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Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD 2013

Overview – The title gives it away doesn’t it? Nothing subtle to be found in this book. Our brains are being killed by grains and sugar? What? Accord to Dr. Perlmutter this is exactly what is happening. The process of inflammation created in the body in response to the ingestion of grains and sugar is the culprit. Every Chronic disease process we are experiencing in the western world is inflammation driven, from diabetes to cardiovascular issues. What happens to our brains in this environment? This book details what happens to our brains (and hormones, like leptin) when we eat the standard American fare, grain based and sugar laden, and why it is time to stop eating this standard grain based diet. Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist and also board certified nutritionist. He is a practicing clinician in Florida giving him a wealth of firsthand practical application of his ideas.

Impressions – Inflammation has been in the news off and on for the last 10 years. As medical science digs deeper into the “mystery” of the chronic degenerative disease processes, i.e. diabetes, autoimmune maladies, and weight gain, the often overlooked but always present inflammation is included. Is inflammation a cause of disease or a symptom? Let’s have a closer look at inflammation.

Inflammation is a normal biological process that occurs when tissue is damaged. The healing process associated with biological insults, weather large or small, begins with inflammation. The inflammatory response mobilizes the body’s defenses, isolates and destroys microorganisms and other injurious agents, and removes foreign materials and damaged cells so that tissue repair can proceed. For instance when you cut your finger the body, not the doctor or your mother, begins the healing process. You might notice redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function for a short time. These are all components of the inflammatory response. They are all critical for healing. But what if the thing CAUSING the inflammation, the injurious agent so to speak, is not removed? What if we reduce the inflammation (remember a symptom), with oral drugs, or ice or ointment and the injurious agent remains? Going back to our example, what if the splinter that caused the slice in your finger is still present? Does it make sense to continue taking anti-inflammatory for the pain and swelling or does it make more sense to remove the stimulus?

This leads to another question about inflammation. What happens to the injured tissues if the stimulus is not removed and the body produces long periods of inflammation or what if inflammation becomes chronic? This is exactly the question Dr. Perlmutter answers in this book. GRAINS AND SUGAR ARE PRO-INFLAMMATORY AGENTS THAT CAUSE THE BODY TO CONSTANTLY ATTEMPT TO REPAIR ITSELF. THIS LEADS TO TISSUE DAMAGE AND ACCORDING TO DR P, BRAIN DAMAGE.

Why read this book? If you are making a transition away from a grain based diet, this book will give you the courage to stay on the journey. This book will also help clarify why you are on the journey at all. If you are simply curious about nutrition and nutritional trends, this book is a great start to the recurring trend of low carb eating that continues to gain momentum and proponents.

Why did I read this book? This is the first book that I have seen linking not just obesity, but brain health to grain consumption. My family and I have been experimenting with a grain free lifestyle for several months and a lower carb approach for several years. There is plenty of negative press regarding wheat, in particular, and grains in general, and I wanted to see if there was any merit to the claims being made.

Rating – 4 stars. (out of 5)

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