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"Grain Brain" – How So-Called "Healthy Grains" are Affecting Our Health

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Nowadays, it seems that everyone has become gluten-intolerant. Is this a figment of our imagination or is everyone really experiencing gluten sensitivities?

Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, may have some insight on the topic. In his book “Grain Brain” he explores the effects of carbs, sugars and gluten on brain health – and the findings are not pretty. The studies show that all grains, including the ones we deem as “healthy” complex carbs are still a major cause of dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression and more.

Dr. Perlmutter believes we have got it all wrong with our low fat diets and explains how our brain thrives on fat and cholesterol. He believes through less grains and more of a plant-based diet with healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, we activate our “smart genes” and can heal brain fog and reactivate functions in the brain.

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With popular diets such as the paleo and vegan diet making its way into mainstream, as much as most of us would like to ignore the truth, studies are showing some tremendous benefits of avoiding “wheat belly” to reduce “grain brain.”

In Perlmutter’s book he proclaims starchy foods, including wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes — should be minimized or avoided altogether.

According to a study published in The 2010 Annals of Internal Medicine, a vegetable-based, low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality rates.

Grain brain diet essentials:

  • Eat Organic and local whole-foods wherever possible.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil
  • Organic or grass-fed clarified butter, ghee 
  • Almond milk
  • Avocados, olives
  • Nuts – raw, unsalted – almonds, cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamia
  • Coconut everything – coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut meat, coconut milk, shredded coconut
  • Seeds – chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Fruit – opt for berries and low-sugar fruits such as lemons and limes.
  • Vegetables – avocados, bell peppers, cucumber, eggplant, hot peppers e.g. jalapeño peppers, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, zucchini
  • Green and other nonstarchy vegetables – alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, celery, celery root, collards, fennel, frisée, garlic, ginger, green beans, jicama, kale, leafy greens, leek, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, parsley, radishes, sauerkraut, scallions, shallots, spinach, turnip, water chestnuts, watercress
  • Herbs galore – including basil, bay leaves, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, mint, mustard cress, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Spices – including allspice, cayenne pepper, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, paprika, pink peppercorns, red pepper flakes, saffron
  • Hummus and garbanzo beans
  • Purified water – drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily, tea or coffee, almond milk.

If you are curious how a “grain brain” diet may help your overall health and brain function. Here are the basics:

  1. Prepare your own food. Avoid ordering in or going out to restaurants as it is hard to know what ingredients are added into your meal. Instead, make your own meals at home and choose a variety of produce.

  2. If it can go bad, it’s good for you. If it stays good, it’s bad for you” He talks about the McDonald’s french fries that seem to never change form and how toxic they are for your health. Whole foods tend to rot and that is a sign they are good for you – just don’t eat them after they’ve gone bad.

  3. Eat high (healthy) fat foods including avocados, olive and coconut oil.

  4. Partake in a cup of java. Perlmutter believes that coffee promotes brain health and activates our Nrf2 pathways, that fight off oxidative stress and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

  5. Make sure you get enough DHA: DHA is a critical fatty acid for brain health. Supplementation is important because it is not so easily made by our body. He recommends a daily dosage of 1000mg of DHA.

A list of health benefits claimed in “Grain Brain”

ADD/ADHD, alcoholism, ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, arthritis, ataxia/muscle twitches and loss of balance, autism, bipolar disorder, bloating, bone pain, brain fog, brain disease, cancer, celiac disease, chest pain, cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, constipation, constantly getting sick, cramping, dairy intolerance, delayed growth, dementia, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive disturbances, dystonia, epilepsy, focus and concentration problems, gas, gluten sensitivity, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, chronic headaches, heart disease, hives/rashes, impotence, infections, infertility, inflammatory conditions and diseases, insomnia, insulin resistance, intestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome IBS, leptin resistance, malabsorption of food, memory problems, migraines, miscarriages, mood disorders, nausea/vomiting, nerve damage, neurological disorders, osteoporosis/osteopenia, overweight/obesity, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, seizures, chronic stress, sugar cravings, Tourette’s syndrome, and more. The book also claims to extend longevity.

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