How Are We to Interpret the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

The United States government recently issued its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This happens every five years so we are now going to have these guidelines in place until 2025.

Unfortunately, as you will see, these guidelines are profoundly insufficient as they relate to nutrition. They are administered to all Americans and become the backbone of nutrition for schools and the military and the general population of our country. In fact, the diet that is recommended is designed only for healthy people, and ultimately that represents only about 12% of our population. This is a one-size-fits-all diet that does not reflect the diversity of our country in terms of race, culture, and importantly, variations in metabolic health. Continue reading


How A Keto Program Helps Parkinson’s Disease

These days so much is being written about the health benefits of lifestyle and nutrition strategies that produce ketosis. Indeed, actually treating certain conditions is now a fair-game discussion because of the robust scientific support being generated from institutions around the world.

I have previously presented information detailing the therapeutic benefit of a ketogenic lifestyle for issues like diabetes (both types 1 and 2), dementia, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. To be sure, there’s some outstanding work being done that demonstrates the effectiveness of a ketogenic program in Parkinson’s disease (PD). And one of the pioneers in studying the ketogenic diet in PD is Dr. Matthew Phillips, a neurologist in New Zealand who we’ve previously featured on The Empowering Neurologist. More recently, I had the opportunity to co-author, along with Dr. Phillips, a book chapter focused on the use of a ketogenic diet as an actual therapeutic intervention for Parkinson’s disease. Continue reading


Diet and Depression: An Updated Perspective

By Dr. Austin Perlmutter

In conventional medical practice, the connection between diet and mood seems barely, if ever, mentioned. Depression is deemed a disease of the mind, or of the brain, treatable with psychotherapy or potent pharmaceuticals. In the latter, the focus seems primarily on modulating neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Yet in the last several decades, there’s also been a push to revitalize dietary interventions for mood, especially for depression. Some have advocated strongly that food-based therapy is the solution to most health issues including mood disorders. But what does the current research in this field actually say, and are we interpreting it correctly? Continue reading


Reducing Inflammation for Better Health

The leading causes of death and disability worldwide are chronic degenerative conditions. These familiar diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type II diabetes are increasing globally, at a dramatic rate, in every region, and in all socioeconomic classes. To be clear, chronic degenerative conditions exceed deaths caused by famine, war, and even infectious diseases. Importantly, this was not always the case.

What has changed? Certainly, it hasn’t been our genetics. Our DNA has changed very little in the past hundred thousand years. And yet, we are suddenly experiencing a virtual explosion in the prevalence of these conditions.

To understand why do these conditions are now so widespread, we have to ask if there’s any shared mechanism that underlies chronic degenerative diseases as a group. Indeed there is. In a word, it’s inflammation. All of these conditions represent a consequence of increased levels of inflammation within the body, and higher levels of inflammation can damage heart arteries, the brain, the joints, and even disrupt the function of the immune system allowing cancer to manifest.

So, if inflammation is at the root of what our now the most pervasive diseases on our planet, it really makes sense to explore how our modern world is amping up inflammation as this should clearly provide us some action points to live a healthier and longer life. Continue reading


Eating Mindfully

Dietary change can seem like an impossible intervention to sustain. High-calorie junk foods are prominently displayed everywhere from supermarkets to gas stations to checkout lines in hardware stores. In fact, so much has gone into this marketing and product placement that it’s impressive anyone can say no.

But, as we describe in detail in Brain Wash, it’s imperative that we break out of the negative spiral of poor decision-making, and food happens to be one the most important ways we can do this.

In addition to the strategies we outline in the book, here are three ways to help get your diet on track—and to keep yourself from falling victim to the ultra-processed foodstuffs that surround us.

  1. Reconsider your shopping list. As mentioned in Brain Wash, we want you to think differently about what fills your refrigerator and your pantry. This Brain Wash-approved shopping list should help.
  2. Become more mindful of your eating habits. We rarely stop to think about all the factors involved in our food choices. As we describe in Brain Wash, a variety of influences in our environment significantly influence our eventual choices about what to eat. However, by becoming mindful of even a few of the things that contribute to our eventual choice of food, we gain considerable control over what we’re putting in our mouths. Start asking yourself why you’re eating junk food over nutritious calories. Was it in response to a stressful day at work or not getting enough sleep last night? The more you can understand the reasons for your choices in meals, the better. There are two ways in which this approach will benefit you. First, you’ll be able to create space and awareness between your impulsive food desires and actually eating the foods (giving you the chance to use your prefrontal cortex to your advantage). Second, you’ll gain more insight on the steps that lead to your poor dietary decisions, hopefully giving you multiple ideas on where to make changes upstream from the actual decision.
  3. Start thinking defensively. It’s not a stretch to say that a large part of the food we eat today is poison. While modern-day concoctions induce short-lived feelings of pleasure, they’re very likely cutting years off your life when eaten too often. Considering that much of our “food” is actually toxic to the body, you’re able to reframe your choices in foods. Think about the fact that you incur damage to your organ systems (including your brain) every time you eat an unhealthy meal. Alternatively, healthy food can be seen as consuming medicine for the body. Reframing foods as either medicine or poison can help you to maneuver your diet towards something you’ll be proud of.
  4. It’s OK to say “No.” We appreciate that cultural norms and social grace are deeply tied into the way we eat. It can be seen as disrespectful to refuse a food item given to you by someone else. And yet, it’s imperative that we do not lose control over what goes into our bodies. With this in mind, you should feel empowered to say “no” when presented with foods you know are bad for you. If this offends your friends, family or coworkers, gently let them know that you’re trying to eat better for the health of your body and your brain. Anyone arguing against this does not have your best interests at heart.

For more on the relationship between, food, nutrition, and your decision-making, read about the supplements that make-up a part of a Brain Wash lifestyle.