Doctor's Note

This is the second video in a 3-part series on the latest science on gluten and gluten-free diets. Though the medical profession now recognizes wheat sensitivity as a discrete entity, it’s still not clear if it’s actually the gluten to which people are reacting. See the first part for a review of the controversy: Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?.

In the final installment, How to Diagnose Gluten Intolerance, I’ll go step by step how someone may want to proceed who suspects they might be sensitive to gluten-containing grains.

More on the benefits of whole grains in general in Whole Grains May Work As Well As Drugs and Alzheimer’s Disease: Grain Brain or Meathead?.

More on keeping our gut flora happy in videos such as Preventing the Common Cold with Probiotics? and Beans and the Second Meal Effect.

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  • basskills

    I have been experimenting with a GF diet last couple of months and I have noticed when I re-introduce gluten back into my diet, the day after (without fail) I break out in spots and my digestion slows right down (and stinky gas ensues). Does this mean I am gluten sensitive or is it because my gut sensitivity is rebuilding?

    Needless to say, soon as I stop the gluten and feed up on say rice, my digestion improves and spots eventually go away. confused.

    • BB

      You should consider getting tested for Celiac Disease. What the video says about avoiding gluten causing false test results is true. I was on and off gluten so many times it caused me to have three false negatives before I finally tested positive. I was sure I had CD because of symptoms and advice from another CD patient. CD is a serious condition. The seriousness of the condition is often diminished with the current fad of eating gluten-free for weight loss. I know one CD patient who died from complications of the disease. It is best to get tested and then you will know if you are sensitive or have the disease. Eat gluten again for a week or so before you get the testing. Good luck!

    • Cynysha Thompson

      If you do want to continue to eat gluten, try eating ORGANIC forms of it. If you are able to digest this without experiencing difficulties your culprit is the highly processed and G.M.O. gluten that is EVERYWHERE. I am a Coeliac and I CANNOT eat any form of gluten, wheat or cereals. This includes corn and rice so if you CAN eat, digest and not experience issues with rice, you are more than likely not a Coeliac.

      • Billyv8

        The big three gluten-heavy grains (wheat, and her close
        relatives and hybrids, Rye and Barley are not commercially GMO-ed. Virtually,
        the only grain commercially GMO-ed is corn.

        • Joe

          This is true, but the majority of the wheat we eat today comes from a breed of plant created in the 50s / 60s using radiation based gene manipulation. This produced smaller plants that yielded far better – but it is not the same plant we have been eating for centuries which came from the middle east. Although it is not GM – in the sense that no DNA material was taken from other kingdoms – its genes were altered, and that could potentially cause reactions for some people.

          An interesting test for people with gluten issues would be to try eating Farro or Spelt and see if there are similar reactions. These grains were the grandfathers of Wheat. People eat Farro quite a bit in Italy – and in fact the word ‘farina’ or ‘flour’ comes from Farro!

          Another issue is that recently farmers have begun using Roundup on Wheat crops just before harvest – to stress the plants into a final burst of production, and to remove excess foliage making harvesting easier. Anyone eating this product is going to get a heavy dose of Roundup – and although questions remain about the safety directly on humans, there is no doubt of the effect that this has on the gut bacteria. Glyphosate is antimicrobial, and this could perhaps explain reactions such as Acne outbursts.

    • Bris Vegas

      Wheat contains fermentable carbs called fructans. These are the most likely cause of stinky gas.

    • sf_jeff

      Just to rule out a possible confusion, you aren’t having milk with your glutenous grains are you? Milk is another candidate for your issues.

    • Zuppkko

      Don’t be. You can tell what the body does not want you to eat. That’s good.

  • Matt

    I thought the issue with avoiding gluten (for those without allergies, CD, etc.) was that the quality (nutritional value) of wheat in particular has declined dramatically over time.

    • Cynysha Thompson

      You are so very correct!!!! Based on my experience, I KNOW that the issue is NOT gluten ……….. It’s the quality. The G.M.O. seeds, how it’s grown, if it’s sprayed with toxic chemicals and how processed it is before it’s packaged.

      • maternity care provider

        Wheat is not GMO, just old-fashioned hybridization

    • Bris Vegas

      The nutritional qualities of wheat have actually been improved over the last few decades by selective breeding.

  • DGM

    I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. From everything I’ve read the suggestion is for Hashi’s to be gluten free due to gluten mimicing thyroid tissue. Which, in turn, causes our antibodies to increase. I know I have at least one gluten sensitive gene because my daughter was tested and has two. Is there science based research on autoimmune diseases and gluten?

    • Cynysha Thompson

      If you develop an autoimmune disease you MUST have the genetic markers for it. Emotional stress and environmental toxins trigger ALL autoimmune diseases. Once you have the genetic marker there is a very high chance that you will develop the disease if your diet consists of mostly highly processed foods and you are experiencing high levels of stress. The gluten is not the issue. The issue is the quality of the gluten. If it is G.M.O., sprayed with herbicides then highly processed and packaged, it’s, of course, no good. If you have confirmation that the genetic marker is present and have yet to suffer from the disease try to avoid the disease manifesting all together with quality control of your food. High levels of organic fruits and vegetables is excellent and, if you do still decide to ingest gluten, make sure it’s organic as well.

    • Morwalk

      I’m glad you asked that question. I have also read that in various places. I have had three doctors tell me to avoid gluten because I have Hashi’s, one of whom was my endocrinologist. Though I have also read that anyone who has an autoimmune disease should avoid gluten. You might try reading Izabella Wentz’s book on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s very good, very thorough.

