Could grains be destroying your brain?
Did you know that our brains are highly sensitive to what we eat? Unfortunately, our modern diets are straining our very physiology and our poor abused bodies are struggling to cope. Many of our brain-related illnesses, from depression to dementia are closely related to what we decide to put into our mouths. Diabetes is becoming an epidemic around the world, and what is scary is that having diabetes doubles your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease …. and there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. But what Dr David Perlmutter wants us to all know in his book, Grain Brain, is that we CAN influence our health and genetic destiny by making the right choices. This post will briefly outline what some of those choices could be.
Do you still love your carbs? Cannot imagine giving up pasta, pizza and freshly baked bread ? Well besides potentially making you chubby, and giving you Type 2 diabetes, these gluten-containing foods are also causing inflammation inside your body, and are literally damaging your brain. Remember, at the heart of nearly every disorder and disease is inflammation.
Gluten sensitivity represents one of the greatest and most under-recognised health threats to humanity. – Dr David Perlmutter
You might be saying, “But I am fine if I eat gluten”. Yes, you might not experience any digestive disorders such as bloating, gas or constipation – but this doesn’t mean that gluten isn’t still negatively affecting your brain. There are no pain receptors in the brain, so we can’t feel inflammation. Science now indicates that gluten has a role to play in headaches, dementia, insomnia, depression, ADHD and even decreased libido. So if you have lost your mojo – perhaps try cutting out gluten to see if it returns.
Go low carb:
High-carb foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fizzy drinks and sweets raise both your blood glucose and insulin levels, which puts you at a much higher risk for developing diabetes. Did you know that Alzheimer’s is now being referred to as Type 3 diabetes? Even if you are not diabetic – if your blood sugar or insulin is on the high-end of normal, you have a much greater risk for brain shrinkage. This shrinkage can affect memory and cognitive skills.
Yikes – so carbs can actually make you “a little less clever” (sounds better than saying “stupid”). That is a good one to know. If this is the case, then how much more will carbs affect you if you continue to eat them after you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) or full-blown diabetes? I reckon you would seriously be playing with fire!
A growing body of evidence links obesity to cognitive decline and dementia. In other words, the bigger your body gets the smaller your brain gets. Neuroscientists discovered that the brains of obese individuals looked 16 years older and had 8% less brain tissue than their healthy counterparts of normal weight. If wanting to look good in a bathing suit was never a good motivator for you to lose weight, then perhaps what might do it for you is knowing that with each kilogram you gain, your brain is shrinking, which will affect your memory and ability to make decisions.
Obesity – and its metabolic consequences – has almost nothing to do with dietary fat consumption and everything to do with our addiction to carbs. – Dr David Perlmutter
Your body fundamentally craves a low carb and high fat diet. When I refer to fat, I mean the healthy kind like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and not the damaged trans fats and toxic seed oils like sunflower or canola. In his practice, Dr Perlmutter has seen how simply changing to a low carb/high fat diet has lifted depression, relieved chronic fatigue, reversed type 2 diabetes, and extinguished obsessive compulsive behaviour and even cured bipolar disorder. How could our carb-addicted and fat-phobic society have gone so wrong with our nutritional choices? It is criminal actually! So much unnecessary suffering. Fat plays a pivotal role in regulating our immune system and reducing inflammation. It also helps us to feel full for longer. If you have been following a low-fat and high-carb diet, but are hungry all the time – now you know why.
Stop worrying about cholesterol:
High cholesterol is actually associated with better memory function. Science is only now discovering that both fat and cholesterol are severely deficient in diseased brains and that high total cholesterol levels in later life is associated with living longer. Parkinson’s disease is also strongly related to low cholesterol levels. Because we produce more free radicals as we age, our bodies naturally increase our cholesterol levels to help combat this. So increased cholesterol levels with age is actually perfectly normal.
Basically, cholesterol is critical for brain health and this has led Dr Perlmutter and others to believe that statins (which lower cholesterol levels) may cause or exacerbate brain disorders and disease. Memory lapses and confusion is a known side effect of statins. Also, if you are a woman on statins, then you are at a 48% increased risk for developing diabetes. Statins also indirectly affect your vitamin D levels and deficiencies in this vitamin can lead to weak bones and heighten one’s risk for dementia, diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease. The benefits of statins are questionable, and major studies have failed to show how they protect the body from illness.
Eating high cholesterol foods has no impact on our actual cholesterol levels, and the alleged correlation between higher cholesterol and higher cardiac risk is an absolute fallacy – Dr David Perlmutter
Gone are the days when you could bury your head in the sand and claim ignorance for choices made. Information is out there and accessible to all of us. Of course, what you decide to do with the information is completely up to you, but remember that your health and the health of your children are at stake. What I have covered in this post is honestly the very small tip of an enormous iceberg. You owe it to yourself to inquire, read and learn as much as you can.
I think Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain is an excellent read for those seeking the truth about nutrition and how the food choices we make effect not only our waist lines but also our brains and overall general health. Dr. Perlmutter is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He is also the only doctor in America who has both of these credentials. He is also a founding member and fellow of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic medicine . This gives him a very unique perspective on the relationship between what we eat and how our brains function. For more information you can view his website.
Reference: Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter