Here is a portion of an interview that Linda Sechrist conducted with Dr. David Perlmutter, a board - certified neurologist and author of the new bestselling book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killer.

In his book, Grain Brain, he states that the average American eats 133 pounds of wheat annually.  He believes one of the main culprits for the decline in brain health in modern times has been the introduction of wheat into the American diet.

He claims that 20% of calories come from wheat - based foods. And much of the problem today is that because of the way wheat is processed, it barely resembles the little bit of grain that our ancestors consumed.

Perlmutter states: A hallmark of what I term grain brain is that brain dysfunction is predicated on the inflammation from consumption of gluten, as well as the long chains of sugar molecules known as carbohydrates.

Dr. Alessio Fasano, a pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist who leads the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, found that the gluten in wheat leads to the production of zonulin in the gut.

Zonulin increases the permeability of the intestinal wall, allowing proteins to leak from the gut into the bloodstream. These proteins, which would normally remain within the digestive system, then challenge parts of the immune system, the macro fascia and certain other types of white blood cells that increase production of inflammation - related chemicals.  

Based on the above information, Perlmutter states the following: Zonulin is the cornerstone of diseases characterized by inflammation in the brain – Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s and ADD – as well as autoimmune diseases.

Fasano’s research shows that such a reaction to zonulin is present in 100% of humans – not just in the 1.8% of the population that have celiac disease or 30% that are gluten sensitive. In his book, Grain Brain, Perlmutter recommends the basic following diet:

  • No more than 60 grams of carbs per day
  • Plentiful amount of brain fats from sources such as extra - virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, almond milk, avocados, olives, nuts, cheese and seeds such as flaxseeds, pumpkin and sunflower
  • Eat plenty of above - ground vegetables including kale, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and salad greens (eat lesser of below ground vegetables such as beets or potatoes because these are higher in carbohydrates)

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Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings

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