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

by Penny Hammond on September 30, 2013 · 70 comments

in Diets

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. 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.

Order The Grain Brain Cookbook for more than 150 recipes.

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
Order 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.

{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Moore October 15, 2013 at 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

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Penny Hammond October 16, 2013 at 8:06 am

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

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Anthony Wallace October 30, 2013 at 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?

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Penny Hammond October 31, 2013 at 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.

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M A February 22, 2014 at 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.

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Penny Hammond February 23, 2014 at 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.

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Pat Dusil November 21, 2013 at 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?

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Penny Hammond November 22, 2013 at 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.

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Pat Dusil November 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm

By the way ….it’s a white popcorn.

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Penny Hammond November 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

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

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Esther Plastridge December 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

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

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Penny Hammond December 26, 2013 at 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.

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Esther Plastridge December 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

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

Thanks again!

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Penny Hammond December 26, 2013 at 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.

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Teresa January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

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

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Penny Hammond January 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

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

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Sally January 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

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

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Penny Hammond January 5, 2014 at 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.

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Lea January 6, 2014 at 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?

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Penny Hammond January 7, 2014 at 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.

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Rich D. May 26, 2014 at 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.

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Marji Brown January 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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

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Penny Hammond January 17, 2014 at 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.

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Jean January 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

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

Thanks!

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Penny Hammond January 26, 2014 at 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.

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Brenda Brown January 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm

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

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Penny Hammond January 30, 2014 at 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!

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Linda February 8, 2014 at 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 at 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 at 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.

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Julie January 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm

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

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Penny Hammond January 30, 2014 at 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.

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cynthia February 20, 2014 at 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!

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Penny Hammond February 20, 2014 at 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.

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yoggie April 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm

what about lemon or lime peals ? flavor extracts?

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Penny Hammond April 29, 2014 at 8:00 am

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

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Miriam Kauders March 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I am wondering if coconut sugar is allowed in moderation?
Thanks

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Penny Hammond March 4, 2014 at 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.

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Nikki March 9, 2014 at 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!

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Penny Hammond March 11, 2014 at 5:54 pm

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

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Nikki March 12, 2014 at 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?

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Arliss March 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

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

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Penny Hammond March 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

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

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Kianna March 24, 2014 at 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?

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Penny Hammond March 25, 2014 at 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.

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Josh March 31, 2014 at 6:16 pm

is whole fat cream cheese allowed?

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Penny Hammond April 6, 2014 at 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.

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Court April 1, 2014 at 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.

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Penny Hammond April 2, 2014 at 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.

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Janet April 9, 2014 at 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!

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Beth April 24, 2014 at 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

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Penny Hammond April 27, 2014 at 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.

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Leslie Triesch May 2, 2014 at 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!

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Nancy May 27, 2014 at 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.

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Nancy Hanna June 9, 2014 at 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.

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Penny Hammond June 10, 2014 at 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.

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Nancy Hanna June 9, 2014 at 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…

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Rose June 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Are cherries and grapes allowed on the diet?

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Penny Hammond June 10, 2014 at 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.

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Rose June 12, 2014 at 8:05 pm

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

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Penny Hammond June 13, 2014 at 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.

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Gordon Saunders June 15, 2014 at 6:34 pm

What about wine?

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Penny Hammond June 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm

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

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Michelle July 7, 2014 at 3:10 pm

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

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Penny Hammond July 7, 2014 at 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.

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Michelle July 17, 2014 at 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.

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Michelle July 17, 2014 at 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.

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Penny Hammond July 18, 2014 at 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 at 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.

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Harriet July 8, 2014 at 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.

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