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Grain Brain by David Perlmutter MD (2013): Brain health food list

Grain Brain book by David Perlmutter MDThe Grain Brain Cookbook by David Perlmutter MDGrain Brain (2013) is a book that describes how to improve your brain health and reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and conditions such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and headaches.

  • High in healthy fats, naturally raised animal proteins, vegetables.
  • Low carbohydrate and low fruit, no processed carbs or sugars.

Below is a description of the food recommendations in the diet. Summary  |  Optional fast  |  Foods to eat liberally  |  Foods to eat in moderation  |  Foods to avoid  | Food and headaches  |  Food and sleep. There’s a lot more in the book.

Get a copy of Grain Brain for a detailed discussion of the recommendations, self-assessment of risk factors, testing recommendations, supplementation, exercise, information on sleeping, sample menu plan, and recipes.

Get The Grain Brain Cookbook for more than 150 recipes.

Also, see Dr. Perlmutter’s following book Brain Maker for more information on brain health.

The reasoning behind Grain Brain

This book claims that brain dysfunction is really no different from heart dysfunction – it develops over time through our behaviors and habits.

  • Inflammation is increased with high-carb low-fat diets – Many modern chronic diseases have a common denominator of inflammation – brain diseases fit the pattern, and high-carb low-fat diets can lead to inflammation.
  • Gluten is dangerous – Gluten is a modern poison – the grains we eat are not the same as our ancestors ate, and they are more addictive than ever. As many as 40% of us can’t properly process gluten, the other 60% could be in harm’s way – gluten sensitivity is linked to neurological dysfunction.
  • Low-carb is healthier – High levels of carbohydrates, which convert to glucose, can lead to insulin resistance and its knock-on effects. The body’s proteins get harmed and aged by exposure to glucose from carbs as well.
  • Unprocessed fats and cholesterol are good for you – Cholesterol protects the brain, which consists of more than 70% fat: low-fat and low-cholesterol diets may harm it (they also have been shown not to reduce heart disease). Cholesterol is only harmful when it’s oxidized, which happens when eating a high-carb diet.
  • Reduce your waist size to improve your brain – The larger the waist-hip ratio (the bigger your belly), the smaller your brain’s memory center.

Grain Brain diet plan – what to eat and foods to avoid

Optional fast  |  Foods to eat liberally  |  Foods to eat in moderation  |  Foods to avoid  | Food and headaches  |  Food and sleep

This diet is for both the old and the young, including women who plan to become or who are pregnant.

Follow this diet for 4 weeks, along with other recommendations including a fitness regime, getting sleep, and supplementation. The dietary changes help you shift your body away from relying on carbs for fuel.

Try to stick to a 90/10 rule – for 90% of the time, eat within these guidelines and let the last 10% take care of itself. If you ever feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon, you can fast for a day and commit again to the same four weeks of restricting carbs to 30-40 grams a day

Optional fast

Ideally, start week 1 after you have fasted for one full day. Many people find it helps to do the fast on a Sunday (last meal is dinner Saturday night) and then begin the diet program on a Monday morning

  • No food but lots of water for a 24-hour period
  • Avoid caffeine

When you’ve established this diet for life and want to fast for further benefits, you can try a 72-hour fast (check with your doctor first).

Fast at least 4 times a year, fasting during the seasonal changes – e.g. the last week of September, December, March, and June.

Foods to eat liberally in Grain Brain

Go organic and local with your whole-food choices wherever possible. Flash-frozen is fine, too

  • Healthy fats
    • Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil
    • Organic or grass-fed/pasture-fed butter, ghee
    • Cheese (except blue cheeses) – e.g. cheddar cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese, Gruyère, parmesan/Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, Pecorino cheese (the book implies these should be full-fat)
    • Grass-fed tallow / rendered animal fat
    • Almond milk
    • Avocados, olives
    • Nuts – raw, unsalted – including almonds, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts
    • Nut butters such as almond butter, tahini
    • Nut flours such as almond flour, ground flaxseed
    • Coconuts, coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut meat, coconut milk, shredded coconut
    • Seeds including chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Proteins
    • Whole eggs – eat a lot of them
    • Wild fish – e.g. anchovies, black cod, grouper, halibut, herring, mahimahi, red snapper, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, white fish. Steer clear of any fish that are likely to be high in mercury. Canned fish are fine – opt for sustainably caught, pole- or troll-caught fish – use Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program as a resource for up-to-date information: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx
    • Shellfish and mollusks – e.g. clams, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp
    • Grass-fed meat – beef, bison, lamb, liver, pork, veal
    • Grass-fed fowl/poultry – chicken, duck, ostrich, turkey
    • Wild game
  • Vegetables
    • “Fruit” vegetables – avocados, bell peppers, cucumber, eggplant, hot peppers e.g. jalapeño peppers, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, zucchini
    • Green and other nonstarchy vegetables – alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, celery, celery root, collards, fennel, frisée, garlic, ginger, green beans, jicama, kale, leafy greens, leek, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, parsley, radishes, sauerkraut, scallions, shallots, spinach, turnip, water chestnuts, watercress
  • Lowest-sugar fruits
    • Lemons, limes
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
    • Free of gluten, wheat, soy, and sugar
    • Herbs of all types, including basil, bay leaves, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, mint, mustard cress, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
    • Spices and seasonings of all types – watch out for packaged products made at plants that process wheat and soy – including allspice, cayenne pepper, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, pink peppercorns, red pepper flakes, saffron
    • Capers, chicken or vegetable stock/broth (gluten-free, preferably homemade) horseradish, mustard, salsa, tapenade, tomato paste, vinegar (e.g. balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar), wine for cooking
    • Hummus (listed as an exception in legumes)
  • Beverages
    • Ideally, stick to purified water
    • Drink half of your body weight in ounces of purified water daily. E.g. if you weight 150 pounds, that means drinking at least 75 ounces, or about 9 glasses, of water par day
    • You can also opt for tea or coffee (assuming you don’t have any issues with coffee), but be careful about caffeine late in the day. For every caffeinated beverage you consume, include an extra 12-16 ounces of water
    • Almond milk is another alternative drink
  • Snack ideas
    • You’re not likely to find yourself hungry between meals following these guidelines, but if you do here are some ideas:
    • A handful of raw nuts or a mix of nuts and olives; a few squares of dark chocolate; chopped raw vegetables dipped in hummus, guacamole, goat cheese, tapenade, or nut butter; cheese and wheat-free, low-carb crackers; slices of cold roasted turkey or chicken dipped in mustard; half an avocado drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper; two hard-boiled eggs; caprese salad; cold peeled shrimp with lemon and dill; one piece or serving of whole, low-sugar fruit

Avoid eating out during the first 3 weeks on the program so you can focus on getting the dietary protocol down. Toward the end of week 4, work on the goal of being able to eat anywhere – at a restaurant, ask for baked fish with steamed vegetable and no bread basket. Watch out for elaborate dishes that contain multiple ingredients. When in doubt, ask about the dishes. In general, on most days of the week, commit to consuming foods that you prepare.

