In Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter describes how Americans can greatly reduce brain inflammation and the incidence of dementia as well as cut spending by billions of dollars on preventable diseases by making a few changes in how we eat. The changes will be familiar to people at Suppers: Avoid carbs and gluten, and add good fats.
He noted two major mistakes in the medical school training of his time: notably that genes rule and that we don’t grow new brain cells. Now it is known that genes are profoundly affected by exercise, stress, sleep and exposures (diet and environment). Brain cells do continue to grow and we grow new brain cells in response to exercise and nutrition.
He recommends aerobic exercise, which turns on the genes to grow the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain. There is no pharmaceutical that does this. He recommends eating fatty fish and taking DHA fatty acids to reduce the risk of Alzheimers. He says that a good measure of risk for Alzheimers is C Reactive Protein because it measures inflammation. Inflammation seems to be at the core of just about all the chronic degenerative processes.
Perlmutter says fat is brain protective. Eating good fat is the best thing you can add to your diet for your brain. This includes coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, wild fish, grass-fed meats, avocado, pumpkin seeds and nuts and especially eggs. Cholesterol is essential for all health and especially brain needs. Twenty-five percent of your cholesterol is located in your brain, where it acts as a brain antioxidant.
He noted research that shows that in people over 85, the ones with highest the cholesterol had the lowest incidence of dementia. Depression and suicide decrease in incidence with higher cholesterol.
Dor recommends this book as a springboard for discussion at Suppers meetings with the usual caution that we not elevate even the books we closely agree with to the status of truth. Obviously what Dr. Perlmutter has to say is in direct conflict with much of the conventional wisdom. That said, his dietary recommendations are in harmony with what we teach at Suppers, namely, that to create healthy, happy people we need to identify the way of eating for each of us that best normalizes insulin production, blood sugar, mood chemistry, and the myriad inflammatory conditions that right themselves when we eat that way.