“This is Your Brain on Gluten”

Can a strict low-carb diet dramatically reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? And the risk of almost every other neurological disease, like depression and ADHD? That’s what Dr. Perlmutter argues in his bestselling book Grain Brain.

Here’s a good article on Perlmutter’s claims with comments from several other doctors:

TheAtlantic: This is your brain on gluten

I find it amusing that Dr. Katz whines about how Dr. Perlmutter’s book is getting so much attention. His own newly-released book, Disease Proof, is much more “sensible” he says, yet it’s no bestseller.

Is it just me or is Dr. Katz sounding jealous? Like most people I haven’t read Dr. Katz book, but the title “Disease Proof” seems like the least sensible one I could imagine.

When it comes to Grain Brain I’ve read most of it and find it interesting. Although Dr. Perlmutter certainly exaggerates the level of scientific support for his ideas – most of the studies he cites just find statistical correlations supporting his ideas, not proof.

I think it’s safe to say that reducing the amount of sugar and processed junk carbs is good for anyone’s brain. Whether everyone would benefit from also reducing the intake of unprocessed carbs and eating a strict high-fat diet… that’s still speculation.

24 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Anne Robertson
    Many of us reading this blog have experienced improvements in our health from throwing out the grains and many other carbs, and increasing our intake of animal fats. I'm 61 years old and almost 13 years post liver and kidney transplant. Five years ago, I was beginning to experience the deterioration in my transplanted organs. It just so happened that my husband bought a book by Barry Groves called Trick and Treat. We read it together and both thought it made sense. We already ate what is considered a very good diet consisting of whole foods, mostly organic and including lean meat, fish, seafood, whole grains and full-fat dairy. Despite this, I was steadily putting on weight and my husband suffered from sleep apnoea and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. I regularly needed antibiotics to combat chest infections, something I was told was inevitable for someone taking immunosuppressant medication. Since changing to an LC/HF diet, I haven't needed antibiotics once. My husband has slimmed to a very healthy weight and has stopped snoring and no longer has sleep apnoea. My liver and kidney function is that of a normal healthy person and my hepatologist recently commented to an intern that I'm remarkably healthy for a transplant recipient. I have what is considered to be high cholesterol but I have very low triglycerides, and a heart scan last year showed that my arteries are clear. I realise that this is not evidence, but for me, my own experience tells me to keep on doing what I've been doing for five years if I want to live to a ripe old age. I've also read dr Perlmutter's book and find that it confirms everything I've experienced. I need to have a clear mind and good memory as I teach blind people like myself to use their Apple Mac computers and IOS devices and have to get around the Paris region to visit people in their homes or at their places of work to teach them.
    Replies: #16, #18
    Read more →
  2. hullaballooza
    Andreas,

    from Amazon's "look inside" of "Disease-Proof", here are four words that make clear where Dr. Katz' paradigms come from:

    "my friend Dean Ornish"

    Do I need to say more?

    Read more →

All Comments

  1. hullaballooza
    Andreas,

    from Amazon's "look inside" of "Disease-Proof", here are four words that make clear where Dr. Katz' paradigms come from:

    "my friend Dean Ornish"

    Do I need to say more?

  2. Eric Anderson
    What evidence would Dean Ornish and his ilk accept?

    Maybe the elimination of sugar from the diet is beter than the SAD diet of many but how does it compare with HFLC? Maybe the elimination or reduction of high omega 6 oils via a ten percent fat limit shows mprovement over the SAD diet BUT how does it cmpare to HFLC animal based diets from grass feed animals?

    IMO many of the Dean Ornish McDougal ilk know they are toast even if whole wheat toast.

    Time and biomarkers will tell

    Eric

  3. charles grashow
    "When it comes to Grain Brain I’ve read most of it and find it interesting. Although Dr. Perlmutter certainly exaggerates the level of scientific support for his ideas – most of the studies he cites just find statistical correlations supporting his ideas, not proof."

    SO - of what value is the book then??

    Reply: #4
  4. Zepp
    Its a hypotesis promoter.. and it make one ask questions about grain based diets!

    And its not only about grain based diet.. its altso about how to prepare them.. the grains I mean.. to n´be sutible to human consumtion!

    And did you know yeast baked bread was probably the first junk food!

    Its a big differens betwen yeast made and sourdough made!

    Gluten is another question.. that comes with modern breding of grains.. and bakerys ad more gluten for easyer baking!

