Everything you should know about gluten allergies, a gluten free diet, brain health, and the diet that will fuel your brain for years of healthy living. Blog by David Perlmutter M.D, a renowned neurologist whose expertise includes gluten issues, brain health & nutrition, and preventing neurodegenerative disorders.
As we have talked about so many times in these pages, our lifestyle choices play a fundamental role in determining not just how our brain functions today, but its long-term destiny as well.
My good friend Max Lugavere became a globally-recognized citizen scientist, as it relates to brain degeneration, as a consequence of his mother’s battle with a neurodegenerative condition. In his new book, Genius Foods, Max details how he was basically left empty-handed at being able to do anything meaningful to help his mother in her battle. He visited many of our country’s most well-respected academic institutions and hospitals, and ultimately received nothing more then a list of meaningless medications.
Thus began his journey to understand the fundamentals of what causes a good brain to go bad. The information in his new book is incredibly well-researched and represents rock solid science.
Let me tell you a little bit more about Max. He is a filmmaker, TV personality, and health and science journalist. He is the director of the upcoming film Bread Head, a powerful documentary about dementia prevention through diet and lifestyle.
He has contributed to Medscape, Vice, Fast Company, and The Daily Beast and has been featured on NBC Nightly News, the Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and in The Wall Street Journal.
He is a sought-after speaker, having been invited to lecture at esteemed academic institutions such as the New York Academy of Sciences and Weill Cornell Medicine, and has created materials being used around the world to teach physicians and other healthcare providers about the clinical practice of dementia prevention.
Food allergies, and a specific skin condition called eczema, are rapidly increasing in the youth population. Now, in what may be the largest study of its kind ever performed, researchers are studying a woman’s diet during pregnancy, as well as duration of breast-feeding post-birth, to assess a child’s susceptibility to allergies, as well as risk for conditions like eczema and autoimmune disorders. British investigators, evaluating over 1.5 million people, have come up with some very compelling information.
The research is what’s called a meta-analysis, meaning that it is review of previous studies (over 400 in this case) involving over 1.5 million people, and dating as far back as 1946. The researchers discovered that there was a weak, but nonetheless demonstrable, relationship between breast-feeding and reduced risk of eczema during infancy, as well as reduced risk for type I diabetes. In addition, probiotics seemed to reduce the risk of allergic reactions to cow’s milk.
The data, however, was much more supportive of the relationship between taking a probiotic supplement while 36 – 38 weeks pregnant, and during the first 3 to 6 months of breast-feeding, and risk for childhood eczema. In fact, in those women taking probiotics, risk for eczema in their child was reduced by 22%. The scientist noted that most of the probiotics contained a bacterium called Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Again, this is a meta-analysis study, not an interventional trial where people either get an intervention or a placebo. That said, scientists in Finland recently tried to determine if probiotics, given to pregnant women, might reduce the chance of their babies developing eczema. Women were selected if they themselves had allergies, as this increases the chances that their babies will develop eczema. The study involved several hundred women, half of whom were given a probiotic during their last two months of pregnancy, as well as during the first two months of breastfeeding. The other group received a placebo. The results of the study were dramatic: the risk of developing eczema in the probiotic group was an astounding 70% lower than the placebo group.
Getting back to this new report, women who avoided things like nuts, dairy, and eggs during pregnancy did not change the risk for allergy to these foods in their children, nor was there any relationship to eczema risk.
Allergy to eggs is extremely common in young children, occurring as often as 1 in 20. Fortunately, as many as 80% of children will “grow out” of this allergy. Nonetheless, the study found that when pregnant women took a fish oil capsule each day from 20 weeks pregnant through the first 3 to 4 months of breastfeeding, their child experienced an approximately 30% reduction in risk for egg allergy.
In commenting on this data, the lead author of the study, Dr. Robert Boyle from the department of medicine at Imperial College London explained:
Food allergies and eczema in children are a growing problem across the world. Although there has been a suggestion that what a woman eats during pregnancy may affect her babies risk for developing allergies or eczema, until now there has never been such a comprehensive analysis of the data… Our research suggests probiotic and fish oil supplements may reduce a child’s risk of developing an allergic condition, and these findings need to be considered when guidelines for pregnant women are updated.
Fish oil has long been recognized as playing an important role in brain development, likely because of its DHA content. DHA, like EPA, has important immune regulation activity, and this might well explain the relationship to reduced risk for egg allergy in this study.
The gut bacteria similarly play a critical role in regulating the immune system, and so it is not a huge surprise to see this dramatic relationship between probiotics and reduced risk for things like eczema.
To learn more about recommendations to consider during pregnancy, visit our dedicated Pregnancy Focus Area here on the site.
I, like many of you, have often wondered about the notion of drinking a cup of coffee after the evening meal. People often say things like, “I can’t drink coffee after 4PM or I won’t be able to sleep,” and this seems to make sense. Others, like myself, can enjoy a coffee after dinner seemingly without any consequences, as far as sleep is concerned.