    • Christine Kestner

      Hi, DGM! I am Christine, a NF Volunteer Nutrition Moderator. As the video states, gluten stimulates the immune system. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition. While I don’t think it has anything to do with gluten imitating thyroid tissue, it is possible that the immune stimulation of gluten could make an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s worse. I have worked with Hashimoto’s clients who have benefitted from eliminating gluten from their diets. If you find that a gluten-free diet helps with your Hashimoto’s symptoms and lab test results, then who am I to tell you otherwise? I hope that helps!

  • Trey

    DGM – Great question. I also have an autoimmune disorder and have been avoiding gluten based on advice from a number of sources (albeit most of them online) indicating that gluten and leaky-gut issues may play a role in autoimmune disorders. Would love to hear the Dr.’s thoughts on this.

    • Stewart

      Hi Trey. For me gluten causes an inflammatory arthritis.
      However, beware of the gross generalization from online sources. I am always very suspicious of these. Yes gluten can be a problem and yes leaky gut can be implicated in auto immune problems. However the leaky is more likely to be dairy than gluten.
      I have always maintained that wheat is a very healthy dietary component unless you have a particular problem with it such as an allergy, sensitivity or celiac. This presentation is to me very important in laying out some previously unknown (to me) health benefits of gluten. When I eliminated all animal products and moved to a more decisively whole foods plant based diet, my gluten sensitivity was reduced dramatically but alas not totally. Still I think I can have limited amounts say my favorite vegan whole wheat wrap twice a week.

  • Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD

    Thank you for showing the science! Very frustrating as a registered dietitian nutritionist that so many people think gluten is such a huge problem (when it’s not). I gather people feel better b/c of adopting a more wholesome diet and eliminating many of the highly processed refined foods they were previously consuming.

  • panopticon1984

    The notion that not consuming gluten may be harmful must come as quite a surprise to the large percentage of the world’s population that doesn’t consume gluten.

    • Bris Vegas

      There are very few places where wheat isn’t eaten regularly.

  • Julot Julott

    Hello, we know whole grains are healthy overall but i have a question, can we consider that pasta made from whole grains flour like yellow corn, buckwheat or whole rice flour pasta are really whole grains and are as healthy? I mean flour even from whole flour is not a whole product since it is refined…

    • Elaine Guillermin

      Exactly. There are other grains besides wheat, barley and rye. You can still eat whole grains even if you do not eat gluten. As for gluten ingestion enhancing the immune function somehow, I can’t imagine that gluten is the only substance that serves this purpose. While I don’t see any reason to give up gluten if you don’t have to, I don’t think that eliminating is harmful, as there are just so many other things you can eat. Eliminating only three grains could not possibly be terribly adverse. As long as other whole grains are ingested.

      • Julot Julott

        Do you have any ideas or science studies if Pastas made from whole flour is as healthy as real whole grains?

  • Karl

    I think there could be non CD upper limit to glucose intake. If you eat glucose-rich meat substitutes and a lot of bread it could be too much for anyone. Don’t know till I learn.

  • David

    AMLA/Diabetes, a nice addition to Dr. Gregers’ information about AMLA:

  • Ant

    There are plenty of studies showing Gluten to be adverse to good health than pro-health, for example Eating a plant based raw food diet is always going to be optimal, but i wouldn’t be telling or alluding people to be eating something that can have a wide ranging effect, and going through your snippet slide show of clips that are much of the time irrelevant that sometimes reaffirms your point. Is gluten really safe when there are mountains of evidence the other way?

    • Timar

      Evidence? You seem to confuse scientific evidence with internet hysteria.

      I have seen no credible scientific evidence that gluten is bad for anyone not suffering from either celiac disease or gluten intolerance. That is about 98% of the population. (And believe me, I have read through a lot of literature).

      In this case Dr. Greger is spot-on. If you are lucky enough to be one of those 98 out of 100, there is no reason to avoid gluten – at least the gluten from whole grains, for the healthiness of which we really have “mountains of evidence” .

      • Doh!

        Yeah, which is why several Drs grim warnings about gluten sensitivity have really bothered me, and caused me a great deal of (unnecessary?) stress, (see my post below). GF Fat free is expensive too.

        I had too many expensive medical tests and remedies which now seem to be based on pseudo science (or early findings not yet verified so only try if it’s really your last desperate chance). And now I doubt the qualifications and scientific credentials of integrative MDs.

        I hope dr Greger’s next video addresses this gluten sensitivity scare campaign. I should go gluten free for ms despite blood and gene tests showing Im not CD and I don’t notice problems from gluten? Fact or fiction?!

      • Julot Julott

        Possible and it seems white wheat bread is terrible for everyone GI tract~

  • Doh!

    For ms holistic Drs told me to avoid gluten for gluten sensitivity and risks of leaky gut, even though blood & gene tests showed no coeliac. The gluten sensitivity info those Drs gave me seemed not yet very scientific. They also went on about gut flora.

    I hope Dr Greger gets gregerious all over this as it causes stress. I would be happier to eat some gluten as I like it and my no oils vegan diet is restrictive enough without GF (difficult to travel or eat out = unhappy stress). Also, Is leaky gut really a problem for me on my diet?

  • Guest

    I don’t have celiac but going gluten-free (I did this well before it became a popular/trendy thing) dramatically changed my life and health for the better. It was like i had been numb. It took many months off it but it really changed things for the better.

