Be Thankful Knowing that Wheat, Carbs and Sugar are Brain Killers
Celebrate with a low carb, no bread, sugar free Thanksgiving Dinner.
There is no conventional treatment for Alzheimer’s, research shows this devastating degenerative neurological disease can be effectively prevented by lowering sugar exposure, increasing exercise and improving the quality of your sleep.
“The science is now completely lined up behind us, showing that our dietary choices are having a huge influence on the decay of the human brain … We’re really hammering away at this profound relationship between even mild elevations of blood sugar and risk for dementia.
And certainly, the ideas that we put forward about becoming Type 2 diabetic and quadrupling your risk for Alzheimer’s have been validated. The data that we did not have [five years ago] that we have now, with reference to what’s causing diabetes, I think is really very intriguing, and is cause for us to take a step back and take a breath.
Because what we’re now looking at is powerful data that connects statin use in both males and females with development of diabetes. In males, it’s about a 41 percent increased risk of diabetes in statin users [and] … a 71 percent increased risk of developing diabetes in women who are put on a statin medication.
They become diabetic and their risk for Alzheimer’s goes up dramatically — as much as three- or fourfold. Do I wish I would have had that information five years ago? Well, it wasn’t published, so I didn’t have it. But it’s really hugely important that we, as physicians, try to practice under the notion of ‘Above all, do no harm.’
We are making men and women diabetic and magnifying their risk for Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. I mean women have a three to four times increased risk of coronary artery disease if they become diabetic. For men, it’s a two- to threefold increase, which is huge … That’s new information.
The dietary information … now lines up [with] the idea that fat is actually good for us and that the real relationship that’s damaging to us is our relationship with sugar and carbs.
That was our original message that was accepted by most, but certainly experienced a bit of pushback from mainstream medicine that wanted us to believe that we should all be low-fat and no-fat. We now know with great confirmation that [low-fat] is absolutely the wrong approach,” Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition writes.
There are now studies that demonstrate a direct relationship between even subtle elevations of blood sugar and risk for developing dementia.
The research shows that sugar and other carbohydrates disrupt the brain’s function even if you have no symptoms of diabetes, primarily by shrinking your hippocampus, a brain region involved with the formation, organization and storage of memories.
A number of other studies support these findings, including a study published in the journal Diabetologia in January 2018, which found that the higher an individual’s blood sugar, the faster their rate of cognitive decline.
Dr. Perlmutter also cites a study in The Lancet, published in Y 2017, which found that an elevated A1C in average blood sugar is dramatically associated with shrinkage of the brain and risk for cognitive decline.
He writes: “We now get the fact that having elevated blood sugar increases inflammation,” Perlmutter says. “As I’m sure your viewers well know, chronic inflammation is the cornerstone of about every degenerative condition you don’t want to get, whether it’s coronary artery disease, cancer or Alzheimer’s. These are inflammatory conditions.
One study we have in the new book is from 2017, in the journal Neurology. It’s a study that I think is profound. It took a group of individuals who were around their mid-50’s, 1,600 of them, and measured the inflammation markers in their blood.
It followed these individuals for an incredible 24 years. What they found was there was a perfect linear relationship between those who had higher levels of inflammation 24 years ago and risk for developing dementia …
The implication is that people in their 40’s and 50’s who are overweight and have elevated blood sugar, both of which cause inflammation, are putting themselves at risk for an untreatable condition called Alzheimer’s or dementia later in their lives …
Once that happens, there’s very little that can be done, at least from a pharmaceutical perspective. So, the lifestyle choices that people make earlier in life are very, very relevant in terms of charting their brain’s density as they get older.”
While the recommendation to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels low is sound, if you are doing this through nutritional ketosis, it is important not to go overboard.
Many believe the best course of action is to stay in ketosis indefinitely and continuously.
However, this can actually lead to unnecessary complications, as there is a “sweet spot” for insulin.
“There is a tendency amongst some of us to say, ‘If something’s good, more is better.’ I am personally guilty of overdoing things,” he says. “But with respect to insulin, a study was recently published looking at 1,200 women followed for 34 years in Sweden, demonstrating that when you stratify these women in terms of their insulin level, there was a sweet spot, no pun intended.
Women at the high range of insulin had an increased risk for dementia, and women at the very, very low range of insulin as well had about a 2.68fold increased risk of developing dementia.
It’s about the important role of insulin in the brain. It is a U-shaped curve. There are ideal levels for everything, whether it’s alcohol consumption, exercise, sleep, et cetera. We know that too low blood sugar isn’t good for you. With respect to the ketogenic diet, I think most people who are doing it are in and out of ketosis. I think that’s reasonable,” Dr. Perlmutter writes.
Nutritional ketosis benefit the human brain in several different ways, but 1 of them is directly associated with the production of a ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Not only is this a “superfuel” for brain cells, beta-hydroxybutyrate also:
- Directly improves insulin sensitivity
- Changes gene expression for the better
- Reduces chronic inflammation
- Increases autophagy, the process by which your body rids itself of damaged cells
- Enhances mitophagy, the process by which your body rids itself of defective mitochondria
Now there are a lot of details on this important ketone, including findings showing you can mildly increase beta-hydroxybutyrate simply by taking medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, even if one is not restricting calories or cutting carbs.
“[MCT oil] paves the way for your liver to make beta-hydroxybutyrate,” Dr. Perlmutter says, “so, you do not necessarily have to stress your body with calorie restriction or going deep in terms of lowering your blood sugar.
That said, [through a ketogenic diet] you’ll gain the benefits of the beta-hydroxybutyrate, [and] … a little stress for your body, whether it’s calorie restriction, fasting, lowering your blood sugar, diving into cold water [or] hot water … these are low levels of stress that turn out to activate gene pathways that are really good for you.”
Exercise is another really important factor that appears to play a Key role in the development or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a recent study it is demonstrated that aerobic exercise can actually offset the genetic risk associated with having the genetic markers for Alzheimer’s.
Other studies have shown exercise triggers a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s, and increases levels of the protein PGC-1 alpha, thereby inhibiting production of toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s.
In another recent study, women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had a 88% lower risk of dementia than those with moderate fitness. Even maintaining average fitness is worthwhile, as women with the lowest fitness had a 41% greater risk of dementia than those of average fitness.
Another fascinating study cited by Dr. Perlmutter was published December 2017 in the journal Neurology: “The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) puts up practice guidelines for us neurologists. … The question that was raised, ‘What should a neurologist do when dealing with a patient who has mild cognitive impairment (MCI)? [MCI] is really the first step toward developing Alzheimer’s disease. They don’t have Alzheimer’s yet, but they’re on their way.
It went through a list of 14 different drugs and all of the studies … and the quality of that research … What drug should we use? The conclusion from AAN, in their practice guidelines, was that the only thing we should recommend to patients is a drug called physical exercise.
This is breathtaking to me for a number of reasons: a) we’ve been saying that for a long time, and b) that a journal supported by [drug] advertising … would have the courage to publish that … under the level of scientific scrutiny, the only thing that can help slow the brain from declining is telling your patient to exercise — not writing them a prescription for aricept, memantine or other medications —is bold and heroic … and very positive.”
I have just completed his book, and for the most in-depth coverage, be sure to pick up the revised and updated copy of “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar — Your Brain’s Silent Killers.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively.
To all of our subscribers and readers in the US, have a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!