Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugars—Your Brain’s Silent Killers is a New York Times best seller in the dining category by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and nutritionist.

A public TV special featuring his claims is to air in early December.

Perlmutter
Perlmutter

Perlmutter says fat is the “brain’s best friend” while its enemies are wheat, sugar and carbohydrates. He says the statins that are being taken by tens of millions of Americans are robbing their brains of much-needed cholesterol while failing to cut down on heart disease.

He quotes numerous studies showing no cause-and-effect between lower cholesterol and lower rates of heart disease. Women who are on statins are 48% more likely to develop diabetes, he says.

Popular foods such as cold cereals, whole wheat bread, pasta, pizza and fruits with high sugar content are on Perlmutter’s forbidden list.

He likes “healthy fat” such as extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil and coconut oil, low-sugar fruits and vegetables such as avocado, kale and broccoli, and seeds and nuts (except for peanuts which are a legume). He also favors grass fed beef, free range chicken, wild caught fish, leafy greens and lettuces, potatoes, rice and eggs. No-no’s include ketchup, canned baked beans, French fries and ice cream. Cheeses are o.k. except for blue cheeses.

Eggs Are Best Food

Eggs, a target of anti-cholesterol forces since the 1970s, are called “quite possibly the world’s most perfect food,” containing “all the essential amino acids we need to survive.”

He quotes from the book, Lipitor, Thief of Memory by Dr. Duane Graveline, former doctor to NASA astronauts, who experienced memory loss after taking Lipitor.

Reducing cholesterol can interfere with brain function and possibly lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of mental disease, Perlmutter warns. The widespread promotion and acceptance of statins as an unalloyed good is called “the greatest health scam of the century.” Food companies, government agencies and big pharma are blamed.

it's all goodHis and other books, including It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow, who shuns pasta, processed grains, anything with gluten in it, sugar, shellfish, meat and potatoes, among other foods, could possibly affect the billions being spent on statins. Lipitor, which generated as much as $12 billion for Pfizer several years ago, went generic at the end of 2011 and sales in the first nine months of 2013 were only $335 million, the company said. 

Generic atorvastatin (30 tablets, 20 mg.) is much more expensive than simvastatin. The former is $155 at Rite-Aid and $143 at CVS pharmacies in New York while simvastatin is $53.99 at Rite-Aid and $37.49 at CVS. Goodrx.com says its coupons can drop the price of atorvastatin to as low as $17.15 and simvastatin to as low as $9.99.

Pfizer said Lipitor, (atorvastatin calcium), is supported by a wealth of clinical and market experience. It has been shown in multiple clinical trials to significantly reduce both the risk of cardio-vascular events in a broad range of patients and the levels of LDL cholesterol, the company said. 

Savvy buyers use goodrx.com which provides price-off coupons. Such coupons cut the CVS price for Lipitor to $22.45. Los Angeles Times reporter David Lazarus has investigated goodrx and found the coupons work and make “comparison shopping for drugs easy.”

Krupp Kommunications, New York, headed by Heidi Krupp-Lisiten, is handling PR for Perlmutter.

NYT Article Cast Doubt on Statins

A NYT article Nov. 12, describing a four-year review of evidence and headlined, “Experts Reshape Treatment Guides for Cholesterol,” cast doubt on the effectiveness of statins. It said specific targets for cholesterol reduction were no longer to be recommended.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz, Yale cardiologist, said, “Now, one in four Americans will be saying, ‘Should I be taking this anymore?’”

Perlmutter says doctors and health groups have been wrong before about diet and disease. The American Diabetes Assn. in 1994 said that people should take 60-70% of their calories from carbs, he noted. That advice resulted in the number of diabetes cases doubling between 1997 and 2007. The number with diabetes more than tripled from 1980-2011.

Although Perlmutter feels that grains are bad for your brain, the grain industry feels the opposite. A battle royal is shaping up between the two schools of nutrition.

grainsAmong those supporting the website grainsforyourbrain.org are the National Pasta Assn., American Bakers Assn., National Assn. of Wheat Growers, U.S.A. Rice Federation and U.S. Wheat Assocs.

The website says it “arms you with real science so you can make healthy food choices for yourself and your family. It’s time you felt good about what you eat.” Wheat producers say carbohydrates provide glycogen, which is needed for brain function.

Other Books Knock Grains

Other books on the NYT’s list of best-sellers in the Dining category include Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, whose theme is “Wheat is ruining your life,” and Against All Grain by Danielle Walker, who advocates grain-free, dairy-free and gluten-free cooking.

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Jeff Dunn, ex-COO of North and South America for Coca-Cola, was the subject of a Feb. 20, 2013 NYT Sunday http://tinyurl.com/azb6x95  magazine article.

Perlmutter advocates a list of daily over-the-counter vitamin supplements that should be taken for life.

Declaring that most Americans are “Vitamin D deficient,” he advocates taking 5,000 International Units daily. The correct Vitamin D dosage has been a matter of controversy in recent months.

Also on the list is Docosahexaenoic Acid, also known as DHA, an Omega3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the brain. 1,000 milligrams are recommended. To be taken up to three times daily are probiotics while resveratrol (100 mg) and tumeric (350 mg) are to be taken twice daily. One teaspoon of coconut-oil is to be taken daily, either straight or used in cooking.

Atkins, Tarnower Diets Recalled

Dr. Robert Atkins authored the Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution in 1972 that sold a million copies almost immediately. It advocated a high natural fat/low carb diet. Breakfast for the first few weeks of a stringent program consisted of grapefruit and coffee or tea but no cereals or other foods. Lean beef, chicken and most fish were recommended. Atkins died at age 72 on April 17, 2003 after slipping on ice while walking to work in New York.

Dr. Herman Tarnower, authored The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet in 1979 that advocated avoiding carbs in favor of oily fish and other foods. 

He was murdered by Jean Harris on March 30,1980. She was convicted at trial and won parole in 1993. She died Dec. 28, 2012 at age 89.