Don’t develop Grain Brain!

I call the last 100 years “The century of grains and sugar.”

Over that time period, we’ve witnessed an astounding proliferation of grains, especially wheat and corn, along with sugars (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup), in the diet of modern humans. Not only do they come through obvious sources in the forms of breads, bagels, corn on the cob, popcorn, and soft drinks, but also in less obvious sources like “heart healthy” breakfast cereals, salad dressings, frozen dinners, and instant soup.

In his just-released new book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugars–Your Brain’s Silent Killers, Dr. David Perlmutter furthers the case made by Wheat Belly by educating us about how destructive grains and sugars are on the brain. Among Dr. Perlmutter’s deep interests is dementia. He therefore discusses the science behind grain and sugar consumption and the degeneration of brain tissue characteristic of dementia at length.

Particularly enlightening are his discussions about:

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, a protein that is subject to our control and can increase or decrease brain tissue and function.
–The link between statin drug use and impaired brain function–including a section entitled “How carbs–not cholesterol–cause high cholesterol.” Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist, but understands lipids and lipoproteins better than 99.9% of cardiologists.
–The brain-protective power of ketogenesis–The ketone, beta hydroxybutyrate, in particular, that results from strict carb-restriction and reliance on fatty acid oxidation has potential to provide protection from dementia, as well as potentially enhance mind function and increase metabolic efficiency via stimulating activity and growth of energy-producing mitochondria.
–The brain-enhancing power of exercise–Via BDNF and hippocampal growth responsible for maintaining coordination and balance.

This book is packed with information on how to best preserve brain function over a lifetime. His program starts, of course, with elimination of wheat and sugars, then shows you how to build a program of lifelong brain health using nutrition, exercise, and nutritional supplements.

Add Grain Brain to the short list of recommended reads for the Wheat Belly follower.

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Jeff

    On the subject of ketogenesis I co-sign what Dr. Willams wrote above. I’ve been wheat free since 1 February. When I get my diet just right and get my brain operating on ketones I get an almost narcotic like euphoria that stays with me as long as I can maintain that state. My issue right now is getting it 100 percent right all the time. Too many carbs out there. Currently my downfall is bananas…

    • Mathieu Gagné

      It’s not proven, but it has been hypothized that beta-hydroxybutirate gives mild euphoria since it’s a very similar molecule to gamma-hydroxybutirate, commonly known as GHB (or rape drug). I felt this ketosis euphoria too, it’s awesome!

      • So THAT’S what it is! When I am in the zone on a really good low carb day (as indicated by ketostix), I don’t just feel not hungry, I positively feel alive and bursting with energy and time flies by. I also feel super alert and highly motivated too. It is almost euphoric in a way.

  2. Sandy

    Both of my parents are in a nursing facility with dementia. Daddy was diagnosed over 15 years ago and at 90 years old is now in a wheelchair and does not recognize me when I visit. My mother (86) is still physically active, but her mind has slowly declined to the point that she often thinks I’m her mother. She only thinks she’s there to take care of Daddy and once he dies “she’s going back home”.

    Alzheimer’s/Dementia are horrible diseases and I hope to not go down that long, depressing road myself. To that end, I do lots of research on the internet, follow a “Wheat Belly” diet and yesterday, ordered “Grain Brain”.

    In the almost two years since reading “Wheat Belly”, I’ve lost 20+ pounds from my 5′, 64 year old body and have kept it off and I no longer have the two omeprazole a day need for acid reflux. But, more importantly, I feel like I’m being proactive in my quest for good physical and mental health for the rest of my life, however long that may be. I don’t mind living to a ripe old age as long as my quality of life stays with me.

    My thanks go to Dr. Davis for writing “Wheat Belly” and now Dr. Perlmutter for his contribution to the cause of good health; I’m anxious to read his new book and no doubt, will not be able to put it down. Then, I’ll read it all over again slowly and absorb the wisdom therein. After that, I’ll let my doctor read it, as he is on board ever since I gave him a copy of “Wheat Belly” for Christmas last year! “-)

  3. Neicee

    Thank you Dr. Davis for the heads up about this important book. So important that one medical specialist after another come forward and help destroy this myth of heart healthy whole grains and it’s close relatives and that they’re for humans to consume. My wish list for those books keeps growing. :)

  4. I’m half-way through “Grain Brain” and feeling the same enthusiasm I had for “Wheat Belly”… Jimmy Moore’s words, “both are paradigm shifting books”. Thanks for posting Dr. Davis….this book is the perfect adjunct to ‘Wheat Belly”… Dr. Perlmetter’s words, “they’re game-changers”!

