How Not to Get Alzheimer’s

Grain Brain

I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV.

But I read a lot of books by doctors.

The one that has made the deepest impression is Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter.

It’s a book about how not to get Alzheimer’s.

He asks: in a world with unprecedented access to health care, nutrition, supplements, and so on, why is there so much Alzheimer’s?

Disease, he answers, is caused by inflammation, an assertion which few in the medical community will disagree.

Alzheimer’s, it has been shown, is a disease caused by…wait for it…inflammation.

Inflammation in the brain.

So what’s inflaming the brain?


Dr. Perlmutter, who writes that he visits his father, an Alzheimer’s patient, every morning on his way to the office, writes that grain is the problem.

Okay, not grain itself.

Rather, it’s the way grain is processed today.

People have been eating bread and similar products for only a relatively short period of time in the history of mankind.

We’ve only been eating highly processed foods for a half-century or so.

The way food manufacturers process grain and turn it into bread, pie, cake, muffins, donuts, and so on is simply too much for our bodies — and brains — to process, Perlmutter argues.

In other words, we can’t handle the bread.

A century ago, your great-great grandmother, living on a farm in the old country, made her own bread.

Nobody got Alzheimer’s.

Today, we all eat corporate food made from processed grain, and shocking numbers of people come down with memory disorders.

Coincidence? He thinks not.

So Dr. Perlmutter’s Rx is simple–stop eating bread.

(And cake and donuts and muffins and pizza and everything else that you love.)

Admittedly, it’s a depressing thought, but it’s slightly less depressing than the idea of coming down with Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the rub: thanks to all the advances in health care, people are living long enough not just to get Alzheimer’s but to have it for 10 or 15 or 20 years.

At a huge emotional–and financial–cost to their loved ones.

I read the book two years ago and stopped eating bread.

I bought the supplements he recommended to improve brain health, and I take them every morning and evening.

Unless I forget.

I take a twice-daily tablespoon of coconut oil, which he also advises for brain health.

It sounds strange to be proactive about the health of one’s brain, and yet, we sure think a lot about having a healthy heart and healthy lungs.

In that context, perhaps maintaining a healthy brain isn’t all that odd.

Now, of course, maybe Dr. Perlmutter’s completely wrong.

Maybe there is no connection between processed grain and Alzheimer’s.

Maybe there’s nothing unhealthy about cereal or toast at breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, breaded veal for dinner, and apple pie for dessert.

Maybe there is no line to draw from processed grains to inflammation in the brain to the undeniably swelling numbers of Alzheimer’s cases in the world today.

But on the other hand, what if he’s right?

    As one of the most established ghostwriters in the nation, New York Times best-selling author Michael Levin has written, co-written or ghostwritten more than 100 books, of which nine are national best sellers. He appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on January 20, 2012. In the past, Michael has published with Simon & Schuster, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Putnam/Berkley, and many other houses. His works have been optioned for film and TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others. One of his own novels became Model Behavior, an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week.