Kristi Whitley

Healthy Living

Grain Brain

How Grain and Sugar  Consumption Cause Alzheimer's/Dementia/Depression/etc.

Wow. More and more people I know are in the early stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. I know at least ten people with a degenerative brain disease. I don’t think the solution is to get younger friends! Let’s try to get the word out that these diseases are not accidents of nature. They are not freak genetic occurrences. They are a direct result of our lifestyles, the way we eat and what we eat.

Type 3 Diabetes

Dr. David Perlmutter, who wrote the book “Grain Brain” refers to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes” because of the link between high blood sugar, insulin resistance and degenerative brain disease. He further distinguishes that diabetes is not necessarily the cause of Alzheimer’s just that they share the same origin.

Dr. Pearlmutter writes that Alzheimer’s victims have had one or more of the following:

  • Lived with chronic high blood sugar levels even in the absence of diabetes
  • Eaten too many carbohydrates throughout his or her life
  • Opted for a low-fat diet that minimized cholesterol
  • Had undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley

Further, he says, people only understand the intestinal complications associated with gluten, they don’t know about the neurological diseases associated with gluten in the diet.

Brain Toxins

Dr. Russell Blaylock, retired neurosurgeon and natural health advocate, adds that besides insulin resistance and aging, mercury, aluminum, pesticides/herbicides, stress, and brain injury are common triggers for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Put Down That Cracker

I work with many octogenarians and I know that convenience foods are staples in their diets. Cooking and preparing meals becomes less accessible with reduced mobility, eyesight, and money. Unfortunately, their generation trusts the government via the FDA to only approve what is safe for them to eat, so anything in the grocery store is good for them. Add to that, their doctors don’t want to lecture them about nutrition because they don’t know what to recommend except bottled protein drinks. The result is bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They eat crackers and cookies for snacks, and the cheapest restaurants with the smallest portions (senior plates) for two or three meals a week. Aging reduces their ability to absorb nutrients and their diets provide less nutrients and, viola!, disease.

Start Now

Developing good habits now reduces the likelihood of the downward spiral mentioned above. Dr. Perlmutter says, don’t just reduce wheat consumption stop it completely. All investigators I read from suggested serious limitation of all grains and sugar. Fasting blood sugar should be between 75-85. Although a fasting blood sugar is in the normal range at 95-100 it is far too high to be healthy.

More Beans, Please

Substitute beans, nuts and seeds for grains. I often get blow-back from suggesting beans as a staple in every meal (no pun intended ;-) ). They are the perfect starch. They are filling and satisfying without raising insulin levels. They are super nutritious offering protein, fiber, minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, and b complex vitamins. The best part is there is a bean for everyone! Black eyed peas, baby limas, pintos, black, kidney, white, navy, red lentils, green lentils, yellow lentils, black lentils, garbanzo beans, green peas, field peas, pigeon peas, purple hull peas, peas with snaps, adzuki beans, fava beans, mung beans, and others I haven’t tried yet!

Brain Fats

Raw nuts and seeds provide much needed fat for a healthy brain. Some people reject nuts and seeds as a staple in the diet because of cost. I compare them with the cost of meat. They are a cheap source of healthy fat, protein, fiber, and minerals much like beans. Only consume nuts and seeds that are raw or toasted at home. Pre-packaged, roasted and salted nuts/seeds have too much added fat and salt and the benefit of their nutrition is lost. Add healthy nuts and seeds to salads, into smoothies, or as a snack anytime of day.

Brain Saving Recipe

Here is a super nutritious “Fettuccini Alfredo” recipe that uses pasta made from lentils and “cheese” sauce made from cashews. You won’t miss wheat or dairy.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

All the best,