Do Carbs Kill Your Brain? | Chris Kresser
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Do Carbs Kill Your Brain?

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carbs brain fog, carbs and the brain
Could the carbs in that banana be contributing to brain fog? iStock.com/IgorDutina

Recently, I’ve been hearing from many patients who have read Dr. Perlmutter’s new book, Grain Brain, and are now concerned about their carb intake. In his book, Dr. Perlmutter suggests that dietary carbohydrates cause high blood sugar, inflammation, and other effects that lead to a “toxic brain,” which can then develop into neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and others. Based on this line of causality, he recommends that everyone consume a very low carb diet (<60g per day) in order to prevent neurological disease.

First of all, I’d like to point out that very low carb (VLC) and ketogenic diets can be effective therapeutic tools for treating many neurological disorders. I touched on this briefly a while back in my podcast with Emily Deans, and initial studies on low-carb diets and mental health have shown promise. (1, 2, 3, 4) Because Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist, it makes sense that he would be a proponent of low-carb diets for his patients based on these therapeutic effects.

Does eating carbs destroy your brain and lead to neurological disease?

However, recommending a low-carb diet as an intervention for sick people is very different from promoting it as a preventative measure for the entire population, which is what Dr. Perlmutter does in Grain Brain. His approach would be somewhat akin to recommending that everyone go on the Autoimmune Protocol to prevent autoimmune disease, which would be unnecessarily restrictive and unhelpful. It’s important to realize that just because a low-carb diet can help treat neurological disorders, doesn’t mean the carbs caused the disorder in the first place. While I don’t argue with the idea that refined and processed carbs like flour and sugar contribute to modern disease, there’s no evidence to suggest that unrefined, whole-food carbohydrates do. In fact, there are three compelling reasons why this is not the case.

#1 – We Evolved Eating Whole-Food Carbohydrates

The first reason it doesn’t make sense that carbohydrates cause neurological disorders is that we’ve been eating carbs for a very long time, and we’re well adapted to digesting and metabolizing them. For instance, fruit has been part of the human diet for longer than we’ve been recognizably human, and while starch hasn’t been part of the human diet for quite as long, it’s clear that we’ve evolved mechanisms to digest and utilize it efficiently.

Compared with most primates, humans have many more copies of the gene AMY1, which is essential for breaking down starches. (5) This gene is unusual in that the number of copies varies greatly between populations, with more copies present in populations that consume more starch. This indicates that starch played a significant role in our evolution, and some scientists have even argued that consumption of starch was partially responsible for the increase in our brain size.

In addition to possessing the ability to break down complex carbohydrates, our bodies require glucose to function properly and maintain homeostasis. The fact that humans can produce glucose from protein is often used as an argument that we don’t need to eat glucose, but rather than viewing this as evidence that that glucose isn’t important, we might view it as evidence that glucose is so metabolically essential that we evolved a mechanism to produce it even when it’s absent from the diet.

#2 – There Are Many Traditional Cultures with High Carb Intake and Low or Nonexistent Rates of Neurological Disease

If carbohydrates cause neurological disorders, one would expect to see high rates of dementia and similar diseases in populations where carbs constitute a significant portion of the diet. But as it turns out, many of the cultures that maintain the lowest rates of neurological and other inflammatory disease rely heavily on carbohydrate-dense dietary staples. For example, the Hadza of north-central Tanzania and the Kuna of Panama obtain a high percentage of their total calories from foods that are high in natural sugars, such as fruit, starchy tubers and honey, yet they are remarkably lean, fit and free of modern disease. (6, 7)

Other examples include the Kitava in the Pacific Islands, Tukisenta in the Papa New Guinea Highlands, and the Okinawans in Japan. The Kitavan diet is 69% carb, with a high reliance on starchy tubers such as yams, and sugary tropical fruits such as banana and papaya. (8) The Okinawan diet is even more carb-heavy at 85% carbohydrate, mostly from sweet potato. (9) Finally, the Tukisenta diet is astonishingly high in carbohydrate at over 90%. (10) All of these cultures are fit and lean with practically non-existent rates of neurological disorders and other modern chronic disease. (11)

#3 – Modern Research Does Not Support the Notion That ‘Safe’ Carbs Are Harmful

The claim that carbohydrates from whole-food sources cause neurological disorders is not supported by anthropological evidence. In addition, modern studies on the health effects of carb-dense foods such as fruit also fail to support Perlmutter’s hypothesis. In fact, studies overall suggest that eating whole, fresh fruit may actually decrease the risk of health issues such as obesity and diabetes, and that limiting fruit intake has no effect on blood sugar, weight loss or waist circumference. (12, 13)

