Grain brain : the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar--your brain's silent killers

by David Perlmutter

Paper Book, 2013

Status

Available

Publication

New York, NY : Little, Brown and Co., [2013]

Description

The devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 30-day plan to achieve optimum health.

Media reviews

Under Perlmutter’s prism, a single study, of 13 people, with a finding of “possible association,” turns into a near certainty. Hyperbole is a good way to sell diet books and start fads, but it’s not good for dieters.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MarthaJeanne
I could go on and on about the obvious fallacies in this book. (Like, where is prehistoric man supposed to have gotten all that fat in his diet?) Instead I will simply point out that he compares himself to Mesmer in the epilogue. I totally agree.
LibraryThing member Micalhut
Another doctor jumps on board with convincing arguments that the majority of grains and sugar are destroying mental health. He ALSO proposes that not only can this diet heal depression, anxiety, ADHD, but also schizophrenia. He is not the first doctor I've read that offers convincing evidence of the sort. Though I've read most books on this subject, I liked this one. It was easy to read and something about it really hit home this time.… (more)
LibraryThing member eclecticdodo
Ok, so I was recommended this book by someone I respect after explaining I have had distinct health improvements since going gluten free, and that my son, not at this point gluten free, is being investigated for autistic spectrum disorder and/or emotional difficulties. Right from the start, this is NOT an investigation into the issues, it is the author stating his opinion, then searching around for evidence to support his theories. Why is that a bad thing? Some of those theories do seem to be well supported, others are just plain whacky and there is a wealth of reliable research data that contradicts them. Most are somewhere between the two - a grain (hah hah) of truth extrapolated beyond the evidence, interesting conjecture, and worthy of further investigation, but not the facts they are presented to be. I would like to say it's harmless, but I don't think that's the case. The book promotes extreme dietary changes in adults and children. There is also the alarmist reporting of very small, methodologically weak, studies. The first obvious example mentioned is: gluten intolerant mothers are twice as likely to have scizophrenic sons. Now there's a whole load of issues with this one, including, but by no means limited to, small sample size, reliance on self reporting, inadequate definition of gluten intolerance, the association between health fears (founded or otherwise) and familial stress which is in turn linked to mental health problems in later life... I could go on. But does the author mention any of these? No. He states it as fact leaving the reader to simply accept it or (in the case of this reader) research it themselves. I have not researched all the issues in this book. In fact, I didn't even finish it, it was that bad. I would recommend every reader first reads Ben Goldacre's book Bad Pharma for detailed but accessible information on what to look for in a medical study. His conspiracy theories are far more accurate and thus truly terrifying.… (more)
LibraryThing member IonaS
This is an important book, almost on a par with Uffe Ravnskov’s and Malcolm Kendrick’s books on the cholesterol myth, and Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s books, the one refuting the diet-heart hypothesis and the other on “gut and psychology syndrome”. The author is telling us that if we continue to eat as we are doing – living on a diet of grains and carbohydrates, we will destroy our brain and develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Or we may develop diabetes (because of the carbohyrates), which in itself doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s.

We need to get rid of our bread and exchange it with butter and eggs. Saturated fats and high cholesterol are not the problem. We need to adopt a high-fat diet, including saturated fats. The author explains how our food choices can bring inflammation under control by changing the expression of our genes.

The two biggest myths are 1) a low-fat, high carb diet is good and 2) cholesterol is bad.

It turns out that many of us, though not suffering from celiac disease, are in fact gluten-sensitive. The author is of the opinion that this “represents the greatest and most under-recognized threat to humanity”. Gluten triggers “not just dementia but epilepsy, headache, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and even decreased libido”. Gluten, and a high-carbohydrate diet, for that matter, stimulates “inflammatory pathways that reach the brain”.

Cholesterol, far from being the villain of the piece, is one of the most important players in maintaining brain health and function. “Study after study shows that high cholesterol reduces your risk for brain disease and increases longevity.” High levels of dietary fat have been proven to be the key to health and peak brain function.

As also pointed out in the afore-mentioned books, statins are death-bringing, since they reduce your cholesterol level, and cholesterol, also LDL, the fallaciously termed “bad” cholesterol, is a critical brain nutrient, essential for the function of neurons, and plays a fundamental role as a building block of the cell membrane.

Chapter 2 of the book is devoted to gluten’s role in brain inflammation. Many people with debilitating symptoms such as migraine, bipolar disorder, uncontrollable shaking, and so on, experience great relief when eliminating gluten from their diet. The author considers gluten a modern poison.

