Dietary Fat and The Brain

Think of it. For just the past 3 decades we have somehow become convinced that dietary fat represented a threat to our health. Mind you, fat has been a critical macronutrient for humans and our forebears for at least 2 million years. But suddenly, fat became responsible for every health woe you could think of.

Fortunately, science and common sense now prevail and this ridiculous aberration in human nutrition has been corrected.

Welcome fat back to the table. It’s good for the heart, brain, immune system and just about every aspect of human physiology you consider. And as it specifically relates to dementia, new research clearly shows us that individuals eating more of the “dreaded” fat actually have a substantial risk reduction for becoming demented while those with diets favoring carbohydrates the risk for dementia dramatically increased.

Debates about what we should be eating are often carried out from positions based on emotion. I believe we should place greater value on the published science coming to us from our most respected institutions.

  • supermoto

    Love avocados they cuase me digestion problems. Mainly flactulance. Hugel dissapointing…..

    • supermoto

      Not sure they are responsible for my typo’s though……I blame that on dropping a plate of food on my keyboard….Lol

  • Joe Texan

    I learned in graduate school and the Swedish people have the longest life expectancy of 89 years, meaning that 50% live past 89 years. So, I logged onto the Swedish government website to learn their dietary recommendations for the Swedish people. Their websites states that they are proud to announce that they are the first government to totally reject the erroneous science that fat is bad and grains are good, and now recommend a high fat and very low carb diet. They said it is not a huge change for them because they have always eaten a high fat and low carb diet, but now it is the official position of the Swedish government.

    • Mike

      Just wondering where you got the data for longest life expectancies. I can’t find any info where Sweden has the longest.

      • Joe Texan

        Actually, I was wrong. Sweden used to have a life expectancy of 89 but it has fallen to 80. Now Japan has the highest at 89 years. A Swede responded that the life expectancy has decreased because of processed food and the previous rec of the government to avoid cholesterol and eat grains.

        • laguna

          And a Swede says he knows the reasons for all this. He must be named Thor.

          • Joe Texan

            Check the World Heath Organization. The U.S. is now 42nd in the world in life expectancy.

        • Nik3000

          So full of shit it’s unreal. The fact Japan now has the highest goes against everything you say considering they binge out on rice and carbs and have very low fat intake compared to a lot of countries.

          • Tina

            So they have the longest life expectancy. No where is it indicated that that is a long life without cognitive impairment. I’d rather die cognitively healthy at 70 than with dementia at 89.

          • terry richards

            I don’t think the Japanese binge on carbs, they just seem to because their protein intake is proportionately much lower. If someone’s diet is 80% carbs, but they still don’t eat that many calories in absolute terms, then their carb intake isn’t that high, it’s that their protein intake is very low. BTW, low protein is one of the reasons they are smaller. Have a look at orientals born in the West on a Western diet and they are much taller.

          • Christy Penleric

            Everyone is getting bigger now because of all the growth hormones in meat and dairy.

          • GingerKat

            Japan eats plenty of fat, fish & beef ~ Kobi.

          • Don Kerr

            Do you really need to be potty mouthed to discuse an augment ? You sound as if your 12.

        • GingerKat

          Thanks to the NWO everyone’s life expectancy is dropping expect for the elites.

  • Joe Texan

    Because carbs and sugar are listed in grams on food products in the U.S., I was curious about how to convert grams to teaspoons. You divide by 4 to convert to teaspoons of either carbs or sugar. I looked on the USDA website to learn the carbs and sugar in a large frozen cheese pizza and learned that it has the equivalent of 90+ teaspoons of sugar. Wow! One serving of most breakfast cereals have 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar+carbs.

  • Bob Calzaretta

    What’s your take on bacon? Good fat or bad fat?

    • David Perlmutter

      I know of few sources of grass-fed bacon. Would also want nitrate-free.

      • Healthy Grandma

        I noticed you remarked on grass-fed, nitrate-free bacon but did not comment on the increased risk for heart disease with a diet high in saturated fat. Is my cardiologist going to freak out if I tell her I am following a diet high in saturated fat? Dying young of a heart attack will prevent Alzheimer’s in my old age. Please don’t take this wrong, I believe in lowering carbs but am concerned about my heart.

        • Maureen

          Hi Healthy Grandma,
          Please see my replies to Geoff above to learn the truth about heart disease and fats…and to really become a healthy grandma. I’m a nutritionist on a mission to correct the biggest lie ever, and to heal our very (unnecessarily) sick population. And don’t ask your doctor. Except for Dr. Perlmutter, they are basically clueless on how to be healthy (but they are REALLY good at prescribing expensive drugs and tests and surgeries). Wake up and smell that delicious bacon frying! I wish you great health.

          • Lisa

            Or do what I did–changed my diet, came out with a spectacular blood panel and the doc said “whatever you are doing, keep doing it!”

          • Healthy Grandma

            I have ordered The Grain Brain and expect it to be delivered on Thursday. However, I have been trying to follow the general guidelines I have found online: gluten-free, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, beef and pork. I have not had any cravings for sweets, and my intake has been less because I have not been hungry. And I have had lots of energy. It sure seems to be working for me. If I continue to feel this good, I will wait and see what the blood tests show when I go for my annual physical in November.