As you may know if you’ve been following my website, there is plenty of modern research demonstrating that diets rich in refined and processed carbohydrates are harmful. However, this is not due to carb content alone, and there’s no evidence that whole-food carbs have the same effect. When an author or expert recommends excluding or severely limiting one of three macronutrients that humans consume, the evidence demonstrating harm should be strong—not only because of the inconvenience of following such a restricted diet, but because extreme diets (ketogenic or VLC diets in this case) are not always harmless. In my practice I’ve seen many patients who’ve worsened on long-term VLC diets, including those with adrenal issues and poor thyroid function. Long-term VLC diets can also lead to imbalances in gut bacteria due to a lack of prebiotic fiber, which can result in digestive issues.

As I’ve always maintained, you need to find out what works for you and tailor your diet to your specific health goals, rather than follow a canned approach. This is exactly what I’ll teach you to do in my book, Your Personal Paleo Code (published in paperback as The Paleo Cure in December 2014), which is coming out at the end of December.

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  1. I just wanted to say that after my mother made me read this book, and after only 28 pages I found this article and translated it in French for her. Maybe I will read the rest of the book but I’m not too sure I would learn much more. Thank you!

  2. That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Be certain to keep writing. ddkeaccdkgfcaefe

  3. I went on a VLC diet in order to combat systemic candida. As I did feel quite a bit better, my TSH went through the roof, my SHBG shot up to 94 (completely no libido) and my resting glucose was at 104. I understand the resting glucose can be a bad measurement when ketones are present and something maybe not to be too concerned with, however moderation seems to be a much better approach. Paul Jaminet (Perfect Health Diet) recommends about 400cal from starchy carbs and 200 cal from other safe sources for most people and even when battling candida. I will stick with moderation and hope things level out.

  4. You are what you eat. In his article Do Carbs Kill Your Brain?, Dr. Kresser states that one should tailor their diet to their specific health goals and should not adopt a one size fits all type of diet. I agree with Dr. Kresser that personalized nutritional plans are beneficial to developing your individual care plan. Nutritional diets plans should be formulated on an individual basis, determined by the individual’s health conditions, deficiencies and nutritional needs. For example, one person may need more protein or calcium than another and as Dr. Kresser states that people at high risk of neurological disorders might need to decrease their intake of carbohydrates (Kresser). For people with neurological disorders, ketogenic or very low carb (VLC) diets have been found to be very beneficial even to the point of eliminating seizures, but I also advocate that reducing carbohydrates may benefit your health even if you are not at risk for neurological disorders.
    Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates, originally used primarily for treatment of epilepsy, may also provide symptomatic as well as disease – modifying activity for a broad range of brain disorders as well as neuroprotective activity in traumatic and ischemic brain injury (Gasior, Rogawski, & Hartman 431). A study, performed on children with intractable epilepsy, were put on a ketogenic diet for more than a year, and forty-nine percent of these children experienced almost compete resolution of seizures in their three and six year follow-ups. Another neurological disorder that has resulted in positive outcomes using a ketogenic or VLC diet is the ever-increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. It was found that acute administration of medium-chain triglycerides increased memory abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The degree to which memory improved was linked to plasma levels of β-hydroxybutyrate produced via the oxidation of the medium-chain triglycerides. The ketogenic diet results in increased levels of β-hydroxybutyrate, thus it would be expected that a ketogenic diet would increase memory function in Alzheimer’s patients (Gasior, Rogawski, & Hartman 433). The ketogenic diet also effects neuroprotective activity such as energy metabolism. As stated above a ketogenic diet results in an increase in ketone bodies like β-hydroxybutyrate, which may be a more efficient source of energy for the brain per unit oxygen than glucose (Veech, et al 241; Reger, et al 311). The ketogenic diet helps neurons resist metabolic stress in two ways: a greater mitochondrial load as well as a more energy efficient fuel. With this increased metabolic ability neurons may be able to handle metabolic tasks that may have otherwise resulted in cellular elimination (Gasior, Rogawski, & Hartman 431). The positive effects that the ketogenic and very low carb diet have on individuals suffering from neurological disorders go beyond these individuals; the diets have also resulted in positive health benefits for those not at risk for neurological disorders.
    A low carbohydrate diet is not only be beneficial for preventing and treating degenerative disease such as multiple sclerosis but also for treating conditions such as diabetes (Paoli, et al 789). Dr. Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2000. In the beginning she underwent chemotherapy, but soon she was in a tilt-recline wheelchair due to weak muscles. In 2007, after researching vitamins and supplements that help with progressive brain disorders, Dr. Wahls developed a diet that incorporated these brain nutrients. This nutrient-rich paleo diet, including foods such as meats, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts, allowed Dr. Wahls to get out of her wheelchair and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour within a year of staring the diet (Moore). The ketogenic diet has also shown positive results in treating type-2-diabetes, the most common diabetes affecting 27 million Americans (“Statistics About Diabetes”). Numerous studies have been done in which individuals were put on ketogenic or very low carb diets for varied amounts of time, resulting in improved glucose control due to the decrease of glucose intake as well as improved insulin sensitivity (Paoli, et al 791). More recently there has also been emerging evidence that a ketogenic diet could also reduce the severity and progression of acne through reduce IGF-1 skin action, influenced by glycaemic load (Paoli, et al 792).
    I appreciate the insight Dr. Kresser has brought to the arena of disease prevention and treatment using individually designed diet plans. Reducing carbohydrates using the ketogenic diet or VLC diet are not only beneficial to those with neurological disorders but also for those not at risk for neurological disorders- the remainder of the people. You are what you eat continues to motivate researchers to further understand the interactions of what we eat with our body’s physiology in the prevention and treatment of diseases.

