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The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD and Dr. John Douillard

Today’s interview is with Dr. John Douillard. He’s the author of a new book entitled Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back into Your Diet.

I’m sure many of you are a bit surprised that we would be exploring a book with such a compelling title, but I think it’s so important and valuable to look at various viewpoints through meaningful discussion.

Eat Wheat is a very well-researched book and in it, Dr. Douillard makes some very good points. Clearly, as you will see in the interview, we do not necessarily see eye-to-eye on a number of points. Nonetheless, I think you’ll find our conversation very stimulating.

John Douillard,DC CAP, is a globally-recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda, and sports medicine. He is the creator of LifeSpa.com, the leading Ayurvedic health and wellness resource on the web.

Dr. Douillard is the former Director of Player Development and nutrition expert for the former New Jersey Nets of the NBA, bestselling author of 7 health books, including his newest, Eat Wheat,  that we will review today. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz show, and has been featured in USA Today, The LA Times, and dozens of other national publications. He has been in practice for over 30 years and practices in Boulder, Colorado.

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  • Julie Gale

    That was great Dr Perlmutter, to take on an opposing view which however was not quite as opposing as one might have thought. Yes Dr Douillard did say eat wheat but only artisan bread. Then only if one had healed onself first. Perhaps the topic of modern wheat could have been approached as versus Emma or Spelt. I agree with him that it is the highly processed food that is really to blame.
    I have not had bread for 8 months and it has helped my IBS of long standing. I cut out all grain and at the same time all processed foods, not that I ate many. I have had a small porridge once a week and have been OK. I know it is different to wheat. But this discussion makes me wonder if I might be able to reintroduce our homemade simple bread, perhaps made of spelt, when I feel that I am fit enough again. I suppose the answer will be to try it and see.
    Thank you for all your interesting videos, I always enjoy and leart from them. Julie Gale

    • David Bennett

      If gluten is neurotoxic there is no possible way to “reintroduce” wheat into the diet. I haven’t eaten any gluten containing grains for over 5 years. Giving up grains was more difficult than quitting smoking but I did it. I would suggest that Paleolithic humans did not eat wheat or any other grains. Grains were introduced into the human diet approximately 10,000 years ago. Certainly not long enough for any appreciable dietary evolutionary change to occur.

      • Greg Hill

        Paleolithic humans didn’t drink green tea either. Does that mean that we shouldn’t drink it today because there hasn’t been time for an “evolutionary change to occur?”

        Also, our microbiome plays a critical role in our digestion, and that has gone through uncounted millions of generations of evolution since the introduction of wheat into our diets thousands of years ago.

        Sorry, but this often-repeated Paleo “evolutionary” anti-grain argument simply doesn’t hold any weight at all with me.

  • Larry

    chelated trace minerals help to jump start the digestive tract….bacteria love this dirt.

  • billslo

    He disingenuously titles his book “Eat Wheat.”
    Then he parries all your questions with a
    wall of words, seemingly not even taking a
    breath as he jumped around to different
    topics, repetitively bringing up extraneous
    issues. I can’t believe he convinces anyone
    with his ridiculous arguments. He completely
    misunderstands hormesis.
    Keep doing what you’re doing Dr. P

  • Robin

    Hey Dr. P. Why are you wasting your time on this idiot?
    He keeps tossing out a bunch of irrelevant stuff like pesticide pollution and harmful fake fats which nobody is advocating eating. Then the closest he can come to a study showing wheat in a good light is a comparison of refined grain vs. whole grains. This is just a guy pandering to people who like their bread who will buy his book because it tells them what they want to hear.

    • Daryl

      Yes my thoughts exactly !

      • ron

        The Money is where nutrition goes.

  • Ronna Berezin

    I’m not an expert here , but you two dr.’s shoulddo more work together. There is not a simple answer to this . Both of you are right and need to discuss this further paying no attention to your or his supporters.

