Grain and the Brain- Controversy

Is grain detrimental to brain health? Does the consumption of carbs cause Alzheimer’s Disease?

It seems that according to Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar– Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” the answers are “Yes!” and “Yes!” (I have not read the book yet!)

Interesting stuff? Yes! A controversial topic? For sure!

When I read an email from Sean Croxton of that he was going to interview Dr. Perlmutter about his new book on blogtalk radio, I tuned in for the replay.

I listened in for 80+ minutes! It was quite a long interview. Sean took a few audience questions and I took a ton of notes (thanks, Jim Kwik for the note-taking tips!).

Dr. Perlmutter, neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, recently appeared Monday, October 21, on the Dr. Oz Show, and his book made the New York Times Best-Seller List.

So.. with all the hype, what’s the truth here?

Before my pastor, Jack, starts a sermon he usually says something along the lines,”Don’t believe me just because I say it is true. Test the Scriptures. Let them have the final say.”

Well, what is our “biblical” standard in terms of nutrition?  How do we test the claims in Dr. Permutter’s book and what about the other diets out there like Vegan, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Paleo, etc.? Do you do your research or are you blindly moving from one diet camp to the next?

I have friends on gluten-free diets, who do not have Celiac disease, and they report remarkable changes in their overall health after stopping wheat.  It seems Dr. Perlmutter’s patients benefit from his recommendations and I applaud Dr. Perlmutter’s work as a neurologist and nutritionist.  However, I need to further investigate some of his advice.

I also applaud the work of Julie Matthews, the author of “Nourishing Hope.”   Here’s what her website says about a gluten-free diet and nutrition in regards to autism:

“Significant scientific research and overwhelming experiential data indicate a link between autism symptoms and diet. As reported by Autism Research Institute (ARI) in a survey of thousands of parents; The Gluten- (wheat) and Casein- (dairy) free (GFCF) diet has a 69% improvement rating, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has a 71% improvement rating.  That is, most parents who diligently apply diet and nutrition intervention report positive affect on behavior, cognition, general health, or well being.  In research funded by Autism Speaks, 85% of parents reported improvement with autism diets. This is affirmed when networking with other parents on our Facebook group: Nourishing Hope for Autism Diet Community, or in many other online support forums for those following autism diets.”  

We can’t ignore the fact that people are experiencing improved cognition when they get rid of wheat in their diet.

There is research out there linking your gut health to your brain.  Chris Kresser, Beyond Paleo, has some intriguing things to say about the gut-brain axis in a podcast on his site (you can read the full text as well). 

Chris’ site also contains good information on cultures that flourish on properly prepared grains.

And, lastly, let’s not forget the about the effects of dyes, chemicals, and preservatives in our food.  These also affect behavior and brain health in sensitive individuals. Check out my favorite pioneer in environmental medicine and allergies, Dr. Doris Rapp.  

I would love to have lunch with Dr. Rapp and talk about this topic. I’m not sure if she would eat wheat, but I’m sure she would have some good input on grain and your brain!


1 Comment

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One response to “Grain and the Brain- Controversy

  1. Find further insight from Chris Kresser on the topic, “Do Carbs Kill Your Brain?”


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