Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD
Reviewed by Rose MacPherson
Thesis. David Perlmutter says that “the origin of brain disease is predominately dietary” (34). To prevent or cure mental problems he “prescribe[s] a low-carb diet rich in healthy fats” (141). “The fate of your health… is largely in your hands” (169).
Vegetable oils are not actually made of vegetables (253).
“We can change the expression of more than 70 percent of the genes that have a direct bearing on our health and longevity” (147).
It is important to choose grass-fed meat over grain-fed. “If animals are fed grains (usually corn and soybeans), then they will… be deficient in … vital nutrients” (89).
Dr. Perlmutter emphasizes the sad effects of a high-carb high-grain diet on the brain. “For every excess pound put on the body, …the brain gets a little smaller. How ironic that the bigger the body gets, the smaller the brain gets” (138-139).
“When you exercise, you literally change your genes. …Exercise isn’t just for trim looks and a strong heart; perhaps its most powerful effects are… in [the brain]” (153).
In America, the average person consumes well over 100 grams of sugar each day (155).
Whole wheat is just as high on the glycemic index as white (77), and it is addictive. “Gluten is our generation’s tobacco,” he says (75).
World View. Unfortunately, it seems that Dr. Perlmutter does not come from a Christian background. Throughout the book, he mentions evolution at least six times (74, 86, 110, 153, 202, 224). He also says, “We are designed to be smart people” (146). While this is true, it would be more true to state that we are created to be intelligent, because we are created by an intelligent Creator.
“An apple a day may not keep the doctor away” (145). Dr. Perlmutter recommends no more than one serving of fruit per day.
He says that diet soft drinks are actually worse than the regular ones (143).
Every person, whether he knows it or not, has at least some level of gluten sensitivity. For this reason, it is recommended that everyone should always avoid gluten.
“When we consume too many carbs, we eat less fat – the very ingredient our brain demands for health” (78).
“I recommend that you take… 2 tablespoons [of coconut oil daily]” (211).
Dr. Perlmutter emphasizes that rest is important for our health. “Sleep is the third pillar of good health, alongside diet and exercise” (241).
Compare and Contrast.
In his list of recommended healthy fats, Dr. Perlmutter includes sesame oil (254). However, in Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon says that sesame oil should be used in moderation (65). Another thing that Fallon says is that “it is best to avoid… coffee” (52). Dr. Perlmutter, on the other hand, says, “Don’t be deceived by cautionary warnings about coffee! The benefits… far outweigh the risks” (276).
Grain Brain reminded me of Keto Zone Diet, by Don Colbert, MD. Both books recommend limiting carbohydrates to 20 or 30 grams a day.
My Critique. When giving dietary recommendations, Dr. Perlmutter seems to only consider small families and those who live alone. He says, “Hard-boil a carton of eggs on a Sunday night and you’ve got breakfast and/or snacks for the week” (259). However, that is not enough for a large family.
Also, he recommends a very low-carb diet for everyone and does not address the fact that for some people, especially growing children, a diet higher in healthy carbs could be beneficial.
He recommends that we “go to bed and get up at roughly the same time seven days a week, 365 days a year [sic]” (266). While I can appreciate consistency, I do not think that so rigid a schedule is necessary. Dr. Perlmutter says, “Be flexible, but consistent” (270). It seems to me that this is a contradiction.
Overall, I found this book to be an entertaining and informing read.
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