This is a podcast from 2015 of Dr. David Perlmutter – he is well-known for his New York Times bestseller, ‘Grain Brain’, published in 2013. He is a board-certified neurologist and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. His key philosophy is around preventative medicine and he believes that diseases like Alzheimer’s, ADHD, MS, depression and auto-immune issues can be prevented with lifestyle changes, good diet and exercise. He also believes that a healthy gut microbiome is our body’s ‘brain maker’ and talks about the results he’s had with patients using these practices.

  • The peer-reviewed literature has been publishing information about carbs and gluten for several decades but no one has paid any attention – he wrote Grain Brain to make the public more aware.
  • As a neurologist, he was very involved in understanding how lifestyle factors affect human physiology and exploring beyond the brain into the gut microbiome – the 100 trillion organisms that live within us.
  • The argument against grains is that they are a concentrated form of carbohydrates. We are genetically programmed to seek out sugar but as a species, we’ve never consumed this much. Bread, carbs and grains are comfort foods but the amount we eat ramps up inflammation.
  • Our blood sugar is rising and research has shown in a study by the New England Journal of Medicine (2013) that there is a direct correlation of sugar level and risk for dementia.  As there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s/dementia, prevention is key.
  • Going gluten free is not the answer as it’s still high in carbs – you need to control the amount of carbs you eat.
  • An astrophysicist studying the gut microbiome in California using supercomputers noted that 1 gram of fecal material holds 100 million terabytes of information and plays a direct role in the health and functionality of the brain. These bacteria make neurotransmitters, aid in making serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and directly influence the level of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the cornerstone of diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, autism, etc. so healthy gut bacteria is very important. 
  • Studies have shown that fecal transplants have helped patients with Clostridium Difficile infections and reversed Type 2 diabetes.
  • When he works with patients, he starts off with a list of questions that helps him determine the level of disturbance of the gut bacteria like: Were you a C-section baby? Have you taken frequent antibiotics? Have you had your tonsils removed? Do you take NSAIDS? Do you have gut and digestive issues? etc.
  • There are tests available to test the quality of the gut BUT we don’t know what a healthy microbiome should look like (only at a high level). What is known that one of the best attributes for healthy microbiome is bio-diversity.
  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, probiotics and prebiotics that are present in jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks, dandelion greens are all rich in fiber that amplifies the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
  • Also, our lack of a large array of different organisms, like parasites, also undermines bio-diversity. Humans have had parasites for a long time – we’ve developed tolerance to them and also lived symbiotically which contributed to our health. When we sterilize the gut, we set the stage for imbalances in the metabolism and favor overgrowth of bacteria that can make us fat.
  • The hygiene hypothesis proposed in 1986 holds that our obsession with hygiene and sterilization has paved the way for us to have allergic and atopic diseases and skin related issues.
  • Autism is an inflammatory condition and correlates with changes in the gut bacteria – researchers in Canada discovered that changes in gut bacteria in autistic children correlates to changes to chemicals in how the brain works. We need to let kids gets dirty and expose them to different organisms and not live in a sterile environment.
  • Stress stimulates the adrenal glands to make cortisol which allows us to be more adaptable to stress, but the downside is that it increases the leakiness of the gut, changes the gut bacteria and allows overgrowth of organisms like yeast. Cortisol also has a detrimental effect on the memory center. 
  • Gut is front and center to depression. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), the cell wall that lives in the gut, goes into the bloodstream when the gut becomes permeable under inflammation. There is a correlation between depression, gut leakiness and LPS increase. This is also related to conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
  • Overuse of antibiotics leading to antibiotics resistance is a key public health threat. Overuse of antibiotics is also correlated with increased asthma, allergic diseases and diabetes. C-sections deprive children of the microbiome during birth and your risk of developing diseases increases as you need to receive the genetic information from the birth canal. This first exposure of the right microbiome from the mother is critical for development.
  • Through years of a poor diet, our microbiome has become adept at extracting calories from food. Hence, weight gain and inflammation follows.
  • Prebiotics like acacia gum and pectin nurture the gut bacteria.
  • Interventional studies of probiotic bacteria showed changes that are measurable. A group of 75 children given lactobacillus rhamnosus showed that those that received the probiotic were healthy, whereas the control group had a 14% rate of autism and ADHD. 
  • Dr. Perlmutter’s daily routine: He is at risk for Alzheimer’s due to family history so he’s very careful about what he eats and is an advocate of regular exercise. He likes aerobics as he knows that this will turn on the genes that code for the chemical that will allow the brain cells to grow (BDNF factor). He favors a high fat, low sugar, grain free diet with lots of prebiotic fiber (15-20 grams), and adds in Vitamin D, Vitamin E, fish oil, a multivitamin and B-complex. He also only eats two meals a day and fasts for 12 to 15 hours after his last meal to keep his brain sharp.

Brain Maker can be found on Amazon and there are plenty of resources available on his website:

The podcast is on the link below:

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