  5. JillOz

    Very timely post, we just had Dementia awareness week in Australia, wherein in the one interview I heard, this was said: “we still don’t know what causes it”/ “we need more research” blah Blah.

    I find it AMAZING!!

    THank you for posting this, book is on the list!

    • JillOz

      Just rang a late night radio station I sometimes listen to and spoke about this book – international audience. Hope it helps someone!

  6. Gary Miller

    I have been waiting for this book to be released and I am glad it is here! It never hurts for a movement to have more ammo.

  7. Donna

    II am halfway through this book and love it! He makes it easy to understand while motivating me to take these concepts seriously. Will be trying to finish it in the next few days so I know how to protect my brain–we only get one after all and no such thing as a transplant if we don’t take care of it!

  8. My father died with dementia and was on statins
    Among other pills and my mother has Alzheimer’s.
    It has been devastating but forced me to change
    My life completely …no processed foods, sugar,no wheat
    Or bread I thought I’d be miserable but I have experienced
    The euphoria like others plus I don’t suffer with depression
    And extreme anxiety anymore. Still learning about how diet
    Can affect you. It’s a journey!! I found my life! Thank you.

  9. Jeanine

    I’m half way through the book and am convinced that stopping statins is the way to go for me. About 4 months into WF I had a blood test that showed high cholesterol. Doc immediately put me on statins. Dr. Perlmutter’s detailed explanation about the actual benefits of high cholesterol has removed the “fear factor” of stopping. Question: is it ok just to stop, or should I consult with the doc? Since she was the one who called in alarm to start it, my guess is that she will discourage me. I know in my heart, gut, and brain that statins are bad news. Anyone have advice or thoughts? My husband takes a high dose of statins and he’s wondering if there is a downside to quitting cold turkey. Is it better to decrease gradually? I just want to stop as of today.

    • > … convinced that stopping statins is the way to go for me.

      Chances are that Dr. Davis’ other site:
      is more suited to your question. Note: it’s a subscription site. I’m not a member.

      > I had a blood test that showed high cholesterol.

      What’s your Small LDL-P as measured by an NMR Lipoprofile, VAP or gel electro? Any data on apoprotein B?

      Chances are that you only received a standard panel, which contains little really useful information other than tryglicerides. Total cholesterol, for example, is not terribly informative unless it’s extraordinarily high. Without knowing the numbers, it’s impossible to rule out that one or both of you might be amongst the very few who actually benefit from statins.

      I see people indicating that they’ve quit statins cold turkey without issue, but it’s probably important to be getting real labs to monitor progress. Ask your statin-prescribing doc to order such tests, and point out which numbers you intend to pay attention to in the results. Chances are the doc’s brain will implode, and you’ll need to find another.

      • Jeanine

        Thanks, Boundless. I will take a closer look at the lab results. I think you’re right about getting “real” labs to check progress. She did ask last time what I was doing because all my “numbers” were looking great. She thought I looked better than ever. I told her about wheat free and Dr. Davis. She actually wrote the info down. I hope she looked into it. Would be so great to have my doc on board with WF.

  10. Alfred Scudiero

    I’m very interested in this book and will be getting it soon. But I have one criticism about statin use. I am a vegetarian (occasionally eat organic renetless cheese). I do eat fewer carbs but not completely carb free because of my diabetes. My cholesterol is fine because of my diet, but my doctor told me he wants me to keep taking the statin because as the plaques wear away, it smooths the lining of the arteries, and therefore may prevent clotting. I would think this to be an important factor in remaining on a statin regimen. Can you expound on this?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes: It’s absolutely nonsense. There is no such mechanism of atherosclerotic plaque “smoothing.”

      Get a real doctor, Alfred, one with genuine insight into the disease, not a shill for the drug industry who repeats the propaganda they shovel to him.

    • Drae

      Um. My understanding from Wheat Belly is that grains are huge contributors to diabetes… They spike your blood sugar more than actual sugar.

    • Maggie

      Alfred, agree with Dr Davis’s comment but why not try to get your doctor to expound on it? That would be VERY interesting!

  11. Drae

    Ooo. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

    Even as a child I enjoyed conversing with my elders, and now I see my older friends struggling with their memory (among a host of other health issues) and I’m sure they are on the road to full-blown dementia. I have no desire to join their ranks. Hopefully this book will convince many folks to reconsider their diet and make changes but it seems my older friends are the ones least likely to reconsider their dietary habits as a source of their health problems. But here’s hoping anyways!