Foods to use in moderation with Grain Brain

“Moderation” means eating small amounts of these ingredients once a day or, ideally, just a couple times weekly

Carbs are limited to 30-40 grams a day during the 4 weeks, after which you can increase to 60 grams a day (see http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list for macro- and micronutrient levels of different foods). You can measure the degree of ketosis that you achieve using test strips, aiming for levels of 5-15

  • Moderately starchy vegetables
    • Carrots, parsnips
  • Milk products
    • The book implies that milk and milk products should be full-fat
    • Cottage cheese, (plain unsweetened) yogurt, kefir – use sparingly in recipes or as a topping
    • Cow’s milk and cream – use sparingly in recipes, coffee, and tea
    • Buttermilk is listed in recipes (note that this is by nature usually lower-fat)
  • Legumes/pulses
    • Beans, lentils, peas
    • It looks like fermented soy is okay – e.g. miso, natto, tempeh – presumably should be eaten in moderation rather than liberally as it’s a legume
  • Non-gluten grains
    • When non-gluten grains are processed for human consumption (e.g. milling whole oats and preparing rice for packaging), their physical structure changes, and this increases the risk of an inflammatory reaction – for this reason, these foods are limited
    • Amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rice (brown rice, white rice, wild rice), sorghum, teff
    • Gluten-free oats – must be guaranteed gluten-free
  • Sweeteners
    • Natural stevia
    • Chocolate, at least 70% or more cocoa. Cocoa powder is also included in the recipes
  • Whole sweet fruit
    • In the self-assessment, the author says that having more than one serving of fruit a day is a risk factor for brain disease
    • Berries are best
    • Other lower-sugar fruits: apple, cherries, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi, melon, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, plum
    • Bananas
    • Be extra cautious of sugary fruits such as apricots, mangos, melons, papaya, pineapple
  • Beverages
    • Wine – one glass a day if you so choose, preferably red (no guidelines on other alcoholic beverages, but implied that wine is the only one you should have)

Foods to avoid with Grain Brain

  • Foods containing gluten
    • Gluten grains – barley, kamut, rye, spelt, triticale, wheat (and wheat germ)
    • Oats and oat bran (unless certified gluten-free)
    • Grains cracked or made into flour – bulgur (and tabbouleh), farina, graham flour, semolina
    • Gluten-containing cereals
    • Pasta, couscous, noodles – including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms
    • Breads and breadcrumbs, including matzo
    • Pastries and baked goods
    • Meat and dairy with gluten – blue cheeses, hot dogs, ice cream, imitation crabmeat, imitation bacon and other imitation meats, meatballs, meatloaf, processed cheese (e.g. Velveeta), sausage
    • Other foods with gluten – baked beans (canned), breaded foods, cold cuts, energy bars, French fries (often dusted with flour before freezing), fried vegetables/tempura, fruit fillings and puddings, roasted nuts, seitan, soups, trail mix, veggie burgers
    • Drinks/beverages with gluten – beer, chocolate milk (commercially prepared), flavored coffees and teas, instant hot drinks, non-dairy creamer, root beer, vodka, wheatgrass, wine coolers
    • Pantry and condiments with gluten – bouillon/broth (commercially prepared), egg substitute, gravy, ketchup, malt/malt flavoring, malt vinegar, marinades, mayonnaise, salad dressings, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, syrups
    • Ingredients that are often code for gluten: amino peptide complex, Avena sativa, brown rice syrup, caramel color (frequently made from barley), cyclodextrin, dextrin, fermented grain extract, Hordeum distichonHordeum vulgare, hydrolysate, hydrolyzed malt extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, maltodextrin, modified food starch, natural flavoring, phytosphingosine extract, Secale cereale, soy protein, tocopherol/vitamin E, Triticum aestivumTriticum vulgare, vegetable protein (HVP), yeast extract
  • Processed “gluten-free” foods
    • Watch out for foods marked (and marketed) “gluten-free” – some of these foods are fine because they never contained gluten to begin with, but many are labeled as such because they have been processed, e.g. their gluten has been replaced by another ingredient such as cornstarch, cornmeal, rice starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch, all of which raise blood sugar enormously; also trace amounts of gluten can remain
    • Be extra cautious about gluten-free sauces, gravies, and cornmeal products – e.g. tacos, tortillas, gluten-free cereals, and corn chips
  • Starchy vegetables
    • Corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams
  • Non-fermented soy
    • Non-fermented soy foods such as tofu and soy milk
    • Processed foods made with soy (look for “soy protein isolate” in the list of ingredients) – avoid soy cheese, soy burgers, soy hot dogs, soy nuggets, soy ice cream, soy yogurt
    • Soy sauce containing gluten – although some naturally brewed soy sauces are technically gluten-free, many commercial brands have trace amounts of gluten – if you need to use soy sauce in your cooking, use tamari soy sauce made with 100% soybeans and no wheat
  • Fruit products with high sugar levels
    • Fruit juices
    • Dried fruit (although dried blueberries and cranberries are included in a recipe, and prunes are listed to eat in limited quantities)
  • Fried foods
  • Processed fats and oils
    • Margarine, vegetable shortening, trans fats
    • Any commercial brand of cooking oil, even if they are organic – soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, wheat germ oil, vegetable oil
  • “Fat-free” and “low-fat” foods
    • Packaged foods labeled “fat-free” or “low-fat” (unless they are authentically so and within the protocol, such as water, mustard, and balsamic vinegar)
  • Processed carbs, sugar, and starch
    • Savory – chips, crackers, cookies, pastries, muffins, pizza dough
    • Sweet – cakes, doughnuts, sugary snacks, candy, energy bars, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, jams, jellies, preserves
    • Drinks/beverages – sports drinks, soft drinks, soda (diet or regular)
    • Pantry – chutney, ketchup, processed cheese spreads, cornstarch, cornmeal, rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch
  • Sweeteners
    • Natural sweeteners, including agave, honey, maple syrup (stevia is allowed in moderation)
    • Processed sweeteners, including corn syrup, sugar (white and brown)

Food recommendations to reduce the risk of headaches

  • Watch caffeine and alcohol usage – each of these in excess can stimulate a headache
  • Don’t skip meals or keep erratic eating habits
  • Go gluten-, preservative-, additive-, and processed-free
  • Be especially careful about aged cheese, cured meats, and sources of monosodium glutamate MSG, as these ingredients may be responsible for triggering up to 30% of migraines
  • Track the patterns of your headache experience

The book also has other lifestyle recommendations to reduce headaches and migraines.

Food recommendations to help you sleep

  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm
  • Alcohol can disrupt sleep
  • Avoid foods that can act as stimulants, such as colorings, flavorings, and refined carbs
  • Time your dinner appropriately – find your sweet spot, leaving approximately 3 hours between dinner and bedtime
  • Be aware of ingredients in foods that can be difficult to digest easily before going to bed – everyone will be different in this department
  • Eat on a regular schedule, not erratically. This will keep your appetite hormones in check and keep the nervous system calm
  • Eat small portions of foods high in tryptophan, such as turkey, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, and nuts (especially almonds) as a bedtime snack. A handful of nuts might be perfect

The book also has other lifestyle recommendations to help you sleep.

Health benefits claimed in Grain Brain

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: ADD/ADHD, alcoholism, ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, arthritis, ataxia/muscle twitches and loss of balance, autism, bipolar disorder, bloating, bone pain, brain fog, brain disease, cancer, celiac disease, chest pain, cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, constipation, constantly getting sick, cramping, dairy intolerance, delayed growth, dementia, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive disturbances, dystonia, epilepsy, focus and concentration problems, gas, gluten sensitivity, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic headaches, heart disease, hives/rashes, impotence, infections, infertility, inflammatory conditions and diseases, insomnia, insulin resistance, intestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome IBS, leptin resistance, malabsorption of food, memory problems, migraines, miscarriages, mood disorders, nausea/vomiting, nerve damage, neurological disorders, osteoporosis/osteopenia, overweight/obesity, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, seizures, chronic stress, sugar cravings, Tourette’s syndrome, and much more. Many of these are related to gluten sensitivity. The book claims that this diet can extend longevity.