    • What we need to remember is the TYPE of carbs we are consuming. It is the grain carbs that are of concern! The vegetable and fruit based carbs are not as detrimental to our health as are the wheat, corn etc starches. We need to separate out the two when discussing carbs. Sweet potatoes are very good for us as are bananas. But loaves of bread made out of wheat, rye, oats, etc. are not!

  5. The “secret” of Life is balance. With that in mind, the real issue in ‘diet’ is that grains eaten with fats–and remember: QUANTITY CHANGES QUALITY–grains eaten with fats in unnatural proportions, upsets balance, and asks the body to spend much energy re-balancing energy vs. storage “disputes”. Trying to determine if a particular grain, amino acid, or (even) macro-nutrient is “good” or “bad” is absurd, because these intellectual dead-ends are always out of context, the context being life.

    • I thought the secret to life was getting your own TV show like Oprah and making all your dreams come true… you know, an easy thing like that.

  6. In your defence of carbohydrates, you mentioned countries that ate a lot of starches, as in potato etc. My understanding is that it is the grain form of carbohydrates that is the problem, not the starchy vegetables.

  7. I’m very confused about Dr. McDougall’s high carb low fat diet vs Perlmutter’s claims about brain dementia on grains, specifically wheat products and high fructose corn syrup. SO IS BROWN RICE OK FOR THE BRAIN? No one seems to answer this, also organic white/Basmatic rice is less glycemic load than sushi rice. Is rice OK to eat? I think Perlmutter has written a book out what could be an essay about the evils of wheat products and processed foods. Anyone, is brown rice harmless to the brain?

    • JJ,

      We recently investigated the accounts of brain dementia from grains, and discovered that it was flat out bogus. Dementia and Alzheimer’s has now been closely linked to the accumulation of iron in the brain. It’s unclear if the metal is getting in the brain through inhalation (polllution, mining, “Arctic Haze,” etc.) or through diet, but the accumulation and the inability to clear out the brain appears to be what researchers are now honing in on.

      This should not be surprising since most free-radical injury is iron-related (not grain related). http://pmid.us/8075594

      Many studies show that consumption of whole grains is protective against Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In fact, just this year a new diet high in whole grains was shown to do just that…


      A New Diet Is Linked to a Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

      “Called the MIND (short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurocognitive Delay) diet, the regimen combines elements of the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fish, olive oil, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which emphasizes fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products. Both diets have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke, while also offering protection against dementia.

      The new regimen, which recommends at least three daily servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable, snacking on nuts, a daily glass of wine, eating beans every other day, consuming poultry and berries (especially blueberries and strawberries) at least twice a week, and eating fish at least once a week, reduced Alzheimer’s risk by as much as 53 percent in people who followed it to the letter and 35 percent in people who followed it moderately well, according to results published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.”