  • dogulas

    I have a question regarding iodine. If not from sea-based food, where would ancient peoples inland have gotten their iodine? Or were they all just deteriorating mentally, but still did alright otherwise (

    • bob

      I think natural salt was traded as a valuable commodity…contains some iodine?
      It’s when many moved to the west coast and established California…that society progressed? ;-)

  • chrifou

    Ten years ago, I followed Dr Klaper elimination diet that I found on the Vegsource Website at the time. I was hoping to find the source of my severe eczema. Fourteen days later, my eczema was completely gone and when I reintroduced gluten I saw that it was the culprit. I have been gluten-free and very happy to be eczema-free since then.
    Six years later, my mom was diagnosed with celiac disease after thorough exams to find the cause of her iron deficiency.
    I follow my gluten-free diet very seriously as there is a good chance I have celiac disease too but there is no way I could go on a 4 to 6 slices of breads a day for a month so that I could get officially diagnosed.

    • Elaine Guillermin

      I don’t think I have celiac disease, but I have self diagnosed gluten intolerance and have been gluten free for almost two years. If I ate gluten for a month, I would be unemployable. If there is an insurance company who would cover me for that, I’d be happy to eat gluten for a month, and live in the bathroom, not work, wheeze from acid reflux, and suffer depression. Also, I think I read somewhere that the celiac test is unreliable, giving false positives. Imagine getting sick for a month from eating gluten and the getting a false negative?

  • Brandy

    I don’t have any problem digesting wheat products and regularly eat refined and whole wheat breads, but a bowl of wheat pasta gives me terrible breathing problems that last a couple hours after eating. Any ideas why?

  • Cynysha Thompson

    I am fortunate to be alive. I have Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome. Just as there are different types of Diabetes, there are different types of P.A.S. Mine is so serious that I have developed diseases in all four types of this disorder. One of them is Coeliac Disease. After years of prayers and personal research I discovered my condition and began to understand WHY my immune system was so compromised and why, one after the other, my organs were beginning to break down and deteriorate. It was a deadly combination of two things ……….. a rare genetic make up and toxicity. Coeliac Disease is NOT DEVELOPED ……… It is triggered by toxicity whether it is emotional toxicity or environmental toxicity taken in by the body via food, water, air, chemicals used in the home or work place or anything else that the body is coming in contact with. There MUST be a genetic marker for Coeliac Disease within any given human’s genetic make up FIRSTLY before Coeliac Disease can come about. Even blood tests carried out to identify anti bodies will not give clear answers as to whether one has this disease or not. The best way to identify this disease is via missing or collapsed villi of the intestinal tract. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go this far. Health professionals are now riding the wave of the high level of problems people are experiencing in digesting wheat, cereals and gluten BUT ………….. the issue is NOT wheat, cereals or gluten. Humans have been exposed to this form of plant life from the beginning of time. The issues are the G.M.O.s, extremely high levels of herbicides and pesticides and extremely high levels of processing wheat, cereals and gluten goes through.

    Coeliac Disease is experienced by a little over 2% of the general populous but sensitivities and irritations and the inability to digest are due to toxicity. We need to return to the food that is readily identified, processed and used by the body …………. ORGANIC, ORGANIC, ORGANIC.

    • Thea

      Cynysha: I’m sorry to hear you have such difficult medical problems. I can only imagine how hard it must be.

      I can’t comment on the majority of what you wrote, but I thought you would want to know that there is no commercially available GMO wheat on the market – at least not to my knowledge. This wikipedia article looks to be about a year old, but I believe the information about GMO wheat production is still true:

      Good luck with your medical issues. I’m glad you are still with us.

  • Sylvie Caron

    I would be so happy that it could be true! I followed this diet ( hypotoxic) before being vegan. That was my first step toward my healing, the second one was the vegan diet.
    This book written by a scientist (Jacqueline Lagacé) has a scientific explanation about gluten sensitivity.

  • Cynthia

    I must also disagree with the good doctor here. Recommending that people eliminate every other cause of their symptoms before even trying a gluten free diet is just not realistic. Who can do that other than an independently wealthy person with no work or family responsibilities? And what doctor (other than apparently Dr. Gregor) would help you do that? No doctors in my medium size town. Meanwhile, my issues with gas, diarrhea, migraines, tennis elbow, psoriasis, and essential hand tremor all were improved or completely resolved by a short stint of simply not eating flour, barley or rye. Cutting out the inflammation caused by dairy and meat took care of the remainder. No one should slog through years of tests and appointments unless their own food testing is equivocal, or they need a medical diagnosis for paperwork reasons. Living GF is no more a tragedy to be avoided than is giving up meat and dairy. Be honest Dr. Gregor – you just don’t want to try it. :)

    • Cynthia

      Need to add that I also got rid of my geographic tongue. I did not improve my diet in other ways (e.g. more veg/fruit) because I was already eating very healthy and cooking meals from scratch – stir fries and indian curries are my go to meals.

  • Laura C

    I have just watched your recent video about gluten free diets. I am a bit alarmed, because I have been avoiding gluten for a few years – I do not have celiac, nor a sensitivity – but rather because I have an enlarged thyroid. I have not been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, but have been instructed to avoid gluten – because it can aggravate certain thyroid problems. Do you have any science that would help me determine if that is the right way to go?

  • Debbie

    I am 52 years old and have eaten a plant based diet for about 5 few years. I never really totally cut out gluten, but made my own crackers, quit eating breads and anything really made with white flour except on occasion. In the last 4 months I had 3 episodes of hives, the last after eating 4 ritz crackers which also lead to tongue swelling… I am a nurse, and was at work so I went to the ER. I have been diagnosed with a wheat allergy? really after all these years of eating it, and merely cutting back? I am somewhat confused and trying to figure this out, there seems to be more to this and I hate to cut out something that might be good for me… but I also don’t want anaphylaxis happening!