As always, this is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, not endorsing it.

Get a copy of Grain Brain for a detailed discussion of the recommendations, self-assessment of risk factors, testing recommendations, supplementation, exercise, information on sleeping, sample menu plan, and recipes.

Buy now from Amazon Diet Book
Get The Grain Brain Cookbook for more than 150 recipes.

Buy now from Amazon Cookbook
The author’s website is http://www.drperlmutter.com/ – visit to access the latest studies and recommendations, read his blog, and download material to tailor the information in the book to your personal preferences.

How has this diet helped you? Please add a comment or question below.

{ 160 comments… add one }

  • Susan Moore October 15, 2013, 4:16 pm

    This diet suggests supplementation. Pleas could you verify what this means. I always claim a truly balanced diet does not need to be supplemented. Why put supplements into your body when fresh foods can do it for you. Thanks

    • Penny Hammond October 16, 2013, 8:06 am

      The details of suggested supplementation are in the book – this page describes only the food elements of the diet.

    • june March 10, 2015, 10:40 am

      In chapter 7 he says that one should take vitamin D, resveratrol, a probiotic, cumin/tumeric, coconut oil and alpha lipoid acid. He does not specify how much.

  • Anthony Wallace October 30, 2013, 10:44 pm

    It is suggested here that a 150 pound person needs to drink half of his/her body weight daily, i.e. 75 ounces.
    Is this a discrepency?

    • Penny Hammond October 31, 2013, 6:16 am

      Okay – so for a 150 lb person, half their weight is 75 lbs.
      They should have 75 fl oz of purified water every day, according to this diet.
      There are 8 fluid ounces in a (USA) cup.
      75 / 8 = 9.375
      So the book says you should have about 9 1/2 cups of purified water a day.

      It looks like the Canadian cup is close enough in size to the USA cup to use the same number.

      • M A February 22, 2014, 11:29 pm

        Thanks so much for this break down, very helpful. I am wondering about raw milk yogurt that is incubated for 24 hrs in order to severely reduce any residual sugar. The probiotic benefits are many and the sugar is reduced as much as possible. I wonder if this would be acceptable to eat in a small amount on a daily basis.

        • Penny Hammond February 23, 2014, 8:17 am

          Full fat yogurt is allowed on this diet, in moderation. I can’t see any opinion in the book on raw milk.

  • Pat Dusil November 21, 2013, 6:47 pm

    Help …we loooove popcorn but only use a organic, gmo-free grown in our state (locally). We use a high grade organic butter & an excellent sea salt……can we continue to have this as a snack?

    • Penny Hammond November 22, 2013, 9:26 am

      Corn (the grain) is listed as a food to eat in moderation – small amounts of these ingredients once a day or, ideally, just a couple times weekly; total carbs are limited to 30-40 grams a day during the 4 weeks, after which you can increase to 60 grams a day.
      Popcorn is corn that’s been popped, so I’d assume it would fit into those guidelines. So you could occasionally have a small amount of it.

  • Pat Dusil November 21, 2013, 6:51 pm

    By the way ….it’s a white popcorn.

    • Penny Hammond November 22, 2013, 9:26 am

      The color of the corn probably doesn’t make a difference.

  • Esther Plastridge December 26, 2013, 9:17 am

    Is the Bolthouse 100% carrot juice and their Green Goodness an acceptable “processed” food? Thanks

    • Penny Hammond December 26, 2013, 10:17 am

      Have a look at the ingredients list.
      According to the Bolthouse website, the 100% carrot juice is just that, with no additives or preservatives, so it’s not a highly processed food. Note that carrots are a food to eat in moderation on this diet, and juicing them makes the sugars/carbs even more available, so you should really take note of the carbs and watch out for the amount you drink.
      The Green Goodness has 20 ingredients, including a number of fruit juices. Fruit juices are listed in the book as foods to avoid, so you shouldn’t have this drink on this diet.
      Pure green drinks – blended/juiced green leafy vegetables – would be more acceptable on this diet, although they’re not listed as a food to eat liberally.

  • Esther Plastridge December 26, 2013, 9:43 am

    I am wondering about canned foods such as garbanzos. When is a food processed vs preserved?

    Thanks again!

    • Penny Hammond December 26, 2013, 10:24 am

      The usual guideline is to look at the ingredient list to see whether there are am unusually high number of ingredients, or whether it contains any ingredients you wouldn’t use.
      Dr. Perlmutter says that canned fish are okay, so presumably other minimally processed canned foods are also acceptable.

  • Teresa January 2, 2014, 10:54 am

    This is an EXCELLENT breakdown of the main points of the book. Thanks!

    • Penny Hammond January 2, 2014, 11:10 am

      You’re welcome – I’m glad you find it helpful!

  • Sally January 5, 2014, 11:45 am

    Are the acceptable dairy products(cheeses, butter, milk) full fat or low fat? What about full fat organic yogurts?

    • Penny Hammond January 5, 2014, 3:27 pm

      The author says that saturated fat is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease; also that cholesterol-rich foods are beneficial for the brain.
      Where (cow’s) milk is listed in recipes, it’s listed as whole milk. The cheeses listed as foods to eat liberally are full-fat cheeses. It looks like all dairy products you eat on this diet should be full-fat.

      Plain unsweetened yogurt is listed as a food to eat in moderation. This should presumably be whole and preferably organic.

  • Lea January 6, 2014, 10:38 pm

    I wish I understood why unfermented soy is a no-no… and fermented soy is a yes. I don’t see it explained in the book. Do you know why?

    • Penny Hammond January 7, 2014, 12:27 pm

      A number of diets allow fermented soy in small quantities, saying that the fermentation process changes the characteristics of the soy, to make it more digestible or to remove some toxins.

    • Rich D. May 26, 2014, 11:29 pm

      Almost all soy is GMO. I skip it altogether … except for a teaspoon I add to my pint jar salad dressing mix.

    • Kate January 19, 2015, 5:10 pm

      Soy messes with your hormones as it mimics bad estrogens. Fermented soy is better. Plus it’s a bean – high in carbs and phytates.

  • Marji Brown January 17, 2014, 12:00 pm

    Why does Dr. Purlmutter say, “No blue cheese”?

    • Penny Hammond January 17, 2014, 3:43 pm

      Some traditional blue cheeses may contain a small amount of gluten. Originally, the mold in the cheese was grown by letting bread grow moldy, and that could lead to cross-contamination of the cheese with gluten. Most blue cheeses aren’t created that way any more. If you can find blue cheese that’s certified gluten-free, you should be able to eat it on this diet.

  • Jean January 25, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Why are “fried foods” and “mayonnaise” on the avoid list?


    • Penny Hammond January 26, 2014, 12:52 pm

      Dr. Perlmutter advises avoiding commercially produced oils, which he does not consider to be good fats.
      Fried foods are nearly always fried in commercially produced oil.
      Mayonnaise is usually made with soybean oil, a commercially produced oil.

      • Brenda Brown January 29, 2014, 3:44 pm

        Just barely started on this information. Is olive oil allowed? If so, couldn’t one make their own mayo?

        • Penny Hammond January 30, 2014, 7:57 am

          Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is allowed, and eggs are allowed – so making your own mayonnaise should be fine if you use EVOO as the only oil. That’s actually a little difficult to do, as mayo made with EVOO often breaks, but you can give it a try!

          • Linda February 8, 2014, 1:44 pm

            The Forks Over Knives diet says no oils, not even EVOO. Your head could really explode trying to follow all these diets…

          • Barb June 9, 2014, 8:52 am

            If you have a stick blender it’s a snap. 1 Cup EVOO, 1 egg, pinch of salt and mustard powder in a tall thin container. Turn on the stick and presto! MAYO! It keeps in the frig a week. Cheers!