      As you can see, the latest research is showing the opposite of Perlmutter’s claims. Why? Likely because the phytates in whole grains are known to chelate excess iron from the body and the full array of minerals in the bran/germ that compete with iron for absorption and manage its efflux.

      The caveat is that refined wheat and refined rice in the US, Canada and UK are enriched with lots of iron, which is counterproductive. Not coincidentally, these are the developed nations with the most health problems. This explains why France can consume 40% more wheat than Americans with far less health issues than we do here in the States.

      Whole grains, non-wheat products, and all organic flours are not fortified with iron.

      Brown rice is obviously a whole grain, but brown rice from the Carolinas is known to have high arsenic due to residual arsenic pesticides used in the cotton belt during the 1900s.

      Cheers

      • And this just in…

        Paleo diet: Big brains needed carbs
        Importance of dietary carbohydrate in human evolution

        “Understanding how and why we evolved such large brains is one of the most puzzling issues in the study of human evolution. A new study argues that carbohydrate consumption, particularly in the form of starch, was critical for the accelerated expansion of the human brain over the last million years. Eating meat may have kick-started the evolution of bigger brains, but cooked starchy foods together with more salivary amylase genes made us smarter still.”

      • Duck Dodgers, what about the link between mercury and Alzheimer’s? Or maybe it’s all metals that are problematic. Mercury is the one that scares me most, though.

  8. Such a radical approach to completely eliminate wheat and wheat products. I worry when GRAIN BRAIN goes totally overboard on gluten. If gluten is not a problem than it might be prudent to reduce gluten by 50% or even 80%. But it scares me when Dr. Perlmutter recommends 99.999% off any gluten. Nothing has been shown why such a radical and total elimination of wheat grain. A very small % of people can’t tolerate wheat glutten. BUT most of us are NOT allergic to wheat gluten so maybe such a radical food switch is wrong.

    • Elsewhere on this site, there’s a transcript of Kresser’s interview with Dr. Alessio Fasano (http://bit.ly/1GzqNv8). Fasano’s work established everyone has a response to the gliadin protein in wheat — a response that lets partially digested food into the bloodstream, where it wreaks havoc at remote sites and causes systemic inflammation. In addition, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is a universal toxin, and it’s not deactivated by dry-heat cooking or digestive enzymes (http://bit.ly/1RMydLw; see the comment from the commenter named “Ray”).

      A wheat allergy (using the classic definition) is not required for wheat to be a dangerous food.

      • In a healthy person, these “toxins” are often metabolized by our gut flora. There are healthy longevity cultures that consumed gluten and WGA without it being “dangerous” to them. It’s certainly possible that these could be problematic for those with compromised guts, but to say that they are “universal” is nothing but scare-mongering. Humans did not evolve by cowering to toxins. Virtually all indigenous cultures ate toxins. Each person is different, and Chris is often dealing with sick people who need to heal their guts.

    • It’s hard to completely frown upon gluten when the French eat ~40% more wheat than we do, yet they have very few chronic health issues. And yes, they eat vast quantities of modern “hard winter wheat”.

      Gluten has toxic properties, but in a healthy gut your flora should metabolize it. A “gluten sensitivity” is probably mainly due to bad gut flora.

      The “baguette de tradition” uses pure unadulterated flours and a sourdough fermentation, which breaks down excess gluten.

      The key seems to be that most European nations, including the French, do not fortify their flour with iron. Iron fortification has been shown to disrupt the gut flora. So, it may be that Americans have poor guts from iron fortification, and this makes it difficult for American guts to metabolize gluten.

      Italians have very high celiac, which is technically different than the high “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” we see in countries that fortify their flour. But, pasta is not fermented with yeast, so they consume very high quantities of gluten. (However, it should be noted that some traditional French pastries are made from choux pastry dough, which contains no yeast—they are puffed by steam from water in the dough).

      For more information, read a new theory we put together on the subject of iron and carbohydrate intolerance:

      Iron, Food Enrichment and The Theory of Everything

      When you put an average American next to an average European, the American looks plump and inflamed. It’s as if the American’s food has been poisoned in some way. The evidence mounting in the literature suggests its the fortified iron.

  9. “Please do not mislead people. Vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. We have know for over 15 years that inflammation is the leading cause of heart disease and grains esp wheat are the major contributors to inflammation.”

    Dr. Carol Rossetti …

    you being a doctor, you should know better.

