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Category: Science

Nutrition and Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder affecting over 1% of the American population. There does seem to be some significant genetic component to this disease in that people having a primary relative with the disease, like a parent or sibling, have a ten-fold risk for developing the affliction. 

In Grain Brain, I discussed the new research that relates gluten sensitivity to schizophrenia, as well as so many other brain disorders. As you are all aware, the fundamentals of the Grain Brain Lifestyle are centered on a dietary plan that is dramatically low in carbs, gluten-free, and high in healthy fats.

In this interesting case report and literature review, researchers at Duke University specifically validate this exact dietary approach in terms of actually having significant clinical benefit in the treatment of schizophrenia, leading to what the authors describe as “modulation of the disease at the cellular level.” 

In the day and age of drugs for every ailment, it is so validating to see our most well-respected medical institutions beginning to embrace the important role of nutrition in health and disease.

  • Ri

    sometimes it is still hard for me to fathom that i can eat a high fat diet and still remain healthy fit and lean even if i miss a few workouts throughout the week. This morning for breakfast-eggs and edamame drizzled with olive oil. For lunch its going to be a healthy salad with avocado and peppers and other veggies and salmon and for a snack throughout the day at work i’ll eat the granola i make with nuts/seeds, shredded coconut and dark chocolate chips mmm and if im still hungry berries with full fat unsweetened greek yogurt. For the ladies- I find that if you are stuck on a weight loss plateau that lowering your animal protein intake somewhat and increasing your plant based food intake of veggies will help with weight loss and incorporating resistance training into your workouts. For dinner tonight im going to an Indian restaurant i love Indian food because they use a lot of turmeric and healthy spices and the food is just so good! I think your lifestyle choices have everything to do with your mental state and well being. Thank you Dr Perlmutter for brining this awareness to the forefront and challenging conventional thinking in the medicial field.

  • Janice Ingram

    I haven’t purchased your book yet as I just came across a video interview this afternoon where you were discussing your book. This topic is of special concern to me. My brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the late 1960’s in his early 20’s. He lived a very sad life as a result and passed away a year ago from complications battling colon cancer numerous times. My husband’s father was also schizophrenic as well, though my husband never really knew him since his parents divorced. But we do know he died in the VA hosp where he lived most of his life. We have a son, who is now 18 yrs old. Since I’ve heard of schizophrenia showing up in the early 20’s, I’m concerned for my son’s mental health. He doesn’t exhibit any unusual symptoms, but I’ve always felt he was different. Are there any tests that can predict whether this condition will ever materialize. I’m not new to the low carb arena. Im actually following one now. I’ve also read “Wheat Belly” and was intrigued by the brain studies done on schizophrenics Dr. Davis mentioned. Does your book go into greater detail? My son eats a pretty healthy diet…he doesn’t drink sodas or eat pasta o.r sweets that much. Im sure I could encourage him to clean up his diet even more. What do you advise?

    • David Perlmutter

      Not specifically Janice, but Grain Brain covers a whole host of issues gluten sensitivity can impact, from mental ailments to physical ones. That’s why I also try to go into deeper detail here on the blog.

      • Janice Ingram

        Thank you. I purchased the book last night and look forward to reading it! I wool be returning often to your website as well…It is very informative as well.

        • David Perlmutter

          I do hope it proves helpful.

        • geraldsutliff

          Take heart! Grain Brain is out right exciting!

    • Mary DeMersseman

      Please read the research on treating schizophrenia with megadoses of niacin. There are several books published regarding this treatment.

      • Janice Ingram

        Thank you Mary for your comment. Yes, I have known about niacin used in its treatment. However, at this point, my son doesn’t exhibit any signs of schizophrenia and he may never even develop it. I know his chances are higher than most given that there is a history of it on both sides of our family. Are there specific tests that can indicate whether someone is in the pre stages of this disease? That’s what I’d like to know. Thanks again!

      • Shirlee

        Do you have a reputable website for this enformation?

  • Ri

    since adopting a healthier lifestyle and eliminating gluten and cutting back on carbs has anybody else developed allergic reactions? I feel like since ive been eating cleaner by body is more hyper sensitive towards certain foods. I keep breaking out all over in a red rash and hives and I cant pin point what is triggering it! it is so very frustrating! and the antihistamines Ive been taking make me feel so drowsy.Ive had to miss work due to this. I wanted to see an allergist but my doctor has told me that the tests they conduct aren’t very accurate. I wish I could figure out what is causing this breakout so I can eliminate it from my diet completely. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Urbeau2ful2

      Sounds like gut dysbiosis.. Try to cut all sugars, starchy carbs and increase probiotics, prebiotics and fermented foods!

      • ri

        thank you!

  • Tammy

    I’m wondering Dr. Perlmutter if you think that the recent popular tests for neurotransmitters is accurate? Do you do any type of neurotransmitter testing in your practice? According to a tests my sons neurotransmitters are off the chart high…….of course worried parents we have been doing everything to help with this but the natural remedies that a local Dr has prescribed have only made some things worse. My son has all the typical signs of ADD and has been diagnosed with ADD but this natural Dr that we are seeing has now diagnosed him with Schizophrenia due to the neurotransmitter results. I am searching for answers and would love to know if this topic is in your book or if you can direct me to some information. Do you see kids in your practice?

  • christie

    Do you recommend a grain free diet for kids age 5+ who are showing signs of learning regression? Just saw neuro doc today while he recognizes in some of his patients success of gf, he wasn’t comfortable speaking about food relations since it was not his expertise. My kids are already 3+ years gf, sf, ef, df, very low natural sugar, due to allergies and celiac.

    MRI pending insurance approval to ensure there is no mass.

  • Jackie D’Arcy

    Pyroluria is often relates to schizophrenia and for some patients, treating that genetic disorder will also treat the schizophrenia. Pyroluria can also increase leaky gut due to zinc deficiency and then cause dysbiosis as well. Pyroluria can also be attributed to ADHD, autism and much more. The low zinc can lead to high copper which causes many of the related symptoms and behavioural issues. We are currently treating my son for all of the above with some incredible results, though it may take a few years to reduce his high copper, being off the charts and the highest level our naturopath has ever seen.

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