  12. Reba

    The WF and ketone diets advocate higher fat in place of the carbs. Nuts are used in place of wheat flours. Would this be good for a hyper-absorber, as indicated from HDLabs tests? The nutritionist at Advanced Lipidology recommended that my husband cut way back on nuts. He is taking Zetia.

  13. Lee

    This is my first time posting, so forgive me if my comment doesn’t apply to this particular entry.
    I’m wondering about tapioca flour vs almond meal flour. Oh and btw, is tapioca starch (which Dr. Davis condemns) the same as tapioca flour? I read the following post about almond meal and would like Dr. Davis’ opinion on it, if possible. Thanks!
    The fact is, nut meals contain huge amounts of omega 6 polyunsaturated fats. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that 6g of omega 6 from whole almonds is as bad for you as 6g of omega 6 from adding a tablespoon of soybean oil to your food. There’s no way. When you eat the nuts, you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals, protein and lots of anti-oxidants that prevent the fat inside from going rancid. But bake it and it’s another story.

    What you’re doing is heating huge amounts of omega 6 polyunsaturated fats well past their smoke point for long periods of time. You’re creating a rancid, high calorie, oxidized omega 6 bomb.
    (here is the link to the actual post:

    • Barbara in New Jersey


      Dr. Davis has addressed this issue several times. You don’t eat the baked nut flour products at every meal. Breads and other baked goods are supposed to be eaten sparingly. They are nutrient dense and very filling so you don’t eat much per serving. If I am remembering correctly, he also said “Pick your battles” meaning that too many restrictions will make you return to your old ways of eating, Also, any omega 6 excesses can be balanced out by consuming more omega 3 foods and supplements.

  14. Janet

    Reading this book now. I am keenly interested in learning more about wheat’s influence on the brain, as that is where most of my problems such as depression, anxiety, a bit of OCD, etc. have been and how these issues influenced my daily life. I wish I could shout this from the rooftops to people who are suffering.

  15. VibeRadiant

    I bought Grain Brain on Saturday and just finished it today. There is a lot of the same info as WB but it explains a lot more about sugars effect on the brain. I was floored by what I read, especially about type 3 diabetes… Two books that compliment each other. And more recipes! Lol

  16. Didn’t know where else to post this, so just hope enough people see it to make a difference. I love Dr. Davis’s books, but have issues with some of his recipes. He uses a lot of fats and dairy. I am lactose and casein intolerant and I just can’t handle a lot of fat because I only have 1/2 of a colon. So, I have come up with some twists on some of his recipes that I hope will help others like me. I have just published my first blog article and a recipe for Seedola. It’s granola with the grains. No oats, no rye, no rice, no wheat, just seeds and some other stuff. The blog site is Don’t forget he 2, it is very important. There is a dedicated e-mail for comments, suggestions and questions. I hope Dr. Davis doesn’t mind me hi-jacking some of his recipes, but for me, some of them just don’t work.

    I have been grain free and dairy free since July 26 and I cannot tell you how much better I feel. I have also been diagnosed with Addison’s Disease (or adrenal insufficiency). Being grain and dairy free has helped with this. With Addison’s you get foggy headed and being without grains has made that happen less often. All in all, I think anyone with any kind of autoimmune disease should definitely read and follow this book.

    Again, my blog – Rants, Raves, and Recipes – is Come and check me out. All comments are welcome.

    • Linda

      Dairy products are a very healthy choice. Lactose intolerance is a reason not to consume but for someone whose is not, dairy produces are full of protein and healthy ingredients and a good choice. Milk is an almost perfect food.

  17. Bea Pullar

    David Mendosa one of my favorite Diabetes writers on line has just reviewed “Grain Brain”.
    He also makes reference to Dr Davis’ insights in Wheat Belly. He ends with a quote from Perlmutter’s website:
    “What is a doctor? This word derived from Latin doesn’t mean healer, it means teacher – one who gives people the knowledge they need to facilitate their own healing processes and achieve a state of well-being.”
    We are so luck that both Dr Davis, and Permlutter do this brilliantly.

