"Grain Brain"

Maybe some of you know the bestseller “Grain Brain” from David Perlmutter, where he demonizes grains, carbs and gluten, claiming that it leads to DNA damage, premature aging and even cognitive decline. According to his theory these promote inflammation, which is presented as the main culprit for virtually everything bad that happens in the human body. He also provides a lot of research to support his claims.

Looking at the ingredients and macronutrient split of Huel even such a healthy product would be bad according to this theory, because it leads to inflammation and glycation of various surface proteins on human cells. Even Black Edition would be problematic due to the still relatively high carb content and the addition of tapioca starch, a “refined carb”.

On the other hand Huel is very much in accorance to official nutrient recommendations from large institutions, also called the “mainstream” view.

So what is your opinion on that? There seems to be so much contradictory research on carbs and inflammation, and when reading Perlmutter’s theses it does sound convincing. Nevertheless no institution officlally recommends what he does. I thought a compromise might be to use Black Edition and maybe even “dilute” it with e.g. protein powder.

Do you think grains are “bad”? Would you stop using the Huel white edition just because of this research? Or do you still believe it is the better choice?

I would really be interested in hearing your opinion. Thanks in advance.

So he expects us to restrict ourselves to fruit, veg and meat/fish or something? I haven’t read the book but he sounds like a quack from your description.

We need carbs and grains and fats, that’s just a physiological reality and a ready source of some of those can be found in grains. Not to mention their availability as a fantastic source of fibre.

If he’s trying to say that grains cause premature aging I strongly recommend he takes a look at the average population age in civilisations where it is considered to be the main staple.

I will have more of a look into it when I get time but honestly I suspect there’s a good reason no mainstream official source references his “work”.


Thanks for your opinion. That is also what I suspected - large institutions have a reason for why they recommend what they recommend.

The only thing that I thought is that it might be “better” to use Black Edition exclusively and no regular edition powder at all. It would be gluten-free and contain less carbs - although I do not know how “good” tapioca starch is, especially if compared to grains.


Well I’m no expert it just sounds weird. However by random coincidence I do use exclusively Huel Black Edition and to make matters worse I also add protein to it!

Ironic eh? :joy::joy::joy:

Yes, it is. Black Edition does indeed have other advantages, like the smoother texture und sweeter taste. This applies to protein powder as well. Is that the reason why you use it?

No, I add it because I’m doing some pretty difficult muscle rebuild/rehab and it ups the protein levels to where I want them to be.

Thanks for sharing.

I haven’t read this book but I bet it’s similar to a lot of other “nutrition” books that if you dig into the references they use, they don’t actually support what the author is saying.

This theory has been disproven in multiple studies a couple of which are Cereal fibre intake and risk of mortality from all causes, CVD, cancer and inflammatory diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies - PubMed and Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. You can find out more in our article on carbohydrates here.

You can find a nutrition study to support just about any theory you have. The tricky bit is looking at all the evidence and accurately analysing those studies.


The best policy is to try things out yourself.
When I was eating much better, I was eating mainly whole unprocessed foods in a vegan diet. The only grains I’d have where quinoa and I’d be eating a lot of leafy greens, good fats, carbs and proteins.
Then I was so much better physically and mentally, my mind was sharper and clearer.

I don’t eat like that any more because I enjoy life and food and I do want to go back to that ideal at some point. I’ll use Huel to help me get closer as it’s cleaner.

Try it out for yourself, it takes about 3-4 weeks to clear the system completely, see how you feel with no/few grains. See if Huel fits into that or not.

I hope that helps,

@ talort: Did you have an injury? Sorry to hear that…hope your recovery goes well.

@ Dan: Thanks for the links! I am not worrying about specific diseases or mortality; indeed my main worries are about cognitive decline and skin aging - that is how one appears to the environment. Look young and with strong cognitive skills (concentration, problem solving skills etc). Things like living longer or cardiovascular health are not really important to me - although all these things might be linked in one way or another.

@ himhi: How close are you to your former ideals? And how is Huel helping you in this respect?

Everyone seems to have “normal” foods in one way or another - even if it is just “cheat days” or limited timespans of “getting off track” in some cases…in my case the problem is that I can’t swallow solid foods. So I really don’t get any “normal” things. Some also say that a large variety of colours would be important, but I can’t have that either. Couldn’t have that for years now, and I am really worrying about that. Will this have any negative effects in the long term?

As I mentioned, my main concerns are skin appearance and cognitive skills. Wrinkles are (not yet?) a problem but I have very dry skin and dry, brittle hair. And I often suffer from a lack of concentration, or feel depressed. According to Perlmutter and the research he cites this could be caused by gluten and “grain-carbs”.

I just wondered whether Black Edition would be of any advantage in this respect - it is lower but not low carb, and still contains tapioca starch - is this good or bad now?

(With regard to some things like skin appearance/wrinkle prevention or number of neurons trying things out is not really an option…because as soon as the bad consequence is there it is to late, as it is irreversible)

The only studies I’ve found in regards to carbohydrate content and skin health is in mice. There’s little biological reason why we should be focusing on carbohydrates when protein, biotin, selenium and vitamin E play much more important roles. If you could send over the studies that Perlmutter references I can help you further, otherwise I wouldn’t be worried.

It’s a similar story for cognitive function. There is very little evidence to support Perlmutter claims (source and source)

i am not expert, but grains are essential part of our food since our ancestors started farming, as well starches like potaoes and other tubers. and it worked for whole human history well for everyone, as long diet wasn’t other nutrients, so if someone ate barley, lentils and apples there were most likely to be fine - plus fruits in seasons. i think moderation is a key.

also individual people are very diverse, people have spcial allergies, food intolerances.

my husband tried huel white and had to immediately stop it - his protein intolerance immediately showed him he can’t have it. i on the other side i am doing very well on huel and will keep using it, beacuse my personal experience tells me this is good product for me. i don’t really care about dietetitians, they change their opinion on food every two years. my friend was studying nutrition on university and in one year eggs were fine, next year they told them eggs are very bad. my mother remembers when dietetitians were promoting margarine as healthier alternative for butter, and then they flipflopped and warned about dangerous trans fats in margarine.

i will stop using huel when it will stop suit my lifestyle and become too expensive, but for now it works well for me and my skin became better, during work week my two meals a day are huel plus dinner at home with whatever i fancy to cook that day.