    • VegeMarian

      Interesting. So, you’d always eaten wheat before you started the plant-based diet? How were you diagnosed with a wheat allergy?
      For myself and a few others I’ve observed, the more we’ve moved towards eating only organic and whole plant foods, the less tolerant our bodies seem to be to unhealthy foods and environmental toxins. I have no idea why that would be. I know with consuming alcohol, there are enzymes the liver makes to detoxify it, and if you don’t drink alcohol you make fewer of those enzymes (they are ‘induced’ by the presence of the toxin) so you become a ‘cheap date.’ I don’t know if that might apply somehow to exposure to allergens. I have certainly heard of allergies seeming to develop out of nowhere later in life. Also, a small allergic reaction can be much worse in repeat exposures so I would be very careful now if I were you.

  • Nalani

    Maybe I missed something, but is it really the gluten itself that causes the majority of problems and not something else about wheat? I keep seeing that the studies involve the individuals eating and/or avoiding cereals, breads, crackers, and other baked goods… what about just pure gluten like seitan and other “wheat meat” products? Are there any studies using that instead as the means of ingesting gluten and showing its effects? I recognize there ARE people who are still gluten intolerant, I’m not trying to deny that (the other video made that clear, not to mention I have friends who are legitimately gluten intolerant), I just can’t help but wonder if in many cases its really the gluten they’re after. It’s a question I’ve kept asking but no one has given me an answer. Has anyone on a wheat free diet otherwise tried eating Seitan? (ie, someone who has eaten seitan or a product containing vital wheat gluten while avoiding bread and other wheat products).

    I apologize for the lack of professionalism in my response.

    • Thea

      Nalani: I thought I would share that I think it is an interesting question. One of my *favorite* dishes is “wheat gluten with ginger sauce”, a dish sold at a local vegan Chinese restaurant. It is SO good. If some people found out that their intolerances were not related to the gluten itself, they could enjoy treats like that. (I call it a treat, because I recognize that it is a highly processed food. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it from time to time or that it isn’t a great help for people in transition.)

      I’m not sure if the following answers your question or not. It is copied from the transcript from the video before this one in the series:

      “Gluten itself may not be causing gut symptoms at all. See most people with wheat sensitivity have a variety of other food sensitivities. Two thirds are sensitive to cow’s milk protein as well, then eggs were the most common culprit. So if you put people on a diet low in common triggers of irritable bowel symptoms and then challenge them with gluten, there’s no effect. Same increase in symptoms with high gluten, low gluten or no gluten, calling into question the very existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”


      I think that gets to heart of your question?

      Thanks for your post.

  • Ray Tajoma

    Celiac disease and all gluten related allergies are all “FAKE” – or extreme exaggeration by fake Doctors and press controlled and hired by livestock industry to spread lies to annihilate competition for gluten (mock meat) which is a lot healthier and contains more and better quality protein than real meat.

    Meat contains 18% protein. Gluten contains 75% protein. Gluten wins the cruel bloody Protein Wars hands down. 99% of people that consume meat do so for PROTEIN.

    If I am wrong and these diseases and allergies do exist and are not exaggerations and “Propaganda” – then as many if not much more allergies and more severe diseases exists as a direct result of consuming “Real” Meat, Dairy, and Eggs.

  • Ray Tajoma

    Celiac disease and all gluten related allergies are “FAKE” – or extreme exaggeration by fake Doctors and press controlled and hired by livestock industry to spread lies to annihilate competition for gluten (mock meat) which is a lot healthier and contains more and better quality protein than real meat.

    If I am wrong and these diseases and allergies do exist and are not exaggerations and “Propaganda” – then as many if not much more allergies and more severe diseases exists as a direct result of consuming “Real” Meat, Dairy, and Eggs. Meat=18%Protein Gluten=75%Protein.

  • Ray Tajoma

    I think gluten sensitivity is intentionally “Hyped” by livestock and restaurant industries to cut competition from healthy higher protein mock meats (seitan & gluten). Most meat-eaters do so for “Protein” and Gluten and Seitan (mock meat) have more protein than real meat and healthier too without cholesterol and all the other crap inside the USA genetically modified drugged meat.

  • Robyn

    Does the FODMAP diet work with IBS with constipation?

    • Rhombopterix

      Hi Robyn, hope you see this…We learned about FODMAP foods a few months ago. My wife is seeing improvement in her IBS since trying it. Hard to relearn to eat though. A lot of restrictions to stay medium to low FodMap. How are you doing now?

  • Fangorn

    A suggestion is made here that Roundup is being used as a desiccant to speed up wheat harvesting:
    Any comments?

  • What are your thoughts on the Fodmap diet? The Doctor told my sister to avoid Broccoli and the like because they are bad, even though she doesn’t have IBS. This doesn’t seam logical to me.

  • nodelord

    This is what my nutritionist / doctor advised me on this as I have been gluten/wheat free for a year now and not sure I need to be. If I ask my family doctor or my gastroenterologist they tell me wheat is ok for me. My biggest concern is how wheat will effect my joint health and allergies.
    Hello Blanked
    Thank you for sending me these links. It is my opinion that the data from this presentation is taken a bit out of context. It’s NOT the gluten in whole grains that offer the vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients. Gluten is just the protein component of the grain and you can get protein from a thousand other food sources. These nutrients come from other parts of the grain..And while there are some benefits from eating whole grains, fortunately many of these very nutrients can be found in a variety of other whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts and legumes. As such, you can avoid eating grains and still lead a very healthy life.