    It isn’t the inflammation in itself that is causing health issues but the things that cause the inflammation. Eating too much junk food, stress, not getting enough sleep…are just some of those things.

    Complex carbs are need for athletes and hard-thinking students alike.

    Carbs add plenty of good nutrition and more variety to our diet.

    Complex carbs are just fine for just about all of us. There would be an epidemic if it wasn’t.

    Common sense.

  10. Please do not mislead people. Vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. We have know for over 15 years that inflammation is the leading cause of heart disease and grains esp wheat are the major contributors to inflammation. People do not realize that fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates so to say to them lower your carbohydrates is not being honest. Those of us who have studied extensively with a number of very educated physicians know well what grains can do to the body and the brain. Please do not mislead the public.

    • It is my understanding that vegetables only have enough carbohydrate to be digested. They dont really add any for energy or to be stored.
      The question is what is low carb. Is it very low carb or is it only just below what the body needs.

    • Dr. Carol Rossetti said: “We have know for over 15 years that inflammation is the leading cause of heart disease and grains esp wheat are the major contributors to inflammation”

      15 years ago that information might have been groundbreaking, but, unfortunately, today it’s been shown to be an oversimplified and misleading sound bite.

      First of all, researchers are now considering that physiological levels of oxidative stress may in fact be beneficial and promote longevity while avoiding or suppressing normal levels oxidative stress can be harmful as it interferes with reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling that would ordinarily upregulate hormetic endogenous defense mechanisms (i.e. antioxidants).

      So, telling people that they need to fear carbohydrates, because their metabolism causes normal levels of oxidative stress, may in fact be a counterproductive recommendation. ROS and oxidative stress are normal and unavoidable consequences of metabolic processes in a healthy individual.

      Secondly, avoiding carbohydrates over the long term—for fear of oxidative stress—is also counterproductive as well as counterintuitive since the mechanism for ketosis generates oxidative stress (via methylglyoxal) and appears to deplete liver glutathione—described by researchers as a “Tylenol effect”.

      Finally, even plants generate oxidative stress from their own sugar metabolisms. This is not a flaw. Sugars and ROS are used for stress signaling to self-regulate metabolism and upregulate endogenous defense mechanisms. The process is strikingly similar between plants and animals. Insulin signaling in mammals is highly protective against glycation and ROS, so its loss in conditions like diabetes is a major contributor to damage. How do we keep insulin signaling functioning normally? Plants may have the answer…

      Plants evolved to acquire the very minerals, and generate the very antioxidants and fibers necessary to keep their own sugar and ROS signaling working properly. This is why unrefined, whole starches, legumes and grains are extremely rich in metabolic-modulating minerals like manganese, copper and magnesium as well as fibers and antioxidants too.

      This is no accident. High sugar plants evolved to incorporate these compounds into their sugar metabolism cycles and these metabolic cycles are surprisingly similar between plant and animal species. If you take the time, you will find a wealth of information linking diabetes to deficiencies in the very minerals, fibers and antioxidants found in unrefined carbohydrates.

      Cheers.

  11. Hi,
    I’ve read your discussion. Does the level of glucose really mean? I heard, not. For me, toxines are the real problem. What do you think? Some days ago I’ve found a website with a colon cleansing method. Fibre Primvital. What do you think?

    • When you artificially push down your sugar (glucose) with drugs, your isulin increases. It is increased insulin the body and the brain that shortens your life not to mention causes brain loss.

    • If you have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, you should not have ANY fruit till your numbers are in the normal range without meds. Look into information by Dr. Gabriel Cousens who has worked successfully in the field for many years.

  12. The diets you listed of people in other cultures that consumed starch were all natural starches. I would think that anything natural or grown on earth is healthy for us. The starches that are harmful are the ones that are processed.

    • That was the first thing I noticed too. Plus the fact none listed where wheat or gluten related. I imagine those cultures diets have been as such for thousands of years longer than the rest of us as well, thus their digestive systems have had thousands of years longer to adjust.

  13. Kay said:

    “I could not disagree more. Our state of health is the worst it has ever been in human history. disease is epidemic. good medicine is keeping us alive but not vital.”

    Ya better check the facts.

    More are living longer and healthier. They are walking more, eating less junk food and eating wholesome foods, like those evil carbs and grains. . .

