paleo diet? No cereal? Without gluten? Low carb?
There is a lot of buzz in the world of diet and nutrition about the benefits of low carb diets. Books like the Atkins Diet, Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly have sparked a very interesting conversation about the role some of our favorite foods may play in the cause of chronic disease.
The New York Times even ran an article this week about a study by the National Institutes of Health that says the decades-long war on fat has been wrong all along.
But if you’re like most people, then there’s a good chance you think that gluten-free food and everything like it is probably a fad.
Why grain free?
According to Dr. David Permutter, a board-certified neurologist and author of grain brainA diet rich in carbohydrate-rich foods like grains and processed sugar has a detrimental impact on our brain. Dr. Permutter goes on to describe how Alzheimer’s disease can be classified as a form of type III diabetes, and the standard high-grain American diet is a big culprit in the rise in dementia. But can changing your diet improve your brain function and recovery from neurological disorders?
There is a lot of promise in the world of epilepsy when using an ultra low carb diet called the Keto diet. Basically, a person on a ketogenic diet is consuming a diet almost exclusively of fat and protein. The result is that many people with seizure disorders have seen a great improvement in brain function and a reduction/elimination of seizures.
Case studies and self-experimentation?
In my practice, I see a lot of people come in with chronic neurological disorders, especially people with headaches. Headaches are such a common secondary condition to displaced atlas complex that I am always VERY surprised when a patient with headaches does not improve after correcting their neck.
However, a few times in the last month, I have had patients whose headache state stabilized for a month after neck correction. This lasted over the course of a month where her neck REMAINED in its correct position and DID NOT need adjustment, but the state of the headaches did not change. I knew I had to think outside the box. When you’re focused on just one thing in your office, it’s easy to be myopic and think that every nail needs your hammer.
Although I am not a nutritionist, I am familiar with many trends and research occurring in the field of health optimization. I asked the patients what they eat on a daily basis and found that they all ate an enormous amount of bread, pasta and cereals on a daily basis.
I asked them to stop eating bread, cereal, pasta, rice and all grains for 2 weeks and to journal about it each day to see how they felt. As with most elimination diets, most people crash on a powerful substance like sugar or carbohydrates. Her energy plummeted, her headaches were still there and they felt sluggish. I encouraged them to stick with it for a few more days.
Low and behold, by the second week, all patients were headache free and had better energy than they had in years.
I even tried this approach myself. Although I didn’t feel sick or fat, I did notice that bread, rice, and noodles became too common in my own diet. After going 2 weeks without eating grains, I lost 8 pounds and started feeling faster in my workouts again. It was great!
Okay for me?
Now take this with a grain of salt because I am not a nutritionist or a health coach. IF you have a complex neurological disease process, then going grain/sugar free can be a great natural way to help with brain health, and you should probably talk to your doctor about it.
But what if you’re an Average Joe and just looking to lose weight or feel better?
From my point of view, I believe that almost everyone can benefit from eliminating these types of carbohydrates from their diet. It is too abundant in our daily lives, and we HAVE NO IDEA why it has become ingrained in our normal daily lives.
If you’re an athlete and need that carb fix, there are whole food sources like fruits, sweet potatoes, whole potatoes, and pumpkins that can give you that fix without the addictive quality of bread and pasta.