It seems like every year we’re getting new recommendations from experts regarding disease prevention, our diets, and exercise regime. More often than not the recommendations conflict with previous information from government agencies or medical communities.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe when the experts can’t even agree!

While the U.S. government recommends a diet of 60% carbohydrates, in his New York Times bestselling book, Brain Grain, Dr. David Perlmutter is telling us that grain is bad for our brain.

In his book, published in September 2013, Dr. Perlmutter describes how gluten and carbohydrates are leading causes in diseases like Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even cancer.  He likens eating gluten to drinking gasoline and says that if we stop eating it, we can prevent these kinds of health issues from ever happening.  Dr. Perlmutter also tells us that we can reverse the effects of these diseases by growing new brain cells. 

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How does gluten cause Alzheimer’s?  Dr. Perlmutter explains that when gluten is eaten, blood sugar increases, which causes inflammation of the blood-brain barrier [this barrier of cells regulates the substances from our blood that can get into our brain tissue, protecting us from bacteria and infections].  According to Dr. Perlmutter, inflammation weakens this protective barrier, which is detrimental to the health and structure of the brain.

But wait…

While Dr. Perlmutter does reference reputable science which makes a connection between a high-carb diet and the risk of dementia, and while many medical professionals do agree that a diet high in processed carbs is harmful to our health, not all experts agree with Dr. Perlmutter that everybody should avoid carbs.  Dr. Perlmutter recommends a diet of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carb; that is 1 piece of fruit and you’ve reached your daily carb limit!  What happened to moderation and balance?

Dr. Chris Kresser recently wrote about some flaws he sees in Dr. Perlmutter’s conclusions.  He explains that a low-carb diet can help treat people with neurological diseases, but that does not mean the carbs were the cause and does not mean it should be promoted as a preventative measure for everybody.  He also writes about societies that have carb-based diets and very low rates of these neurological disorders.

And still other health experts point out that there is no evidence that whole-food carbs [like the very popular quinoa] have the same negative effect that refined and processed carbs [like flour and sugar] do.  Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian explains it is not the carb content alone, but a variety of factors one should consider, like:

  • the other nutrients that are present [fiber, protein & antioxidants]
  • the glycemic index [how fast your blood sugar raises after you eat it]
  • the whole grain content
  • the structure of the carb

I can understand why Dr. Perlmutter’s book is a bestseller.  If you have had a family member with one of these diseases, you can attest to these disease’s devastating effects.  It would be nice to believe we could control something instead of feeling powerless to help our loved ones.  But with so many conflicting opinions from experts in the medical field, it can be hard to make an informed decision on your eating habbits.

I guess the one thing we can always count on is eating green non starchy vegetables!  Actually, since the experts are always disagreeing, I say go with a balanced approach.  Try different health and wellness techniques and find out what works for you.  Consult with a trusted health expert who knows your medical and metal health history. Don’t fall for the newest fad and do your research.  In regards to the gluten & Alzheimer’s connection, I highly recommend you continue reading here.

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Do you have experience with trying a gluten free or low-carb diet? Share your stories and comments with us below!