The book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter has made waves over the past few weeks for its claims about carbohydrates and their negative effects on the brain. Dr. Perlmutter writes that carbohydrates, including whole grains, can lead to a host of health issues including: dementia, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, ADHD and more.
Dr. Michael Bucci, a neurosurgeon with Bon Secours St. Francis Health spoke about the claims in the book and how people should approach healthy eating. While he is not sold on every conclusion in the book, he said, “I think [Dr. Perlmutter] makes several excellent points that diet and disease go hand in hand.”
One example of this is that eating poorly can lead to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which some studies have shown is a risk factor for dementia. Dr. Bucci said, “If you look at the statistics, people that have diabetes mellitus are two to three times more likely to become demented and get Alzheimer’s dementia in their lifetime, than say someone else who doesn’t have diabetes.”
However, Dr. Bucci notes that many of the other claims in the book are not necessarily backed up by scientific evidence. “To say that [all grains] need to be eliminated, to say that we’re all gluten sensitive, we’re all at risk by eating a multigrain bun at dinner, that we’re all going to get dementia, I think is a stretch,” he said.
Dr. Bucci spoke about what we should be eating and doing for good brain health, and good health in general. “We all need to do better with exercise and diet restraint,” he said. With regard to what to eat, Dr. Bucci recommends the guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture and Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Dr. Bucci explained how to think about and approach carbohydrates., “I don’t think you can say that all grains are bad,” he said. “Should we eat whole food and grains? Yes, I think so. Should we eat the kind of processed carbohydrates [Dr. Perlmutter] says in the book that we should not eat? No, we really shouldn’t.”
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