        • Rich D. May 26, 2014, 11:31 pm

          I make my mayo with avocado oil. I am going to try coconut oil next. Home made mayo is delicious. You won’t buy store bought again. Lots of easy recipes on the web.

          • Ana March 12, 2015, 10:28 pm

            Are you using a raw egg to make homemade mayo? Thanks for the clarification.

  • Julie January 28, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Is Braggs vinegar on a daily bases good for you or not?

    • Penny Hammond January 30, 2014, 7:48 am

      Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar says on the label that it’s “naturally gluten-free”. Gluten-free vinegars are allowed freely on this diet.

      There’s nothing in Grain Brain to say whether having apple cider vinegar (ACV) on a daily basis is good for you or not. It’s known as a folk remedy, but not mentioned in this book.

  • cynthia February 20, 2014, 8:17 am

    i work with the public in close proximity (i am an optician), and i would like to know if anyone can recommend a BRAND of chewing gum and mints that would be compliant. it would be so helpful, as i can’t always brush my teeth as i would like after coffee or lunch. also can someone recommend a flavored coffee (like my favorite hazelnut) that is also gluten free and compliant. i need at least one cup in the morning. thank you all who produce this website! you are lifesavers!

    • Penny Hammond February 20, 2014, 6:48 pm

      The only sweetener that Dr. Perlmutter recommends is stevia. That’s often mixed with other sweeteners, so watch out.

      I tried to find a gluten-free gum with only stevia as the sweetener. There are a number of sugar-free gluten-free gums, but they all contain other sweeteners. The closest I found was SteviaDent, but it contains a number of other sweeteners – maltitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
      And it was the same story looking for mints – all the ones I found had other sweeteners as well as stevia.
      Traditional gums include chicle (from Central America) and mastic (from the Middle East). I’ve never found chicle without additives, but I got some mastic once – it’s got a resinous flavor, an acquired taste, and was very expensive.

      Coffee is naturally gluten-free, but some of the flavorings may have really tiny amounts of gluten – it depends on how far you want to go to avoid gluten. For information on gluten in flavored coffee, here’s an article: http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/nutrition/gluten-q-and-a/flavored-coffee/
      You could also try making your own coffee creamer – here’s a recipe: http://thevintagefern.blogspot.com/search?q=home+made+vanilla+creamer. You can have cream on this diet (in moderation), so you could use that instead.

      • yoggie April 28, 2014, 9:37 pm

        what about lemon or lime peals ? flavor extracts?

        • Penny Hammond April 29, 2014, 8:00 am

          Lemon or lime peel or zest should be fine to use. For flavor extracts, check that the ingredients are ‘real’ foods.

    • Alicia June 3, 2015, 10:39 pm

      Try sucking on a whole clove (spice) – freshens breath and gives your mouth something to do if you’re used to chewing gum!

  • Miriam Kauders March 3, 2014, 1:15 pm

    I am wondering if coconut sugar is allowed in moderation?

    • Penny Hammond March 4, 2014, 8:18 am

      Coconut sugar isn’t mentioned in the book.
      However, it says that the only sweetener allowed in moderation is stevia, along with small amounts of 70% or above chocolate.
      Natural sweeteners are listed as foods to avoid – and that would probably include coconut sugar.

  • Nikki March 9, 2014, 10:21 pm

    Thank you for this website! It’s wonderful for a quick overview. I am wondering about the use of grape seed oil. I use it quite often!
    Thank you!

    • Penny Hammond March 11, 2014, 5:54 pm

      Grapeseed oil is on Dr. Perlmutter’s list of foods to avoid, along with other commercially produced oils even if organic.

  • Nikki March 12, 2014, 10:48 pm

    Thanks for your response!! Appreciate the info! So, Almond Milk, but no coconut milk? Have you found a brand of almond milk that doesn’t contain some kind of sugar?

    • Bill Roberson August 10, 2014, 3:36 pm

      Coconut milk is listed as a food to eat liberally.

  • Arliss March 21, 2014, 11:48 am

    What about flaxseed. I use it to make a muffin.

    • Penny Hammond March 23, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Flaxseeds are listed in the book as a food to eat liberally.

  • Kianna March 24, 2014, 12:49 pm

    What is the rule on tofu? I do not see it on the list for what is allowed to eat.
    And why can we not eat it?

    • Penny Hammond March 25, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Dr. Perlmutter says that you should avoid “Non-fermented soy (e.g., tofu and soy milk)” (p.225) He also says “If you need to use soy sauce in your cooking, use tamari soy sauce made with 100 percent soybeans and no wheat.”
      He doesn’t give an explanation that I can find – the book concentrates most on avoiding gluten, but also alludes to sugar and (unfermented) soy being harmful as well.

  • Josh March 31, 2014, 6:16 pm

    is whole fat cream cheese allowed?

    • Penny Hammond April 6, 2014, 2:04 pm

      Cream cheese isn’t mentioned in the book. The cheeses which are listed to eat liberally are all mature cheeses; cottage cheese (another fresh cheese) and cream are listed as foods to eat in moderation. I’d assume that whole fat cream cheese can be eaten in moderation.

  • Court April 1, 2014, 11:19 pm

    I have been taking a tablespoon of honey everyday to hopefully combat my allergies. The honey is local, cold processed & organic. As pure as honey can be. My allergies are pretty distracting, and medication doesn’t work. Will this amount of honey be harmful? I eat it raw or mixed in organic green tea.

    • Penny Hammond April 2, 2014, 6:37 pm

      The author quotes Robert Lustig saying “Evolutionarily, sugar was available to our ancestors as fruit for only a few months a year (at harvest time), or as honey, which was guarded by bees. But in recent years, sugar has been added to nearly all processed foods, limiting consumer choice. Nature made sugar hard to get; man made it easy.”

      He says you should have fruit only in moderation, preferably low-sugar ones, and says you should avoid honey.

      There are differing opinions about whether honey can help combat allergies, but in general they say it should be very local, raw, and unheated (putting it in hot tea might not be a good idea).

      You might want to look at Clean and Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger to consider an internal healing method to relieving allergies.

  • Janet April 9, 2014, 12:57 pm

    To Court

    If you have severe allergies, have you heard or tried lavender? Lavender in it’s pure form is excellent for erasing allergies. It should be 100% therapeutic grade oil. (you have to watch because you can go to a health food store and buy it and it may say 100% however if they put one drop of essential oil in a bottle with a carrier oil they can call it 100%). I recommend using 100% therapeutic grade oil that you can ingest. You cannot ingest all oils because of this. I recommend the oils from the company I use because they are 100% therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe for ingestion. You can research it though. I just thought I would tell you a little about it because of your comments. My family started this lifestyle diet and I was wanting to use honey just as a sweetener (in its purest form) and so I came across your comment. Hope this helps some!
    Also I really appreciate this site Penny Hammond as it has helped to simplify some things for me. Thank you!

  • Beth April 24, 2014, 10:10 pm

    Really struggling to stay on this diet. Not much variety in food (eggs for breakfast, salad, same marinade for meats) . Thinking of just switching to a gluten free diet only

    • Penny Hammond April 27, 2014, 9:23 am

      There aren’t many recipes in the book, but this is very similar to paleo diets – look at Practical Paleo, Against All Grain, and Well Fed, all very popular paleo recipe books that give a lot more options.

      Many people who go gluten-free only end up eating a lot of processed foods and high-carb alternatives, which Dr. Perlmutter says are not good for your brain health.

