I also read the research related to this book so I could give you a more advance review of the book Brain Maker by David Perlmutter.
Since it will be a little bit long than I expected, I added titles to each point so you can read the parts that are more interesting for your. Let’s start.
David is the best seller and scientist known internationally as a leader in the field of nutritional influences in neurological disorders. He also talks about Microbiome Health as Giulia Enders and others in this area. He speaks in a very clear and easy to understand way.
The best of Brain Maker
“Depression, which affects one in ten of us (including a quarter of women in their forties and fifties), is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, and diagnoses are growing at a startling rate.” – p.13
Note: I got this book in English as an ebook so I’m using the page reference from the Spanish book.
Prozac & Zoloft
“Medications like Prozac and Zoloft are among the most often prescribed drugs in the nation. Mind you, these drugs treat symptoms of depression, not the causes, which are flagrantly ignored.” – p.13 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
All medications are focused on symptoms and not causes. That’s the principle of this traditional medicine. Also, in this way it is more lucrative right?
Definitely, I do not recommend the use of drugs or any other medication. There are natural alternatives that are safer and efficient.
“We tend to think of headaches as being inexpensive nuisances, especially since many drugs that treat them are relatively cheap and easy to access (e.g., aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen), but according to the National Pain Foundation, they cause more than 160 million lost work days each year in the U.S. and result in about $30 billion a year in medical expenses.” – p.13
Intestines and Neurological Conditions
“what’s taking place in your intestines today is determining your risk for any number of neurological conditions” – p.14
In other words, a poor nutrition affects your digestion and also your mental health.
Connection between powerful organs
“The digestive system is intimately connected to what goes on in the brain. And perhaps the most important aspect of the gut that has everything to do with your general wellness and mental health is its internal ecology—the various microorganisms that live within it, especially the bacteria.” – p.15
In thermal medicine we know that every sick person has digestive problems, and neurological problems are just a consequence of this affirmation.
“scientific research is bringing more and more credence to the notion that up to 90 percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.” – p.16
And this connection has a name:
“The vagus nerve, the longest of the twelve cranial nerves, is the primary channel of information between the hundreds of millions of nerve cells in our intestinal nervous system and our central nervous system.” – p.37
“The Greek physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, first said in the third century B.C.E., “All disease begins in the gut.”” – p.15 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Although, we know that modern medicine ignore this concept because they follow the pharmaceutical principle.
Importance of Bacteria
“Bacteria are the foundation of all life on earth. They were the planet’s original life forms, and they will probably be the last. Why? Absolutely nothing living can exist without them, not even you.” – p.29
I don’t support the idea of bacteria or virus as a cause of disease. The right order is that a person is already sick and so that’s how he gets affected by bacteria or virus. Later, I will explain it better.
Bacteria have Influence
“And it turns out that the population of bacteria in the gut directly affects the stimulation and function of the cells along the vagus nerve” – p.38
In other words, the bacteria in your guts can control your nervous system. Depending on the type of bacteria will vary your mood, cravings, and more.
Serotonin from your Guts
“You may be surprised to find out that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the amount of serotonin in your body is manufactured by the nerve cells in your gut!” – p.38
Protect the most Valuable
“Your gut has its own immune system, the “gut-associated lymphatic tissue” (GALT). It represents 70 to 80 percent of your body’s total immune system.” – p.41
Alzheimer & Memantine
“the drug memantine, currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, was not only ineffective but also associated with more decline in patients’ functionality when compared to a placebo.” – p.58 | Source A.1
“Rather than paying so much attention (and money) to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (or any neurodegenerative ailment, for that matter), we must focus on educating people about preventive efforts.” – p.59 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
I always say that the first step for every treatment is prevention. Because, at least with that you will stop the disease’s progress.
Brain in Flames
“The brain, although able to perceive pain anywhere in the body, doesn’t itself have pain receptors and therefore cannot register the fact that it’s up in smoke.” – p.62
Perlmutter is talking about the inflammation in the brain.
I would like to add that the strongest system is the nervous system, so when it falls means that the person had awful habits for several years.
“It’s a given that we all have LPS in our guts because it’s an important structural component in a lot of the bacteria there, but it shouldn’t be a given that it ends up in the bloodstream, where it can be quite destructive.” – p.73
If you didn’t know, some bacteria have LPS (lipopolysaccharide) in its membrane and when you have a poor nutrition is possible that it ends into the bloodstream.