    I would encourage you and any other individual interested in the subject to look into the research of Alessio Fasano, MD – chief of GI at Harvard and author of numerous papers on wheat/gluten/gliadin. I would also encourage you to read the medical literature published by Gerard Mullen, MD – chief of GI at Johns Hopkins and key note lecturer at numerous medical conferences on the subject of gut health. Finally, I would say that Dr Tom O’Bryan is probably of the leading authorities on the subject. Here is a link to one of his projects:

    Ultimately anyone who wants to eat wheat is free to do so! All I can say is: Warning: Consumer discretion is advised!

    All the best,

    Dr Blanked, DSc,RDN,LD,CCN,CDE
    Integrative Medicine Nutritionist & Author
    Blanked Center for Health & Healing

    Blanked Health Morsani College of Medicine, Adjunct Professor
    University of Blanked, Adjunct Professor
    Blanked University of Integrative Health, Adjunct Professor

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Blanked
    Date: Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 12:10 PM
    Subject: Gluten Info source as requested by Dr. Dean
    To: Blanked

    As discussed at our appointment the health benefits of gluten. I welcome the Doctor’s comments on the following very short videos.

  • MrS

    Wheat is not just bad for celiacs – studies prove that irrespective of autoimmunity that there is an reaction in the gut caused by a protein called Zonulin. This protein causes the tight junctions to open and causes macromolecules / undigested proteins and bacterial fragments to pass in to the bloods stream.

    The tight junction “gates” stay open longer in those with Celiac, Diabetes and other auto immune diseases – but DO open when ingesting gliadin in ALL people.

  • Derrek

    Is it ok to eat couscous? I bought organic and white couscous? Is white couscous refined in the same way white rice is? I eat mainly whole foods and did not realize that couscous was not a whole food. Any thoughts?

  • gomes812

    I was interested in some information about durum wheat, it’s marketed to be better than other wheat and I just wanted to know what’s your view on that? Perhaps you could research that topic and make some comparison video: normal wheat vs durum vs whole wheat?

  • I have always felt bad for CD sufferers. You get these fools that follow fad diets like they work, and arrogantly claim they are GF for no reason, and you have these poor—actually afflicted—individuals having to be lumped in with these morons simply following a trend. A diet is lifestyle eating, not some ridiculous elimination of a core food group or single ingredient to “promote health.”

    To all those with CD. My heart goes out to you. I bet it is incredibly difficult to deal with.

  • angieeyeo

    I wonder has anyone done a food intolerant test that test for 100-300 kinds of food to determine if the person suffers from any intolerance from our daily diet. Imupro has this test and I am not sure how medically proven that is.

  • Dean D

    Can you help me resolve the differences in view points? After reading Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD, I am under the impression that wheat, especially the new genetically manipulated wheat, with 10 times the amount of gluten, than ancient einhorn and emmer wheat, is possibly one of the worst things we are eating. Even if we are not one of the 1 out of 133 with celiac disease. That the glycemic index of bread made from wheat, 69-72, is higher than table sugar, 59. That the people with wheat/gluten sensitivities approaches more like 1 in 3, even though they do not have celiac disease. That wheat may contribute to many diseases, and the elimination of it can increase the greater health of the planet.

    This article seems to encourage viewers, to consume wheat for the greater health.

    Which viewpoint is true?

    • Thea

      Dean, I can understand your confusion. Lots of people find the book Wheat Belly (and it’s sister book Grain Brain) to be compelling. Unfortunately, the references in those books generally either do not support the claim or the claim being made twists the information really being presented in the studies.

      Dr. McDougall has a good article addressing both Wheat Belly and Grain Brain:

      Here’s another good article:

      I like the following page because it comes from a site that supports people who are gluten sensitive. If anyone was going to support the Wheat Belly, it would be the people on this site. But they too point to a lack of science behind the book:

      And then there is all of the great, solid evidence shown here on NutritionFacts that supports eating whole grains, including wheat.

      Note that there is a huge difference between eating bread (even whole wheat bread) and whole, intact grains, such as wheat berries. Or even whole wheat pasta. And while the glycemic index can be a somewhat helpful addition to the tools we use to evaluate foods, it should not be the only tool we use. The glycemic index of a food is just one tiny aspect to consider for the whole package. (I’m assuming diet coke does not have a high glycemic index, but that doesn’t make it healthy…) The glycemic index needs to be taken in context with all of the other criteria/factors we know about various foods in conjunction with the body of scientific evidence about nutrition.

      Bottom line: Wheat Belly is full of pseudo-science and deliberate misrepresentations. It sure sounds like good science, but sadly, it is just a way for someone to make money off of the lay public. It is very sad that that book was published, because it has terribly confused many people.

      That isn’t to say that there aren’t some people who legitimately have issues with gluten. Just like there are some people with peanut allergies. But that doesn’t make peanuts unhealthy. It doesn’t even make peanuts unhealthy for the majority of people.

      Does that help?

  • Mick

    Dear readers,

    I must comment as I see there is a lot of misinformation concerning gluten. I am by no means expert although I study the issue thoroughly as I suffer from Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, ie. I’ve been experiencing gluten neuropathy, gluten tendonitis, etc.

    One more caveat: it doesn’t even have to be gluten sensitivity, it may be wheat (barley which is the worst and rye) bran sensitivity or something…

    All of the symptoms subsided when I stopped ingesting grains but I became supersensitive to them – I could feel the neuropathy-related tingling after ingesting only ca. 0.5 mg of wheat bran (used as anti-caking agent in the baking powder I used) and less – due to such sebacks with gluten over the course of year my tendonitis returned and became more or less permanent.