  • Leslie Triesch May 2, 2014, 7:51 pm

    I saw Dr. Perlmutter on PBS speaking about his gluten and sugar free diet. His assertion about inflammation being the root cause of dementia and other diseases made a strong impression on me. I have always been gluten sensitive, and I had several of the health problems that he mentions in this lecture. Even though I have tried other diets like Paleo and Adkins, I have not been able to stick to the diets. I was very motivated to try this diet. Now, in just over three months, I have cut my resting blood sugar, (it was borderline type 2 diabetic) lowered my cholesterol, and lost 32 pounds. I feel great and look a lot better. I have plenty of energy and never feel hungry. Even though this diet restricts my food choices, the trade off is well worth it. Goodbye grain and processed foods, hello skinny jeans!

  • Nancy May 27, 2014, 1:17 am

    I am really excited to receive our grain brain book as well as the cook book… I’ve been sick for a longtime with several health issues and on lots of medications that I hope to cut down on.

  • Nancy Hanna June 9, 2014, 10:51 am

    I have been on the diet for 3 weeks. I am doing it because I noticed my memory was not the same as before. One problem I have is that the diet in the first stage only approves of 40 grams certain non-fat/meat foods like quinoa etc. and then 60 grams after one month. I don’t know why he didn’t say ounces. Do people realize that 40 grams is just 1.5 ounces and 60 grams is just over two ounces! So two ounces of quinoa..that’s just two bites- so little- what’s the point? The Atkins diet is miserable because there are no carbohydrates- but this diet allows 2 ounces max ideally only twice a week of various carbs.
    Also, I don’t understand why yogurt and milk are so restricted- yogurt is restricted to two ounces..we make our own yogurt so it is made with milk only. Milk is only 2 ounces once or twice a week? Why?
    Yet iin a seeming contradiction- the diet approves a few squares of dark chocolate” as a snack . Just one ounce of chocolate has has 14 grams of sugar! ( page 247)How could 14 grams of sugar be better than the fruits that are restricted like melons and papaya ( other sources say papaya in low in sugar)
    And it approves red wine with has .9 grams of sugar in a cup.
    Appreciate your help understanding these contradictions.

    • Penny Hammond June 10, 2014, 5:43 pm

      As with every other diet, there are some recommendations that are unclear or contradictory.

      On nutrition labels, carbs are measured in grams. A food might weigh more because it contains other elements as well – counting grams is a common way to measure the carb element of foods.

      Dr. Perlmutter talks about dairy foods in several places in the book. He points out that some people are intolerant/sensitive to it, or allergic to it. He doesn’t go as far as many other recently published diets which ask you to avoid milk altogether, but he restricts it. That could be because it contains some natural sugars – milk contains lactose, which is a sugar, and yogurt (unless it’s really well fermented) still contains natural sugars.

      The darker the chocolate, the less sugar there is in it – it looks like chocolate which is 70% or more has less sugar. Some diets point out that chocolate is high in phytonutrients, but Dr Perlmutter doesn’t say that specifically. Perhaps he’s suggesting small amounts of chocolate and wine so people can have a bit of a treat when they’re avoiding all those other carbs.

      • Renee DeRobertis March 5, 2015, 8:57 am

        I have been able to buy 70% chocolate made with stevia at both of my local grocery stores in the health food department. I eat a couple of squares with a handful of walnuts. Great snack.

  • Nancy Hanna June 9, 2014, 11:18 am

    Well I just answered on of my questions…seems one cup of milk has 12 grams of sugar so that would be ditto for yogurt…that is why milk and yogurt are so restricted…

  • Rose June 9, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Are cherries and grapes allowed on the diet?

    • Penny Hammond June 10, 2014, 5:45 pm

      Cherries and grapes are listed in the book as low-sugar fruits which are allowed in moderation – count them as part of your daily allotment of carbs, and Dr. Perlmutter says that having more than one serving of fruit a day is a risk factor for brain disease.

      • Rose June 12, 2014, 8:05 pm

        What about interaction with anti depressants and anxiety medications? does he say anything about those?

        • Penny Hammond June 13, 2014, 7:26 am

          Dr. Perlmutter talks about the number of people on antidepressants and anxiety medications and offers this diet as a way to reduce/eliminate the need for them. But he doesn’t talk about interactions between this diet and those medications.

  • Gordon Saunders June 15, 2014, 6:34 pm

    What about wine?

    • Penny Hammond June 16, 2014, 4:09 pm

      You can have 1 glass of wine a day if you choose, preferably red wine.

  • Michelle July 7, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Is Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter allowed? It’s Gluten Free and Organic?

    • Penny Hammond July 7, 2014, 6:36 pm

      Look at the ingredients, and see how they compare to what Dr. Perlmutter says you should and shouldn’t be eating.
      The ingredients are: Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Palm Fruit Oil, Natural Vanilla, Sea Salt.
      Organic cane sugar is… sugar. A definite no-no on this diet.

      • Michelle July 17, 2014, 10:32 am

        I am trying really hard to find a hazelnut spread that works with this diet. I love chocolate, and want something that tastes as close to it as possible. Something with a Nutella consistency/flavor. Any recommendations? I am still in the process of reading the book, but want things I can eat until I finish reading it.

        I really like your breakdown of the diet, it has helped me a lot when buying groceries, and on a daily basis.

        • Michelle July 17, 2014, 10:45 am

          Also, my doctor told me I need electrolytes, and suggested I drink Gatorade. When I told him I cannot have gluten, sugar, or carbs, he had no idea how I would find a product with the electrolytes I really need. I am struggling finding anything that I can take/drink. I think all the Electrolyte infused waters are either gimmicks, or only contain small amounts of electrolytes.

          • Penny Hammond July 18, 2014, 6:53 am

            Why has your doctor asked you to take electrolytes?
            They’re natural salts that can be found in many types of foods. Unrefined sea salt has a wide variety of different salts.

        • Penny Hammond July 18, 2014, 6:55 am

          You could try to find a nut butter – hazelnut butter is difficult to find, unless you can make your own, but perhaps cashew butter or almond butter could be a substitute. Cocoa powder is included in recipes in the book, so it should be fine to add in.

  • Harriet July 8, 2014, 8:34 pm

    I have been on the grain-free diet for 40 weeks and have lost 50 pounds. The change in my waist size has been phenomenal. Last year at this time, I wore a size 16. This year – a size 6. I’ll never go back to bread, grain, sugar, etc. This has really become a way of life and truly abstinent living.

  • Bernadette Wynne August 9, 2014, 4:16 pm

    Hello, I am type 2 diabetic, would i benefit from buying your book and following the diet plan…Thanks…Bernadette Wynne

    • Penny Hammond August 10, 2014, 10:46 am

      The book mentions diabetes more than 100 times, and claims that avoiding sugary and high-carb foods (the diet suggested in the book) reduces the risks of diabetes.

  • Marcie August 10, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Are there quantity guidelines for the foods you eat liberally in order to lose weight? Also, how can you tell if vinegar is grain free?

    • Penny Hammond August 12, 2014, 3:23 pm

      I can’t find any guidelines in the book on quantities of the “eat liberally” foods – it might mean “eat as much as you want” but probably doesn’t mean “eat mostly a couple of these foods and ignore all others.”

      Some vinegars might have a gluten-free symbol on the bottle. White vinegar or malt vinegar might contain minute amounts of gluten, but most other vinegars are unlikely to contain any gluten because they’re made from grapes or other non-gluten foods (wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, etc.)

  • Jay Locke August 12, 2014, 8:02 pm

    Having a debate with a friend who cant believe its ok to eat cheese even the ones specified. He says your body cant digest cheese (Dairy in general). Can you please pipe him down! 🙂
    Love the book BTW and thank you for answering all these questions…very helpful!