It doesn’t start with gluten
“But now we have more science to show that the story doesn’t just start with an inflammatory response to bread and blintzes. It starts with an upset microbiome and the disastrous effects of molecules like LPS that go rogue once in circulation.” – p.76 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Lot of people like to blame gluten for their sickness but the real cause is in general nutrition habits (not just gluten).
Also, I want to clarify that the important thing is digestion. You can eat bread if you improve its digestion. I mean, toasted bread is more digestible, whole grain is more digestible and even infused herbs helps to digest bread.
“A fundamental fact to understand here is that the use of oxygen in the process of producing energy provides a high level of efficiency.” – p.82
Multiple Sclerosis patients have something in common
“Over the past several years, I’ve noticed that MS patients almost always were either born by C-section, not breast-fed, or treated with antibiotics for some illness early in life.” – p.87
This is due to the fact that those three situations affects the microbiota.
LPS can affect the brain
“not only does LPS make the gut more permeable, but it can cross the blood-brain barrier and allow pro-inflammatory chemicals to bombard the brain.” – p.99
Antibiotics attack the microbiome
“If antibiotics come into the picture, they will degrade the microbiome and further facilitate the inflammatory process.” – p.101 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Let me clarify something in here. Microbiota are the microbial flora in our guts, and Microbiome are the genes of those.
Obesity and Pregnancy
“obesity during pregnancy harms the developing fetus’s stem cells, which are responsible for creating and sustaining lifelong blood and immune-system function.” – p.121
“In other words, the unhealthy diet prevents the “slenderizing” bacteria from moving in and having a positive impact.” – p.137
Activate your genes
“Even though genes encoded by DNA are essentially static (barring the occurrence of mutation), the expression of those genes can be highly dynamic in response to environmental influences.” – p.170
Perlmutter explains that genes are like switches that are static but also we can turn it on or off depending on the external influences like our nutrition and exercise.
Starts with diet
“Although there’s nothing you can do to reverse your personal history, you can take charge—starting today—to change the state of your gut and the fate of your brain. And it starts with diet.” – p.175
Fructose has low GI
“In fact, it has the lowest GI of all the natural sugars because the liver metabolizes most of the fructose, so it has no immediate effect on our blood-sugar and insulin levels.” – p.177
This is a point in favor of fruit. Also, we have to remember that:
“Fructose has long-term effects when it’s consumed in large quantities from unnatural sources.” – p.177
Let me highlight the part that says unnatural sources. So, I do recommend to consume fruits.
“Research is now underway on humans, and so far preliminary results indeed show that artificial sugar isn’t what it’s long been cracked up to be—a safe and healthier alternative to real sugar.” – p.180
Perlmutter is talking about the sugar that were recommended by doctors for diabetes patients. Those sugars that used to come in small white boxes. But also it applies for the white artificial sugar used at home.
More problems caused by Antibiotics
“Antibiotics are endocrine-disrupters, and constant exposure to these drugs in our food supply mimics and confuses sex hormones in the body.” – p.193
“Unfortunately, there are many legal and political loopholes in legislative efforts to reduce antibiotics in the food supply.” – p.193
“The results also showed a significant correlation between antibiotic use and terminal breast cancer.” – p.197
Chlorine in Water
“Chemicals found in our water supply, principally residual chlorine, can also be destructive to the microbiome.” – p.208
Genetically Modified Organism
“Many of the studies showing GMOs to be safe have been conducted by the same corporations that created and now profit from them.” – p.210
“A diet high in rich sources of fiber, which you’ll get from whole fruits and vegetables, feeds the good gut bacteria and produces the right balance of those short-chain fatty acids to keep the gut lining in check.” – p.228
“Meat and animal products should be a side dish, not a main course.” – p.228 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
This is it. I left some other great parts of the book but I think this ones are the most important from the book Brain Maker.
The worst of Brain Maker
Coffee and wine
“They generally drink wine and coffee daily, stay active long past eighty years old, and remain mentally sharp to the very end.” – p.33 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
This reference of Perlmutter is about people from Ikaria (Greek Island) were they tend to life longer than the average.
The original investigation that Perlmutter refers to, says:
“Furthermore, overall assessment of dietary habits was evaluated through a special diet score (MedDietScore, range 0–55), which assesses adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern. Higher values on the score indicate greater adherence to this pattern and, consequently, healthier dietary habits” – Source B.1
Which means that the research doesn’t talk about coffee or wine, it talks about how these people are having a Mediterranean diet. And is well know that a Mediterranean diet is good for health and longevity, thanks to their veggies and healthy fat.
I couldn’t find investigations about the benefits of having coffee and wine daily. To be more specific, I couldn’t find investigations that weren’t financed by their own companies.