We now know that we can grow new neurons throughout our life. Something called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) plays a key role in creating new neurons and protecting existing neurons. Calorie restriction is an epigenetic factor that turns on the gene for BDNF production. Also physical exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, targets the BDNF gene, reverses memory decline in the elderly and increases growth of new brain cells in the brain’s memory centre.

The consumption of ketones, found in coconut oil, gives significant improvement in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (see the books of Bruce Fife). Ketosis (acquiring energy from our fat cells), instead of the process whereby we acquire it from the carbohydrates and protein we eat, is a healthful condition.

There is much valuable information in this book – life-saving information, if you follow Dr. Perlmutter’s advice, that is. We are told of the power of fasting, and what fasting and ketogenic diets have in common. We are advised to take DHA capsules (DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid), reservatrol, turmeric, probiotics, coconut oil, alpha-lipoic acid and Vitamin D.

The final chapters are devoted to “A new way of life, The Four-Week Plan of Action”. The focus is on food, exercise and sleep. We are provided with meal plans and recipes.

My only reservation is the author’s apparent ignorance about the dangers of microwave ovens. He also recommends that we eat canned tomatoes, whereas the illustrious Dr. Mercola (my hero) warns us to stay well clear of these, since the acidity in tomatoes can provoke leaching of the harmful BPA (biphenol-A) in the lining of the can into the food.

But, notwithstanding, to sum up, I would highly recommend that you read this well-written, highly informative, ground-breaking book. The information it contains is basic, essential and perhaps live-saving.
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LibraryThing member berthashaver
I really enjoyed reading this book. Full of information, but not so technical that it is overwhelming. Very motivating to change my diet and nutrition habits to improve my health.
LibraryThing member dulcinea14
It worked for me before I even heard of this book!

I went on a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high-fat) last year to lose weight and next thing I know, my chronic life-long depression and anxiety disappeared, I had more focus, more energy, more positivity in general. I had NO IDEA that a ketogenic diet would do this, but it did. I started to enjoy exercise for a change, which helped even more. My life was changed forever. (Note that I have tried so many "diets" to lose weight before keto and nothing worked for me. I ended up gaining weight every time I failed.)

Then, I discovered Dr. Perlmutter and realized that what I was experiencing was exactly what he has been trying to teach people. Reading this book was an amazing experience for me and helped solidify the "program" I need to follow for brain health (HAPPINESS). Alzheimer's runs in my family too, so if I can do anything to delay or avoid that worse-than-death sentence, I will. And it's not like it's hard to do!

I only needed to modify my supplementation some and focus on the tasks he recommends that I already knew benefit me (exercise, meditation, sunshine!, mental exercise, caloric limitation, ketogenic diet). I plan on incorporating fasting back into my life too. Beyond keto, the only somewhat positive "diet" attempt I had experienced was intermittent fasting, so I was happy to see that he recommends fasting. My mind works great while fasting, the trick is to break your carb addiction first!

It works, it's simple. Naysayers haven't tried it, so don't listen to them. Perlmutter explains the science, cites the science, but seeing (doing) is believing.

I was a skeptic when I heard about ketogenic diets, but my body and mind proved me wrong. And I'm so glad they did!


