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October 21, 2013


Kim Hawkins

Hey, my father in law was in that Puget Sound VA study!


I appreciate you responding to Grain Brain because I just finished reading it on the weekend and was curious what the plant based world thought of it. I took away a different message than you did. Dr Purlmutter takes his patients off dairy he does not promote it. While he does suggest the consumption of eggs and certain meats he also explains on his web site how to lead a Grain Brain vegan life style and does not make any negative comments on it at all. In fact when it comes to DHA supplementation he advocates algae based over fish. For the record I've been vegan over 30 years and don't plan on changing that. However I did find all the science and studies interesting and worth further consideration. While I was feeling confused as I read the book (who do I believe??) by the end I felt empowered because of what I learned about the brain and what I can do to generate the production of new brain cells such as intermittent fasting, the addition of more plant based DHA, adding more turmeric to my diet and more exercise. I am not opposed to adding more nuts and seeds back into my diet. As for gluten I don't eat much anyway and can easily switch my baking to oat flour instead of spelt and wheat. So instead of seeing negative in Grain Brain I saw possibilities for making my brain better while remaining vegan.

Tami @Nutmeg Notebook

This is a lot of information to absorb but its fascinating. My father has type 2 diabetes and dementia, my father in law had three different types of cancer during his lifetime, I have borderline high LDL so my husband and I have plenty of incentive to continue with a plant based food plan.

It just makes so much sense to eat plant based and there doesn't seem to be any negative side affects to eating this way.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you wrote!
So sad that people are soooooooo desperate for answers that they will believe any garbage they hear. :-(


I have always had cholesterol ranging from 200 to 225 until one time years ago I only ate cheese, range free eggs (at least 12 a week), red meat and chicken, salads, and fresh fruit, avoiding all carbs and refined sugar. Shockingly my cholesterol plummeted to 120 - too low. I took statins once briefly and had muscle problems and had to stop. How does one explain this result. My doctor couldn't! Personally I believe the primary cause of heart disease is inflammation not cholesterol. In the Framingham study, the basis of statin use, Linus Pauling years ago looked at the data and said sugar, not saturated fat, was the culprit in heart disease. He said fat in moderation is good for you. Most likely the data was selectively used due to pressure by lobbying by from the pharmaceutical and sugar industries!


Thank you for setting folks straight! I get so sick of books like this giving people misguided advice based on an oversimplification of the data.


For a research librarian and a medical one at that I am disappointed that your research skills are limited by your personal dietary bias.
Go back and dig out the whole research articles cited by Perlmutter and others relating to what he advises we eat and then read papers relating to meat and fat consumption taking close regard to how the experiment was conducted, variables, conflict of interest Harvard has been well known for its plant based bias, though recent comments from Willet and Mozzarin suggest a softening on their hard line attitude towards dietary fat in light of recent saturated fat - cholesterol connection.
A good research librarian would have also picked up the screaming bias in Fuhrman's work -- the alarming language and verbal trashing of any dietary suggestion contrary to his own is evidence enough to suggest he is perhaps being a tad too protective of his own empire to consider, scientifically, all the dietary options on the table.
McDougall's attitude is just a head scratcher in the face of growing scientific evidence against starch and fructose.
You are in a position many would consider enviable in that you have ready access to the whole gammut of medical literature but can only see those that suit your own dietary paradigm.
As librarians we are expected to find and make available information to those who ask. We should never be interpreting that information through are own bias filters.
Dietary advice and advisors have many vested interests from stakeholders in government and business.Funding for research is limited and scarce in this day and age.I am sure I don't have to remind you to check who owns the purse strings before you take the results of a particular finding to heart.


You seem to be crediting Dr. Perlmutter with recommending eating high amounts of protein. Did you read his book? He does not suggest eating high amounts of protein. In fact he suggests limiting calories overall. Further he suggests using ketone strips to ensure that you are not too highly ketotic - a mark of consuming too high of a percentage of protein in your diet.

His premise is that eating too much sugar of any kind (even wholesome grain) is going to damage LDL, and this will lead to inflammation in the body and cause a narrowing of the arteries. You counter his premise by referencing Dr. Ornish as saying this is basically wrongheaded. Do you have scientific literature in your library to support your position, or should we just trust you?

Bottom line - and I do not mean to disparage you - but as a person trained as a librarian you simply do not have the educational credentials nor the research background to critique Dr. Perlmutter's work.

Healthy Librarian

@John: Did you follow the links to top-flight journal articles to support the comments I made? Look, scientists disagree over so much--there are always different interpretations & schools of thought. Also--I wasn't saying that everything Perlmutter was saying was incorrect. Insulin ups & downs caused by a poor diet are bad news for the brain. BUT, NOT ALL CARBS ARE CREATED EQUAL!! Sugar is bad news. Refined grains & processed foods & bakery desserts. Crap! Soda, fruit juice--avoid. And yes, I too limit whole wheat flour products & breads. But whole intact grains (excludes flour even if made from a whole grain) & legumes that are low-glycemic & are a tremendous source of soluble & insoluble fiber & make up the fermentable substrate to feed & promote a healthy gut microbiome---these are the carbs that are beneficial, IMHO. Also, extremely beneficial for GI health.

