I just finished reading the new book: “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers” by neurologist David Perlmutter, MD.

Short Take:  Great Book – it integrates Low Carb and Gluten Free into one package.  Buy the Book and Read it.

I purchased this book because of the statement:  “[C]arbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression…”

I already know that eating a Very Low Carb Ketogenic diet will provide your brain with an alternate if not more effective energy source – Ketones.  But – as I’ve commented previously, after reading some of the information under the general heading of “Paleo” that some of the positive effects I’ve experienced living a Ketogenic Lifestyle may well be from the elimination of 80-90% of those foods that the Paleo people say are no good for you.  Eating Paleo is NOT eating low carb.  It relies heavily on many starchy veggies along with a ton of fruit.  Also, it disdains cheese and other dairy products, while low carbing allows high fat dairy products including cheese, cream and butter.

The author comes down on the side of a Ketogenic eating plan.  He also trumpets the importance of eating “Gluten Free.” 

He arduously – to my non-science brain – connects the dots and elaborates on the how and why eating in this manner will not merely improve your cardiac, intestinal and general health but will significantly improve your brain’s functioning.  After all – he is a neurologist.  His POV is well focused and he convinced me that there are linkages that go well past Paleo. 

Ah – there is the rub.  He goes well beyond the main Paleo books – Robb Wolf included – in identifying where gluten lurks.  Just as we’ve learned all the names that Sugar hides behind – so must you learn the names of products that include gluten – products such as hand cream and beauty products.  He identifies what it means to be gluten sensitive – other than just having some stomach problems.    He makes the mainstream Paleo culture look like child’s play.

His focus on various neurological and psychological issues which may be impacted by both Sugar and Gluten can be overwhelming.  Why – after 10,000 years of the agricultural revolution are we first seeing this cause and effect?  That has always bothered me,  The Paleo explanation is that we have not adapted to eating these products.  I’ve been under the assumption that our adaptation has just not been the same across the globe, but that certain groups have adapted.

He identifies Gregor Mendel and those that followed him in creating plants that are not the same as those of 100 years – maybe even 50 years ago.  Simply – the gluten content of modern wheat has been significantly increased by possibly 40 times or more.  Gluten is also an additive in numerous foods and products.  The end result – we are first seeing its impact.  Further, what it does inside the body is integrally involved with Carbs and Insulin.  No – I am not going to repeat his book – you have to read it.

Where are the differences?  It is easy for me to point out his take on a Ketogenic Diet and how it varies from what I’ve been eating.  Those differences are intertwined with his further restrictions based upon adding only the Gluten Free foods to the overall Diet.  His way of eating – Very Low Carb Ketogenic Gluten Free.

He recommends a 4 week initial program of eating at the 30-40 grams of carbs per day range and then moving to a continuing 60 grams or less per day.  He makes no clear distinction for netting out fiber.  The following are his list of gluten free foods and products that fit into his version of Very Low Carb eating.  As you can see, he allows certain grains, fruits and related foods that are otherwise prohibited from TNT Plan A.  BUT – they are to be eaten at a very limited serving if you are going to keep your carbs at a ketogenic level.  That to me is dangerous.  Portion control is the most difficult part of an eating plan for any person. 

I note that he places Canola Oil on the “to be avoided” list.  Yes – I have switched to Coconut Oil, along with butter and Olive Oil.  There are limited times that I need a pot of oil to deep fry a food.  That is when Canola Oil – the least offensive vegetable oil – comes into play.

There are a number of other food items that he recommends avoiding which we depend upon including Canola Mayo, some salad dressings and cold cuts and – Oh yeah – Vodka.  I probably could switch to Potato or Corn based Vodka.  He does allow and even suggests Red Wine – but at only one glass a day.  Also – Peanuts – since they are Legumes.  No surprise here given what I’ve learned about those with Peanut allergy having minor inflammatory reaction to legumes.

He provides a 4 week eating plan along with recipes.  Great – Some of the recipes are even good.

He recommends exercising because of its effect on the brain and general health.  He does not have an exercise program.

If there is one weakness to his overall nutrition plan it is the lack of focus on Protein.  He provides no guidance on minimal protein requirements other than the portion sizes in his basic 4 week program.  The amount of protein is insufficient for anyone doing any real exercise.  This is where I always default to Jeff Volek’s take on protein.

My next post will focus on his recommended tests for Gluten and Sugar sensitivity along with his list of supplements.

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