Paleo and low-carb diets highlight benefits of eliminating grains

Gluten-free diets have become hotter than sliced white bread (sorry, Wonder Bread). But the difference between going grain-free and gluten-free has received minimal publicity. We’ve got the skinny on what you should know.

First, let’s talk gluten-free and even more specifically, wheat-free.  Deserving credit for making it clear precisely why you should fear Frankenwheat: Dr. William Davis, author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” and “Wheat Belly 30-Minute (Or Less!) Cookbook: 200 Quick and Simple Recipes to Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health.

Dr. Davis recently appeared on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s talk show to discuss how his wheat belly diet works: Learn more by clicking here. His key points: Emphasize protein and veggies, minimize or avoid sugar, banish gluten and enjoy healthy fats.

While Dr. Davis emphasizes wheat and gluten, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter focuses on all grains in his best-seller:  “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs,  and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers.”

In what I view as an essential book for everyone who wants to minimize their risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia while boosting their health, “Grain Brain” explores how and why it’s time to give up all grains as well as sugar.

The evidence is impeccable, and for everyone who argues that grains are essential for health, Dr. Perlmutter told U.S. News recently:  “The idea that people are nutritionally deprived because they don’t eat grain has no scientific basis.”

Dr. Perlmutter’s “Grain Brain” diet focuses on carefully chosen protein, such as grass-fed beef;  non-starchy vegetables, such as Romaine lettuce;  and healthy fats, such as avocado.  While it resembles the Paleo diet, he specifies the balance of different food groups more thoroughly.

But what Dr. Perlmutter does share with the Paleo diet: An emphasis on unprocessed natural foods.

I interviewed Robb Wolf, author of “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet,” to learn about his views.

Robb is emphatic that the food pyramid is a failure. The concept that we need everything in moderation, including grains, ” has been a complete failure,”  he states.

And he challenges the notion that “some kind of mystical nutrient deficiency will emerge if one builds their diet built around fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and seeds. My research associates have published papers demonstrating not only that a Paleo diet provides all the nutrients for health, but that the Paleo diet is, calorie for calorie, the most nutritious way one can eat.”

Recently, however,  some are putting an emphasis on eating meat-heavy and protein-saturated diets. Surveys have shown that a growing percentage of consumers believe that they need more protein.  Is that the answer, and are humans meant to be carnivores?

Not so, says Dr. William Lagakos, author of “My tummy hurts” and “The poor, misunderstood calorie: calories proper.”

Dr. Lagakos cites several studies and concludes: “After reviewing a few studies on the topic (see below), it’s safe to say that plants were eaten, probably frequently, and the types & quantities varied seasonally & geographically.  Collectively, the data suggest we aren’t carnivores.”

As for evidence that Wilma and Fred Flintstone raised Pebbles to be cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and won their weight wars with Wheaties?  The Magic 8-Ball says “no.”

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