Kurt G. Harris MD

PāNu means paleonutrition. The "paleo" here signifies "old" and not necessarily paleolithic. The PāNu approach to nutrition is grounded on clinical medicine and basic sciences disciplined by knowledge of evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology. The best evidence from multiple disciplines supports eating a pastoral (animal-based) diet rather than a grain-based agricultural one, while avoiding what I call the neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.

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PaNu - approved booze?

Disclaimer: I do not advocate alcohol consumption. The benefits of moderate drinking are likely grossly exaggerated. That said, a few non-driving drinks a week won't kill you – so here is how to do it while avoiding gluten and the lectin nasties.


My sources who are experts on celiac disease say that distilled spirits, even if derived from gluten grains like wheat or rye - do not have gluten grain proteins or peptides in them.

Apart from the alcohol content and its effects on insulin response, hepatotoxicity, etc. whiskey is safe. Alcohol can affect the lining of the stomach and could in binge amounts cause a leaky gut, but used minimally is OK from a dietary standpoint, IMO.


I have mocked modern fruit as a candy bar from a tree. One fellow asked, "does that mean red wine is just candy-bar-juice?".

The fermentation of the sugar is what makes the alcohol.

So the alcohol, some might call it "yeast shit", is there in lieu of the sugar.

There are some putatively beneficial phytochemicals in red wine, like resveratrol, but no lectin nasties that I am aware of.

On a per-ounce-of-alcohol basis, red wine would be much better than beer for your insulin metabolism.

So red wine is good (consumed in moderation, blah, blah blah...)


Beer is loaded with maltose, a disaccharide sugar composed of two molecules of glucose this gives you a massive rise in blood glucose and concomitant insulin response when you drink it - not too good for you.

As beer is fermented and not distilled, it will have some nontrivial amounts of lectins from whatever grain(s) the yeast ate in order to crap out the alcohol that people drink it for.

It's good to remember that many of the nutrients in grains are located in the same part of the seed that the antinutrients which the seed has developed as a defense mechanism are found. (Gluten is proteins found with the starchy part of seed however) Therefore, attempts to keep the "good" part of the seed, by emphasizing whole grain consumption, for instance, necessarily increase your exposure to the lectins (antinutrients).

Reader Comments (10)

you say whiskey is "safe"...is rum safe?

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermallory

Well, no alcohol is really safe - rum should have no gluten but of course has some sugars in it.

August 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Rum, some sugars? It has the most sugar. As a diabetic, I find Guinness to be the best choice. 10 carbs 125 cals- not bad for a great brew.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpjnoir


I assume and hope for your sake you are joking

I also hope you don't drink rum in the same volumes as beer.

There is no way rum has as much sugar as guinness per gram of alcohol.

If I were diabetic, I would absolutely not drink guinness unless I wanted to die early.

Maltose is pure sugar - a disaccharide of glucose - it spikes the hell out of your glucose and requires big surges of insulin to handle - it's also got gliadin proteins in it.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

yummy yummy, yeast shit! ethanol = the king!

what do you think about kombucha? various pickles? LA/LB cultured products?

September 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjellysoda

well.... i personally partake in the consumption of rum..usually bacardi unless i am at a bar...

you know its funny we often take our first shot to "health & happiness" then go about dancing and being intoxicated... how twisted lol

September 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermallory

I'm interested in this issue, because almost all of us have a glass of wine once in a while. Does ethyl alcohol (that's basically what we're metabolizing from a glass of wine) cause an insulin spike, and if so, how substantial compared with sucrose, for example?

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBWP

I just discovered this blog, and find it a great resource. However, I did want to correct a couple misstatements in this particular post. Rum's sugar content is no higher than other distilled spirits. See http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl, or any other reputable source of nutritional information.


I suppose I should have specified you have to make sure its not the rum I always see at parties, which has added sugar. Here is a list. The point was if you by whisky there is no added sugar.

Captain morgan -

Original - 0.3g
Silver - 1.7g
Parrot Bay - 6.0g
Private Stock - 2.2g

Malibu Rum - 5.1g

Rum Bacardis:
Bacardi Light 0g
Bacardi Gold 0g
Bacardi Limon 2g
Bacardi Vanilla 2g
Bacardi O 3g
Bacardi Razz 3g
Bacardi Coco 2g

Malt Bacardis:
Bacardi Silver - 34g
Bacardi O3 - 33g

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Scott

I wondered about the maltose content of beer. Other objectionable qualities aside, it seems to have little, even in regular -not light- brews. A google search turned up lots of info, here's one link from many:

11. Analysis Report, NP Analytical Laboratories, 2/24/2004

Carbohydrate spectrum of popular beers measured by HPLC: Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Michelob ULTRA, Busch, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Coors, Coors Light, Heineken, Amstel Light, Corona.

Maltose: All brands measured below the detection limit of 0.02 g/12 oz. (0.005%)

Isomaltose: Ranged from 0.06 to 0.15 g/12 oz.


I stand corrected. The non-alcohol carb content (ethanol is a special carbohydrate) of beer is mostly starch as the yeast have eaten most of the maltose. Maltose is a disaccharide of glucose and starch is a polymer of glucose molecules. So when you drink the beer, it becomes maltose briefly on the way to glucose and absorption into your portal circulation. The effect on blood glucose and metabolism is the same either way. Drink a stout and there is more starch, drink a lite beer and most of the carb and calorie content is in the alcohol. You can tell by the lite beer tastes like water.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I have discovered that beer = weight gain.
Full bodied red wine = no weight gain.

I drink in moderation now, only red wine perhaps twice a week, half to one bottle of red wine.

Dropped 50 pounds in weight over 5 years, primarily because of no beer and gradually changing to what is now a paleo diet/lifestyle.

November 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill
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