail. In particular, the
Bowel Health topic gave rise to its own book,
Super Gut. The probiotic products listed below are no
longer endorsed by the current program. Original links have been checked, updated, and
annotated as needed due to brand changes.
supplements in the wake of wheat elimination
Consumption of modern wheat distorts health
at many levels. Remove wheat, like removing a splinter that makes
your finger hot, sore, and open to infection, and the body needs
to readjust to this new lifestyle.
There are a number of strategies to consider
to accelerate the adjustment. And there are other strategies worth
considering that help recover overall ideal health. This last item,
of course, is a huge issue, but there are several basic efforts
that provide outsized benefits.
Among the issues/strategies to consider:
Remove this great disrupter of normal bowel flora called modern
wheat and you need to transition back to healthier bacterial
populations. After removing wheat, some people experience
constipation and bloating (often misinterpreted as lack of fiber),
more rarely diarrhea. Both situations can be addressed by taking
a probiotic preparation that provides 50 billion CFUs (colony
forming units) of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species.
I’ve had success with Renew Life (note: has since become a Clorox® brand) and
(note: has since become Nature’s Way)
brands. Because intestinal bacteria should repopulate fairly quickly,
4-8 weeks of probiotic replacement usually suffices. (Continuing need
usually signals that something continues to disrupt resumption of
healthy bowel flora.) If this dose of probiotic is rough on your
gastrointestinal tract, you can try a lower potency preparation,
e.g., 10-25 billion, for the first few weeks. A softer, slower
approach is to take advantage of the “prebiotic” effects
of inulin, a fiber/polysaccharide contained in some of the sweeteners
used in Wheat Belly recipes, such as powdered stevia extracts with
inulin, Swerve, and others; inulin encourages growth of lactobacillus species.
If this fails to provide relief from bowel
complaints, such as acid reflux/heartburn, constipation, thin or liquid
stools, cramps, or bloating, then it is best to undergo formal
evaluation to assess for pancreatic insufficiency/failed
cholecystokinin signaling, biliary insufficiency, bacterial overgrowth
resistant to wheat elimination/probiotic supplementation, and
hypochlorhydria. This evaluation is best undertaken by a functional
medicine practitioner, naturopath, or chiropractor with interest in
these conditions. An occasional person does fine on his/her own by
supplementing with a pancreatic enzyme supplement such as
Enzymatic Therapy (now Nature’s Way) Mega Zyme or
Renew Life (now a Clorox brand) ParaZYME.
I count vitamin D as secondary only to wheat elimination as among
the most powerful strategies I have ever witnessed to regain ideal health.
While a wheat-free diet is richer in vitamin D from eggs, mushrooms,
fish, and meats, most people nonetheless remain deficient. Because most of
the people I know refuse to run naked outside in a tropical sun but live
indoors and/or wear clothes, and because we lose the ability to activate
vitamin D as we age, supplementation is necessary for most people to
achieve desirable blood levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D. Having
restored vitamin D in thousands of people over the past
6-7 years, I have found that most people require
4000-8000 units per day in gelcap form to achieve a desirable
25-hydroxy vitamin D level; I aim for 60-70 ng/ml
(150-180 nmol/L). (Tablets are poorly or erratically absorbed.)
Just as removing wheat mimics the natural diet of
Homo sapiens that was without grains for 99.6% of the
time we have walked on earth, so vitamin D supplementation
restores the vitamin D we should have obtained from consumption
of organ meats, mushrooms, fish, and the eggs of birds, as well as
skin exposure to sun when possible.
The list of potential benefits of restoring
vitamin D include relief from winter “blues,”
heightened mental clarity, elevation of mood/relief from depression,
improvement of memory; increased bone density/protection from
osteoporosis and fracture; increased HDL cholesterol, reduced blood
sugar/enhanced insulin sensitivity, reduced blood pressure;
enhanced athletic performance; protection from colon, breast, prostate
and other cancers; among many, many others.