  14. Hi Chris,
    I have’t read Grain Brain but I had assumed obviously the book was centered around grain consumption and not so much on whole fruit and vegetable consumption. I came to this article looking for your thoughts on grains but since it was more about fruits and veg, can you direct me to any articles of yours on grains? I’ve just started eating oats for breakfast and realised I feel quite sluggish, spacey and tired afterwards. It could of course be something else I’m using in the oats but it seemed like the signs of grain brain to me. So, having said all that can you direct me to some of your work on grains?
    Thanks,
    Kristian

    • I think you’ve answered your own question. If you feel sluggish or uncomfortable (not well) after eating a particular food, your body is telling you it doesn’t like that food.
      I eat fruit and oatmeal (or granola) for breakfast almost every morning, and I feel charged up through lunch. My husband often eats eggs because he says that high protein breakfast gives him that energetic feeling. When I eat eggs for breakfast, I feel sick to my stomach and can barely move through the morning.
      Your body knows what it wants, and it will tell you.

      • I’ve always thought of carbs as being the fuel of what I eat.
        Different foods provide fuel and digest and process differently.
        It is important to understand this.
        Higher glycemic foods such as fruits or those with higher sugar and starch values occupy one side of the food fuel spectrum.
        Whole grain and high fiber type foods which digest and release their fuel value more slowly occupy the other side of the spectrum.
        Other foods may be more in the middle of the spectrum, not particularly high in fuel content but digest easily and provide a wide variety of vitamins, nutrients and the like.
        Unfortunately, there are a lot of little or no-value things out there too. And some of them are not good for us at all. It’s important to recognize the value of all the foods we are eating.

        But if I want quick energy and a pick-me-up I go to the higher glycemic side. If I want a longer lasting full tank, I tend toward heavier, slower metabolizing foods. I need fiber, but I’m not a horse-so I don’t eat like one. Whole grain is good, but I don’t rely on it wholly. I’m no hummingbird either. I know that I can’t sustain without sugars, but I don’t expect that I can fill my nutritional needs all at once. I need a combination of various foods in my diet that provide all the nutrition I need without creating imbalances, digestive slowdowns and chemical disturbances that have negative impacts on my overall health.
        Overconsumption and overloading of otherwise perfectly healthy foods can cause problems too. Rich, high value foods are fine for me but I wouldn’t think that overconsuming them would be. The same is true whether it is carbs, fats, proteins or fiber. I only need what I use so why force my body to process “stuff” I’m not going to use anyway, particularly if it is harder to digest or lower value anyway. Even good food can cause harm if over consumed. I think we have all experienced this at one time or another. That can be just as much a negative to our health as deficiencies, regardless of the food type or it’s nutritional value.

        Overall, we need the fuel and nutrition to keep us healthy over the long run. What we eat today makes a big difference today, but also down the road. We just need to know what our bodies need and how much of which foods can give us that.

        As for Dr. Perlmutter’s research and findings- I think that he is moving forward in a very specialized and promising field. I hope that he (and other researchers in the medical field) continue this work. In my opinion though, more evidence is needed.

        • Yes! The most sensible comment. I think that not only should we worry about which foods we should be eating, but how much we are eating! I think we are used to eating several times a day from habit. Most of the time we eat when we are not even hungry. Cutting down on the amount of food we eat would see some benefits.

    • In response to Kristian’s post of Dec, 3, 2014.
      Here is a link and title to an article that may help you to understand the “modern” grain of wheat. There is a huge difference in “modern” wheat compared to heirloom wheat which the article will point out. The wheat God created is designed for us, where as the wheat that man has altered contains a very different ratio of soluble to insoluble proteins which is where problems from “modern” wheat comes from. Keep learning, Neal.

      https://sites.google.com/site/loisellema/linkssourcesinfo/hypoallergenic-red-fife
      Red Fife heritage wheat – hypoallergenic food – Loiselle Organic Family Farm

    • Yeah but that was written by someone in the business of promoting vegetarian diet, who makes a living from it. He’s an internist, not a neurologist, so that’s not a peer critique. Just because someone else’s science (specifically gluten and the neurological effects of consuming it) don’t fit his environmental or philosophical agenda (“eating [fat from] animals is bad”), doesn’t mean they’re wrong. You’d expect those folks to gloss over the essential fact at hand which Chris re-iterated already:

      “It is high gluten and modern food processing methods compounding gluten levels which are the factors suggesting the need for dietary changes.”

