In this 3-part series, we’ll look at how the brain is affected by certain grains and other foods and how your diet may contribute toward the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders. If this is true, and I sincerely believe it is, our planet needs to change its whole way of eating. The following are just a handful of the many disorders that are caused by poor food choices: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, epilepsy, and headaches. The foundation of these disorders is chronic inflammation. In his eye-opening book Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter outlines the cascade of events that causes the brain to be affected by certain foods.
Unlike other organs, the brain can’t feel inflammation. Compared to heart disease or digestive disorders, brain disease exhibits few, if any symptoms, until it’s too late. Once a person is diagnosed with dementia, it’s difficult to reverse. Echter, based on new research, it appears that it is preventable. The three topics we’ll examine in relation to brain health are gluten, sugar, and fat.
A local news story aired a few months ago in California describing the sad story of a young girl whose tonsillectomy went horribly wrong. Due to complications, the outcome was that she was diagnosed as being brain dead even though her heart was still beating. Heartbroken, her family had her transferred to a long term care facility hoping for a miracle that would cause her to wake up. At the time of this story, Dr. Neal Slatkin, a neurologist made the comment, “The brain controls everything in the body. Without it, everything begins to break down.” This just goes to show you how crucially important our brains are. Another recent news segment announced that Alzheimer’s disease may now be the third leading cause of death among Americans. What a tragic statement.
In addition to this disease, it appears that there are numerous other diseases which may be prevented by simple dietary changes. Of these diseases, Alzheimer’s has to be one of the most heartbreaking ones to occur. To watch a loved one slowly lose all the memories of the relationship you shared is dreadful. If someone told you that some of the foods you’re eating were silently damaging your brain, would you stop eating them? I would. And did. Being in the medical field for almost twenty years, I’ve listened to plenty of remarks by patients and their families about getting older. ironisch, most people feel that it’s inevitable for their bodies and minds to fall apart as they age. But this is so not true. I have friends that are in their late seventies and early eighties that are in good health and take no medications. They exercise by stretching, walking and gardening, keep their minds active by reading, they practice meditation, some of them grow their own vegetables, and they eat a healthy diet. Like them, there is no reason for you not to feel good well into your eighties and nineties. Therefore, the first step in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and the host of other diseases listed above, is to go gluten free.
Part 1 – Gluten
Although carbohydrates are healthy in many ways, a diet that is too high in the wrong type of carbohydrate is detrimental to your health. In this case, the spotlight is on gluten which is a protein derived from wheat, rye, and barley, but also found in some other grains. Gluten is no longer biologically compatible with our bodies the way it was hundreds of years ago. Due to genetic modification and bioengineering, the grains we eat have been so unnaturally altered, that our bodies have been paying a steep price for them in the form of new diseases. More than ever before, more people are being diagnosed with neurological conditions that likely weren’t even in medical textbooks a hundred years ago. The cascade of events causing this brain train-wreck goes like this: chemically altered gluten causes inflammation, chronic inflammation causes the immune system to release damaging cytokine chemicals, and these cytokines attack the brain.
You don’t have to have celiac disease to be sensitive to gluten. In fact, one of the most well respected researchers on gluten in England at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, Dr. Hadjivassiliou stated “That gluten sensitivity is regarded as principally a disease of the small bowel is a historical misconception.” Those with gluten sensitivity often have no symptoms at all.
In part 2, we will look at the effect of sugar on the brain.