NOW, Carlson, Nordic Naturals, as well as
Sam’s Club and Costco, sell excellent vitamin D preparations
at reasonable cost.
Omega-3 fatty acids
If you were a wild-living Homo erectus living one million
years ago, hunting the African savanna, or an Ice Age Cro Magnon
scratching out a living in the cold Northern European Plain of stone blades,
you’d consume the snout, brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and
hindquarters of auroch, ibex, reindeer and other creatures. Several pounds
of animal flesh and organs per day was not uncommon. If you had access to
coastal waters, you might also spear fish or scavenge shellfish. In the
appropriate environment, you might also consume seal, whale, or walrus.
You would thereby obtain rich quantities of omega-3 fatty acids that play
varied roles in the human body, including participating in brain health
and modulating the after-eating (postprandial) processing of meal byproducts.
Modern diets in which we are advised to cut fat and
cholesterol and eat more “healthy whole grains” are woefully
deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. A typical RBC omega-3 index (one method
to gauge your omega-3 fatty acid content, obtainable as a blood test via
fingerstick) of an average American is 3%, i.e., 3% of all fatty acids in
red blood cells are omega-3s. The omega-3 RBC index of a wild living
Homo sapiens who consumes fish and animal flesh/organs would
be 8%, 10%, even higher (depending on the environment and the mix of animal
and fish food sources). Interestingly, the risk for sudden cardiac death
and cardiovascular events has been shown to drop off dramatically with
an omega-3 RBC index of 10% or greater.
Nearly everyone achieves an RBC omega-3 index of
10% or greater with intakes of EPA and DHA (the two principal omega-3
fatty acids) of 3000 to 3600 mg per day, readily obtained by
supplementing fish oil. (This is NOT the quantity of fish oil, but the
quantity of EPA + DHA contained within fish oil.) The best
fish oils are in the highly-purified triglyceride form, a form
that requires additional purification steps beyond that usually taken
to create the common fish oils on the supermarket, drugstore, or health
food store shelves (the less well-absorbed ethyl ester form).
The additional purification means triglyceride forms contain fewer
parts-per-billion mercury, PCBs, dioxin, or other contaminants, and is
better absorbed. (Notably, the prescription form of fish oil, the
widely-prescribed and perversely expensive Lovaza, is the ethyl ester form.)
Supplementing omega-3 fatty acids reduces the
postprandial excursions of lipoproteins (thereby reducing cardiovascular
risk), reduces triglycerides, raises HDL cholesterol, reduces the
proportion of small LDL particles, reduces blood pressure, enhances
parasympathetic (“relaxation”) tone, and exerts
The best sources of the triglyceride form of
omega-3 fatty acids include NutraSea from
Ascenta (now Nature’s Way Canada), Nordic Naturals, and
Iodine and thyroid health
If thyroid function is low, even if just by a bit, it will
1) impair your ability to lose weight, even adding
weight, sometimes substantial, 2) increase LDL cholesterol
and triglycerides, and thereby 3) increase cardiovascular
risk. It can also be responsible for low energy, inappropriately cold
hands and feet, constipation, thinning hair, and other abnormal phenomena.
Iodine is crucial for health; without iodine,
thyroid hormone levels decline, you develop colds hands and feet,
become tired, constipated, retain water, gain weight, develop heart
failure and can eventually die. Iodine is critical for thyroid health,
as it is required for the thyroid gland to manufacture thyroid hormones,
T3 and T4. Iodine is also important for breast health (reducing
fibrocystic breast disease, a potential precursor to breast cancer) and
oral health (as salivary glands concentrate iodine for antibacterial effects).
Problem: Unless you live in a coastal environment,
the food you consume likely lacks iodine if it is sourced inland. (All the
iodine on earth is in the ocean.) It means that people in the midwest or
other inland areas can experience iodine deficiency, as they did up until
the first half of the 20th century when goiters (enlarged thyroid
glands due to iodine deficiency) were everywhere, affecting 25% of the
population. This is why the FDA passed a regulation in 1924 that encouraged
that iodine be added to table salt, a time in which there was no TV, radio,
internet, and much of the U.S. was illiterate and/or rural. Early
20th century Americans were therefore encouraged to use more salt to
“Keep your family goiter free!” (This was the actual motto
on the Morton’s iodized salt container.)