      As for the carbs… as an athlete I am about as familiar as I’ll ever want to be with high carb intakes. I don’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t putting those carbs to use. And I don’t generally subsist on a high carb diet. In my experience it is too easy to unintentionally gain weight with sustained high carb loads in a diet. I’ve acquaintances who ride 100+ miles on a bike in a day on weekends yet are walking around with beer bellies (well modest ones, but what an athletic trainer would refer to as ‘de-conditioned’) not from beer, but from carbs they don’t burn during inactive periods in which they continue to consume fairly high carb diets.

      The rest of Perlmutter’s book contained interesting things anyone concerned with long term neurological well being (ergo everyone) should at least give a good impartial reading.

      • So you say he is biased yet don’t mention the studies unrelated to him? Does his preference for a vegetarian diet make all those studies false? I don’t think so. As for neurological issues, the single most effective way to prevent this is not via diet but with Intermittent Fasting. Go 16-17hrs a day without food and you will never have a brain issue no matter what carbs or gluten you eat. http://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2012/summer/dont-feed-your-head – so really, scientifically Grain Brain is barking up the wrong tree.. well.. not even in the same forest imo.

        • That may be okay for some people, but not for hypoglycemics. I would be on the floor with a raging migraine.

    • This is just a political piece from the vegetarian lobby. I lived vego for 13 years and now Paleo for 1 year. I won’t be going back. My lipids are good my weight easy to maintain and I eat a high fat low/moderate protein low carb diet.

  15. Re: Grain Brain – I have been listening to the audio version this book while driving it is the first book in all of my 35 years or so of being interested in natural health approaches that is motivating me to change my diet. In the book, he not only talks about diet but the need for regular exercise and the strong power of that also. As someone who has had family members with chronic illnesses, mental health problems, and dementia, I found the research he quoted and evidence very strong for this approach. I have had problems with chronic muscle/tendon pain for years and wonder if this will help me. It does make sense to me not to throw out from my diet things like whole fruits but his book has definitely made me want to change some things because of the evidence he presents. Makes sense to me. I think all can agree we have way to much sugar and refined processed foods in our diets and way too little exercise that is having lots of negative effects.

    • Dr Permuttler is a good dr! His book makes complete sense except for the fruit part. I’m sorry but fruit is both good and healthy for us. This is only my opinion and I will stand by it. I myself have Parkinson’s disease and have been searching for ways to tame my tremors and other things. So far I’ve been wheat free and no sugar except 2-3 servings of fruit. At first I follwed Dr Permuttler’s advice for a year and nothing has changed. I still have tremors, and very bad migraines with facial numbness. My whole body still trembles when I get over excited. My voice still stutters and these are all PD. (Except headaches) so after a year of being grain free and consuming no more than 60g of fruits I still dealt with this terrible disease. So now I just learn that I must deal with this terrible disease as best as I can. I still will be grain free as well no sugar except that in fruits and live my life and not worry about this or that or if I’m eating too many fruits, life is too dang short!! So Don’t worry about such things cause if you tried with all your heart and nothing’s changes its ok at least for the most part you are healthy and just enjoy life like I am doing…
      God bless 🙂
      Jerry

      • PS I am eating quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, and wild rice. I just gave up wheat and gluten-free products. Even if it’s gluten-free it still has nasty sugars in them so that’s still not healthy. Evwrythimg that goes into this body is fresh fruits, and vegetables, lean proteins and quality carbohydrates like quinoa and wild rice. If I want a dessert I have a machine that makes healthy homemade ice cream from frozen fruits. That’s the only way for me… 🙂

      • Eating fruit is fine, in very small quantities imo. When fruits started to be mass produced in the last century or so, this is what happened: Take the sweetest and most delicious fruits of the yield, and plant those seeds, repeat the next year, repeat the next year, etc. The fruit we eat today is VERY different from the fruit we evolved eating.

  16. Wow, driving home today and radio news alerts me on a new study showing low carb diets are believed responsible for rise in bowel cancer. This is not surprising to me at all. Many whole grains have been irrefutably linked to decreased risk of bowel cancer -but why? This leans on further new research that our gut biome relies on certain key carbohydrates. Once wiping those carbs from the menu these bacteria which promote good bowel health die off leaving you open to bowel cancer and other disease. I’m not saying people should go out and eat dominoes pasta bread bowls, but DO NOT wipe high quality carbs from your diet, or do so at your own peril.

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