    • kenneth simms

      I am a 70 year old male, a friend told me about the book wheat belly, a few days later my massage man told me he was following the book and had a big weight loss , and felt so much better. I am at 5-6 and was weighing around180, felt terrible, listless and lazy. I went out and bought the book, As I was reading so many things struck home. I cut out all breads and muffins, etc, started eating a lunch of raw veggies, and non gluten food. i was really busy at the time, also had the worry of a large tumor in my upper leg so stuck to the diet and got on with life, within a very short time, four or five weeks had to put in a few more holes in my belt to keep my pants up. we did not have a scale so the first time I got to our gym I had lost 16 pounds, and I felt better every day. I kept losing weight , 20 , than 25 lbs but the weight was not all, my energy was so much better, I found out I was not hungry all the time. over the past years I don,t know how many family events I had to miss as I would have a bad cold or virus which would go into my lungs.It has been almost a year and I have not had one cold or virus, just knocked on wood< another thing, I would have small aches and pains, not terrible but very noticeable , after about two months I said to my wife, just read about this and realize I am pain free, also telling a friend about the book she told me her son in law and a sister in law , he had terrible skin rash, after years of doctoring and expensive medicine there was no relief and her daughter in law was in bed three or more days of week with arthritis pain , some one had told them about gluten free, they said they might as well try it, after only a month big improvements , after three months, no pain and no rash. these are real people I have met. I really believe in the terrible effects of gluten , still faithfully follow it and keep telling friends, family and total strangers about it. i, who ate desserts and all the goodies now find I can ignore them, do not eat a lot of non gluten breads and desserts but good veggies and healthy choices. I endorse this non gluten and tell so many people because I Iike to pass on this miracle , I get no finanicial gain from this, just being satisfied to help other

  18. Rosanne Swalwell

    Help! I’ve been wheat-free for almost 2 months and have had wonderful results but especially feeling so much better than before. BUT….I cannot get regular. I have IBS and a very sluggish bowel. Can you please help as I’ve gone back to eating Bran Buds every morning and in 3 days I’m back to feeling lousy, and my belly is once again bloated but my bowel movements are now regular.

    I’d so appreciate any direction.


    • Inner Space

      Coconut, coconut oil, water, nopales (cactus, holds lots of water), have worked for me. Magnesium. Might need to experiment with different combinations of foods at different times. Walking, massage colon.. Protein and fat create bile, which really works. Also, try to be low-stress. Yes, you CAN!

      • Neicee

        Rosanne, I too suffer the consequences when ingesting anything with wheat in it. Diagnosed with IBS (never was tested for celiac’s because my level headed doctor said to not eat it and if better I had my answer) but it was very severe for most of my lifetime, yet I still ate the danged stuff occasionally. Had slowed my consumption of it for years, but two years ago happened on to WB. I not only stopped wheat/gluten but most all grains and cereals. All sugars and most fruits. I do use a lot of olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. But, my plate is now 3/4 veggies, the remainder is in protein and good fats. Also, magnesium has helped the lower tummy…..and a handful of nuts a day helps too. Good luck.

    • Fran

      I have suffered with constipation my entire life. I read that taking magnesium 500 mg. daily would help this. I have been taking the 500mg for a year and my constipation is a distant memory. My gastroenterologist said it sounded great to him if it is working for me. He said, “It’s funny, Lewis and Clark took magnesium to keep them regular on their journey.” He said he had learned about it in medical school 30 years ago.

  19. Kurt

    The calories in my diet since 05 Aug 2012 comprise 70% carbs (350-400g/day), 11% fat, 19% protein. From 16 Aug 2013 (after one year on this diet) blood test results:

    fasting glucose: 81 mg/dL
    hemoglobin A1C: 5.2
    total cholesterol: 104
    LDL: 48
    triglycerides: 99
    C reactive protein: 0.5 mg/L
    all other indicators normal
    height: 5′ 10″
    weight: 145 lbs
    BMI: 20.8
    I’m a 56-year old male.

    Whatever works for you, go with it, is my advice.

    • Dr. Davis

      A truly rare exception, Kurt.

      Having performed thousands of such metabolic assessments, this pattern applies to <1% of the population.

  20. James Barnhart

    I agree on cutting back on grains but eating cheese, red meat, eggs, butter, etc. might help the brain but what good is that if you end up with heart disease and cancer?

    • Dr. Davis

      I doubt you read either book, James, as you would find out that you are simply spouting the conventional nonsense!

    • > … but eating cheese, red meat, eggs, butter, etc. might help
      > the brain but what good is that if you end up with heart disease and cancer?

      Are you willing to be completely mistaken about that?
      Caution: you are betting your life on your dietary choices.

      Dr. Davis is winding down his conventional cardiac practice because the WB recommendations are dramatically more effective at not just preventing heart disease, but reversing it.

      The WB recommendations are borderline ketogenic. The data from keto cultures, such as the Inuit, suggest that such a diet is likely to be highly protective against cancer (which thrives on glucose from carbs). It’s too early to refine the role of a keto diet in reversing cancer, but it’s abundantly clear that the WB recommendations are not going to increase your risk.