  • Tru foods nutrition

    It is always beneficial to hear opposing opinions based on different research. I think Dr. Douillard does bring up some good points such as eating in season, doing more for gut health than just taking a probiotic, not replacing gluten with gf products and looking at the lymph system. However, I don’t think most people are going to make, find or eat wheat in its whole grain form. Wheat is still a sprayed crop right before harvest, so it still ends up being a toxic product. Thank you for sharing an opposing viewpoint.

  • frankjenson

    Nice to see this civil and open-minded dialogue between two people who disagree. The world needs more of that. It’s good for the immune system, I’m sure.

  • Daryl

    All we needed was more conflicting information out there !!
    After listening to this guy I come to the conclusion that nutrition is a matter of opinion not a matter of fact All the so-called experts out there don’t agree with each other.
    Dr. Mark Hyman states in his book that gluten is one of the causes of
    Dementia. Who and what are you supposed to believe anymore !!

  • rationalthinker99

    Dr. John Douillard makes a case that some people are only harmed by wheat because they have gut issues, which can be improved. Dr. Perlmutter notes that sometimes wheat’s effects are invisible, and not detectable (such as Alzheimers). Consequently some % of people who follow Dr. Douillard’s self diagnosis to determine if they can eat wheat again (after repairing their gut) == may find themselves succumb to long term bad side effects of wheat (again like Alzheimers).

    Me. I’m on Dr. Perlmutter’s side. But this was easy for me. Since getting of wheat, my arthritis went away. When I slip up, my hands start hurting within 24 hours. This is after switching to a health life style, and having no gut issues (I know of).

    I never wrote to give you that feedback Dr. Perlmutter, that your book made a large impact on my health. Thank you so much for that.

    I like your interviewee Dr. Douillard. But I suspect he was sobered by your interview to realize there may be some subgroup of his followers that think it is safe to go back to wheat… when it really isn’t.

  • rpabate

    Great discussion. Too bad a discussion like this cannot take place in the field of climate science with regard to climate change, a.k.a. catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

  • ericael

    I so appreciate this civilized, intelligent, considerate and thought provoking conversation! Thank you for providing this despair your highly differing viewpoints-you are truly a gentleman. As you stated, this is unusual in the current blogosphere climate… but much needed and much more elucidating than a divisive blog post. Despite distinct differences you both maintained such a high level of composure-there is still hope for humanity:)

  • Gela K

    Wow! If only more people in this world could have this type of opposing views debate. The world would be in a different place. Brilliant discussion. The title of the book would give anyone the impression that you ‘should’ eat wheat. Maybe a better title would have been ‘Maybe it’s not just the Wheat.’ I know not as catchy of a title. I don’t think people, in general, would eat artisan bread seasonally. It’s not going to happen. The world is too toxic to add another irritant; just so I can have fiber and whatever nutritional value there is in wheat. Nutrition that you can find in so many other foods that don’t contain gluten. Maybe in a few thousands years we will have evolved enough to eat the wheat that was manufactured during the last century. I am sticking with the Dr Perlmutter Plan for better health. 🙂

    • TechnoTriticale

      Gela K: …a better title would have been ‘Maybe it’s not just the Wheat.’

      Concur. The interview speaks for itself on the implications of the current title. It might have been nice if there had been time to get into other arguments from the book that Dr.P. thought were insightful (and less self-contradictory).

  • gonegirl

    One’s ability to “perceive” if wheat is harmful to them has its limitations. The GI tract does not necessarily communicate pain even when it is severely inflamed. My friend’s son , at the age of 17, had an upper endoscopy–to investigate what was thought to be GERD–only to find that he was suffering from severe, bloody inflammation due to what turned out to be a wheat allergy. Despite the diagnosis, he nonetheless has trouble sticking to a wheat-free diet…because he loves bread, pizza, etc, and feels no pain upon consumption, even though his GI tract becomes severely inflamed as a result. Elimination diets may have their place, but they don’t tell the whole story.