        • mikemarkham

          Grass-fed is always optimal, as it will contain a higher ratio of omega-3’s to 6’s (the latter are more inflammatory). However, eating meat and reduction of refined carbohydrate and sugars will reduce inflammation dramatically…So, get grass-fed when you can’t but don’t stress over it.

          Also, you’ll likely get multiple times more nitrates and nitrites in your vegetables. Nitrate-free bacon is a scam.

          Many cardiologists will likely freak if you sway from the scripted USDA diet. I would advise reading the book “Cholesterol Clarity” by Jimmy Moore.

  • Geoff

    High fat, low carb might show improvement in MCI, but what about heart disease? I’m willing to bet that type of diet shows increased risk for heart disease. Also, cancer risk goes up when meat consumption goes up.

    • Maureen

      Another fallacy. Heart disease isnc’t caused by saturated fat, but by inflammation caused by Standard American Diet (SAD), namely vegetable oils, improperly prepared grains, and excessive and refined sugar. Look up Ancel Keys, the researcher in 1951 who started the lie. Then go to http://www.westonaprice.org to learn how healthy peoples around the world ate to thrive and stay alive.

    • Maureen

      And about cancer and meat, another fallacy caused by bad science. The China study is flat out wrong. They failed to consider that cattle in China (AND America for that matter) are fed large amounts of cottonseed meal, which is high in the naturally occurring pesticide gosypol. This causes a l-lysine defiency, which causes an arginine overimbalance, causing viruses to flourish…and cancer is viral. http://www.tendler5.wix.com/highlysinediet.

  • A. Enriquez

    Dr Perlmutter
    Are you advising us, to eat more good fat, discontinue to take Lipitor and zetia and forget about our blood levels of cholesterol ?

    A. Enriquez

    • David Perlmutter

      The Grain Brain lifestyle focuses on a diet rich with healthy fats, and my thoughts on statins can be found in the “Articles” section of this website. However, personal decisions like those should be made in consultation with your physician.

      • Giannis Euthimiou

        Cocoa is good for patients with autoimmune diseases;

  • HLB

    In the past I tried a non diary, high protein diet. I lost weight rapidly, but also started having serious problems with short term memory loss. Having returned to cheese, milk and eggs my short term memory has returned. BTW what is the issue with legumes and carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes? Some seem to suggest there are bad for you.

  • Lee

    Dr Perlmutter, my father is on gastric feeding following successful radiation treatment for throat cancer last year. He is also on dialysis and statins (following CHF and stents in 2009, which were very effective in improving his condition).

    He has been experiencing intermittent memory problems, although we seem to have gotten past the initial diagnosis of dementia after they tested him and had more interactions with him.

    They are using Nepro for gastric feeding, which is basically sugar and protein. Lots of corn. Carbs are 38g, fat 23, and protein 19g per 8oz serving (425 cal) from the Abbott site.

    I’ve been trying to find a low carb/high fat alternative with good protein for a dialysis patient.

    I’ve looked at Axona, a medical food made with MCT that is an effort to provide ketones to the brain, it seems a step in the right direction, but not a complete food.

    Do you know of any dialysis-friendly low carb enteric foods available? Any other suggestions that I could bring to his doctors?

    Thank you for any help you can provide in proposing alternatives for this type of situation.


    • TechnoTriticale

      > He is also on dialysis and statins …
      > … intermittent memory problems …

      Although there are multiple suspects for that, I presume you are aware that memory problems are a commonly reported side effect of statins, and one that may or may not be forestalled with CoQ10 supplements (which are necessary when on statins).

      If you can find a decent LCHF grain-free gastric meal source, you might be able to reverse the CVD problems enough to get off the statins.

      • Lee

        Yes, that was what I was thinking, between all the sugar and the statins it seemed the best thing to try was get him on a different food source. I’ve been searching, but no luck.

        He is 77 and he definitely wants to live. I just need to find a way to help him and improve his quality of life. He is a a Vietnam vet and and a career officer in VA care. Many of his problems were attributed to agent orange exposure.

    • Guest

      What fats do you recommend? Thanks!

  • It’s so great to see that Time Magazine, 40 years after heralding the ‘research’, from Ancel Keys, coming back to say ‘oops-we were wrong!’.
    I don’t think it’s because that the magazine is a pioneer in the field of health, as much as it is a reflection of cultural phyche based on what people have learned through authors such as you, Dr. Davis, and others.
    Slowly, people are getting the message-thanks for all you do, Dr. Perlmutter 🙂

  • Ruthie

    What fats do you recommend? Thanks.

    • David Perlmutter

      You want to focus on healthy fat sources like avocados, grass-fed beef, nuts, seeds, and others.

      • Ruthie

        What others?

      • Travis Sherwood

        What are your thoughts on grass fed beef tallow ?