At the time I wrote this I was unable to get a copy of the book & I was responding to the Psychology Today post about the book.

Living on grass-fed animal protein or wild salmon isn't economically feasible or sustainable for the world population.

Philippe Orlando

I think many doctors are discovering they are tired of practicing medicine. I happen to know a few. So what's next for them? Write a book. Do you make money by writing what people don't want to hear? No. You make money by writing what people want to hear and you bring them some bogus scientific proof, you're a doctor after all, and voila.
As far as I'm concerned, Perlmutter knows what he's doing. He's trying to make money.

James Richardson

I just heard this guy Perlmutter on "The People's Pharmacy" on radio. A smooth talker. Convincing at first. Radio hosts fawn over him, like Smiley and others fawn over Oz on TV. They get a free pass.

Gosh, so -- Drs. Ornish and Esselstyn and Mirkin, all proven beyond doubt by now, plus this website itself -- have all been wrong about very low-fat diet and atherosclerosis reversal?? And cardiac events and strokes?? After all this time?? Wow, what a revelation. I guess I've been a gullible sap to believe them.

Unfortunately, reality intrude. They and this website (my first link) sure saved my life with a reversal, four years later. And Bill Clinton's life too. I heard Doc Perlmutter say that low-fat diets were a disaster based upon work in the 1990's? What?! Gosh..I think that says-it-all post above me by Phillippe Orlando sums up this guy: "As far as I'm concerned, Perlmutter knows what he's doing. He's trying to make money."

The best semi-quacks are always very smooth convincing talkers, and usually have falsehoods sandwiched between several truths. Goes down best that way. Like Mercola and current heros, Mehmet Oz and Andy Weil, (Oz and Weil are the smoothest yet, like Jim Bakker was in his genre). *Spend an evening by Googling* Mehmet Oz and Andrew Weil (not at the same time)+ the word "quack." Be prepared for an eye-opener. As the juvenile blurb about Perlmutter's book says, it "blows the lid off." FYI, I just learned from always-smiling Oz in the checkout line yesterday that I can "Detox (sic) My Thyroid," and lose a pound a day. What good news! The man is a genius, ahead of his time! Perhaps an earlier method of his in that same publication before Thanksgiving, to "Turbocharge (sic" my something or other and lose even more weight per day, is too old-fashioned. I can barely wait for the breakthrough secrets he and Prevention magazine will reveal in 2014.

Lynn Asher

I came upon this GRAIN BRAIN book recently. I have taken the course in plant based nutrition and have eaten Dr. Campbell's diet for a year and a half. I have deteriorated but have been steadfast in my support of this way of eating. I eat whole grains, beans veggies, fruit and small amount of nuts, seeds and avocados. No sugar, oil or processed food. Results have been depression, constant food cravings due to constant stomach issues with all the fiber. Beans kill me as do all the broccoli family foods. I lost all my tight muscles and although have gained no weight I'm all flab now. I still exercise every day, take Vit d , don't need b12 as levels good and have regular blood checks. All is well. My hair has fallen out, my moods terrible and I have come to the conclusion that this way of eating is really a cult eating disorder . All I know is my former animal based diet of no grains, as I never liked them, no beans and just veggies made me feel great. I love learning new things and when this plant based explosion diet appeared on the scene with all the plant based superstar doctors, I was sold. If only I felt great like they all contend. This Grain Brain concept is another floating concept which will bring many over to the diet . Maybe I'll try it . Being depressed and having brain fog and never feeing good on this wonderful plant based diet has taken precious happy years from my life EVEN if it lowered my cholesterol….At what cost however?

I am sure there are many others out there like me as well as many who do great. I'm happy you are the latter but all of these restrictive diets are really glorified eating disorders in disguise as I have now come to believe. I'm just frustrated at the power and influence these books and their respective studies have over us. Bottom line is feeling good is paramount to a successful diet. Leave the rhetoric behind . These plant based diets will be history as more problems arise from those following them. I unfortunately don't have the answer as to the ideal diet for mental and physical health out there. For me, it's DEFINITELY not the forks over knives one.

I would enjoy hearing from you if at all possible.
Thanks, Lynn.

Denis MacDougall

Sadly there is so much confusion out there given the plethora of conflicting "scientific' studies about what we should eat for optimal health. I suggest you read Michael Pollan's book "In Defense of Food" which recommends 3 basic rules for healthy enjoyment of food.
1. Eat real food as opposed to the processed variety by the corporate food industry.
2. Mostly fruits and vegetables.
3. Not a lot.
Kinda makes sense doesn't it?


I think that that was a pretty good response, however, I am still confused about saturated fats and cholesterol-they may lower our risk of dementia, and people with higher LDL levels had just as many heart attacks/risk of heart attacks?
Please respond to this, I'm quite confused.

Dana Burns

Thanks for your thoughtful response. You provide a better balanced, more broadly supported set of information. As a Stage 4a cancer survivor, I am particularly concerned about maintaining a nutrient rich, plant based diet for the obvious reasons.


Permutter's advice to eat cholesterol for brain health is short-sighted. AFAIK, the brain manufactures its own cholesterol, and serum cholesterol from the liver can not cross the blood-brain barrier. Whoops!

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