New Study: Is Today’s Wheat Bad for You?


Today’s wheat is not the same wheat that your grandmother ate when she was young. Not even close.

Today’s wheat is greatly genetically modified to grow faster and provide a higher yield of wheat per acre. More food to the starving poor was a blessing, but could there be disadvantages with the modern super wheat?

Could it be bad for our health? Could it, for example, lead to severe digestive issues for many people?

Cardiologist William Davis argued this in his best selling book Wheat Belly. Davis got criticized for exaggerating the scientific support for his theories – which he did. But a lack of good evidence doesn’t mean that a theory must be incorrect.

A new high quality study, published in British Journal of Nutrition, tests one of Dr. Davis’ speculations, with dramatic results. 

Afifah’s blog: New Study Vindicates William Davis: Modern Wheat is more Toxic than Ancient Varieties

The Study

In the study, twenty participants with common digestive issues (IBS) were put on two different diets for six weeks each:

  1. Modern wheat products (for example wheat bread)
  2. Identical products but made from an ancient variety of wheat, that hasn’t undergone modern plant breeding.

The participants didn’t know which one of the diets they were put on, and the order in which they were assigned to a diet was randomized. Not even the researchers themselves knew which person ate which diet during the period (a double-blind study). Thus, this is a high quality study, a randomized, double-blind crossover trial, where potential differences should be caused by wheat itself, and not be caused by imagination or expectations.

The difference was clear-cut. When participants with digestive issues consumed modern wheat they felt like they usually did, they suffered from their usual digestive issues. But when for six weeks they ate the ancient wheat their symptoms improved with significantly less abdominal pain, less abdominal bloating and an improved quality of life.

The improvements were so great that they could hardly be a coincidence. In addition, reduced levels of inflammatory substances in the blood were recorded in people who avoided modern wheat.

In conclusion Dr. Davis seems to be right at on least one point. Modern wheat seems to be pure poison for people with common digestive issues. It could also – perhaps – be a problem for people with inflammatory diseases (arthritis, asthma, eczema).

Have you noticed any difference from avoiding wheat?


Can you get ancient wheat today? No, at least not in grocery stores. If you know where to get some, please leave a comment.

Dr. Davis has also commented on the study: Should you eat kamut?


LCHF and Common Digestive Issues (“IBS”)

Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis on The Dr. Oz Show!

Gluten Makes a Growing Number of Swedes Sick

Wheat Belly Hits #1 on NYT Bestseller List!

Bill O’Reilly: Don’t Eat Wheat!

Low Carb Made Easy How to Lose Weight Low-Carb Recipes Low-Carb Success Stories


Top Comments

  1. Tuck
    "The dangerous new wheat..."

    Oh brother. I love clueless people who think they're being skeptical.

    I followed up on some of the research that Dr. Davis mentioned on his blog back before his book came out. He'd done his research.

    They know exactly what proteins cause problems in celiac, and exactly where in the wheat genome those problematic proteins come from, and which hybridization introduced that part of the genome.

    It's hardly a secret, the scientific literature is full of evidence, and easily accessible.

    I did the research because after multiple hospitalizations and a colon resection I discovered by accident that I am severely gluten intolerant. Now I can reproduce my symptoms on demand, whenever I ingest wheat by mistake.

    "Alpha-gliadin genes from the A, B, and D genomes of wheat contain different sets of celiac disease epitopes"

    Reply: #14
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  2. murray
    "Guaranteed, in 5 or 10 years, no one will be worried about the wheat... the best selling books long having run their natural course and lifespan."

    You seem to be implying those who clam health improvements from eliminating modern wheat are delusional.

    After reading Wheat Belly and checking some of the research, I got an audiobook version and played it for my wife in the car. As a result, a year ago she stopped eating wheat. For the 20 years I had known her, she had worsening headaches year over year. It had gotten to the point she was having headaches five days per week and migraines a few times a month, missing an average of one day of work per week because of headaches. She had seen the leading headache specialist in the country, which did not help, other than to get stronger medication. However, within a day of stopping wheat the headaches stopped entirely and she was headache free for 42 days. She had not gone more than a week without a headache since I had met her. Then on day 42 the kids baked some cookies and she felt obliged to have one. (Oh, one won't hurt.) Migraine the next day. Same pattern throughout the year. Sometimes a flour-containing dessert is just "to die for" and she will have some and, sure enough, get a headache, but at least she has a choice to enjoy the dessert and pay the tax.

    So if my wife is delusional, it is a happy delusion--all hail the placebo effect,

    And here is a cool bonus to the apparent placebo effect. Since I met her she has had summer allergies, especially pollen from fruit trees. We had to move from the city where we met as she could no longer function there because of all the fruit trees. She still suffered allergies here, but they were much less intense, although they were getting a little worse each year. Then this last year, in October, I remarked, how come I didn't have to buy you Reactine or other allergy medications in bulk at Costco all summer this year? She said, you know, I didn't have allergies this summer; I've had allergies every previous summer since I was a child. The only evident change was elimination of wheat.

    I have never heard of a placebo effect working where the patient is told the medication will eliminate condition X and the placebo effect works for condition Y. All hail the unwitting placebo effect.

    Guaranteed, in 5 or 10 years my wife will still be worrying about wheat. Her placebo effects depend on it.

    Replies: #17, #19
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All Comments

  1. Adam Farmer
    Dr. Andreas, are you SURE there were no other confounding factors? If no confounding factors are to be found, then this trial is truly significant and only confirms the beliefs of many of us (people on carb restricted wheat free diets).
  2. Sandy
    I have not read this entire thread - sorry - but I have seen and purchased from "ancient" wheat products. they do not upset me when eating them and I do that very sparingly....
  3. 1 comment removed
  4. MerryKate
    That's some map. If ever there were an argument for people eating an ancestral diet instead of the modern diet, that would be it.
  5. john
    Only 20 people in the study with digestive issues and that = 300+ million people should not eat wheat products Baloney!!!!!!! This only another cottage indstry seeking to sell their diets and books to the unsuspecting public as medical facts. So all the years of research from the medical staffs regarding diabetes type 2 are WRONG????????
    Reply: #61
  6. john
    Only 20 people in the stiudy with digestive issues and that = 300+ million people should not eat wheat products Baloney!!!!!!! This only another cottage indstry seeking to sell their diets and books to the unsuspecting public as medical facts. So all the years of research from the medical staffs regarding diabetes type 2 are WRONG????????
  7. Marty Glanville
    We have been selling two varieties of heritage wheat for the last 4 years since no doctors, including the Mayo Clinic, could figure out why my husband was so sick. We had potential customers who had told us they were gluten intolerant and couldn't use our products. He thought about that and went gluten free and, in summary, was well in two months. We changed our whole product line to two the two varieties that we found to be outstanding for taste and baking properties, Red Fife and Turkey red; unlike spelt, emmer and einkorn which did not have those properties. We ship nationwide
  8. Boundless
    New kamut vs. modern wheat trial:
    Same result: modern wheat is more toxic than heirloom.

    But this time they also included a no-wheat control (rice), which was the most favorable outcome (despite the fact, which apparently escaped the notice of the researchers, that rice shares an adverse lectin with wheat: wheat germ agglutinin).

  9. Moose
    I follow what you're saying. But the remarks to the ozone hole (which has been there forever) and climate change (which also has been here forever) are made up scare stories.
  10. Gionni
    Your inaccurate & irresponsible use of the term "genetically modified" regarding wheat undermines your credibility in general for a number of reasons. GMO wheat does not exist in a commercially available form. It is still under development which has been resumed after being dropped 10 years ago due to extreme opposition. Today's wheat is different not because of being genetically engineered but because of extreme selective breeding, cross-breeding & hybridization. While these techniques can be used to drastically alter an organism in many ways, there is a limit to what can be accomplished & what can be introduced. Using genetic engineering, however, much more extreme & potentially harmful/dangerous changes can be manifested.

    @Moose: The earth's climate has been in a constant state of change for its entire existence; however, there is no viable evasion of the fact that human activity has been the direct cause of numerous changes in the environment (one of the most drastic being the amount of carbon in the atmosphere) which are all contributing to the initiation of rapid & extreme changes to the global climate which is only just beginning to be felt. It isn't a scare story- although it certainly is terrifying!

    Reply: #62
  11. Lonnie
    I don't think a lot of the LCHF/Keto sites are trying to sell anything but good health. I tend to judge the sites who want payment etc. It's usually only for meal plans and such or they request a donation if you can afford it.

    I'm not a US basher but the UK and Swedish sites sit better with my Aussie lifestyle. A lot of the US sites are so eager to make substitutes for the types of foods that got us in this mess to start with.

    I say keep it simple, once you have reset your tastebuds on the LCHF diet everything tastes amazing!

  12. Lonnie
    Hi Gionni,

    I used to work at a Seed Cleaning business and my Manager told me that wheat has been genetically modified since before WW2. Originally it was just to improve the strength of the stalks so they wouldn't fall over in the wind etc.

  13. tz has Einkorn - the earliest wheat. Some info on the site. I've made sourdough (ancient leaven) from it and although it isn't strict low-carb, it works for me
  14. Tammie
    I have heard that many people are avoiding foods with wheat because they have the Celiac Disease. How about substituting wheat with coconut products? Based on some articles, I have read in, coconuts are good for the health. They are gluten free, safe, natural and organic.
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