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On Consuming Non-Gluten Grains

We’re regularly fielding questions on the issue of gluten-free grains. What about rice? What about quinoa?

Certainly, there are several types of gluten-free grains out there, rice and quinoa seemingly the most popular of the bunch. However, the question remains: just because they are gluten-free, are they compatible with a Grain Brain or Brain Maker lifestyle? Find out in today’s video.

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  • TechnoTriticale

    Rice contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA; so named because it was first isolated in wheat). It’s an adverse lectin with what I understand is a pretty linear response (no lower threshold below which it is harmless). This suggests minimizing consumption.

    It was recently discovered that rice is a significant uptaker of inorganic arsenic. This is not due to current pesticide application. This can be arsenic native to the region, or residue from other crop pesticides decades ago (so the farm still qualifies as organic). An “organic” rice buys no protection on this. There is no US standard yet for arsenic in rice. Some California wild browns have 160% of the PRC (Chinese) standard for As contamination.

    If someone insists on eating rice, get a grower statement on arsenic content (some do). The WGA they can’t do anything about.

    Consumer Reports has already warned parents on feeding rice to children. The FDA may be expected to take a century to get around to it, as they did with transfats.

  • Fonda

    Dr. Perlmutter, what is the best way to fuel for distance cycling, hiking, etc, if not with carbs?

  • Saurabh Padwekar

    In our india , wheat and rice are common in daily food ? What i am suppose to do now.What are the alternative other than raw vegetables ? Thank you

    • Diane

      There are a few alternative grains there in India. I did find a breakfast cereal of millet and some other things. I do have to look in many stores to find them. Eating more cooked vegetables is also healthy. Beans and lentils are widely available in India. They are very healthy.

  • Renee

    Quinoa sticks your teeth.. 30 years I contend all flour mix with water is glue it doesn’t matter to me whether it is cashew, almond or wheat what I learned from you though is that being diagnosed wrong some 30 years ago I got what you said I can have

  • Arnoud

    I would say that all grains should be avoided, also rice.
    Eating seeds is the better option like buckwheat and quinoa.
    And high starch vegetables like potatoes would be ok from time to time, thus better then rice.
    Comparing potatoes to rice; they are easier to digest (less complex starch then rice), have less carbohydrates and more fiber, are less likely to be contaminated with gluten, have more vitamins and minerals, they contain catalaze enzyme (detox) and have some good properties for the gut.
    Just be sure not to eat the skin and to add enough fat. Buy varieties that are low in starch (not the ones to make fries with). You can still fry them (not to high temp.) in coconut oil to have delicious french fries.

    There is a lot of talk about resistant starch now, and you can get that from
    raw potatoes (don’t eat them raw…) or roasted potatoes that are cooled
    down (this should give you 1/3th of the amount of the resistant starch in raw potato). It seems important to feed the gut flora with fermentable substrates since starving them would also lead to increased gut permeability (just like gluten do) and that could be a problem when eating low carb.

    It would be nice to get a clear explanation about why dr. Perlmutter says rice would be better then potatoes, could be that I missed something. Also about how to feed the gut flora (I don’t think taking a pro-biotic supplement is enough).

    • justanopinion13

      Rice is not a grain. It is a seed.

      • Arnoud

        Humans eat the grains of rice, and this topic is about food.

      • justanopinion13

        Sorry. Let me correct myself. A grain in this regard refers to the single seed of the plant so that you could have a grain of rice, wheat or corn. What I was wanting to emphasize was that rice does not contain gluten.

  • renebeaulieu

    Well you say Rice is gluten free yet Dr Peter Osborne tell us that rice has gluten and Wild rice is the only rice that is gluten free as it is technically not a grain.

    • Diane Randall

      Ah, I should have read your comment first. Yes, wild rice is not a grain, it’s a seed. I have heard that rice has gluten, too.

      • justanopinion13

        Rice does not contain gluten. Gluten is primarily found in wheat and anything derived from it. In addition, the following contain gluten: rye, oats (only because they are processed in places that handle wheat), barley and bulgur.