For principle, I cannot recommend you to consume these products, although you can have them for special occasions.
“There will be situations, for example, when antibiotics are life-saving and necessary.” – p.51 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Along the book, Perlmutter declares that there are several problems related to the consumption of antibiotics. But in this sentence, he accepts them with the idea that there is no more solution.
As a principle, I cannot recommend you something that as a fact will harm your body, especially if there are other natural alternatives like Hydrotherapy which can save the life of the patient without side effects.
When the doctor only knows the protocol then he finds himself without solutions. But we cannot think the same since we constantly investigate new fields of science.
“You can do a lot to influence the expression of your genes, from turning off or suppressing “bad” genes to flipping the switch on “good” genes that will help assure your health.” – p.63 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Here, I just want to clarify that Perlmutter isn’t saying that there are bad genes, therefore the use of quotation marks.
There’s nothing bad until we give them some use. In other words, the bad thing is how we use –in this case– our genes.
“The laboratory research is now extensive, in fact, and unambiguously shows that—through the workings of the belly’s bugs—coffee reduces the risks of type-2 diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer and cardiovascular disease.” – p.78 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
I take my time to read all the research that Perlmutter make reference of for this claim. So I will add them in the bottom in case you’re interested.
In the first place, coffee and coffee grain are not the same. The benefits –in the majority of investigations– talk about coffee grain (natural product) and not about coffee (processed product).
Then the research that Perlmutter talk about, says that the coffee fiber has this benefits (not coffee). Also the research confirms that in 4 cups of coffee you will find only 7% of the fiber you need daily. (B.2)
What that research confirm is that:
“Our results show that the consumption of the coffee preparation resulting from water co-extraction of green and roasted coffee beans produce an increase in the metabolic activity and/or numbers of the Bifidobacterium spp. population, a bacterial group of reputed beneficial effects, without major impact on the dominant microbiota.” – B.3
We know that coffee is psychoactive but that doesn’t mean that is good for our health. I mean that even though coffee raise the numbers of Bifidobacterium doesn’t means it is good, because this boost could be the same of any other energetic drink with caffeine. And we know those aren’t good for our health.
LPS and Fructose
“fructose has been shown to increase circulating LPS by 40 percent.” – p.100 | Brain Maker [Amazon]
Before you start judging the consumption of fruit maybe you should also know that this same research said:
“Despite its fructose content, orange juice may negate the detrimental effects by virtue of its rich content of flavonoids.” – B.4
This means that the levels of flavonoids in fruits help them to negate the bad effects of high LPS levels. In other words, fruit is still a great food for human consumption.
To understand more about fruit and fructose I recommend you to read the article [Fructose is the devil inside fruit].
Wine, Tea, Coffee and Chocolate
We returned to this problem because Perlmutter recommend these products from the page 231.
I’m just gonna say that he is mixing up benefits from the natural version of the product to the processed version.
I wrote more about this problem, so check it out here [Let’s eat chocolate]
I’m not so sure about consuming fermented foods especially because it goes against the principle of eating natural and fresh food which is the healthy thing. And this principle had survived for centuries, so I will stay with it.
Although I will be reading more about it and maybe I will do my own experiments.
For now, If you want to improve the health of your microbiota then eat fresh and natural foods, and also follow these [treatments].
I don’t recommend the nutritional plan from this book because it is too specific. So some things are not useful for some parts of the world. For example, the fish must be fresh otherwise, it will be toxic for human consumption. So to eat fish, you must live close to the coast.
This is the same with other ingredients in this nutritional plan.
What I recommend is easier. Use fresh and natural ingredients. Cook like playing. Start mixing ingredients and then you will create beautiful dishes that are nutritious. You can search other recipes that work for you and you can replace the ingredients with healthier options.
Well, that’s it.
My score for this book is 4 out of 5.
I really liked this book, even more than [Grain Brain].
Finally, don’t forget to Stay Healthy!
- Brain Maker by David Perlmutter on [Amazon].
- A.1: Lack of evidence for the efficacy of memantine in mild Alzheimer disease. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21482915]
- B.1: Sociodemographic and Lifestyle Statistics of Oldest Old People (>80 Years) Living in Ikaria Island: The Ikaria Study. [https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crp/2011/679187/]
- B.2: A Gut Feeling about Coffee. ScienceNews. 2007/07/26. [https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/food-thought/gut-feeling-about-coffee]
- B.3: Impact of coffee consumption on the gut microbiota: a human volunteer study. 2009/03/31. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19217682]
- B.4: Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part II – contemporary contextual research. 2013/03/14. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601973/]