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.

Getting the Answers

Last month, you may have seen a post on my Facebook page about an interview I had done with Medscape. A few weeks later, the interview was made available to the general public on WebMD. The main focus of the interview was to allow me to explain how and why gluten and carbohydrates represent such a powerful threat to the human brain.

Now that the article has had a chance to disseminate across the internet, I’ve seen a flood of comments from medical practitioners, industry experts, and interested individuals, asking questions, providing anecdotal evidence, offering support, and much, much more. So, I wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge some of these comments, offer thanks, and provide some answers. (All comments sourced from the posting on Medscape).

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Gluten: The Brain's Addiction

More Than a Craving?

I see a lot of activity in the comments section of this website from individuals struggling to manage their sugar/gluten/grain cravings during the first few days (and sometimes weeks) of a transition to a gluten- and grain-free lifestyle. While a part of it is mental (we all know how deceptively good some sweets taste), the real cause of that yearn may be physiological in nature.

Late last year, researchers at Connecticut College discovered, using rats, that Oreos stimulate the brain in a way to similar to most drugs. This isn’t the only study to look at this similarity, but it certainly is the latest. Just like Oreos, there are chemicals in gluten and wheat that stimulate the same parts of the brain that are responsive to morphine. Interesting to note: my colleague, Dr. William Davis, points out in his book, Wheat Belly, that when given a drug to block those receptors, individuals who go off bread do not go through any sort of withdrawal. Interesting to consider for sure.


Questionable Foods

Since the release of Grain Brain a few months ago, I’ve seen a number of question come in about whether or not certain foods are permissible on the Grain Brain diet, below is a list of some of those most common ones, as well as information on how permissible these are in a diet geared to boost brain health:

  • Einkorn wheat, Ezekiel bread, and similar products: Visit the FAQ section of my site
  • Rice: Along with some other non-gluten grains, rice can be consumed in strict moderation. The list of non-gluten foods on this site is a helpful resource in this case.
  • Fruit: Overall, fruit plays in an important role in a well-rounded diet that is geared towards brain and body health. However, because of the sugar content, you should always be wary of the fruits you’re putting into your body. If you’re going for fruit, trying grabbing a handful of berries, or similar low-sugar fruit.
  • Bacon: Generally, I am not a fan of bacon.


It all comes back to inflammation. – Dr. Perlmutter

I have never had a problem with wheat (or any food for that matter) but ever since my late 20s I have suffered from arthritis. Doctors put me on Naproxen and I’ve taken that or Nabumatone for 30 years.

At this stage in my life, I’ve decided I want to lose some weight. Now that I’m menopausal, I was put on a strict program by a nutritionist. This program had no grains (or non-fruit sugars) at all for the first 2 months. After about 2 weeks I was forgetting to take the anti-inflammatory meds since I didn’t feel the pain that usually indicated I needed them. After 30 days, I was practically pain-free.

I was reminded that before my brain tumor surgery my doctor told me that my inflammatory markers were through the roof. I went back in to be tested after this and they were normal. All those years of suffering and medications! I lost 30 pounds in 4 months and feel like I’m 15 years younger.


Must we be entirely grain-free?

If you’ve read “Grain Brain,” then you know that signing up for the Grain Brain diet means going grain- and gluten-free. Many individuals try to ease into a grain- and gluten-free diet. By and large, this should be avoided. Remember, halfway measures work halfway.

In this video, I’ll answer the question of whether or not it’s okay to stick with some grains, or as it’s more commonly phrased, “But Dr. Perlmutter, there have to be some good grains!?”


Can you avoid grains and gluten on a vegan diet?

On my Facebook page, an ever-increasing number of people have asked me about whether or not a gluten-free and grain-free diet, the Grain Brain diet, is compatible with a vegetarian and/or vegan one. Many interpret my call to avoid grains, something that has become a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, as an endorsement of the meats, proteins, and fats individuals on these types of diets avoid. However, though I may not be a vegetarian or vegan, there is certainly no reason one can’t be a vegetarian/vegan and on a Grain Brain-friendly diet.

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When it comes to going gluten- or grain-free, the first complaint I always hear is the same: “But what am I going to do without my (insert grain/gluten-filled food here)!” For those of you who have the same concern, here’s a simple list of some easy substitutions you can make to phase grains and gluten out of your diet:

  • Instead of hamburger buns, try wrapping your patty in lettuce
  • Instead of a cupcake, try a square of dark chocolate
  • Instead of a tuna melt, try spreading it over spinach and drizzling on some olive oil
  • Instead of cereal, try halving a grapefruit and filling with cottage cheese
  • Instead of nachos, try serving guacamole with cucumbers for dipping
  • Instead of chips, try to have a pair of hardboiled eggs
  • Instead of beer, try uncorking a bottle of red wine

Have any other suggestions? Share them in the comments section below!

On Shelves Today!

Today’s the day! I couldn’t be more excited to announce that Grain Brain is now available in-stores and online. To those of you who pre-ordered weeks and months ago, you’re just mere moments away from having this manual for better mental, and physical, health in your hands. For those of you who haven’t ordered a copy yet, what are you waiting for?