Paleo Diet? Grain-Free? Gluten-Free? Low-Carb?
There's a lot of buzz going on in the world of diet and nutrition about the benefits of low-carbohydrate diets. Books like the Atkins Diet, Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly have brought a very interesting conversation about the place that some of our favorite foods may have in the cause of chronic disease.
The New York Times even published an article this week discussing a study by the National Institute for Health saying that the decades long war on fat has been wrong all along.
But if you're like most people, then there's a good chance that you think that Gluten-free and any other resemblance of such is likely a fad.
According to Dr. David Permutter, a Board Certified Neurologist and author of Grain Brain , a diet high in carbohydrate dense foods like grains and processed sugar have a detrimental impact on our brains. Dr. Permutter goes on to describe how Alzheimer's disease can be classified as a Type III form of diabetes, and the standard American diet high in grains is a big culprit for the rise in dementia. But can change your diet improve upon your brain's function and recovery from neurological disorders?
There's a lot of promise in the world of epilepsy by using an ultra-low carbohydrate 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 lots of people with seizure disorders have seen great improvement in brain function and a reduction / elimination of seizures.
Case Studies and Self Experimentation?
In my practice, I get to see a lot of people coming in with chronic neurological disorders, especially people with headaches. Headaches are such a common secondary condition to atlas displacement complex, that I'm always VERY surprised when a patient with headaches does not get better after getting their neck corrected.
However, a few times in the past month, I've had patients whose headache status plateaued for a month after getting their neck corrected. This lasted over the course of a month, where their neck was STAYING in it's proper position, and DID NOT need an adjustment, but the headaches status wouldn't change. I knew I had to think outside the box. When you focus on one thing in your office, it's easy to get short sighted and think that every nail needs your hammer.
While I'm no nutritionist, I am familiar with lots of trends and research that happens in the field of optimizing health. I asked the patients what they eat on a day to day basis, and found out that all of them ate a tremendous amount of bread, pasta, and cereal on a daily basis.
I had them give up 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 as they go cold turkey from a powerful substance like sugar / carbohydrates. Their energy crashed, their 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 2nd week, all of the patients were headache free and had better energy than they had in years.
I even gave this approach a try for myself. While I wasn't feeling sick or fat, I had noticed that bread, rice, and noodles started becoming too regular in my own diet. After taking 2 weeks off from eating grains, I had shed 8 lbs and started feeling faster in my workouts again. It was great!
Is it Right for me?
Now take this with a grain of salt because I'm not a nutritionist or a health coach. IF you have a complex neurological disease process, then going grain-free / 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 Joe Average just looking to shed weight or feel better?
In my view, I think almost everyone can benefit from shedding these types of carbohydrates from your diet. It's way too abundant in our day to day lives, and we have NO IDEA because it's become enGRAINed 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 squashes that can give you that fix without the addictive quality of bread and pasta.