    The worst thing is that although I have pain and inflammation, I don’t have inflammatory markers so the doctors do not believe.

    Plant-based diet seems to be helping and each any deviation from it (like a chocolate bar) causes major flare-up.

    So, when a paper says that “Gluten may also boost the immune system in humans” I must protest. It’s like taking low doses of arsenic in order to prepare yourself for a higher dose. When you ingest gluten the parameters may suggest that the immune system is boosted but in reality it is because it fights an intruder. If one gets such a benefit, this can quickly become a problem ie. gluten sensitivity.

    Also, the above statement seems to me like one of the statements promoted by the big industry…

    Lastly, oligofructans and inulin can be easily supplemented when on plant-based diet (in excess of any quantity provided by wheat).
    Well, if they studied a population on a SAD diet then indeed, withdrawing wheat products will deprive the diet of any components beneficial for the gut bacteria, still these components were very low so what’s the big deal.

    In any case I think people should try gluten-free diet for some time (like 4 weeks) and see if they benefit. This should be the first suggestion when you go to the doctor. This includes people with neuropathy, arthritis, strange inflammatory conditions (like tendonitis) and IBS (I also have IBS with constipation which I attribute to gluten and which resolved quite nicely with plant-based diet).

    • Mick

      Oh yeah, one more thing about people feeling better after going gluten free and why they swear by it.

      Because it’s not that easily digestible, gluten may cause constipation or even worse – IBS with constipation.
      So when you get rid of gluten you will feel better, experience more frequent bowel movement, no surprise here.
      You could still achieve the same result with plant-based diet (which would include gluten in this case).

      Perhaps people going gluten-free simply eat more vegetables.

      So, there are a few options to take before going gluten-free.

      But one must consider the possibility that gluten is hurtful. It will be a few (tens of) years before this issue gets resolved. The problem is that there are no good diagnostic tools to connect for example different kinds of inflammation with gluten. So for now it seems that gluten isn’t the cause of such problems.

      I wish I could test different antibodies that are described in the research papers. Unfortunately these assays were only done for the needs of these papers. These assays include for example tests for antibodies against different parts of proteins (antigens) of collagen, muscles, cartillage, thyroid, myelin and other parts of the body.
      There are so many of such antibodies and none of them available for commercial testing…

  • CastaNefasta

    This review is strongly biased, later this morning will explain why.

  • Elizabeth

    I doctor diagnosed me with celiac, and I’ve experienced significant relief since adopting a gluten free diet. Prior to the diagnosis, I had been vegan for a few months and vegetarian for 28 years. My blood work showed very low B12 levels, so I’ve started taking B12. Could you advise on whether I should remain vegan after a celiac diagnosis? My doctor hasn’t been very helpful with this question.

    • Thea

      Elizabeth: There are so many people who do gluten-free vegan diets that there are entire cookbooks dedicated to such recipes. I don’t see how a celiac diagnosis would change the recommendation of an optimum diet of whole plant foods supplemented with B12. The only difference is that you would stay away from foods with gluten in them, which is not hard to do once you get the swing of things. That’s just my 2 cents. But I’m thinking, why not eat as healthy as you can so that the celiac problem does not get compounded with other problems? The real trick in my opinion is learning to skip the many commercial gluten free product out there, which appear to just be gluten free junk food, not a significant part of a healthy whole plant food diet. What do you think?

  • Tom Goff

    Dr Mirkin also has some interesting observations on the current gluten-free diet craze …..
    “In spite of all the bad publicity gluten has gotten from the authors of popular diet books, gluten has actually been shown to offer health benefits to people who do not have celiac disease. Gluten has been shown to:
    • lower blood pressure (Food Chem, 2011;127:1653–1658)
    • lowers triglycerides (J Am Coll Nutr, 1999; 18:159–165)
    • increases growth of the types of intestinal bacteria that lower inflammation (Brit J Nutr, 2008;99:110–120)
    • increase absorption of healthful nutrients (Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2010;13:722–728)
    • sensitize cells to insulin to help prevent and treat diabetes (Curr Diab Rep, 2011;11:154–159)
    • reduce heart attack risk (Curr Atheroscler Rep, 2010;12:368–376)

    Eat WHOLE Grains Instead of Any Kind of Flour
    Whole grains (that have not been ground into flour) do not cause a high rise in blood sugar and they increase insulin sensitivity to help prevent obesity, diabetes and heart attacks (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003;78(5):965 971; American Journal of Epidemiology, 2003:58(3):243 250; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec. 12, 2012; American Society for Nutrition, July, 2013). Whole grains are high in fiber and antioxidants associated with reduced susceptibility for cancer and heart attacks.”

    • Thea

      Great addition to the conversation. Thanks!

  • Mary MacDonald
  • Esmeralda

    FODMAP Diet. Does anyone have any information related to Sjogrens & Raynaud’s and FODMAP? I’m really hesitant to follow this regime when I have been SO impressed with “How Not 2 Die”. FODMAP rues out “galactans” – legumes such as beans, lentils, soybeans. I consume no dairy, have been gluten-free many years. Eat very close 2 vegan; with “How Not 2 Die” making the final transition Loathe to give up apples, peaches, pears, watermelon cauliflower, mushrooms, adore sugar snap peas. Life without garlic, shallots, onions, lentils, broccoli sweet potato,soy mlik, beans in general – a life worth living? According to info provided, most recent research was Nutrition in Clinical Practice, June, 2013. Info I was given looks like a ‘product’ of Stanford Hospital & Clinic. Anyone out there know who funded the FODMAP Diet? Many thanks.

