Grain Brain


David Perlmutter, MD

Much of what is in this book is in conflict with what you have read and heard in the past. It is also in conflict with what you may have been advised by your physician. Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist. To assure that I do not misinterpret any of his statements, all of what follows are excerpts from the text. I am blogging about this book because I believe that the information deserves serious consideration if you are concerned with what you can do to improve and maintain your wellness and that of your family.


I believe that the shift in our diet that has occurred over the past century – from high-fat, low-carb to today’s low-fat, high-carb diet, fundamentally consisting of grains and other damaging carbohydrates –  is the origin of many of our modern scourges linked to the braindisorders, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and those senior moments that quite likely herald serious cognitive decline and full-blown, irreversible, untreatable, and incurable brain disease.

Having diabetes doubles your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

We are increasingly challenging our physiology with ingredients for which we are not genetically prepared.

Beyond calories, fat, protein, and micronutrients, we now understand that food is a powerful epigenetic modulator – meaning it can change our DNA for better or worse.


In order to control inflammation that lies at the heart of brain disease (not to mention all of our degenerative illnesses from head to toe), your diet will need to change.

Obesity is a well-documented risk factor for brain disease.obesity-complications

Preventable, non-communicable diseases account for more deaths worldwide today than all other diseases combined.

Cells don’t just suck up glucose which is passing by them in the bloodstream. This vital sugar molecule has to be allowed into the cell by the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas.

Unfortunately, insulin doesn’t just escort glucose into our cells. It’s also an anabolic hormone, meaning that it stimulates growth promotes fat formation and retention, and encourages inflammation.

Inflammation is meant to be a spot treatment. It’s not supposed to be turned on for prolonged periods of time, and never forever.


Studies dating back as far as the 1990s show that people who have taken nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen for two or more years may have more than a 40 percent reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

While our genetic makeup and physiology haven’t changed much since the time of our ancestors, our food chain has had a rapid makeover during the past fifty years. Modern food manufacturing, including bioengineering and specifically hybridization, have allowed us to grow structurally-modified grains that contain gluten that’s less tolerable than the gluten that’s found in grains cultivated just a few decades ago.

We know for more than thirty years that wheat increases blood sugar more than table sugar, but we still somehow think that’s not possible.

There is compelling scientific support that “trans fats” are toxic and are clearly linked to any number of chronic diseases. But the missing message is simple: Our bodies thrive when given “good fats”, and cholesterol is one of these. And we don’t do so well with copious amounts of carbohydrates, even if those carbs are gluten-free, whole grain, and high in fiber.

Reviews of multiple large studies have routinely failed to find correlations between cholesterol levels and heart disease. Nothing could be further from the truth than the myth that if we lower our cholesterol levels we might have a greater chance of living longer and healthier lives.

Carbohydrates – not dietary fats – are the primary cause of weight gain.

While the synthetic trans fats found in margarine and processed foods are poisonous, we know now that monounsaturated fats – such as the fat found in avocados, olives, and nuts – are healthy.4Healthy-Fats

One-fifth of the brain by weight is cholesterol. Cholesterol in the brain is a powerful antioxidant. It protects the brain against the damaging effects of free radicals. Cholesterol is a precursor for the steroid hormones like estrogen and the androgens, as well as for vitamin D, a critically important fat-soluble antioxidant.

One recent study performed by the American Medical Association and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012, demonstrated an astounding 48 percent increased risk of diabetes among women taking statin medications.

Cholesterol is at most a minor player in coronary heart disease and represents an extremely poor predictor of heart attack risk. Over half of all patients hospitalized with a heart attack have cholesterol levels in the “normal” range. The idea that aggressively lowering cholesterol levels will somehow magically and dramatically reduce heart attack risk has now been fully and categorically refuted. The most important modifiable risk factors related to heart attack risk include smoking, excess alcohol consumption, lack of aerobic exercise, being overweight, and a diet high in carbohydrates.

Consuming fructose is associated with impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, high blood fats, and hypertension. Fortunately, for the most part, you can have your fruit and eat it too. The quantity of fructose in most whole fruit pales in comparison to the levels of fructose in processed foods. The number one source of dietary calories in America comes from high-fructose corn syrup.


The link between oxidative stress and sugar cannot be overstated. When proteins are glycated (linked with sugar), the amount of free radicals formed is increased fiftyfold; this leads to loss of cellular function and eventually cell death.

An elevated fasting insulin level is an indicator that your pancreas is trying hard to normalize your blood sugar.

We can change the expression of more than 70 percent of the genes that have a direct bearing on our health and longevity.

Physical exercise is one of the most potent ways of changing your genes; put simply, when you exercise, you literally exercise your genes.

tree climbing

The brain generates tremendous amounts of free radicals but lacks the level of antioxidant protection found elsewhere in the body.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

The vast majority of feel-good hormones and chemicals are produced around your intestines by what scientists now call your “second brain”. The nerve cells in your gut are not only regulating muscles, immune cells, and hormones, but also manufacture an estimated 80 to 90 percent of your body’s serotonin.

Exercise is a potent anti-inflammatory.

Sleep can dictate how much we eat, how fast our metabolism runs, how fat or thin we get, whether we can fight off infections, how creative and insightful we can be, how well we cope with stress, how quickly we can process information and learn new things, and how well we can organize and store memories.

Circadian rhythms are the heart and soul of our well-being.

The belief that the cholesterol we eat converts directly into blood cholesterol is unequivocally false. Contrary to popular wisdom, dietary cholesterol actually reduces the body’s production of cholesterol, and more than 80 percent of the cholesterol in your blood that is measured on your cholesterol test is actually produced in your own liver.

Dr. Perlmutter recommends the following daily supplement regimen for life.

  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Coconut oil
  • DHA
  • Probiotics
  • Resveratrol
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin D3