(For those who find the diet extreme, I thought I could "never give up carbs" too, but I did, and I had a very very bad carb addiction and wasn't a big "meat eater." Pinterest is a great place to find "keto" recipes that will blow your socks off with the variety and sheer yum-factor. Also search for "paleo" recipes, especially if you are dairy intolerant like I am.)
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LibraryThing member Carlie
Dr. Perlmutter explains the health risks for your brain by eating grains as well as the foods you should eat to improve your brain health. For example, lower cholesterol has not been shown to improve health and statin drugs actually cause brain functioning to decrease. Also, fat is good for your brain. He also goes into the science which made my eyes glaze over. He provides tons of anecdotes and studies to substantiate his claims. Overall, I enjoyed the book, but actually eating to his standards would be boring.… (more)
LibraryThing member vtlucania
Yes this is the hot food topic at the moment. If you have read more than one book about gluten for the most part you have read the important aspect of gluten and its effects on the human body. This book gleans over a few areas different from the other books I have read about this topic. Should you rad this book? Do you have an interest in this topic-then yes. If you are trying to get information about the perils in the food we ingest-yes. If you are looking for some great revelation-not so much.
These books make it sound like giving up gluten is easy-not hardly. It is in almost every food most of the population consumes daily. Oh your days of eating fast food will be over. Not that giving up fast food is bad but it is going to be inconvenient. I will say if you are going to take this route, please prepare but is harder than it sounds at least for those who eat out on a regular, are fans of pasta, pastries, or any such indulgences. I should mention that gluten is in some cosmetics and shampoos so research must be done. Do I think there is validity in living this way? Yes but it is extremely difficult so let the rewiring of the brain begin!
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LibraryThing member Mariesreads
Unbelievable! If we were more careful with our diet, there could possibly be a lot less crime! Although I said, "Unbelievable", I really do believe what this doctor says about the way gluten and other elements in food affect our brain.
Besides, less crime, there would probably be much fewer cases of autism, seizure disorders, Alzheimer's and the like.
It is also easy to read.
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LibraryThing member MathMaverick
Excellent book! Every parent, teacher, coach and human should read this book.
LibraryThing member AntT
I was interested in reading this book to see if it told me anything I didn't already know. (I am allergic to gluten but do not have celiac disease.) For the most part, Perlmutter discusses scientific aspects in a fairly accessible way, but if a reader had not taken chemistry and was unfamiliar with the areas of the brain, it might be pretty hard going in parts. I learned a few (what seemed like) new things about the brain and how its affected by various foodstuffs, and I'm going to try the author's 30-day plan to see if it makes any difference in day-to-day life. For readers who are not familiar with the research on what sugar and gluten (which is in more grains—rye, for example—than wheat) can do to brain chemistry, this book provides more than junk science. Not for everyone, Grain Brain (I hate the title but it should make the book sound accessible to a greater number of people) is a good resource for those who live on bread products, sweets, and other carbs and suspect they need a change in diet. I should think it would also be a good resource for those who are caregivers to those with some of the diseases of aging, such as dementia. (I won an ARC of this book through FirstReads.)… (more)
LibraryThing member AntT
I was interested in reading this book to see if it told me anything I didn't already know. (I am allergic to gluten but do not have celiac disease.) For the most part, Perlmutter discusses scientific aspects in a fairly accessible way, but if a reader had not taken chemistry and was unfamiliar with the areas of the brain, it might be pretty hard going in parts. I learned a few (what seemed like) new things about the brain and how its affected by various foodstuffs, and I'm going to try the author's 30-day plan to see if it makes any difference in day-to-day life. For readers who are not familiar with the research on what sugar and gluten (which is in more grains—rye, for example—than wheat) can do to brain chemistry, this book provides more than junk science. Not for everyone, Grain Brain (I hate the title but it should make the book sound accessible to a greater number of people) is a good resource for those who live on bread products, sweets, and other carbs and suspect they need a change in diet. I should think it would also be a good resource for those who are caregivers to those with some of the diseases of aging, such as dementia. (I won an ARC of this book through FirstReads.)… (more)
LibraryThing member sylliu
Based on his neurological research and practice, Dr Perlmutter upends the traditional thinking that cholesterol is bad and instead believes that it is the thing that brains need (fat) to be mentally acute, avoid mental illness & degeneration like Alzheimers. He points to research that shows that people with higher cholesterol levels actually live longer and suffer less dementia. The main culprit for obesity, diabetes, heart disease is carbohydrates, gluten & sugars. As much as 60% of the population is gluten intolerant but it doesn't show up in gastrointestinal symptoms, but rather in mental symptoms (ADHD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, etc). So he advocates a low carb, high protein and fat diet (but not trans fats, the good fats like olive oils, omega 3s, etc). Plus exercise and sleep.

This was a compelling & interesting book with much to mull over.
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LibraryThing member MathMaverick
Excellent book! Every parent, teacher, coach and human should read this book.
LibraryThing member buffalogr
Author asserts grain and sugar are harmful to the brain. Unarguably, the solution is diet, exercise and sleep. He proposes grain/sugar free diet solutions, exercise and regular sleep to cure a plethora of ills. The focus is gluten free diet--menus are provided. However, assertions don't seem supported by reputable scientific evidence and the footnotes are often self writin. Easy to read, the book seems more dogmatic than educational. Nevertheless, testimonials of easy success abound.… (more)
LibraryThing member nicole_a_davis
Following the dietary recommendations (cutting wheat) did absolutely nothing to help my chronic migraines. It didn't do anything else for me either--I felt neither better nor worse in terms of mood or energy, etc.

The arguments in the book are largely based on anecdotal evidence rather than good scientific studies. There might be truth to what he is arguing, but at this point I have to be skeptical.… (more)

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