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11 Weird Things That Happen When You Give Up Grains

From fueling toenail fungus to impacting your heart, “healthy” grains you’ve been told to eat your whole life are doing a real number on your body. Inflammation, auto-immune issues, blood sugar spikes, faulty nutrient absorption—and the list goes on. Luckily, I’ve seen astounding health turnarounds when people give up wheat and other grains.


Someone addicted to heroin, morphine, or Oxycontin will, when their supply of drugs dries up, experience anxiety, nausea, sweating, dysphoria (dark moods), muscle aches, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and headache, a withdrawal process necessary to detoxify from the effects of opiate addiction. 

It is a predictable and painful process, not uncommonly bad enough to be undertaken in a hospital. Bid farewell to your last bit of wheat, rye, barley, and corn, and you can experience anxiety, nausea, sweating, dysphoria, muscle aches, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, incapacitating fatigue, and headache—an opiate withdrawal process necessary to detoxify from the effects of grains.

It won’t be bad enough to require hospitalization, but it can still be pretty awful. (We outline a supplement program to mitigate the withdrawal side effects in Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox.)


Women in the perimenopausal or menopausal phases of life often report reduction in the intensity of hot flashes, occasionally experiencing complete relief. Most report improved mood, and many report increased sexual interest.

While women have lower levels of testosterone than males, women can experience a rise in testosterone levels (just like the guys) and a reduction in estrogen, phenomena that account for improved mood, assertiveness, and sexual desire.

Hormonal corrections play out over a period longer than the 10 days of your detox. But recognize these changes as a shift back to the way it was supposed to be all along.


Just as women undergo tidal waves of hormonal changes as they proceed through this grain-free lifestyle, so can males. Male breasts, as mentioned above—a common sight in combination with visceral fat and surely an embarrassing feature that many men work hard to conceal.

Visceral fat contains high levels of an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen, thereby resulting in low testosterone levels and high estrogen. Parallel to the situation in women, the A5 pentapeptide opiate that results from digestion of the gliadin protein of wheat has the unique ability to stimulate prolactin release from the pituitary gland, the hormone of pregnancy and lactation—but in males, a reflection of just how perversely grains affect us and are hormonally disruptive.

Remove wheat and grains and visceral fat recedes, aromatase activity drops, the A5 pentapeptide is no longer available to stimulate breast growth, and wonderful things happen: Man breasts shrink, testosterone goes up, estrogen goes down, libido returns, and capacity for erections can be restored.


I have witnessed many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) completely turn off all the abnormal health phenomena of the condition with the strategies discussed in the Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox program, including the so-called masculinizing features of excess body hair, benefits that develop from receding insulin and inflammation.


Fingernails and toenails often become thicker and smoother over time as they grow, reflecting the improvement in skin health along with hair (since nails and hair are really forms of skin).

Many report that fungal toenail infections—evidenced by chronic discoloration, thickening, and nail separation and usually treated with toxic medication—recede and disappear.


People experience thicker hair over time. Because hair grows slowly, this effect will take longer than the 10 days of your detox to notice. Women with thin patches typically experience a gradual filling in. (Men generally do not enjoy this effect, unfortunately, since male hair loss develops for different reasons.)

Much less commonly, some people experience hair loss early in the process, but then their hair grows back thicker and fuller over time. This likely reflects the reversal of skin inflammation with wheat and grain removal followed by a regrowth phenomenon.


Guys aren’t the only ones who experience breast shrinkage. Breast size can be reduced a cup size or two, changes that are not explained by weight loss alone. While the effect is variable, this phenomenon is due to correction of hormonal distortions, especially reductions of the formerly high levels of estrogen and prolactin (prolactin = pro+ lactation, meaning a hormone that encourages breast growth) with removal of grains.

While some women may find this undesirable, recognize that the abnormal stimulation ofbreast tissue from grain consumption, compounded by the hormonal distortions of visceral fat, are risk factors for breast cancer, now corrected with grain elimination.


Did you know that dental problems such as cavities, gingivitis, abscesses, tooth loss, and misaligned teeth were uncommon before humans first began to consume grains? This simple fact has been understood by anthropologists studying primitive humans for decades, an observation all the more astounding when you consider that primitive people had no toothbrushes, fluoridated water, toothpaste, dental floss, or dentists—and were armed with no tools for dental hygiene other than a twig—yet reached old age with straight, intact mouths of teeth (a crucial observation on dental health, by the way, that has been ignored by most modern dentists). By removing wheat and grains, you will notice—and so will your dental hygienist and dentist—that far less plaque will need to be cleaned from your teeth, breath will improve, gingivitis will recede, and cavities will become much less common.

Healthy changes in oral flora, just as with bowel flora, will develop over time, contributing to reduction in dental decay. Changes in oral flora help maintain dental health, as well as provide benefits outside the mouth (like helping to maintain normal blood pressure, since by-products of bacterial metabolism influence blood pressure).

Don’t adopt dental hygiene habits of primitive people, but know that your new lifestyle, compounded by daily oral hygiene efforts, is likely to yield a level of dental health that makes the need for dental procedures a rarity.


Just as your dental health improves, even your breath can change for the better, a reflection of the change in oral flora that parallels the shift in bowel flora. Pucker up!


Yes, if you lose, say, 5 to 7 pounds over the 10 days of your detox, your face is going to look thinner. But you will likely notice that your face changed more than those few pounds would explain. You may observe reduced swelling or edema over your entire face and reduced puffiness around your eyes.

If you compare your before-and-after photos, you may notice that your eyes look larger. If you started with redness or the wheat/grain signature seborrheic rash on your cheeks or along the sides of your nose, you will likely see this rash recede, then disappear, during the first week. Facial contours will change more than you expect, with sharpening of the jawline and cheekbones as a result of this this unique anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Of all areas of the body that shrink in size, it’s the waistline that shrinks most, reflecting the loss of inflammatory visceral fat created by grain consumption. Sometimes the deflation of abdominal size is dramatic, beginning even during the first few days, reflecting healing of the gastrointestinal tract and reduced bloating from the removal of bowel-disrupting grains, as well as loss of fat.

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