  • rooibos

    I’d really like to know is funding the ‘many’ studies that show how ‘whole grains’, ‘whole wheat’, have health benefits. I ask this because I think the ‘wheat’ industry may be feeling very threatened by the current avoidance of gluten (and the well-being that so often ensues), not to mention the threat to profits. (After all, I think the big three agribusiness products are corn, soy and wheat.) A directive like ‘Eat Wheat’ is music ($$) to their ears 😉

    BTW, now i have to read Dr. Douillard’s book (from the library 🙂 to check out this incredible claim that humans have been adjusting to eating gluten for 3.4 million years! and only ate meat starting 500,000 years ago … I suspect that is when humans started cooking… making meat more digestible. Hmmm… sounds like some data massaging, to me… to the delight of the ‘wheat’ business, no doubt.

  • Beto Svr

    Not understand. The author and book approve wheat consumption or is it ironic? I didn’t see the video

  • Nancy Savidge

    Really appreciate your willingness to allow different perspectives, I thought the clarifying comments were very informative.

  • Congratulations! This is a very courageous move on your part to have and publish this conversation and it is appreciated. I will read the book, I am not afraid of different perspectives if it is well documented and not just opinions. But at this point if I feel a desire to eat grains I will opt for quinoa or maybe rice or buckwheat – non-gluten grains. In many parts of the world millions of people have been eating grains that do not carry the risks that come with eating gluten. Wheat is certainly not a must!

  • Rochelle

    Great discussion! Thank you ! There are people that do have problems with gluten / gliadin, but not everyone. One point is that the wheat that people consume today is hybrid, full of chemicals some of them sprayed pre-harvest, it’s being consumed refined and processed which means with even more chemicals, depleted for nutrientes and fibers, it’s really a bad food to eat and so it neccessarily has to overwhelm the immune system. If we could consume it in its ‘pure’ form – not hybrid, organic, unprocessed and as Dr. Douillard said bread made just of whole wheat, water, salt and yeast, and eat little and occasionally, not in a regular basis, and we have healthy digestive system and a clean lymphatic system, then maybe we would not have so many issues specifically related to gluten. I’m not ‘for wheat’, I think we can do better whitout it for others reasons like sugar spikes, etc.

    • Greg Hill

      I was thinking pretty much the same thing. I have heard so many Americans say that they had to completely eliminate wheat from their diet, then they took a trip to Europe and found they could eat as much bread and pasta as they wanted there without any problem.

      I believe that for most people, most of the problem is that the grain that I like to call “Frankenwheat” which is grown in this country today for the convenience and profit of the Big Ag producers and the food processing industry is nothing at all like the real wheat that was all we had as recently as 200 years ago. For example, unlike ancient Einkorn real wheat which has 2 copies of each chromosome (diploidy), modern American Frankenwheat has 6 copies (hexaploidy). Most Americans today who think they have a problem digesting wheat or have other “wheat sensitivity” problems actually have never actually even eaten any real wheat in their entire lives.

      So the bottom line is, I basically agree with Dr. Douillard. Once you’ve got your digestive tract healed, go ahead and try eating some real wheat (in moderation), if you can find it. You can sometimes find real wheat (like Einkorn) pasta in a health food store. Unfortunately, if you want real wheat bread you will probably have to buy the wheat on line and bake the bread yourself. In any event, just don’t ever eat any of the mutant Frankenwheat which is just about all that is available in grocery stores, bakeries and even health food stores in this country today.

  • RicardoRichard

    It is a rare interview but very courageous on the part of Dr Perlmutter, because his guest contradicts the host’s basic theory.

    As I have observed 90% of sites, especially in America, are places of mutual adoration. I have already put some questions to Dr Osborne, who is a hard-liner in the matter of gluten, for he sees gluten everywhere (probably even in his car). He did not trouble to answer my questions arguing his point. Instead he stuck his head in the sand and … resolved the problem.

    I haven’t read Dr Douillard’s book but from what I have learnt here, I suppose the whole argument built by the guest on the long history of consuming wheat makes no sense, because by continuous hybridization the gluten in wheat nowadays is incomparable to the gluten in remote times. But he is right by suspecting that there are other factors involved that are taken as gluten’s fault.

