No Grain, No Pain

May 31, 2012
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

What the cavemen knew back then.

For the most part, our bodies are still Caveman models. As strange as it may seem, genetically, we have changed very little since the “modern” human being appeared over 40,000 years ago.

Domesticated grains and their refined by-products like flour, bread and pasta are a very new addition to the human diet. Dr. Richard Kunin, an orthomolecular surgeon from San Francisco says it best, “Grains are really Johnny-come-latelies on the nutritional scene. Meats, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetables have had a considerably longer historical alliance with the human gut. Almost as if to make up for lost time, grain has deluged man’s diet and this excess increasingly appears to have something to do with common major and minor ailments.”

Grains and grain products are associated with a whole range of health challenges. Sensitivity to grains that contain gluten (the protein fraction of the grain, which gives it its resilient quality), mainly wheat and rye, and to a lesser extent barley, not only cause gluten intolerance, but can develop into full-fledged celiac/sprue disease (an autoimmune disease of the small intestine).

When low-carbs and the Atkins Diet were all the rage in the 1990s, I noticed something very, very interesting. When many of my clients stopped eating carbs, especially grains, they began reporting that their migraines, arthritis, eczema, intestinal gas, bloating, stomach aches, acid reflux, depression, and even IBS started to improve. Ironically, these are often hallmarks of some degree of gluten intolerance.

Gluten and wheat intolerance have been on the rise for the last two decades.  In the last decade alone, gluten intolerance levels have increased from 1 in 2,500 worldwide to 1 in 133. In fact, you can now visit the “gluten-free” section in your local grocery store or ask for the gluten-free menu at almost any chain restaurant.

But, what’s to blame?

Toxic pesticides and herbicides may have something to do with it.

A study in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine found that in the mid-1990s almost 100 percent of wheat crops were treated with an unhealthy dose of Round-Up herbicide during the final ripening period to “brown out” the unripe kernals so they aren’t rejected by the big grain brokers and mills.

Could the problem with wheat, gluten or grain sensitivity be how it was grown, processed or even milled, rather than with the grain itself. So in any case, it may be time to start eating like a caveman.

  • Stick to complex carbohydrates from legumes and vegetables, such as lentils, chick peas, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, and peas.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds instead of bread, muffins and crackers.
  • Use flours from tapioca, almonds, or coconut for your baked goods.
  • If you can’t live without some kind of grain, substitute brown rice, wild rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, or sorghum for gluten-containing wheat, rye and barley. Some people can also tolerate oats; while others cannot–sometimes oats can be contaminated with wheat in the process plant.
  • Supplement with probiotics. Disturbed gut flora is usually prevalent with individuals that have any type of grain intolerance.


Have you removed grains from your diet? Share how it’s affected your health – post a comment below.

DeCava, Judith, LNC, CNC, “Why Can Grains Be Such a Pain?” Price-Pottenger Journal, Spring 2010, 34(1): 6-11 citing Walt Kawecki, “Roundup-Treated Wheat,” Wise Traditions, Fall 2006, 7(3):3; S Gibson, et al, “A Clinical Evaluation of a Wheat-Free Diet,” J Nutritional & Environmental Med, 1995, 5:243-53.


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Jennifer Hoffman

    I have totally removed wheat products from my diet, including all processed foods since they almost all contain gluten and I have noticed that I no longer have gas, intestinal problems, bloating and headaches. I have learned to bake with other kinds of flours and if I occasionally indulge in a wheat product it is organic, non-GMO and naturally grown. I absolutely believe that the obesity problem in the world today is tied to GMO products and toxic herbicides and pesticides. I don’t eat them at all and I am at a normal weight and have no health issues.

  2. Sierra

    I haven’t bought bread since I started the Fat Flush Plan 2 years ago!! And to be honest- I don’t miss it at all. I’ve been working towards being totally gluten free, and I feel 100% better off now.

  3. Wendy

    I totally agree. I eat only meat, veggies, fruit, nuts, healthy oils and occasional dairy. I’m doing terrific. I’ve found that grains don’t enhance the taste of my meal at all. My food has so much more flavor without it. I’ve lost almost 9 pounds and the cellulite on my legs is almost gone. Love it!

  4. Cath

    I firmly believe that the rise in gluten intolerance may very well be traced to Genetically Modified Grain…especially wheat.

    • Elizabeth Good

      I agree wholeheartedly Cath! I have read a good deal about the history of wheat & GMOs in this country, and it leads right to that conclusion. Also, in Europe where the anti-GMO movement has more cache, there is so much less gluten intolerance.

  5. Lisa

    I am trying to switch my family over to a gluten free diet and it has been difficult, especially since I bake a lot. I was wondering if Soy flour can be substituted for the wheat, rye, or barley flour?

    • Mary Ann

      Lisa, Try to find “Bob’s Red Mill “products usually in a good natural foods store. They make all kinds of gluten free baking flours and mixes that work really well.Look up gluten free baking blogs, there are many many people who are into this and good at it. I heard of for gluten-free, vegan creations!

    • Sierra

      Mary Ann is right! I also buy just plain coconut flour, or almond flour. Once you learn how to substitute for each, you can make any regular white flour recipe with these gluten free alternatives.

  6. Sharon T

    I had an ongoing problem with lumps in my breasts, which doctors’ told me would only go away if I eliminate “stress” from my life. Well, as a single parent, of two young men that are disabled, that is just impossible! My chiro dr suggested going gluten free, to decrease back pain, due to scoliosis and a work injury. After going totally grain free, I no longer have those “stress” lumps, nor does my back hurt, as much, as it has in the past! One of my sons’ has joined my in the gluten free diet, and he is no longer taking “drugs”, which his dr, said that he would be on for the rest of his life. We’ve changed our diet, no processed foods, more fruits and vegetables, and “grass fed” meats. The change also included supplements that assist my quest for good health.

