What is your biggest concern when it comes to your long-term health?If I asked 100 of my subscribers I bet the majority of you would respond by answering: dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As of today, there is no treatment for either of these conditions…or is there? Dr. David Perlmutter, a board certified neurologist and author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers, has discovered exactly what the title of his book suggests. Gluten, carbs, and sugar can affect your brain’s health.
And consuming large quantities of gluten and sugar-laden carbs, especially over a long period of time, may lead to conditions such as memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, weight gain, depression, sore muscles, insomnia, or anxiety, as well as neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or seizures. If this sounds incredible, consider this: the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 6-8 six oz. servings of carbohydrates per day. When I say carbs, I’m referring to rice, bread, pasta, cereal. (Fruits and vegetables are also carbs, but they are in a separate category.)
It’s only been a few years since the recommendation was 6-11 servings per day. Now, after many years of following these guidelines, the number of Americans with obesity, diabetes, dementia, depression, and Alzheimer’s Disease has reached epic proportions. That’s because what you eat matters—particularly when it comes to brain health.
Quell the Inflammation
When you eat foods with gluten and sugar-laden carbs, it causes your blood sugar to rise. And when your blood sugar levels rise, not only can it cause systemic inflammation, it can also lead to deterioration of the blood brain barrier. This protective covering keeps toxins, bacteria, and other foreign substances from affecting your brain’s health. So, you want to do what you can to protect the blood brain barrier. Once the blood brain barrier is damaged, the brain is susceptible to unhealthy substances. And this also can lead to inflammation.
When the brain is inflamed, it shrinks—and this can cause neurological problems, like memory loss and movement disorders. When it comes to inflammation, the brain is not like other parts of the body. If you pull a muscle in your arm, you will most likely experience pain and swelling. These are signals that tell you to rest your arm until the swelling goes down and it feels better. Unlike your arm, the brain has no pain sensors, meaning there is nothing to indicate that the brain is inflamed.
While there are no approved treatments for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, there is something you can do! Dr. Perlmutter knows this first hand. He has put many patients on a gluten-free, low-carb and low-sugar diets with remarkable results. When you were little you were probably told that fish was brain food. This healthy fat is definitely good for your brain. And so are some saturated fats! Yes, avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, wild fish, butter, and cheese are good foods for the brain, too.
Dr. Permutter reminds us that we need saturated fats and that we’ve been eating saturated fats for years. Even human breast milk is 50% saturated fat! And the brain is comprised of 60% fat. Doctors and scientists have now confirmed that you can rebuild your brain, simply by eating these healthy fats. Saturated fats found in butter, beef, and cheese have been made out to be the enemy for about 30 years. And back when people were told to consume 6-11 servings of carbs per day, they were also advised to ingest fat very sparingly.
Again, this advice has shown to be unhealthy for your brain. While you add back the butter, also keep your carb intake low—and that means all carbs, even healthy whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. The idea is to eat low-glycemic foods, and to make sure that, all combined, you aren’t eating foods that cause a lot of sugar to circulate in your bloodstream. Even though fruit and brown rice are healthy choices, even these foods will affect your blood sugar if eaten in excess.
Dr. Permutter offers this advice: Any vegetable that is grown above ground, like spinach, lettuce, or cauliflower has less sugars and starches than foods that are grown below the ground, like white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or beets. The bottom line is this is good news! You can promote brain health simply by following a diet that limits or eliminates gluten and is low-glycemic. Of course, this will benefit your entire body, too.(This makes a great tweet! Please share.)
Were you surprised to hear butter is good for your brain? What do you do to promote brain health? Please leave me a comment. I love to read your suggestions.