    Apart from that, Take Eastern and Central Europe. I don’t know the statistics but wheat in this part of Europe has always been super staple food. I know that wheat 100 years ago is not today’s. Nevertheless 90-95% of the population still consume wheat and it should have reflected itself tremendously in auto-immune diseases, especially bowel problems but it does not in such proportions one should have expected.

    So this practical example taken from real life suggests that gluten is not bad for the majority of populations. For some it IS dangerous but the theory must be corrected.

  • Julia

    BKnowledge and wisdom to apply it is truly wonderful in our present age. The researchers and scientists as yourselves are truly appreciated. If each human takes this knowledge that you both so graciously provide and tests it on themselves, we would not have so many health issues in our society that are such a burden for our humanity. I welcome the knowledge from both of you. It will help me to consciously make a logical and informed decision about my own eating habits and lifestyle and not place the onus on anyone else but myself. Thank you for the civil conversation. The rest is up to me.

    More research on Einkorn and Emmer wheat (two ancient wheats with less chromosomes) would be great as these wheats may be an easier wheat to digest. Also research on using fermentation rather than boughten yeast would be valuable knowledge which may help the digestion of wheat.

  • Cynthia Sidner

    The implication of Dr. Duillard is that we may be less healthy by not consuming unprocessed wheat. If so, then how have cultures that historically not eaten wheat, that were rice based, or root based, or millet based been able to maintain good health. And why have there been increases in many diseases like heart disease and diabetes in those cultures since the western diet was introduced to them?

  • Salvador Garcia

    Thanks doc, good to show the other side of a topic.
    But I think your colleague is full of wheat.
    I’m unconvinced, there’s a lot of money riding on wheat and wheat products. Where there’s big money people tend to not care what they do to others as long as they can remain rich.
    Thanks again

  • Keri

    I am so grateful for you both presenting two sides of the argument with such wisdom grace.

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for watching Keri!

  • Nikolas List

    I appreciate getting other opinions but I’m not convinced. I live in Europe and when I quit wheat after reading William Davis’ book ‘Wheatbelly’, my health improved dramatically. I’m sticking to Gary Taubes, Nina Teicholz and so many others who rule out wheat and processed carbs.

    • David Perlmutter

      Have to expose yourself to both sides and reach a conclusion. I’m glad you took the time to watch Nikolas.

      • Robin Beers

        I think we did that back in the 1970s. The conclusion has been reached. I don’t see the point in giving a pretty obvious wheat industry shill a platform in the present day.

  • Gilles Dumoulin

    No video!!!

  • Sandi Rubay

    Thank you Dr. Perlmutter for this conversation. At one point Dr. Doulliard mentions there are problems with Organic foods. In a search I found this article and think it would be beneficial if you had a conversation that exposes what this article offers. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/03/eating-organic-may-be-harmful-the-truth-behind-organic-produce-doug-smith/
    One highlight is how, even though only 1% of food in America is organic, unless a label says it is 100% organic, then pesticides are used, and though “natural” derived, these pesticides are understudied regarding harm they can cause, and the reality that they used far more than chemically derived pesticides, particularly in lettuces. Thanks again for this conversation, you kept the focus with this challenging author.

  • M D

    Thank you so much for doing this interview. Now I have an educational place to send people to when they have some of the arguments that gluten-free is simply an ill-founded fad that LifeSpa promotes

  • JohnInTheOC

    Dr. P. Congratulations on Trump selecting you as a contributing advisor! His father passing from Alzheimer’s is perhaps one of the many driving forces. Hopefully he can bring the dismal 37th place globally in life span we have in the US up. (32nd if you read the older W.H.O. numbers)http://giphy.com/gifs/usnationalarchives-concert-applause-3oz8xTpSvopBdi7IOI

  • sandy trotta

    I can totally understand what Dr. Douillard is trying to say and find it very interesting what he has to say about the lymphatic stystem. I am a Dr. Haushka esthetician and I have training in giving facials with lymphatic stimulation included. Not only a beauty treatment, but also a healthy one.
    My husband was diagnosed with primary lateral scerlosis and after reading Dr. Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain”, he stopped eating gluten and gaveu[ some dairy and sugar. He is experiencing better range of motion in his leg and lost 15 pounds!
    Please keep writing these books filled with all this life changing information. The public needs you. You are both amazing and brillant.