To help shed some light on this issue, researchers publishing in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine recently reported the results of study in which individuals consumed 400mg of caffeine 0, 3, or 6 hours prior to their normal bedtime. These folks were compared to a similar group of people who received a placebo. Sleep was measured by self-reporting as well as through the use of a portable sleep monitor.
The results showed that even when caffeine was consumed 6 hours before bedtime, there was a remarkable disruption of sleep. This was found to be associated with an average loss of sleep of 41 minutes as well as doubling the time it took these subjects to fall asleep.
On the other hand, compared to placebo, caffeine consumption 6 hours prior to bedtime did not seem to affect the amount of wakefulness during the sleep period or the actual quality of sleep. Consuming caffeine 3 hours before bedtime, however, was clearly associated with disruption in the quality of sleep.
Overall, the researchers of this small study of 12 individuals concluded that caffeine consumption at this dosage, and at these times prior to sleep, is significantly disruptive of this important and restorative bodily function.
My take on this report is that for those of us who might drink a coffee late in the day and don’t think much of it, the research would argue that there may indeed be consequences that are not readily apparent that could be harmful in the long run.
So maybe decaf will turn out to be the best choice after dinner.
Do medications “treat” type 2 diabetes? The answer is “no.” While there is a fairly robust list of drugs commonly prescribed by physicians for this situation, these pharmaceuticals tend to treat only the consequences of the disorder, like elevated blood sugar.
In this segment of TheEmpowering Neurologist, I have the great pleasure of interviewing one of the most forward thinking experts in diabetes in the country, Dr. Sarah Hallberg. This is her second time on the program, and with good reason. She and her team have just completed a study in which they demonstrate profound success in actually treating diabetes using a closely monitored ketogenic diet.
The results of this interventional trial are nothing short of astounding, as you will see. Keep in mind that it’s not just the fact that the intervention group adhered to the ketogenic diet, but the very close monitoring and supervision they received that must also have played a role in their results.
As many of you know, I am a big proponent of salmon. Salmon may well be one of the most healthful foods available on the planet. Natural, wild-caught salmon is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and phosphorus. In addition, it’s a terrific source for protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
And when talking about the omega-3s, salmon has and an astounding 1.5 g of DHA in just a 3.5 ounce serving. DHA is a critically important omega-3 fatty acid, especially for brain health.
Always choose wild salmon as opposed to farm-raised. Consuming farm-raised salmon means that you’re consuming an inferior product, not just from a nutritional perspective, but from the potential risk for contamination from a variety of toxins as well.
We generally assume that swearing is offensive, that it’s a sign of a stunted vocabulary or of a limited intellect. Dictionaries have traditionally omitted swear words and parents forbid them around the house. But the latest research by neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and others has revealed that swear words, curses, and oaths―when used judiciously―can have surprising benefits.
In this sparkling debut work of popular science, Emma Byrne examines the latest research to show how swearing can be good for you. With humor and colorful language, she explores every angle of swearing―why we do it, how we do it, and what it tells us about ourselves. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, to lower anxiety, to prevent physical violence, to help trauma victims recover language, and yes, to promote human cooperation!
Taking readers on a whirlwind tour through scientific experiments, historical case studies, and cutting-edge research on language in both humans and other primates, Byrne defends cursing and demonstrates how much it can reveal about different cultures, their taboos and their values.
Packed with the results of unlikely and often hilarious scientific studies―from the “ice-bucket test” for coping with pain, to the connection between Tourette’s and swearing, to a chimpanzee that curses at her handler in sign language―Swearing Is Good for You presents a lighthearted but convincing case for the foulmouthed.
But in addition, Dr. Byrne reveals what we have learned about the brain by studying, for example, stroke patients, or patients undergoing brain surgery, as is revealed by their inability to suppress swearing. This is an interesting part of our discussion that helps us understand specifically what certain parts of the brain, like the amygdala, do.
Let me tell you about Dr. Byrne. She is a scientist, journalist, and public speaker. Her training in AI and computational neuroscience sparked a fascination with the decidedly un-computational ways that our minds work. Her BBC Radio 4 ‘Four Thought’ episode was selected as one of the “best of 2013” by the programme’s editors. She an aluma of the British Science Association Media Fellowship and the BBC Academy’s Expert Women training programme. Her writing credits include the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The Financial Times, and she has made television and radio appearances in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Swearing is Good For You is her first book.
In direct contradiction to what I learned in medical school, our genes do not directly determine every aspect of our health destiny. We now understand that subtle variations in genes, called SNPs, are highly influential in terms of health and disease. These variations in how genes function generally control various enzyme pathways in the body.
Dr. Ben Lynch has written an amazing book, Dirty Genes. His book focuses on this new understanding of genetics, which I feel is incredibly empowering. Why? Because, as Dr. Lynch makes very clear, many of the most important SNPs that might appear to be detrimental can actually be overridden by various changes in lifestyle, including diet and supplements.
Here’s what I said upon reviewing Dr. Lynch’s book:
Dirty Genes powerful he challenges the notion that jeans are the final arbiters of health and disease. Dr. Ben Lynch skillfully reveals how leveraging specific lifestyle choices can help rewrite our health destiny.
