Is Grain-Free Right for Me?

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paleo diet? grain free? Gluten free? Low carbs?

There is a lot of talk in the nutrition world about the benefits of a low-carb diet. Books like The Atkins Diet, Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly have had a very interesting conversation about the role that some of our favorite foods can play in causing chronic disease.

The New York Times even ran an article this week about a study by the National Institute for Health that says the decades-long war on fat has been wrong all along.

But if you’re like most people, there’s a good chance you think gluten-free and any other resemblance to it is probably a fad.

Why grain free?

according to dr David Permutter, a board-certified neurologist and author of grain brain, a diet high in carbohydrate-rich foods like grains and processed sugars is detrimental to our brains. dr Permutter goes on to describe how Alzheimer’s disease can be classified as a type III form of diabetes and the American standard high grain diet is a major cause of the increase in dementia. But can changing your diet improve your brain function and recovery from neurological disorders?

There is a lot of promise in the epilepsy world through the use of an ultra-low-carb diet called the keto diet. Basically, a person on a ketogenic diet consumes a diet that consists almost entirely of fat and protein. The result is that many people with seizure disorders have seen a great improvement in brain function and a reduction/elimination of seizures.

Case studies and self-experiments?

In my practice, I see many people with chronic neurological disorders, especially people with headaches. Headaches are such a common complication of the Atlas Displacement Complex that I’m always VERY surprised when a patient with headaches doesn’t feel better after a neck surgery.

However, a few times in the last month I have had patients whose headache status plateaued for a month after their neck was corrected. This lasted over the course of a month where her neck REMAINS in its correct position and required NO adjustment but the headache status would not change. I knew I had to think outside the box. When you’re focused on one thing in your office, it’s easy to become short-sighted and think that every nail needs your hammer.

Although I am not a nutritionist, I am aware of many trends and research results in the field of health optimization. I asked the patients what they eat on a daily basis and found that they all ate an enormous amount of bread, pasta, and cereal each day.

I had them abstain from bread, cereal, pasta, rice and all grains for 2 weeks and keep a daily journal to see how they were feeling. As with most elimination diets, most people break down when they fall off a strong substance like sugar/carbs. Her energy plummeted, her headache was still there, and she felt sluggish. I encouraged her to stick with it for a few more days.

Lo and behold, by week 2 all patients were headache free and had better energy than they had in years.

I’ve even tried this approach myself. While I wasn’t feeling sick or fat, I had noticed that bread, rice, and pasta were becoming too regular in my own diet. After not eating grains for 2 weeks I had lost 8 pounds and felt faster in my workouts again. It was great!

Is it right for me?

Now take that with a grain of salt because I’m not a nutritionist or health coach. IF you have a complex neurological disease process, then a grain-free/sugar-free diet can be a great natural way to improve your brain health, and you should probably talk to your doctor about it.

But what if you’re Joe Average and just want to lose weight or feel better?

In my opinion, almost everyone can benefit from eliminating these types of carbohydrates from their diet. It is far too abundant in our daily lives and we have NO IDEA because it is ingrained in our normal daily lives.

If you’re an athlete and need that carb fix, there are whole-food sources like fruit, yams, whole potatoes, and squash that can give you that fix without the addictive quality of bread and pasta.

Thanks to Dr. Jonathan Chung

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