The Staggering Effects of “Grain on the Brain”
Did you know that dementia is thought to become our healthcare crisis of the 21st century? That means that over two billion people will be at risk for this disease by 2050! With researchers now reporting that up to half of Alzheimer’s cases (the most common form of dementia) may be preventable just by changing to a healthier lifestyle, perhaps it is time to sit up and pay attention and learn what those lifestyle changes might be, if not for any reason but to try and reduce the costs that dementia incurs ~ roughly as much as $200 billion, twice that expended for heart disease AND almost triple what was spent on cancer.
I have been immersed in a book called Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter, MD, and am learning about the revolutionary grain brain diet for peak health and vitality. He states that by some estimates, 2.7 million Alzheimer’s patients in America today might not have developed this disease if only they and their families had learned that food matters. This book reveals the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugars ~ Your brain’s silent killers.
As a practicing neurologist for the past 30 years, Dr. Perlmutter has been dealing with a wide array of brain disorders and dementia on a daily basis and has seen that our medical system is still trying to treat patients with strong drugs rather than cure them with prevention. Unfortunately, you often cannot take a pill to cure a brain condition and even though the drugs exist to address the symptoms, they will not eradicate the source of the problem, using the example of how the diagnoses of ADHD has increased 53% in the past decade. He believes that ADHD is not a medical condition that should be treated with powerful drugs (85% of all ADHD medications produced in the world are used exclusively in the U.S. with a full 11% of all American children carrying this diagnosis ~ 6.4 milion American children ages 4 through 17!) but rather it is due to what we are feeding our children. A pretty sobering thought. Dr. Perlmutter refers to the various medications prescribed for these conditions being focused simply on the symptoms ~ basically treating the smoke while ignoring the fire. So what is the fire? He states it is inflammation.
Reading further on we learn that researchers have known for some time that the essence of all degenerative conditions, including brain disorders, is inflammation but these same researchers could not identify the culprit of that inflammation. What Dr. Purlmutter is now stating is that gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye) and a high-carbohydrate diet are among the most prominent stimulators of inflammatory pathways that reach the brain. Of course when we have gas, bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhea we know pretty quickly it is probably related to diet. The brain, however, does not give off these clues and it can be hard to know what is going on until it is too late.
And, of course the link between blood sugar levels and brain health is among many of the current studies. The latest, done by the New England Journal of Medicine in August, 2013, documented fasting blood sugars in a group of 2,067 elderly individuals. Some individuals had diabetes from the start; however most did not and none had dementia in the beginning. Over a follow-up period of almost 7 years, the researchers found a nearly perfect correlation between levels of blood sugar and risk for dementia! Those with higher average blood sugar levels within the preceding five years had a statistically significant increased risk for dementia. I guess that is why diabetes is called “the second Alzheimer’s”.
Another frightening result of a recent report in the top journal Neurology was finding a striking correlation between average blood sugar levels and the degree of shrinkage of these two brain parts. The higher a person’s blood sugar levels, even within the “normal” range, the higher the degree of shrinkage, specifically in the areas that determine our cognitive and memory function. Dr. Perlmutter states that so-called normal blood sugar levels ~ or what we think of as normal ~ are not good enough if we want to preserve our brain and mental faculties and that our brain’s health and ability to function are a direct reflection of our consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. Pretty scary huh?
I highly recommend everyone read this book (and his companion cookbook ~ The Grain Brain Cookbook) to learn more about this important subject. Although my husband and I have tried to follow a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet and supplementing that with a reliable source of supplements and herbs, (something Dr. Perlmutter addresses by recommending such supplements as Resveratrol, Vitamin D3 and of course EPA and DHA), we have not realized that our consumption of carbs (healthy we thought) and our love of sugar (not so healthy) can affect such things as memory loss and brain shrinkage. A supplement that helps to reduce brain shrinkage can be found here.
Exercise is absolutely necessary as is a good night’s sleep for helping the brain. Ray and I have joined a gym and attend water aerobics classes each week-day now. We try to eat fewer carbs, and eliminate as much sugar as possible, continue to take our supplements and get lots of rest!
What about you? Are you interested in boosting your brain power, lifting your mood and energy, and keeping your memory? If so, I recommend you to run, not walk, to the nearest bookstore to learn more about Dr. Perlmutter’s approach to our most fragile organ, the brain. I also have an informative e-book 7 Ways To Improve Your Memory that can be found here. Enjoy!