    • Penny Hammond August 13, 2014, 2:08 pm

      Cheese has been eaten for thousands of years by some populations. It appears that many people can digest cheese. However, there are probably also people who have trouble digesting cheese. There’s no one food that can be eaten by everybody.

  • Luanne August 15, 2014, 1:40 pm

    I have been trying this diet for about 3 weeks hoping it will help not only brain but eyes. ( I have macular degeneration) I am finding it very difficult as I was a HUGE bread and potato eater, don’t really like meat or fats. I was pretty thin 5’8″ , 125, to start with and I have lost 4-5 lbs. since I started the diet because I can’t find enough things I like to eat. Any suggestions?

    • Penny Hammond August 17, 2014, 9:05 pm

      You need either fats or carbs for energy – you can’t live on protein alone.
      Are there any protein foods you’re willing to eat, e.g. fish, eggs, or poultry? If so, try fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, etc.), whole eggs (not just egg whites), chicken thighs. Have nuts, seeds, avocado, olives. That way you could eat enough fat without the foods tasting too fatty if you don’t like that.
      If it’s too much of a shock to the system to make all the changes at once, try slowly increasing the amount of protein and fat you eat, and slowly decreasing the amount of carbs, until you’re meeting the guidelines of the diet.

  • lara August 27, 2014, 12:02 am

    Hi Penny

    Your site is so so helpful with understanding this book.

    I was just wondering about cosmetics and gluten in cosmetics as even though I use a natural shampoo and hair cream it says it contains hydrolysed wheat protein in it. Do you need to avoid gluten is cosmetics as well.

    • Penny Hammond August 27, 2014, 12:50 pm

      Hi Lara,
      Glad to help!
      I concentrate on the food side of diets, but I see that Dr. Davis lists cosmetics as a potential source of gluten. He doesn’t specifically say that you have to avoid gluten in cosmetics, but it’s implied that if you want to follow the recommendations in the book you should avoid all types of exposure to gluten.

  • Elizabeth October 7, 2014, 10:08 am

    Penny I just wanted to thank you for this incredible breakdown! It has really been a help to me. I was wondering if there’s anything mentioned in the book about what I can do about adding more fiber besides vegetables? I have digestive issues and can’t do too many veggies.
    Thanks again,

    • Penny Hammond October 8, 2014, 8:12 am

      Glad to help!

      The book suggests eating nuts and vegetables for fiber.

      Which types of vegetables do you have digestive issues with?
      Some people struggle with raw green leafy vegetables, or all green leafy vegetables, or “nightshade” vegetables (tomatoes/eggplant/potatoes/peppers), or starchy vegetables. In some cases there’s nothing to do about a particular food, in other cases you can digest better with different preparation and/or combinations of food.
      It’s pretty rare to have issues with all of them, raw or cooked or fermented and chewed well.
      See if you can find some vegetables that you can eat, at least in small amounts.

      If you have digestive issues with nuts as well, try getting raw whole nuts and soaking them overnight – this helps some people.

  • Karen October 18, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Are there any restrictions about using coconut flour? Can’t find anything about this in the book. I did see that Dr. Perlmutter approved some comments, including one suggestion by a reader to use almond flour and coconut flour in muffins. Not sure if the almond flour is ok, but he didn’t say it wasn’t. However, I’d like to use the coconut flour as well as the oil. and would like to know if more than a little flour use is ok.

    Thanks for any responses.

    • Penny Hammond October 19, 2014, 12:34 pm

      On page 241 of the book Dr. Perlmutter says “Instead of regular flour or wheat, try coconut flour, nut meals like ground almonds, and ground flaxseed”

      However, he doesn’t give guidelines about how much nut flour or meal to use. He doesn’t specifically say that you should moderate it.

  • John November 18, 2014, 1:42 am

    Thankyou for taking the time to do this website Penny…I just got the book today and came across this website…it is so helpful…if I have any questions ill be sure to ask,thankyou.

    • Penny Hammond November 19, 2014, 7:49 am

      You’re welcome – I hope the diet is successful for you.

  • John November 18, 2014, 8:16 pm

    I live in Australia and ive just come from the supermarket as I wanted to buy some Almond Milk but I noticed that all of them have so much added stuff…even rice syrup in some…any suggestions would be appreciated…thankyou

    • Penny Hammond November 19, 2014, 8:08 am

      You can make your own nut milks – search the internet for “almond milk recipe” or whichever one you want to make. Generally, you grind the nut and add to water and blend well, or put nuts and water in a blender and blend well, then strain the mixture.

  • John November 19, 2014, 10:44 pm

    Just a point on the Almond Milk I found…only 2 brands aren’t full of additives…but one has rice syrup and the other has organic agave…any advice would be appreciated…cheers.

  • John November 19, 2014, 10:47 pm

    Sorry Penny I just read your last post after I put my last post in…never thought of that…ill definatlely make my own…thankyou for that

  • John November 21, 2014, 3:46 pm

    I notice all forms of Coconut can be used liberally…what about Coconut Cream?…cheers.

    • Penny Hammond November 23, 2014, 2:40 pm

      “Real” coconut cream is kinda halfway between coconut oil and coconut milk, both of which are encouraged on this diet. So it would be considered a healthy fat. But make sure it’s real coconut cream, with coconut as the only ingredient (it might have some water in it), and that it doesn’t contain sugar.

  • arnie November 29, 2014, 3:29 pm

    This appears to be another rehashing of the “paleo diet” which in and of itself has has its own inherent problems. The healthiest people in the world appear to be those that rely on their own indigenous, high complex carbohydrate diets with animal protein, when available, is eaten as a condiment. If one has celiac or non- celiac gluten sensitivity, then none of the “gluten free” grains would be acceptable due to what we now know of as molecular mimicry. The fish that he is recommending, in particular grouper and tuna are way too high in mercury. The seafood is also a vehicle for toxins and a repository for environmental pollutants. The fact that mother’s milk composition by percentage has no where near the fat and protein content touted by Dr. Perlmutter and that is during the greatest growth period a human being will experience is cause for concern. I would certainly never advocate anyone eat the modern industrialized wheat that we have today. Einhorn and Emmer wheat and farro are available today but certainly one should get tested before consumption. Not much knew here unfortunately.

  • John December 1, 2014, 2:49 pm

    I tried taking the DHA supplements but found I had a reaction even to the no additive gluten/dairy free gel/tablets…so I checked out tinned sardines and found the Brunswick brand has 800mg of DHA so im eating 1 tin a day,have you heard anything on tinned sardines and the amount you can eat Penny?…thankyou.

    • Penny Hammond December 1, 2014, 6:49 pm

      The book says that canned fish are fine. Sardines are small and therefore generally low in mercury; they’re listed as an acceptable fish and listed to “eat liberally” – they probably shouldn’t be the only thing you eat, but 1 can a day should be fine according to the guidelines in this diet.

    • John December 1, 2014, 9:22 pm

      Just got back from the supermarket and ive got some tinned Salmon…im gonna mix it up.

      • John December 1, 2014, 9:23 pm

        lol I don’t see a response until I put a post in…thanks again for the tips Penny!

  • John December 3, 2014, 2:37 pm

    I just looked at a Doctor Oz website and noticed where Dr Perlmutter was commenting on things to take out of your pantry and among the things he was mentioning to remove was bananas…I actually have been having half a banana a day as they are good for probiotics as I don’t like supplements…I know bananas are mentioned in Davids book as recipes too…any thoughts Penny?…thankyou.