        • Diane Randall

          Thank you! Great info that gets bandied about so that people like me sometimes get confused on what I read, hear, etc. By the way, I really enjoyed your info about plants, pesticides, and GMO, specifically about plant food products that are “engineered” to be pest-resistant (hence, less pesticide use), plants that are “vaccinated,” etc. I learned about this years ago before any talk of GMO, and question, too, the GMO “scare.” Too many sound or word-bites that just cause confusion, you write very intelligently and yet the “layman” such as myself can follow and understand. And thank you for your great work! I mean that in a much larger context than these few words can say.

          • justanopinion13

            Hi Diane,
            Thanks for the kind words.

  • Diane Randall

    Wild rice is rice (grass) seed. Those black wild rice grains? Seeds. When you buy it packaged (or bulk), or eat it in a restaurant, it is seeds (black) mixed with rice (usually white). Not sure how “wild” it actually is. If not labeled organic or non-GMO, it’s just harvested seed. Just FYI.

  • justanopinion13

    I am confused regarding what being GMO has to do with pesticides. I do not think there is any evidence that GMO crops are sprayed more than non-GMO crops. In fact, the genetic modifications are often done to make the crops less prone to pests, thereby avoiding pesticides. Because people do not understand what GMO really means the GMO “scare” is really blown out of proportion.

    • Guz

      GMOs and pesticides is like carrots and peas. That’s just gmo 101. Do ‘some’ research before getting confused. And maybe wank less.

      • justanopinion13

        I made myy comment to initiate a civilized discussion. Being dismissive is not really helpful.

        I do understand some details of genetic modification of crops and the reason I asked the question is that the statement in the video that “plants make their own pesticides” did not make sense to me. I appreciate that idea of GMO can raise fear but I think that is because it is not fully understood. I should say that this point that I have no connection or interest to GMO crops, rather I am a scientist that studies human disease, so there is not conflict of interest underlying my posts.

        It is not accurate to say that the crops make their own pesticides. Rather, what is done is to increase the innate resistance of the crops by adding in genes that make proteins that can increase disease resistance.

        This is done in one of many ways. For instance, to reduce potato blight, which is fungus that can cause lethal disease in humans, a gene that make enzymes (such as glucanase) that can to break down the walls of the invading fungus can be genetically introduced to the potato. Not only is glucanase not harmful to humans, some people take it as a health supplement.

        Another example, is in the effort to reduce viral infection in plants. The approach here is analogous to a vaccine in humans (though plants do not have an elaborate immune system like humans do). A single viral protein is introduced into the plant genome. The plant has a mechanism to know that this protein is not supposed to be there so when the real virus comes along the plant is ready to shut down the virus’ production of this protein, without which the virus cannot reproduce.

        • Cathy Tyson Marsh

          Watch OMG GMO. It is available on Netflix. It is an eye opener.

          • David Perlmutter

            Had not heard of that documentary. I’ll have to look into it as well!

        • sunnysydeofst

          from Wikipedia:
          Insecticide-producing corn
          The European corn borer,Ostrinia nubilalis, destroys corn crops by burrowing into the stem, causing the plant to fall over.

          Bt corn is a variant of maize that has been genetically altered to express one or moreproteins from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis.[8] The protein is poisonous to certain insect pests and is widely used in organic gardening.[9] The European corn borercauses about a billion dollars in damage to corn crops each year.[10]

          In recent years, traits have been added to ward off Corn ear worms and root worms, the latter of which annually causes about a billion dollars in damages.[11][12]

          The Bt protein is expressed throughout the plant. When a vulnerable insect eats the Bt-containing plant, the protein is activated in its gut, which is alkaline. In the alkaline environment the protein partially unfolds and is cut by other proteins, forming a toxinthat paralyzes the insect’s digestive system and forms holes in the gut wall. The insect stops eating within a few hours and eventually starves.[13]

          In 1996, the first GM maize producing a Bt Cry protein was approved, which killed the European corn borer and related species; subsequent Bt genes were introduced that killed corn rootworm larvae.[14]