    • NFModeratorKatie

      Hi Esmeralda! The Low FODMAP diet was developed by researchers at Monash University. As you may already know, a low-FODMAP diet avoids foods containing certain sugars and certain fibers capable of causing diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. FODMAP is an elimination/learning diet – not meant for long-term use. I’ve had many patients that have seen some improvements when working with FODMAPs, however most of these patients were ones that were not ready to move towards a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle. My advice to you would be if you like what you see in How Not to Die, and you’re willing to give it a shot – go for it! In my experience, my patients that have been up for the challenge of transitioning to a plant-based diet have seen better results than the ones focused on FODMAPs alone. That being said, everyone is different and different bellies respond in different ways. I’m assuming you’re inquiring about FODMAPs because you have IBS? If so, here are a few additional resources from Dr. G about that condition: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Hope this helps!

      • Esmeralda


        Many thanks – have Sjogren’s. Mother died of a Sjogren’s lymphoma @ age 53; so I’m at unbelievably high risk of a similar “death”. Have been ‘just about vegan” 4 many, many years. After reading the book; going 4 it. Each case of any auto-immune disease manifests differently. At onset (over a decade ago), I’ve had low grade/high grade diarrhea every day coupled w high level, systemic pain despite least lethal narcotic pain relief Take milk thistle to “counteract” the liver issues with narcotic use There was an article in JAMA or one of the ‘peer reviewed, prestigious med journals (maybe NE Journal of Medicine) that FINALLY confirmed efficacy of silymarn/milk thistle 4 liver function. Lived in the Bay Area until cld no longer work; had access 2 the ‘best’ alternative practitioners in the world.. Been in wheelchair during previous ‘flares’ due to double head-on 25 years ago that badly damaged all of me (b 4 air bags). Was in “death seat”; front passenger’s seat with no steering wheel 2 help buffer the impactS. R foot – can ‘see’ the deformity. Whiplash so severe, head had to be stitched closed; major concussion; broken ribs – I’ll spare u the whole anatomic ‘damage’ list. Got zero $$ as driver’s carrying almost no insurance I was 25 when my mother died (it was called ‘chronic lymphatic leukemia, in those days, 1972; the morphed into lympho-carcoma (another outdated/no longer used western medical diagnosis) then morphed into stomach cancer, etc., etc. My reaction was to continue eating unbelievably nutritionally (was breast fed in the ’50’s; mom RN REALLY into nutrition), keep weight at BMI of 21; drink alcohol minimally and added half an hour of cardio daily until I turned 50 when upped cardio 2 60 minutes every day.. Walked 4 miles in one hour daily until I had to move to Pacific Northwest “where the sun never shines”, surrounded by “mold” – known trigger 4 Sjogren’s. I so did not want to die a long, lingering death like my mother (took 4 years – wife of an MD – treated @ Barnes in St Louis by the MD who “wrote the book on chronic lymphatic leukemia”.. At age 55, 2005, was hit with ‘undiagnosable” auto-immune illness. UCSF chief rheumatologist did the ‘work up’; a mystery. Wonderful acupuncturist (world reknowned) – a mystery. . Research junkie w/MD log-in into NIH, medline. Keeping looking and looking and looking – by February, 2014, figured out not only is the Raynaud’s a genetic gift from my mother but also the Sjogren’s Sigh. This flare has unbelievably “bombastic”, “explosive” diarrhea; hence recommendation by local MD of FOMAP.
        Any thoughts on efficacy of FOMAP versus Greger’s approach? Sorry 4 extensive history but thought might help u advise me. Okay answer is “I simply don’t know” or “listen 2 your body”…..know u don’t have a crystal ball. THANKS 4 any advice/insight.

        • NFModeratorKatie

          I’ve never heard of using FODMAPs for Sjogren’s syndrome. For diarrhea, you may want to try adding foods that will help bulk your stools – such as the flesh of fruits, root vegetables, and cooked whole grains. Just a word of caution – milk thistle sometimes causes a laxative effect. I would check to see if any other supplements you’re taking might have a similar effect and evaluate the risks/benefits from there.

          • Esmeralda


            Thanks. Have had diarrhea (more or less) since onset of Sjogrens/Raynauds plus??? since 8/2005. This flare been the worst EVER.. Figured out on Friday the “why” unfortunately. What foods are recommended to combat (love the American use of language for ‘the crab’) . Looks like I’ve developed one of the top 3 Sjogren’s cancers. FYI (leukemias/lymphomas {5-10% of all Sjogren’s pts}, lesser spots – tumor in lung or salivary gland. I have the latter.

            Any nutrition recommendation besides the daily dozen?

          • NFModeratorKatie

            So sorry to hear this. I would stick to Dr. G’s Daily Dozen. I’ll certainly let you know if I think of anything else, but the Daily Dozen is definitely a great place to start. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us again in the future if you have any additional questions or concerns. Best wishes!

  • Sam

    One can and should test for Mucosal and systemic IgA anti-gliadin antibody. Some people use directlabs, but many naturopathic doctors will test it too. Just a saliva test. Another, more comprehensive, by Genova, GI effects comprehensive panel.

    Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients
    with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

    “Conclusions: Increased intestinal permeability after gliadin exposure occurs in all individuals.”

  • Hello,

    I wasn’t able to find a relevant video regarding my question. I’m 28 (Male, Weight: 130, Height: 5’5″) and I’ve been vegan for a year now. On my recent health exam my triglyceride levels were slightly above average. I have been told to cut down sugar and alcohol which I am doing now, is there anything else I can do such as eat or avoid certain types of food?

    Thank you.

