Category: Science

Inflammation – Strong Relationship to Dementia

Inflammation is a process with which we are all familiar. Whether from an insect bite or an arthritic joint, we associate inflammation with the typical observations of pain, redness, and swelling as well as loss of function.

In Grain Brain, as well as my recent PBS program, BrainChange, I described that this very same process, inflammation, is actually a pivotal player in such diverse brain conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and even autism.

That said, the most fundamental take home message of all my media outreach is to convince everyone willing to listen that you’ve got to do everything possible to reduce inflammation. And that means a diet rich in inflammation-reducing foods like healthful fats, minimal in carbohydrates and strictly gluten-restricted.

Even slight blood sugar elevation raises the binding of glucose to protein. This process, known as glycation profoundly increases the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body and is the main reason we check the A1c blood test as it measures this process. You can learn more about A1c, also known as glycated hemoglobin, and its powerful role in predicting dementia by reviewing this reference.

What’s even more interesting is newer research indicating a strong relationship between peripheral inflammation (inflammation outside of the brain) and risk for developing dementia, a condition for which there is no medical treatment.

Please review this intriguing research and feel free to comment as we continue to move forward on this journey.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • heidi

    how do you know how much inflammation you have? is the ANA test a reliable marker?

    • Carol

      I just had my blood work done. It’s called C-reactive protein. By eliminating grains and wheat, as well as taking an antioxidant supplement daily, I’ve reduced my inflammation from 5.5 to 2.8. My doctor was happy.

    • David Perlmutter

      Not really. ANA is more of a marker for autoimmunity. C-reactive protein is a bit more specific for inflammation

  • Sunny2468

    Do you consider turmeric supplements as a good way to reduce inflammation?

    • David Perlmutter

      There’s a lot of great information out there about turmeric. http://www.drperlmutter.com/considering-curcumin/

      • Sunny2468

        Thanks!!! I’ve read scores of articles, but wanted your opinion. I had amazing results back in September 2013, but I dumped wheat/grains and started making grass-fed raw Jersey milk kefir and fermented veggies at the same time I started supplementing with turmeric.

  • david

    (i’m not an english speaker, so please Forgive me for my spellling mestakes)
    i got situation of chronic Inflammation in my fingertips due to lack of skin
    around my finger nails. every doctor i sow just said i’ll have to live with it
    and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it ( besides constant appling
    of topical steroid)
    can you share youre thoughts about my situation??

    • marco

      Try rubbing pure coconut oil on your fingers and hands 3times per day…and get off gluten…and follow grain brain diet…good luck

  • ri

    what about regular cinnamon i always add it to my coffee oatmeal and use it in foods is it helpful or do you need it in capsule form ? thanks

    • Debbie Belcore

      Hi, Could I suggest you measure your blood glucose 45 min after eating oatmeal. For myself and many of my clients, it is highly glycemic – even when loaded up with other macronutrients that theoretically should lower the glycemic effect. There are better choices, especially in the morning (when insulin sensitivity is reduced).

      • Lisbeth Laursen

        Thanks so much for this info, Debbie!

  • Maie

    Annual meeting of American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry – presentation – ” ECT quells dementia-associated agitation.” Electroconvulsive ‘therapy’ has already been proposed for autistic kids.
    I have been ‘caring’ for a woman with dementia for 3 months while her husband is hospitalized. Her diet is bread, cookies, potatoes, and more bread. She refuses other food. She’s on at least 8 pharmaceuticals and has urinary and fecal incontinence – drug adverse effects. Her husband is hospitalized because of cracks in his vertebrae. I am 99.99% he has celiac disease and that she has gluten-related dementia. They both did better when I supplied gluten-free bread and coconut oil for a couple of months. Eventually she refused. She calls every few days asking for bread.
    Carolyn Dean MD ND was taking her patients off gluten 20 years ago.
    Could you comment on what ECT does to the brain? Or can you recommend someone who can? I know ECT is ‘visible’ in the human energy field.