    • Penny Hammond December 5, 2014, 7:00 pm

      Dr. Perlmutter says that you should have limited amounts of whole fruits. He says berries are best, and also mentions a number of low-sugar fruits. He advises you to be extra cautious of sugary fruits such as apricots, mangos, melons, papaya, pineapple.
      But you’re correct, there’s banana in one of the recipes. 1/2 banana, for a recipe for 2 people. So it’s probably okay to have a small amount of banana occasionally, although it’s not clear that he would be okay with you having it every day, but he doesn’t say not to.

  • Nette December 8, 2014, 10:20 am

    I have had essential tremors for almost 10 years started very small but has increased over the years. It now is to the point of my head shaking, and both hands very bad. can’t hold a glass without it spilling. etc,etc. Even woking on the computer is very difficult. Tried medications but the side effects were worse than the shaking. Started on the gluten-free diet 4 weeks ago. It did help my swollen ankles. Will it help or control these tremors .
    Please tell me what I can do to lessen my tremors.

    • Penny Hammond December 10, 2014, 8:56 am

      It’s possible that your tremors are caused or exacerbated by food or environmental causes, but that’s not necessarily the case. If they’re triggered by food, and removing gluten doesn’t help, try an elimination diet that excludes more foods. The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin excludes the 7 foods that cause most sensitivities, The Plan by Lyn-Genet Recitas tests a lot more foods, and Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin gives a few different options for exclusion/reintroduction plans allows you to develop your own plan.
      You could also look at Clean by Alejandro Junger for eliminating environmental factors.

  • John December 8, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Thankyou for your replies Penny…I gotta nother one for ya…lol…We have this product here in Australia called Nuttelex…its a butter replacement…have you guys ever heard of it?…I stopped using it when I started this diet but just reading the container in the fridge (it is milk gluten nut soy free) it also says it is virtually free of trans fatty acids or fats.Its made from vegetables sources…do you think this would be permissible?…thanks again Penny.

    • Penny Hammond December 9, 2014, 1:02 pm

      Hi John,
      I looked at the ingredients for Nuttelex – sunflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil. These are on the list of foods to avoid, as they’re processed oils. Dr. Perlmutter says to avoid any commercial brand of cooking oil, even if they are organic – soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, rice bran oil, wheat germ oil, vegetable oil. So a product made with ingredients that you’re supposed to avoid would be a no.

  • John December 9, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Ah yes I see what you mean…bummer….lol…as I think I may have a sensitivity to dairy…thankyou Penny.

  • maria December 13, 2014, 9:21 pm

    food taste so good tortilla chip (cracker) is certified gluen free vegan kosher, gmo free is this chip ok in the regime contains stone ground corn high oleic sunflower oil or safflower oil brown rice flour, flax sees sunflower seeds, quinoa is this ok i apppreciate your answer thanks

    • Penny Hammond December 14, 2014, 9:53 am

      The book says to avoid processed oils, especially those high in omega 6 fatty acids (p.75) – these chips contain sunflower oil or safflower oil, and both of them are listed as foods to avoid (p.225). So they don’t fit into the diet recommendations of this book.

  • John January 8, 2015, 7:56 pm

    Hi Penny,Just wondering whether you have heard anything about using Chickpea flour…or Gram flour I think its called in America…its just made from ground Chickpeas and I used to make sort of pizza bases out of it,the carb side of it is what im interested in I spose……thanks Penny.

    • Penny Hammond January 10, 2015, 12:50 pm

      Hi John,
      You should probably count chickpea flour as a legume (pulse), to be had occasionally in very limited amounts (smaller than the amounts allowed for whole legumes, as Dr. Perlmutter considers that when processing foods, their physical structure changes, and this increases the risk of an inflammatory reaction).

  • Jan Norris January 16, 2015, 9:27 am

    Hello Penny, My husband and I have been off and on Dr. Fuhrman’s diet for 3 years but honestly lose interest. As I agree with a ton of beliefs that he has we are not crazy about his recipe books, for the most part. I do purchase his supplements but are costly as well. We are getting older and hate this yo-yo dieting we’ve been on but it’s difficult to find something that is healthy for us and still satisfying. You mentioned beginning slowly and going full throttle in a few weeks or when comfortable, correct? Both my husband and myself have the most difficult time in the evenings after dinner. IT’S SNACK TIME! Any new items we might consider to keep us on the straight and narrow? That seems to be our biggest challenge. Thank you for reading this post. Jan

    • Penny Hammond January 16, 2015, 5:36 pm

      Hello Jan,
      I totally understand what you say about it being snack time!
      What are you doing when you’re snacking? Is it something to do with your hands while you’re watching TV? Sometimes it’s a habit that’s just ingrained and difficult to shift. A couple of strategies – you could try keeping a food diary of what you eat in the evenings and what you’re doing when you’re eating, so you can spot any patterns… sometimes just recognizing what you’re doing can help. Or try shifting behavior – go for a walk after dinner and have a warm drink after you get back instead of something to eat.
      Hope that helps,

  • Jan Norris January 16, 2015, 6:03 pm

    Penny, I forgot to ask this as well. Regarding weight loss. If a person is eating full fat dairy, etc. How on earth can you not gain weight? This doctors plan is so totally against what , for instance, dr. Fuhrman’s is about and he’s had over 30 years study of nutrition. It boggles me. Thanks, Jan

    • Penny Hammond January 16, 2015, 6:26 pm

      There have been a few decades where “you have to eat low fat to lose weight and to be healthy” has been repeated so often that everybody assumes to to be true. This point of view was based on research which wasn’t necessarily comprehensive; there’s been a lot of more recent research which goes in a different direction, saying that humans are designed to eat unprocessed fat and that if we don’t do that it can damage our health. Many doctors (like other humans) develop a point of view and don’t feel comfortable looking at other points of view – if you’ve been saying something for 30 years, you don’t want to realize that it may not be strictly true.

      I don’t think there’s a single answer to the question of what is a healthy diet – to a certain extent it probably depends upon the person. If the diet you were following before doesn’t work for you personally, look for something that suits you better – sometimes the foods don’t suit you, or you need to avoid a food addiction or comfort eating or bad habits… I’m afraid there’s no easy answer.

      • Jan Norris January 18, 2015, 5:35 am

        Thank you Penny, Sometimes I think we try too hard and just OVER think and question. You are probably right. There are no easy answers. Thank you again. Jan

  • beth ewing January 17, 2015, 7:42 pm

    Can I use butter?

    • Penny Hammond January 18, 2015, 10:48 am

      You can eat butter liberally on this diet – just make sure it’s organic or grass-fed.

  • John January 17, 2015, 8:01 pm

    Hi guys…one of the things I snack on is a small bowl of olives,Pecan nuts and some cheese chopped into blocks.

    • Jan Norris January 18, 2015, 5:37 am

      Thanks for the idea John. We’ll give that one a try. Like I said, evenings are our worst. Jan

    • Penny Hammond January 18, 2015, 6:35 pm

      Great idea! And it’s pretty filling, so you probably don’t end up eating large amounts.

  • le January 18, 2015, 1:39 pm

    Ever since being on the Grain Brain diet, I have had constipation problems on and off, mostly on. So, is it the lack of starchy foods or what?

    • Penny Hammond January 18, 2015, 6:12 pm

      A couple of thoughts – if you were previously eating a lot of whole grains and you haven’t replaced them with a lot of green leafy vegetables and/or nuts/seeds, the amount of fiber you’re eating could have reduced a lot. Make sure you’re eating a lot of fibrous vegetables. Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids – Dr. Perlmutter suggests that you drink half of your body weight in ounces of purified water daily – measure how much you actually drink for a few days, to see whether you’re meeting the guidelines.