  5. Anne Robertson
    Many of us reading this blog have experienced improvements in our health from throwing out the grains and many other carbs, and increasing our intake of animal fats. I'm 61 years old and almost 13 years post liver and kidney transplant. Five years ago, I was beginning to experience the deterioration in my transplanted organs. It just so happened that my husband bought a book by Barry Groves called Trick and Treat. We read it together and both thought it made sense. We already ate what is considered a very good diet consisting of whole foods, mostly organic and including lean meat, fish, seafood, whole grains and full-fat dairy. Despite this, I was steadily putting on weight and my husband suffered from sleep apnoea and other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. I regularly needed antibiotics to combat chest infections, something I was told was inevitable for someone taking immunosuppressant medication. Since changing to an LC/HF diet, I haven't needed antibiotics once. My husband has slimmed to a very healthy weight and has stopped snoring and no longer has sleep apnoea. My liver and kidney function is that of a normal healthy person and my hepatologist recently commented to an intern that I'm remarkably healthy for a transplant recipient. I have what is considered to be high cholesterol but I have very low triglycerides, and a heart scan last year showed that my arteries are clear. I realise that this is not evidence, but for me, my own experience tells me to keep on doing what I've been doing for five years if I want to live to a ripe old age. I've also read dr Perlmutter's book and find that it confirms everything I've experienced. I need to have a clear mind and good memory as I teach blind people like myself to use their Apple Mac computers and IOS devices and have to get around the Paris region to visit people in their homes or at their places of work to teach them.
    Replies: #16, #18
  6. Sheryl
    Dr. E, I'm so glad you posted this! Yes! I too immediately thought Katz was just jealous! Also, I thought that article was unfairly slanted and made Dr. Perlmutter out to be almost a fringe crackpot.

    I've never felt better, going back to LCHF. A classic book Life Without Bread got me started on it over a decade ago. Why I left I'll never know. But I do know that my health went downhill when I quit LCHF.

    Thanks for the most awesome LCHF website I've ever been on. You'll never, ever know the true service you are doing.

    Have a great holiday.

  7. Sheryl
    This is in reply to Charles' comment.

    Dr. E, you do sound less than enthusiastic about the Grain Brain book. I was surprised. Do you think it's not worth reading or is just hyperbole? I guess I thought you'd be more supportive of a book that is LCHF. Am I missing something?

  8. Sheryl
    p.s. It's also my understanding that there is no proof that cigarette smoking causes cancer, there's just a very high correlation. If the correlation between grains/alzheimers is as strong as cigarettes/cancer.. can we really dismiss it???
  9. Wade Henderson
    "I think it’s safe to say that reducing the amount of sugar and processed junk carbs is good for anyone’s brain. Whether everyone would benefit from also reducing the intake of unprocessed carbs and eating a strict high-fat diet… that’s still speculation."

    Well said, but were it to come from any other source it would be roundly disputed.

  10. charles grashow
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175115/
    Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment

    Abstract
    OBJECTIVE:

    To compare the effects of a 4-week high-saturated fat/high-glycemic index (HIGH) diet with a low-saturated fat/low-glycemic index (LOW) diet on insulin and lipid metabolism, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of Alzheimer disease, and cognition for healthy adults and adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
    DESIGN:

    Randomized controlled trial.
    SETTING:

    Veterans Affairs Medical Center clinical research unit.
    PARTICIPANTS:

    Forty-nine older adults (20 healthy adults with a mean [SD] age of 69.3 [7.4] years and 29 adults with aMCI with a mean [SD] age of 67.6 [6.8] years).
    INTERVENTION:

    Participants received the HIGH diet (fat, 45% [saturated fat, > 25%]; carbohydrates, 35%-40% [glycemic index, > 70]; and protein, 15%-20%) or the LOW diet (fat, 25%; [saturated fat, < 7%]; carbohydrates, 55%-60% [glycemic index, < 55]; and protein, 15%-20%) for 4 weeks. Cognitive tests, an oral glucose tolerance test, and lumbar puncture were conducted at baseline and during the fourth week of the diet.
    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

    The CSF concentrations of β-amyloid (Aβ42 and Aβ40), tau protein, insulin, F2-isoprostanes, and apolipoprotein E, plasma lipids and insulin, and measures of cognition.
    RESULTS:

    For the aMCI group, the LOW diet increased CSF Aβ42 concentrations, contrary to the pathologic pattern of lowered CSF Aβ42 typically observed in Alzheimer disease. The LOW diet had the opposite effect for healthy adults, ie, decreasing CSF Aβ42, whereas the HIGH diet increased CSF Aβ42. The CSF apolipoprotein E concentration was increased by the LOW diet and decreased by the HIGH diet for both groups. For the aMCI group, the CSF insulin concentration increased with the LOW diet, but the HIGH diet lowered the CSF insulin concentration for healthy adults. The HIGH diet increased and the LOW diet decreased plasma lipids, insulin, and CSF F2-isoprostane concentrations. Delayed visual memory improved for both groups after completion of 4 weeks of the LOW diet.
    CONCLUSION:

    Our results suggest that diet may be a powerful environmental factor that modulates Alzheimer disease risk through its effects on central nervous system concentrations of Aβ42, lipoproteins, oxidative stress, and insulin.

    Replies: #11, #14, #19
  11. Zepp
    Soo.. they compared a diet similar to a pissa diet and to another thats mostly starches?

    And the flaw of that is that everybody alredy knows that a diet frome junk food is bad.. for almoste everything.. and now its proven that its bad for Alzheimer altso?

    Couldnt they find anything better to make a study on.. like coconut oil that in other studys seems to have a better progress for that condition?

    I do not understand there aim, at all?