    • David Perlmutter

      I am not a fan of ECT but recognize it can be helpful when all else fails in terms of treating depression. We are now recognizing that attention to the gut bacteria may turn out to be a powerful therapy for depression. More to come!

  • Tim

    My grandfather loved eating animal fat and would eat all the fat off everyone’s plate after meals (which usually consisted of a roast or ham). But he got terrible heart disease in his later years and died at retirement age. My dad is also prone to heart disease but has fared much better on the low-fat diet recommended by his cardiologist. He will turn 80 soon. This doesn’t square with the philosophy of this web site, so I’m confused. I’ve been studying the various diets and trying to emphasize the things they all agree on (like eating lots of vegetables and avoiding starches and unhealthy fats), but I’m confused about the foods where they disagree. I tend to gain weight when I eat a lot of fat, and I feel better without it. I try to get most of my fat from things like nuts, olive oil, and avocados because they are widely recommended. Do you think this is the safest approach?

    • David Perlmutter

      It seems like you’ve learned about healthful fats specifically. Your choices seem very appropriate

  • Celeste

    I have the same question as Heidi. what is the best measurement of inflammation in the body?

    • Lisbeth Laursen

      Did you see the answer from Dr. Perlmutter? C-reactive protein.

  • lucy

    Hi My friend has just been diagnosed with ALS – Motornueron Disease. Do you think her diet has impacted on this disease rich in high carbs, fat and sugar. And do you think that a grain free diet will help her at this early stage.

  • Angel

    Just a few comments, I have Lyme, and there is a lot in inflammation associated with it and brain fog. I have eliminated gluten, because I have developed digestive issues with severe bloating and gas. But with the elimination of gluten, hence wheat, carbs lowered, and the addition of Dr. P’s high DHA supplement. This has helped immensely. I think we would all fare better with an increase in coconut oil/avocado oils, more healthy fats, less processed carbs. I feel the lowering of my carb intake and the addition of healthy fats is a real help. Plus these wheat products are gmo’s wheats. I think that is what caused me to have a severe reaction/flare of Lyme complications.
    I have read Dr P’s books, and I find he is right on the target. I have experienced the benefits of a more good fat diet. I also take coconut oil off the spoon, like a tablespoon at least once a day, sometimes more, depending on how I am feeling. It is the processed carbs and sugar with the gmo’s that set me off with the symptoms again. anyway, best of health to you all. We can do this. Thanks Dr P

    • Lisbeth Laursen

      Thanks for sharing, Angel. Glad you are better!

    • saynotogmos

      There is no GMO wheat on the market yet.

      • saynotogmos

        But much of it is drenched in pre-harvest glyphosate which has known adverse health effects.

  • Pingback: Brain Food: Spring Clean Your Diet » For the Love of Dixie()

  • Karen

    you can reduce inflammation in the brain with frequency specific microcurrent (www.frequencyspecific.com)

  • Gary

    Dr. Perlmutter, to follow up Lucy’s question, do you believe that your dietary recommendations in Grain Brain could prevent, slow or stop ALS? Have you treated people with ALS using this approach? If so, with what sort of results?
    Thanks for any thoughts about dealing with this horrible disease.

  • gaylep

    Hello, I looked at the supplements that you sell, and I notice that there is a very low EPA to DHA ratio. Why is that? I read a medical article that stressed the need to balance out the ratios for mental disorders, but I realize that they might not be focusing on the same problem as you. What is the advantage to taking the low ratio long-term? Should I worry about not getting enough Omega-6? Personally, I’m looking for reduction in inflammation, memory improvement (I’ve been having trouble in recent years, even though I’m “only” 50 yrs old now). I also suffer from dry eyes, and I’ve read that omega-3 fatty acids improve this condition (although I don’t know in what ratios!) Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  • Pingback: What Leading Science Says About the Gluten Threat | David Perlmutter M.D.()

  • Pingback: Are Carbs Causing Obesity And Alzheimer’s Epidemics? Low Carb Diet Doctor Says ‘Yes’ [Video]()

  • Pingback: Does all Disease Begin in the Gut?Alcat Test San Diego()

loading symbol Loading More