Excessive salt use (along with the salt-retaining
properties of modern wheat) led to problems with sodium in some populations.
The FDA responded by urging Americans to cut their salt consumption. People
listened . . . and iodine deficiency reappeared, showing up as
the symptoms listed above, the symptoms of underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
Iodine deficiency is readily reversed by
supplementing an inexpensive iodine supplement in capsule, tablet, or
liquid form. I generally ask patients to supplement 500 mcg per day, a
level higher than the 150 mcg per day RDA but a level that does not
generate toxicity. (Rare side-effects are generally confined to people
who have been severely iodine-deficient for an extended period and develop
an overactive thyroid response, signaled by jitteriness, anxiety, and lab
values suggesting an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism. This is
Along with iodine deficiency that impairs thyroid
function, we have all been exposed to a wide range of organochemicals:
perchlorates residues from synthetic fertilizers in your produce,
polyfluorooctanoic acid from non-stick cookware (which can persist for
10 years or more in your body or in groundwater), and many others.
This can result in hypothyroidism, a very common condition. While
approximately 20% of people will experience partial or total restoration
of thyroid function with just iodine supplementation, the other 80% with
hypothyroidism will require prescription thyroid hormone replacement.
The great majority of people do best with restoration of both T4 and
T3 thyroid hormones, not just T4 (Synthroid or levothyroxine). It means
taking levothyroxine (T4) with liothyronine (T3) or a combination
tablet containing both, such as Armour thyroid or Naturethroid. The
hurdle is in trying to find a practitioner to
1) perform a full thyroid assessment, then
2) address all aspects of thyroid health,
Wheat consumption over many years impairs intestinal magnesium
absorption. To make matters worse, modern water treatment (either
municipal or home water filtration) removes nearly all magnesium from
drinking water and modern produce generally contains much less
magnesium (60-70% less is typical). The result: widespread magnesium
deficiency. This expresses itself as cramps in the hands and calves;
constipation; heart rhythm disorders; and (modest) distortions of
blood sugar and elevated blood pressure.
To remedy, consume foods rich in magnesium.
While green vegetables and nuts contain some, seeds–sunflower,
pumpkin, sesame–are unusually rich in magnesium. Most people,
however, do better by supplementing magnesium. Magnesium malate is
my preferred form, such as Source
Naturals, 1200 mg (total tablet/capsule weight) two or three
times per day. The malate form (the malic acid “salt,” an
acid from apples and fruit) is well-absorbed and least likely to
cause diarrhea. (Most other forms of magnesium cause loose stools,
especially the oxide form.) If constipation is a real bother for you,
magnesium citrate is a better stool softener, though a bit less well
absorbed; 400 mg two or three times per day.
Eliminate all modern wheat, eat real
single-ingredient foods, and follow the suggestions detailed above,
and I predict that 80-90% of all modern chronic conditions,
including hypertension, “high cholesterol,” diabetes
and pre-diabetes, joint pains, gastrointestinal struggles, depression
and other psychiatric difficulties, as well as literally dozens, if
not hundreds, of other conditions, will recede, if not outright disappear.
Interestingly, note that, by eliminating wheat,
supplementing vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iodine, we are
recreating the life of a primitive human–no primitive
human consumed wheat or grains; they obtained vitamin D through
sun exposure by living outdoors with greater surface area of skin exposure
and/or consumption of foods containing it; obtained omega-3 fatty acids
through consumption of animal organs, especially brain, and fish and
shellfish, and (ideally) consumed coastal plants and animals containing
iodine; consumed nuts, seeds, and drank water from a flowing stream rich
in magnesium. In other words, these are the strategies we KNOW are
consistent with the life created by human evolution.