  • Paulina

    I am very grateful for the presence of the both of you in the world. I think it’s a good idea to start off with a balanced plate of healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and from there, each person can see what suits best. Another important aspect I think has to do with beliefs (although it doesn’t sound very scientific) … but I think if we expect something to affect us or help us it does have an effect on the body.

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for watching Paulina.

  • t poz

    Wow! A breath of fresh air to hear to well respected experts discuss a topic from BOTH sides of the coin. Thank you Dr. Perlmutter for being willing to entertain concepts outside of your scope of work. I deeply appreciate the modeling for community to have discussions such as these. Much learned here! Thanks again.

    • David Perlmutter

      Incredibly important to do just that. I hope others took that away from this interview as well.

  • Ed

    Not the same wheat today as thousands or for that matter 50 years ago! Fields have been destroyed with roundup. I’ll pass on the carbs. Further how can something be that good for you that spikes your glucose level more then a candy bar.

  • Max

    Dr Perlmutter, I think you went a little easy on him. You trapped him in some logic loops that he couldn’t argue out of, but you never sealed the deal. A quick example would be when he changed his explanation of what he means by eating wheat seasonally. He actually means that you should eat it year round, but eat more during winter. Another example would be when he says that humans have been eating wheat for 3 million years but only meat for 500,000. That is HIGHLY contested, and I think you “let him” get away with that claim. You were a gracious host, though.

    His studies where wheat heals the gut lining and improves IBS are much less convincing than any study you’ve presented.

    Lastly, you kept getting to this point but he refused to concede/change his view:
    He is recommending that all people, except those that get symptoms after wheat consumption, should eat whole grain “artisan” wheat in order to keep the gut/immune system challenged (like dirt/dust -> asthma challenge in Amish). BUT he refused to say that those with unhealthy guts need an extended break (possibility indefinite) from wheat and other irritants in order to HEAL. THEN wheat can be attempted to be reintroduced. I think that’s a really moderate view, especially since more and more people are losing their ability to digest and thrive. I think he held his opinions too close to his heart, and that inability to sway prevented a better debate.

    I really appreciate his focus on lymphs and circadian rhythms. Though, a study on deer microbes and bark consumption doesn’t say much about humans, but it is a great starting point. It’s all definitely neglected by modern medicine. I think he may be onto something with that. Thanks for bringing in someone from a different school-of-thought!

  • Linda Seidman

    I am a big fan of yours,
    Dr. Perlmutter, but I think you missed the boat with this interview. You repeatedly asked Dr. Douilliard the same question hoping he’d agree with your premise that no one should be eating wheat or gluten now. What you missed was asking him about his program for restoring the gut and the lymphatic system, etc.
    What an opportunity missed here, Dr. Perlmutter.
    I think you missed the forest for 1 tree.
    Linda Seidman

    • ron

      Eating wheat and gluten are two separate issues, although all wheat contains gluten, so if you must avoid gluten you should avoid wheat. My thought only. This article I believe explains it. I personally buy sprouted grains bread that may have wheat but are gluten and wheat free,

    • David Perlmutter

      I appreciate that feedback Linda. Something to think about ahead of future discussions.

  • JPA

    Thank you for this useful discussion. We are all so different that one single system will not work for all. I have been wheat free since 2014 with occasional conscious wheat intake incidents and I can say that I have decided to continue being wheat free. My body does not tolerate wheat well and I can feel it. I live in EU, eat non-processed food and wheat is simply not an option for me. I do not miss crunchy bread as I feel stuffed afterwards. Listen to your own body! Nobody can be a guru over your own digestion, apart from you, yourself 🙂

  • Lynn Dell

    I have been toying with the idea of making organic einchorn sourdough bread, but have not done so yet. I know I react to modern wheat, but don’t know if it’s something in the wheat or the pesticide, herbicide residue.