  • VIto

    Good stuff Dr.
    Do you have an opinion on a good fat ratio folks should start with? That is, of total fat calories consumed (a relatively high percentage of daily calories), what percentage should be Saturated, Mono-Unsaturated, and Poly-Unsaturated (assuming n6:n3 ratio as low as feasible) and Trans is ZERO. Interested in your thoughts on a general starting point- Thx for any insight-

  • Niikii


    Can someone please quantify the amount of fat we should be aiming for each day, or give a rough percentage of protein, carb, fat breakdown… or something.

    I need something solid to go by, I generally eat very well all organic/grass-fed, and little to no grains, maybe a small portion of fruit, and the right amount of protein for my size = so does this mean that the gap should just be filled with fat?

    Can an expert give me an example for a 27 y/o 52kg person who has medium level of activity?

    This is an issue that has been hindering me in applying the brain grain principles.

  • Mindaugas Raulinaitis
  • laguna

    Lard for cooking and mixing with my food for flavor should be perfectly fine. I like this diet even better than Atkins. I used to live in Australia where most all meat is grass fed and they have alot of heart disease. When i traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia the people were thin and healthy-they ate white rice at every meal. I guess its a mystery?

  • carymeade

    I’m new to the site, so I’m not sure I’m navigating it correctly. I have a question about being a vegetarian on the grain-brain diet. Any suggestions? Thank you.

  • JN

    To give this video more credibility, please correct the audio text to read “Mayo”clinic instead of “male”!!!

  • Sarah

    The video posted above has a major error in the words that are printed at the bottom of the screen. Every time Dr Perlmutter says “Mayo clinic”, the words printed below say “Male clinic”. Somebody should correct this for people who are not familiar with the Mayo Clinic.

  • Guest

    “We now understand that it’s not just a question of living in a rural
    versus a urban environment, but we have actually changed our gut
    bacteria in going from ancient times to more modern times.”

    The opening sentence appears confusing to me, and to not be the point you are making. The point you are making (I think) is there has been very little change in the gut bacteria from ancient to modern times, and the difference has all to do with the diet differences between rural and cosmopolitan people.

  • eve

    i have had M.S for 32 years and have been on a low-sat fat,gluten free,sugar free and dairy free diet with supplements for many years and with 10,000iu of vitamin d3 for about 7 years. Despite this,I have very slowly deteriorated and actually had my first flare for 30 years last year.I have been suffering since then from burning feet and knees and from tight bands round my stomach and ribs,though those have lessened since I stopped eating all grains since August 2014 to lower my blood pressure. I have always eaten a high fish diet also with shellfish and fish oils, but I am much too nervous after so long on the Swank Diet to take many saturated fats. i don’t eat much meat only liver,venison and chicken along with a great deal of nuts and probiotics and I started eating much more green veg and more olive oil. I also take gelatin twice a day to help me sleep through the burning foot discomfort. I also take 6 teaspoonsful of lecithin granules to feed my myelin sheath,based on Dr Andrew Weil’s recommendation. Is that sufficient fat and protein to recover from this flare-up of M.S? I am really scared of getting worse by taking sat- fats. The Swank Diet results showed and those from Dr.Jelinek’s even stricter vegan/fish diet appear to show that the groups taking the most saturated fats became very disabled and died the soonest. I retired from teaching just two years ago at 63 so have been very blessed up till this recent flare,but I was always very slowly getting worse and now need a stick permanently and soon may need two.

  • zeev

    Hello, I live in an area where there is no grass fed livestock. How to eat correctly to supply the fat and enzymes subjected to maximize brain health and be as close as possible to the ideal ketogenic diet ?

  • Give Peas a Chance

    I’ve read the study and it is crucial to know that the higher carbohydrate group ate less vegetables than the higher fat group. The higher carb group reported eating much more free sugar and fruit, thus the higher carbohydrate content.

    Also, it is a self-reporting study with people we know are later (but not much later) diagnosed with cognitive impairment. You may forget to mention the cream in your coffee, the butter on your toast or exactly what you had at the restaurant, but you will likely remember the brownie or delicious bowl of strawberries you had- just saying.

    Also, it is important to note that cities and countries with lowest rates of AD and dementia are eating tons of vegetables and other unprocessed plant
    foods and eat as much as 70-80% carbs.

    Do not forgo greens, broccoli, spinach, blueberries, sauerkraut, kimchi black beans and all the other high carb, high antioxidant and fiber rich foods that feed your flora (they all have high carbohydrate percentages compared to fat).

    They are fantastic for your brain and heart!!! It is not possible to get the full benefit from fiber, antioxidants and all the other phytochemical plant carbs provide in a fiber pill or antioxidant powder. Don’t ditch your vegetables for processed oils, in my opinion, not a good trade. But enjoy your ground flax seeds, walnuts and avocado as good fats with wonderful anti-inflammatory omega-3’s, fiber and too many other goodies to mention.

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  • GingerKat

    Did the mayo clinic & their “studies” say anything about aluminum nano particles being sprayed in out skies via chemtrails for the last 5 decades, fluoridated water supply?
    No I bet not.

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