  12. Sheryl
    To further confuse...this study has too many variables. Is it the saturated fat? Is it the glycemic index? I dislike these kind of studies. What if you did a high saturated fat with a low glycemic index? Now that's the kind of study I'd like to see.
  13. Boundless
    Perlmutter is perhaps the top U.S. MD to see for Alzheimers. I'm pretty sure that when now-retired US talk show host Neal Boortz, who has a family history of Alzheimers, wanted to avoid getting it, he went to see Dr. P. He was handed a copy of "Wheat Belly" (William Davis, MD), and mentioned it on air (this was in mid-2012).

    My impression is that Dr. P. has been handing out copies of Wheat Belly to patients for a couple of years now, and wanted to put his own brain-focused spin on the matter, and thus wrote Grain Brain. The differences between the GB and WB regimes are not significant. There's a Dr.Davis endorsement on the BG book jacket, and Dr.Davis promoted it on his blog.

  14. bill
    Wow. That's just an all around stupid, stupid study.
  15. Cubin
    Hi, this recipe so great. however, i think that the elimination of sugar from the diet is beter than the SAD diet of many but how does it compare with HFLC. thanks for your sharing.
    http://vkool.com/stop-sugar-cravings-with-21-day-sugar-detox/
  16. Paul the rat
    Beautiful story Anne Robertson, thank you for sharing it. Stories like Yours help many to make decision to start low carbohydrates high fat life-style. Congratulation and all the best.
  17. Murray
    Thanks, Anne, that is an inspiring story. It fits with my own experience of keto LCHF, with enhanced body regeneration. I've not had a cold or flu for six years now, for example.

    Barry Groves was one of the early influences for me. He has a "feel" for the data, much as Barbara McClintock spoke of a biologist having a feel for the organism. This is what genuine expertise is. It is a feel for the phenomenon built from critically engaged experience and nuanced hermeneutics using knowledge of plausible metabolic mechanisms. Such expertise cannot be duplicated or matched through propositional knowledge or reading papers. That is why people like Barry Groves and Dr. Perlmutter see ahead of the science, which lags as thick-fingered scientists fumble along, pitting high-sugar, high sat-fat against low-sugar, low-fat and shoot arrows well wide of the target. One might analogize that, as Dr. Snow was to cholera, Dr. Perlmutter is to Alzheimer's and general cognitive decline. Yes, Dr. Snow relied on anecdotal evidence (clinical experience) and correlation. This is how knowledge develops. It stopped the cholera epidemic. It will stop the Alzheimer's, eventually. One could wait for the village verificationists to muddle toward knock-down proofs with scientific certainty, but one must make real decisions for oneself in the meantime based on plausibility and experience. I look for touchstones of genuine expertise, plausible mechanism and personal and anecdotal confirming experience. Paul, you rat, your stash of keto papers has been invaluable. They are sharpening the holographic image showing how keto mechanism substantiates clinical experience and correlation data about the detriment of blood glucose and insulin and the benefits of ketone for long-term neural health. (Paul, did you see that pharma are starting to study the metabolism of hibernating bears for insights into obesity, etc. One of the touchstones of maturity of metabolic thinking is whether the researcher demonstrates ability to see ketosis from different perspectives as starvation, hibernation (living off body fat) or high-performance exercise mode.)

  18. Galina L.
    The HIGH diet in the study which Charles provided has nothing in common with LCHF diet, so it is not relevant to the discussion. Eating high fat/high carbs mixture is not healthy indeed.
  19. Mark
    Seems like both the "HIGH" and "LOW" diets are contrived.
    But carrying out a study altering multiple factors at once is more or less a waste of time.
    To have effective "controls" here would need multiple studies. For factors such as GI, proportion of fats/carbohydrates, saturated/non saturated fats, etc.
  20. charles grashow
    http://www.perlhealth.com/perlmutter-hyperberic-center/hyperbaric-cha...

    SO - this idiot is treating neurological disorders with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

    He's an idiot

  21. Z.M.
    Charles, what is your point?
  22. Linda
    I notice a HUGE difference I'm my mood when I eat LCHF. I feel SO much better! It's INCREDIBLE!
  23. Reiki Nurse
    I've been doing research on this LCHF lifestyle and using myself and my loved ones as 'test' subjects, as I've navigated some of the LCHF recipes I've found online over the past month. I haven't used any medications or insulin for my non-insulin dependent diabetes over the past two years, since I'd released nearly 100 lbs (43kgs).

    But as a traveling registered nurse, my diet and lifestyle have been interrupted over time. When I came upon this website and the videos on youtube, I was aghast! We are so conditioned about fat in this country, and the priorities are usually not health-related, either. But I was determined to find out more about this LCHF lifestyle, and I've been researching ever since. I'm amazed at some of the information I've happened upon, and mortified at how we've either been lied to as a nation collectively, or misled on some level by the FDA and other governmental agencies, who are no doubt in it for big profits, and not for our health and well-being.

    Thank you for this site, Dr. Andreas, and for all the information that backs up what you are discussing. I'm forever grateful, and I'm currently down another 6 lbs (3kg) incidentally, and feeling clearer, and more focussed than I have in a long time! Now, I hope my lipid panel shows improvement over time, as well. I'm sure it will. Thank you, again!

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