          Approved Bt genes include single and stacked (event names bracketed) configurations of: Cry1A.105 (MON89034), CryIAb (MON810), CryIF (1507), Cry2Ab (MON89034), Cry3Bb1 (MON863 and MON88017), Cry34Ab1 (59122), Cry35Ab1 (59122), mCry3A (MIR604), and Vip3A (MIR162), in both corn and cotton.[15][16]:285ff Corn genetically modified to produce VIP was first approved in the US in 2010.[17]

        • julie

          Plants don’t actually make their own pesticides. BUT if they are planted in truly organic soil and given all the proper minerals they need (no not Miracle Gro…that’s crap), they are complex carbohydrates…and therefore do NOT attract pests. You will not have bugs in your vegetable garden if you nourish them correctly and use organic soil. Conversely, if a plant is grown without the proper nutrition, it then becomes a simple sugar and is attractive to pests. Mother nature naturally eradicates anything that isn’t good. The bugs are doing us a favor. Grow your own food and save yourself from paying for “certified organic” at the store…which really isn’t organic. Some pesticides are approved for use on certified organic crops. Why would anyone pay for that?

      • rbmindful

        Very insulting reply more in line with some political blog.

    • David

      according to the patent holders of both GMO species and the associated pesticides herbicides, some GMO species were specifically developed to thrive and grow in the presence of these chemicals. Also, cross contamination happens from a GMO farm to a farmer’s property that wants to remain non-GMO, thus contravening the non-GMO property owner’s rights and may cause commercial harm to the non-GMO farmer’s marketing capability. I am not sure of the case law here, i think the above shows that this is worth a discussion.

  • Sandra Terpe Stover

    What about red wine if you have been diagnosed wit Hashimoto’s? Ok or not ok?

  • Jeanne Eppes

    Is it advisable for me to start the grain free diet while on a statin drug? I am a little confused about what to do. I read your book, and I feel that I would have a healthier brain if I followed your plan, but I am on Crestor for my cholesterol. I don’t have an appointment w/my cardiologist until December. I hesitate to stop taking Crestor until I talk with my cardiologist first. He is the one who recommended the book Grain Brain.

  • David Benjamin

    Dear Dr. Perlmutter,
    thanks for your pioneering work and working to produce consumer products that laypeople can use themselves to help. I wonder if you have considered
    1. The effect of 1 or all of the class of FODMAP sugars on the gut, fermentable oligo di mono + saccharides and polyols?
    and 2. what therapies using prebiotics probiotics, enzymes, or other methods you know of, would be efficacious in helping people who experience difficulty in digesting these sugars, found in broccoli, onions, garlic, apples, and many other healthy foods, etc……….. to be able to once again eat these foods having FODMAPS. It is interesting that moderate amounts of FODMAP containing foods may be consumed by some patients when also chased with sucrose or glucose, i believe, as the FODMAP piggy backs onto these sugars and can be digested, according to Shepherd and Gibsob and others.
    Thanks, David Benjamin

  • Lois Chowen

    Dr. Perlmutter, I notice that your cookbook recommends avoiding wheat grass. What is in the blade of grass that is harmful?

  • Jo

    Japanses and Chinese outlive almost everyone and have Rice 3 times a day. What do you say about that? That’s prob the only grain they have but have a lot…

  • StudioYaYa

    I’m enjoying your latest book, but I am missing bread! I just saw a segment from CBS This Morning, about the International Seed Vault. It claimed that 75% of the US crop diversity is gone and is now down to only a few varieties, by a few big companies. Obviously not the grains our grandparents ate. Why is this allowed to be the case as it would seem there is evidence that the “Round-up Ready seeds used, cause a plethora of problems? Is there anyone proposing getting a more diverse crop by using these seeds that were preserved before everything got messed up with GMO’s and pesticides? It seems to me, we have the technology to fix the problem, and certainly those who have the resources to make it happen. Isn’t the rising rate of cancer and neurological problems catastrophic enough to warrant action?

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