  • Carol January 25, 2015, 8:06 pm

    I’m a type 1 diabetic and have trouble with low blood sugar crashes on this diet. I take two kinds of insulin and find it difficult to regulate. I can’t find any info about type 1 and ketosis diets like this. So you have any suggestions.

  • John February 22, 2015, 2:21 am

    Hi Penny…would you happen to know if Coconut Cream has any effects on a fatty liver?

    • Penny Hammond February 22, 2015, 1:13 pm

      I can’t give you a definitive answer – different experts have different opinions! After decades of mainstream thinking that eating fats causes weight gain and other body fat, the trend is now towards thinking that refined carbohydrates are the issue.

      The books mentions that combining fructose and glucose (found together in table sugar) can lead to fatty liver disease. There’s no other mention of it in the book, which generally says that carbohydrates are the causes of diseases rather than fats.

  • John February 22, 2015, 2:57 pm

    Thankyou Penny…yeah that’s why I thought id ask you…there is soooooo much conflicting information!…however I am still sticking with Dr Perlmutters book im just adjusting a couple of things….thanks again!

    • Penny Hammond February 22, 2015, 4:12 pm

      You’re welcome, and good luck!

  • Renee DeRobertis March 5, 2015, 8:59 am

    Hi Penny, Just wondering why rice (all sorts) is okay but rice bran oil isn’t?

    • Penny Hammond March 5, 2015, 11:10 am

      Rice bran oil is listed as a processed fat – you can’t just squeeze rice and get oil out of it, there’s a lot of processing involved to get the oil. As you can see, Dr Perlmutter is against heavily processed foodstuffs.

  • Ginas Journey May 3, 2015, 10:27 am

    I see breads are to be avoided, does he make a distinction between sprouted grain breads and traditional breads? Thank you.

    • Penny Hammond May 3, 2015, 11:34 am

      In the Q&A on http://www.drperlmutter.com/must-entirely-grain-free/, Dr. Perlmutter says “I would suggest to generally shy away from Ezekiel bread and other sprouted grains. Generally, I don’t recommend either as even though gluten free, the carb content is unacceptable.”

  • cathy June 18, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I have blepharospasm, would the gluten free/brain diet help me? Currently reading grain brain.

    • Penny Hammond June 25, 2015, 7:14 am

      It’s possible… this diet is designed to reduce inflammation, which can make a lot of conditions worse.

  • Margaret August 19, 2015, 10:25 pm

    Just found you today, Penny. So much great information, and great back and forth with those writing in – well done, all!

    • Penny Hammond August 23, 2015, 4:42 pm

      Thanks Margaret, glad to help!

  • Ruth August 29, 2015, 4:12 pm

    Why do you have agave on your list? Dr. Perlmutter emphatically does NOT endorse consumption of agave nectar. He states you should avoid it due to it’s high fructose content.

  • Maria Cleva August 30, 2015, 11:53 am

    This diet is very good IF you are gluten intolerant. But as with all diets, unless you have this particular problem, it isn’t of great use. The trick is to eat and drink sensibly. I have come to a good age following that maxim, do not have Alzheimer’s and my brain is as young as when I was forty. Why do you people impose these ideas to the masses that should be able to live and enjoy a happy and normal life?

  • susan September 19, 2015, 11:29 am

    why are roasted nuts to be avoided while raw nuts are OK?

    • Penny Hammond September 19, 2015, 12:52 pm

      Roasted nuts are generally made with processed fats, so I’d assume that’s why they’re not allowed.

  • Kathy Collins February 21, 2016, 2:44 pm

    Started diet a week ago now, been feeling flu like for a few days and weak, how can I get thru this transition period sooner?

    • Penny Hammond February 21, 2016, 3:36 pm

      If you’re having detox/withdrawal symptoms because you’ve cut out sugar / processed carbs, drink plenty of water – and it might be easier if you have it warm (or hot with a squeeze of lemon for flavor).

  • Deana April 17, 2016, 12:29 pm

    Can I have bacon?

    • Penny Hammond May 4, 2016, 12:45 pm

      If it’s made from pasture-fed pork and without processed added ingredients, yes you probably could have bacon on this diet.

  • Ann May 2, 2016, 9:31 pm

    I am allergic to stevia — it has the same effect as MSG. Is there no other sweetener I can use on the Grain Brain diet? Giving up all taste of sweetness for life is difficult.

    • Penny Hammond May 4, 2016, 12:22 pm

      The book only mentions stevia. I looked up monkfruit on the website (it’s starting to be used as a suggested natural-ish alternative in some diets) but there’s no mention of it there, he just keeps saying stevia (e.g. http://www.drperlmutter.com/its-never-nice-to-fool-mother-nature/). Sorry I can’t offer more help, but you could try posting your specific question to the website to see if Dr. Perlmutter will respond.

  • Ann May 2, 2016, 9:38 pm

    One more question. Five times, I have followed an organic protein/carb diet with 2 spoonfuls of organic brown rice twice a day. Despite liberal use of olive oil and coconut oil, I am so hungry on this diet (even after eating generous portions of turkey and vegetables with half a cup of coconut oil) that after 3-4 months I end up eating a bowl full of rice or organic spelt bread, which gives a feeling of fullness. Even with all the coconut oil, I have no feeling of satiety after meals on this kind of diet. Any suggestions? Many thanks.

    • Penny Hammond May 4, 2016, 12:29 pm

      The book says that you can eat non-gluten grains in moderation (30-40 grams a day for the first 4 weeks, then 60 grams a day) – amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rice (brown rice, white rice, wild rice), sorghum, teff; gluten-free oats – must be guaranteed gluten-free.
      Do you think that will help?

  • Sherry Groenendyk November 23, 2016, 7:42 am

    I had a thick rash on my leg for several years that nothing would help. When a biopsy was done it was just skin, an over growth of skin. I also was suffering from an irregular heartbeat they could not find a cause for. I stopped eating grains and refined sugar. My irregular heartbeat fixed itself in a few days and my rash went away completely after a few months. I am a firm believer in a grain free, refined sugar free lifestyle!

    • Penny Hammond November 25, 2016, 12:38 pm

      What a relief! Glad to hear you’re doing so much better.

  • Lauren January 6, 2017, 10:08 am

    I have experienced remediation of bowel issues; bloating, gas, irregularity, loose bowel movement, as well as hyperhydrosis, menapause symptoms, onset and severity of migraines. I am experiencing better mental clarity and increased energy level since being on a gluten free low carb low sugar diet. Thanks Dr. perlmutter.

  • Kristin McPherson February 5, 2017, 12:06 pm

    How much fermented foods should be consumed each day? Can the fermented vegetables be warmed or do they need to be raw?

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:51 pm

      I don’t see any guidelines on how much fermented food to eat each day.
      There’s a general opinion that fermented vegetables shouldn’t be heated (above body temperature); however in some cultures it’s common to serve them warm or to cook some of them for an extended time.

  • Susana March 12, 2017, 1:37 am

    Besides salad and beans, what can you eat in restaurants, if they don’t have grass fed beef, free range organic chicken or wild fish? Can you eat steamed shrimp or scallops? Soups (broths) with rice noodles, shrimp, scallops and veg? How bad is it to occasionally eat meat thats not grass fed?

    • Penny Hammond June 20, 2017, 7:53 pm

      Shellfish and mollusks are encouraged on the diet, however there’s nothing talking about having them farmed from areas where they’re not exposed to sewage. You may have to take it easy sometimes to be able to live life with the diet, but understand that it might not be as beneficial.

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