    Glad he spoke against sugar.

    It’s all in healing the gut. Thanks!

  • Rickh

    It was just refreshing in this day to see two intelligent people have a respectful discussion.
    It gives you both much credibility.

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for the feedback Rick.

  • Johnny Love

    Just my 2 cents but I stopped eating wheat gluten 25 years ago after my sister, who is a microbiologist, introduced me to the book ‘Eat Right for your Blood Type’ by Dr. Peter D’adamo. I was so excited by my results that I went on to become a Nutritional Therapist as this became my passion. I did not hear anything above referring to the harmful lectins that enter the bloodstream from wheat gluten which attack the joints and can eventually lead to joint problems like arthritis.
    Also, Last year I took over caregiving my mother of 83 years who has sever Alzheimer’s and we almost lost her twice. Finally out of frustration, I suspected her prescribed Alzheimer’s drugs were killing her, and discontinued them. I then changed her diet to a sugar free, gluten free, and grain free diet, gave her loads of coconut oil, fish oils, Turmeric, B vitamins, and others. Mom’s results were nothing short of miraculous! Her Alzheimer’s has been in reverse and she is talking with clarity and able to join conversation’s with pretty good articulation. She is re-learning to walk and her appetite is very healthy. I am convinced her Dementia, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Neuropathy were the result of a life of deserts, candy, bread, and alcohol addictions. Thanks Dr. P.

  • Jule Tee

    I was absolutely hypnotized by this discussion. A big thank you to both doctors for this presentation. A rare occasion and very much appreciated!

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for watching. Good to know this was well-received!

  • Carole Young

    I firmly believe in what you say in your books…I’ve read them all and try to follow your dietary guidelines as I have three autoimmune diseases. About a year ago I received, as a gift, a grain mill and a bucket of wheat..gmo free.. and began to bake my own bread. That bread is delicious and does not seem to cause me a problem. This program has helped me reconcile this addition to my diet. I do not eat refined wheat off the grocery store shelf. Thank you.

  • Sally

    Good arguments on both sides and interesting new information for me from Dr. Douillard. Not sure there should have been so much emphasis on the title of Dr. Doulliard’s book. Neither “Eat Wheat” nor “Grain Brain” encompasses the entire message of either book. Both are catchy rhyming titles designed to spark interest and curiosity about the content of the books.

  • Kitten

    Thank you so very much for this great interview! The entire discussion was captivating, and now I am wondering if an individual’s blood type could have anything to do with the ability to break down certain lectins and either benefit the immune system or destroy the gut, and cause leaky gut. I am a Type O, and find all of your advice beneficial regarding wheat consumption. Thank you again for all that you are doing, and generously sharing with us!❤️

  • Symptoms from wheat may not manifest for decades. As a periodontist, damage
    from added sugars and grains have changed the gut bacteria leading to increased
    intestinal permeability leading to chronic inflammation leading to dysbiosis in
    mouth bacteria leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Therefore, get rid of
    the sugars and grains! Why not? Pastured and wild caught animal products,
    fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds give humans all the nutrients that a healthy
    body needs. Why make it more complex than that?

  • Carolina Portillo

    Thank you for a great discussion. I look forward to reading Dr. Douillard’s book.

  • Celeste

    I live in a retirement community where nobody cooks. Therefore, when I refuse pizza, pasta and white rice meals, I am the odd-man out. For the past 3 years I have eliminated gluten while my peers actually are addicted to their wheat products. It’s sad that they don’t realize they are being stuffed with cheap & harmful wheat products when there are alternate vegetable and salad sides as better options. Diabetes & Alzheimers is rampant in these Senior societies. They wonder how they gained so much weight. Dr. D quoted wheat is a $16B industry which is where this is all coming from. It’s sad to hear that because it has done more harm to the worldwide hunger situation since grain has changed since the 1970s. Hopefully gluten will soon be recognized like nicotine was in our parents’ generation. Thank you, Dr. P, for the intelligent discussion.

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