ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



February 2015



Grain Brain by David Perlmutter

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

grain brain

I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what makes scientific research credible, and that I generally know when to believe something (climate change) and when to not (Andrew Wakefield). And yet when it comes to health-related items, I’m kind of baffled.

Okay, not totally baffled. I know that movement is good. There doesn’t seem to be any credible research suggesting it’s better to NOT exercise at all. Cool. Got that. And, as of late, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that sugar is probably super bad for me. Also not surprising. A bummer, but not surprising.

After that, though, I’m kind of out. Should I be a vegetarian (both for animal rights purposes, and also for my health)? Vegan? But (somehow, magically) low carbohydrate? Should I eat all the eggs but no dairy? What about carbohydrates? Only in veggie form? Whole grain? Or not at all? I thought my brain needed a minimum of 130 g carbohydrates to function – and this guy wants me to limit it to 30? After reading this book, I really don’t know what to do. I felt kind of gross reading it, as though I were experiencing the print version of one of those olde tyme snake oil salesmen. There were so many ‘guarantees,’ and a lot of anecdotes about his patients. Plus, Dr. Perlmutter has his own website where he offers up his ‘preferred’ supplements, which reads a little skeevy to me. And while he cites a lot of research, I don’t have the time to read all of the studies, so that junk I posted at the beginning of this review isn’t really applicable. Plus, when I googled “Debunking Grain Brain” I got a whole lot of hits.

But on the other hand – the man is a neurologist and a nutritionist. That gives gives him some credibility, right? And I read Good Calories, Bad Calories last year, and Sugar Nation just a few weeks ago, which made some of the same arguments. And we know that nutritionists have gotten it so wrong in the past ** cough ** margarine ** cough **. Is it possible they are still getting it wrong? And of course, when I googled “Debunking [group that debunked this book]”, I also got hits.

This book was not really helpful. But I still might try some of the suggestions, mostly because if I clean everything out of my diet, I can figure out what my body likes. I’m sure there’s some dairy I can’t process, but I eat so much of it I haven’t figured out which it is. And there are probably some other foods that I have more energy after consuming, and some that make me not feel great. Perhaps that can be a good take-away from books like this (and It Starts with Food, which is up next): nutrition is complicated, and we just have to figure out what works best for us.

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