  7. Deb

    Dr. William Davis, preventive cardiologist and his book Wheat Belly were instrumental for me to “put down the wheat!”. I sort of messed around with LC lifestyle for years and would lose 40 lbs and gain back the 40 lbs over a few times. In all that time, I was still making my vital wheat gluten flour pancakes and not thinking at all about what gluten intolerance was doing to me. All that time too, my mother was walking around for the first 65 years of her life with Silent Celiac Disease and only developed symptoms at that age- we thought she was terminally ill with a mystery disease, she got so frail. Once diagnosed, and going gluten free, she has regained her health and looks 20 years younger than her 72 years. She has more energy than both of her children and has bounced back from two leg surgeries in incredibly quick time. I have not been tested for Celiac but I’m sure I have some intolerance and Dr. Davis’ book got me serious about getting rid of the gluten and grains. I haven’t lost any weight yet but I seem to be shrinking dramatically. My belly has deflated greatly and my clothing from neck to ankles fits much looser….I can only see futher good coming from finally getting serious about repudiating grains and other grain/gluten contaminated products.

    I’m convinced that Dr. Davis and his book have probably added years of health to my life and the life of my mother though he will never know it. I’m grateful that he was courageous enough to take on the powerful grain government lobbies to expose the dangers of this pernicious toxic substance.

  8. betti

    I like to bake with almond flour and coconut flour is also good.

    I’m a Nutrition Consultant and I have found that allergies suppress the immune system. When you take care of allergies you can better fight off bacter and yeast in your system.

  9. Marion

    So would it be better to follow Fat Flush for life opposed to the 2 shakes a day with one veggie/ meal as in the quicker fat flush plan. I feel that I am constanty following the more liquid diet for the fact that it is so simple to follow and easy to prepare for work. I know that the Body protien is made with brown rice and pea . I have been suffering with cronic muscle spasming in my shoulder blades and arthritis in my neck related to years of being a hairdresser.

  10. Administrator

    Marion: It sounds like Smoothie Shakedown is working so well for you. I would add in all the snacks and one well balanced meal per day if time is of the essence. Fat Flush for Life is a bit more time consuming and is designed for those who love to cook and have time to do so 🙂 Either way – our best wishes are with you in your Fat Flushing journey to health and wellbeing.

  11. Sheila

    Can anyone advise me on gall bladder stones – gall bladder removal????


  12. melanie

    Since the FFbody protein has brown rice in it, is it better to intake the whey protein (in order to not be intaking the grain—brown rice)?

    • Sierra

      Hi Melanie! It seems that some people respond better to one type of protein or the other. My advice is to experiment with them to see which one is better suited for your body 🙂

  13. Mike M.

    I have also started replacing white and whole wheat flour with almond meal flour from suggestion from my very wonderful Chiropractor. Almond meal is a bit expensive, but I also found Coconut flour at the same health food store. It is much less expensive and my wife doesn’t react to it because it is not nut based. I now make some very tasty snacks and deserts replacing all the bad ingredients with good quality healthy ingredients. Sugars of all types are replaced with vanilla flavored whey protein shake mix on a 1 to 1 bases. I sometimes add a little coconut sugar (from tree sap) for the right taste. Coconut oil is my main oil I use for all oils (including greasing the pan). Almost everything I do now is Organic. It costs a little more, but our health is worth it.

  14. Lisa

    I know this was an old post of Ann Louise’s…but I had a question on tapioca flour, mentioned in the post.

    I’ve read that, while it is gluten free, it is nothing more than a starch, is highly refined, has no nutrition and can cause a massive blood sugar spike for those with blood glucose issues.

    Is this true?

    • Team ALG

      Yes that is fairly true, yet for quality of baking, tapioca is frequently used. Best to stick to a coconut or almond based flour, or maybe even try quinoa flour.

  15. Mary Sczepkowski

    I started No grain no pain only a few weeks ago and I can now sleep at night and I have lost 13 pounds. No more stomach bloating or abdominal pain. Wish I would of done it a long time ago!! To think this is only the beginning. Maybe my days of yoyo dieting are over yeah for me.

  16. Lauren

    Hi Mary. I am reading No Grain, No Pain because my husband and my health are in desperate condition. I am wracked with non-stop pain, 24/7. My husband has more on than off pain in both knees and his back. I feel like I’m burning inside and yet my dr says blood work shows no indication of inflammation. The damage to our bodies is esculating rapidly, and with just what I’ve read so far, I know now what caused it. I have fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, severe sleeping disorder, anxiety attacks, hypothyroidism, depression, all now all of this horrid pain. My husband has arthritus, high blood pressure, prediabetes, an incureable prostrate condition, and all his pain. My biggest concern is that I don’t know where to find all of the foods, vitamins, etc, that he lists. We are in Northeastern Florida, and I don’t know where to begin. Could you or anyone reading this help? And I’m so glad you are doing well with this way of eating. Thank you. Lauren

  17. Lauren

    I’m sorry, I forgot 2 additional conditions I have. Don’t know how I did that!! I have IBS, and Diverticular disease. I’ve had a colon resection for that. And I also have vertigo and almost daily nausea. Good grief, as I read back this laundry list of ailments, it’s hard to believe I make it through each day. Grateful that I do. Lauren


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