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Low carb Paleo, ketogenic diets heal brain, aid weight loss, says 'Grain Brain'

Dr. David Perlmutter, the author of "Grain Brain," says a grain-free, low-carb diet can prevent Alzheimer's and fuel weight loss.
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The Paleo diet can prevent Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter told U.S. News.

Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, said we can prevent — and even reverse — Alzheimer's, diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, heart disease and ADHD by following the low-carb, gluten-free Paleo diet.

The Paleo diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods.

Dr. Perlmutter said the wheat-centric, high-carb diet dogma long promoted by the U.S. government is what has fueled the alarming epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

"The idea that people are nutritionally deprived because they don't eat grain has no scientific basis," he said.

In an interview with me, Dr. Perlmutter explained that a high-carb diet causes blood-sugar surges, which destroy brain cells and the entire body. "Carbs are devastating for the brain," he said.

Perlmutter, who follows the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet, said restricting carbs and eating high-quality fats — which both the Paleo and ketogenic diets advocate — curbs aging, promotes rapid weight loss, and protects the brain.

" 'Grain Brain' closely resembles the Paleo diet, which mimics our ancestors' eating habits and is comprised of foods people have eaten for two million years – mainly plants, fruits and meat," said Perlmutter.

'Fat Is Your Friend'

Numerous studies have shown that consuming high-quality saturated fats (such as wild salmon, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed meat and avocados) prevent dementia and other diseases. "Fat is your friend," said Perlmutter. "The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet."

Dr. Perlmutter, a runner who's fit and trim at 60, is also a proponent of the Paleo exercise regimen, which involves walking, sprinting and weight-lifting.

Exercise not only makes you look good, but promotes the growth of new brain cells, he said. "There's no prescription that can do this," he said. "All you have to do is exercise."

Sample menu on Grain Brain Diet:

  • Breakfast: One-half avocado with olive oil and two poached eggs with salsa.
  • Lunch: Lemon chicken with herb garden salad and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Dinner: Salmon with mushrooms and unlimited roasted vegetables.
  • Dessert: Two chocolate truffles.
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