Interesting title isn’t it? What do grains have to do with your brains? A whole lot actually. This book goes into depth as to how grains (mainly wheat gluten) and a diet high in carbohydrates/sugars have a detrimental effect on health. I found the following points of great interest and I guarantee if you have a real concern for your mental health and general well-being you will find every page of this book fascinating.
A huge discovery recently made is that the origins of brain disease stem from the diet.
When the brain is constantly bombarded by carbohydrates with gluten it has negative effects on the nervous system causing common complaints such as headaches and anxiety which, after years of consumption, can develop to depression or dementia.
Perlmutter states the basis of progressive conditions is inflammation and research is revealing that gluten plus our recommended high carbohydrate diets are a major player in activating inflammatory pathways affecting the brain.
Research at the Australian National University in Canberra published in a neurology journal that people who have blood sugar levels closer to the higher end of “normal” are at greater risk of brain shrinkage. This study concluded a 6 to 10% shrinkage in brain tissue, even for people without diabetes.
Gluten is the latin word for “glue” – the sticky protein that gives wheat products it’s soft, chewy and pleasant mouth feel. Not only is gluten in wheat products but also in
- cosmetics such as hair shampoos/conditioners
- volumising mascaras
- medications and
- vitamin supplements
So make sure you check your labels if going gluten free.
The effects of gluten sensitivity can be seen from head to toe, inside and out! Perlmutter points that gluten and sugars can have an effect on
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Inflammatory conditions and diseases (such as arthritis)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Memory & cognitive behaviours
- Weight gain/obesity
In regards to diet – insulin (which is released upon consumption of ANY carbohydrates) stimulates growth of fat formation and retention, which in turn encourages inflammation. The higher the GI & GL (glycaemic index & glycaemic load) of a food the more insulin is released.
Perlmutter focuses on how oxidative stress (our bodies daily metabolic process) is a “biological type of rusting” that is central to chronic inflammation. Oxidative stress causes free radicals, the more free radicals the more “rusting” leading to inflammation and the problems listed above all further exacerbated by high carbohydrate diets.
Gluten sensitivity can involve any organ – even if the gut is completely unaffected as stated by Dr. Hadjivassiliou, Consultant Neurologist, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS trust. If you have a sensitivity you will know this.
SO what’s recommended instead of carbohydrates? The opposite of what conventional wisdom has taught us! Fats! Especially omega-3’s and don’t be scared of cholesterol containing foods such as eggs, butter and beef.
Growing new brain neurons can be influenced by exercise, caloric restriction, following a ketogenic diet and adding curcumin and omega-3’s (especially DHA) into the diet.
If you have signs of gluten sensitivity such as
- Ataxia (loss of body movement) or loss of balance
- Bone pain
- Brain fog
- Dairy intolerance
- Constantly ill
- Sugar cravings
You may have a gluten intolerance and it might be a good idea to get tested… and a GREAT idea to read this book. The best part? There are recipes to be found at the end of the book to help you get started on ridding yourself from “Grain Brain”.
David Perlmutter. “Grain Brain”, Hachette Book Group, Inc, 2013