One of the most exciting developments that Dr. Lynch reveals is that we now have the ability to look at our genetic profile in a far more user–friendly way. In this interview, I describe how I took my 23 and Me results and submitted them to StrateGene. Within a few minutes I received a wonderfully detailed report describing exactly where I stood in terms of important SNPs. For example, I learned that I have a potentially unfavorable profile as it relates to the process of methylation. Methylation is very important as it relates to detoxification, lowering homocysteine, and other important functions. Knowing this information is important as the specific SNPs that I have inherited can be functionally overridden with specific dietary changes and supplements.
I know, right at the outset, that this may sound a bit challenging in terms of the science. And yes, the interview is a bit in-depth, for sure. But I think you’ll get a lot out of it, and I can assure you that Dirty Genes does a masterful job in making this important information very approachable!
How much alcohol should we consume? We have all heard that there are health benefits associated with low level alcohol consumption, like drinking a glass or two of red wine each day. Indeed, I have made this suggestion in my blogs and in many of the books I have written. While we do know that alcohol is, in and of itself, toxic to nerve cells, the scientific literature would tell us that there is decreased risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease in individuals who consume small amounts of alcohol each day.
In a new study appearing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers again attempted to unravel the facts as it relates to the beneficial effects of alcohol. Before you get put off by this study’s somewhat compelling (Beneficial effects of low alcohol exposure, but adverse effects of high alcohol intake on glymphatic function) title, allow me to explain.
The researchers looked at the effects of low dosages versus high dosages of alcohol on the ability of the brain to clear itself of debris. The study was performed in laboratory mice and concluded that there was actually a benefit associated with low dosage alcohol consumption in comparison to no alcohol consumption or high alcohol consumption, in terms of the brain’s “glymphatic function.” This is the brain’s ability to clear itself of potentially harmful debris.
The low dosage administered to the mice was 0.5 g/kg, and that equates to approximately 1 to 2.5 glasses of wine, depending on body weight. The high dose alcohol administration which was associated with worsening function of the brain’s glymphatic system was three times as high as the low dose. Interestingly, the authors indicated that this was a dosage that would correlate with “binge drinking.”
So the message is clear from this animal research. There seems to be a sweet spot in terms of alcohol consumption whereby low level exposure is better than none. Meanwhile there is a corresponding detrimental response from high consumption.
I hope this study provides some helpful information in terms of this commonly asked question.
Already Here tells of the death of Dr. Galland’s son, Christopher, at the age of 22, the direct visual evidence Christopher showed him that our souls do go on, and the communications he received from Christopher’s spirit that dramatically changed Dr. Galland’s understanding of life and its meaning.
In life, Christopher was a brain-damaged special needs child who challenged everyone he knew with his unpredictable behavior and uncanny insights. After his death, he revealed to Leo the real purpose of his life, as a spiritual guide who taught others by confounding their assumptions and expectations. He began to share with Dr. Galland a new perspective on everything from the nature of good and evil to the concept of timelessness—“God’s moment”—to the notion that the universe is, fundamentally, an act of love.
Christopher’s wisdom was revealed to Dr. Galland over the course of a year, coalescing into three themes, which Leo calls the Gift of the Opposite, the Gift of Presence, and the Gift of Timelessness. Leo quickly came to realize that these gifts were not for him alone: they contain ancient wisdom, held sacred in many traditions, that Chris intended him to share with others. He wrote this book, under Chris’ direction, to do just that.
Already Here presents a unique dialogue in which an analytical, scientific mind tries to comprehend truths from another plane of existence—one that, nonetheless, is inseparable from our own. Chris describes Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, as unified opposites that cannot exist without each other and cannot be separated from human consciousness. The book takes its title from Christopher’s final message to Dr. Galland, in which he describes Heaven as an “eternal present” where everyone is together, even those of us still living earthly lives. “Lighten up,” Christopher says to his father. “You’re already here, you know.”
Dr. Leo Galland, an international bestselling author and a respected scholar, is a global leader in integrative medicine and functional nutrition. He has received the Linus Pauling Award from the Institute of Functional Medicine for creating basic principles of Functional Medicine, and the Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to healthcare from Marquis Who’s Who. He is the author of five popular books and several dozen scientific articles and textbook chapters. A board-certified internist, Dr. Galland is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Nutrition. He received his education at Harvard University and New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Galland is listed in Leading Physicians of the World and America’s Top Doctors.
The journal Neurology recently supplied us with a report that offered practitioners an update on suggested treatments for patients with mild cognitive impairment and declining brain health. Their goal is to help practitioners, like myself, understand the most viable treatment options for aiding our patients.
What’s groundbreaking about this most recent edition of these guidelines is that they stand in stark contrast to the longstanding advice most doctors (and patients) receive. They, in fact, have found that none of the pharmaceutical interventions suggested for treating MCI have been effective. That’s a massive revelation.
So what should we be doing instead? Let’s discuss in today’s video.