  • Lisa Viohl Lawless

    I have read that particularly for those with O type blood they are more sensitive to the high lectin count in wheat and often have autoimmune responses because of it. I find it interesting that people focus so much on gluten when there are other things around wheat including pesticide issues in wheat products that may be causing problems as well.

  • Myriam

    I have read that cutting off gluten helps reduce symptoms of schizophrenia. Could you give us some information about the research done in that area? Thank you.

  • There is a book titled “Wheat Belly” that discourages eating whole wheat (not just processed wheat) that is written by a cardiologist William Davis, MD. He lists a ton of studies in the back of the book – have you had the chance to review his findings/opinion?

    • Thea

      Kathy Whitaker: He does list a bunch of studies, but those studies do not back up his claims. That Wheat Belly book is a sham and a shame. Here is one site showing how the science does not back up the claims in Wheat Belly. (And this is from an anti-gluten site!):

      Bottom line is that Wheat Belly is just another form of the Atkins/Paleo/low-carb/Eat For Your Blood Type diet fads. These fads confuse and mislead people, even doctors. It is so sad because it sounds like good science and misleads a lot of people.

  • Emilie Cassou

    Dr. Greger and Team, it would be wonderful if you could address the link that has been observed between gluten and thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s); and the claim that gluten sensitivity is most often not detectable via blood test (even if one is consuming gluten). It would be great to see through this debate.
    Thank you so much!

    • Joan E, RD-NF Volunteer

      One study I found in regarding Hashimoto’s and gluten is those with celiac disease may require more medication as they appear to not absorb the levothyroxine as well.
      Here is another article I found linking hashimoto’s and gluten. There is a link in the second article to , there are some plant based recipes that look great!! I hope this helps.

      • Emilie Cassou

        Thank you so much for sharing these articles, Joan. These reinforce the question mark in my mind. Should everyone with autoimmune thyroid disease go gluten free as the article and several practitioners suggest? Should a person with auto-immune thyroid disease and no clear signs of gluten sensitivity–and a negative celiac test (serum)–go gluten free, based on claims that it is hard to detect in some? In the US environment, it is restrictive enough eating plant based that also removing gluten cannot be a light recommendation. Especially since one really needs to avoid even trace amounts of gluten to reap the benefits of gluten-free if those are to be had. The paleo community is all over this–I wish dr Greger would get in this “conversation” and shed light on this!
        Thank you!

  • Jef McDonough

    I was reading up on grains, and there are some gluten free websites cautioning readers away from millet because it is “goitrogenic”, which means it can cause hypothyroidism. I came to this site to see if that’s true, but I couldn’t find anything on millet or goitrogen in my search. Does anyone know anything about that? I don’t know whether or not it’s pseudoscientific bunk.

    • payoung

      Hi Jef, here are two studies I found that show a correlation between certain flavonoids in millet and impaired thyroid function.
      The first study was not done in people but was done in vivo in rats and in vitro on porcine thyroid slices. “In vivo and in vitro studies revealed that millet diets rich in C-glycosylflavones produce goitrogenic and antithyroid effects similar to those of certain other antithyroid agents and small doses of MMI. We conclude that in areas of iodine deficiency in which millet is a major component of the diet, its ingestion may contribute to the genesis of endemic goiter.” Notice that they said in areas of “iodine deficiency in which millet is a major component of the diet”. So I don’t think these results should be translated to mean that the average person living in the western developed world who is not iodine deficient should avoid millet. Especially when millet is probably not a grain you’re going to be eating on a daily basis.
      In the second study they looked at a particular variety of millet found “in the middle of a severely iodine-depleted goitrous endemic” and found that only a minority portion of the millet grain was bound to a particular flavonoid that manifested strong antithyroid activities. Again this was in the setting of iodine deficiency.

      I did find one other study that was also a rat study but they fed the rats iodine rich diets and then administered the C-glycosylflavones to the rats. They also had a control group that was fed water and another group that was fed an antithyroid medication. They found that the C-glycosylflavones group had the largest effects on thyroid hormone production thus “showing direct evidence in vivo of C-GF antithyroid activity, strongly supporting the concept that C-GF are the goitrogens in millet.”

      So to sum this up, although there are studies that point to specific iso-flavones in millet having a goitrogenic effect in rats I think more studies need to be done before i would conclude that one should completely avoid millet especially in the setting of normal thyroid function and not iodine deficiency.


    I am reading about FODMAP and it saddens me as a vegan because of the long list of fruits and vegs included. What does the research tell about FODMAP sensitivity?

    • docbeccy

      A lot of people that have suspected they have a gluten sensitivity but do not improve on gluten free products have found some relief with a low FODMAP diet in that the short and medium chain dextrose, maltose, etc.. foods apparently do not digest well in their intestines and the subsequent fermentation is what causes their discomfort. It is true that many of the foods that vegans eat are on these lists and after a short look one wonders what on earth you can eat? Typically, this is primarily an elimination type diet to determine which foods are the ones that make life difficult and once identified the others are back on the OK list. There has been a lot of research on the microbiome and how people”s diets influence the bacteria that make up the microbiome. The good news is that one’s microbiome changes as the diet changes. It may well be that once one’s microbiome has changed with diet that bacteria present may aid in the digestion of FODMAP type foods that previously had been a problem. Clearly, this is an area of active research so best to stay tuned and well informed.

  • Morwalk

    What you might not be considering is the fact that wheat, in its current form, was introduced around 1960 after extreme cultivation and crude genetic manipulations. It’s creation was intended to create a higher yield per plant. Is it possible we are sensitive to the gluten in wheat because we did not evolve to eat it?