“Though some consider the beating heart to be the center of life (after all, it’s the heartbeat we seek in those first few weeks of life), it’s really the brain that takes center stage. Our heart wouldn’t beat without our brain, and it is our brain that allows us to experience the world on every level–to feel pleasure and pain, to love and to learn, to make decisions, and to participate in life in ways that make it worth living!”
–an excerpt from Grain Brain
Dr. David Perlmutter, a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, has a simple way to transform your health:
Ditch the grains from your diet.
Dr. Perlmutter is the author of several books, including Grain Brain and Brain Maker. The two of us connected through Garden of Life (Karen Putz, GOL Ambassador) where he is known for his probiotic products. He recently released the Grain Brain Cookbook, featuring over 150 recipes that are gluten-free. I received all three books in the mail from his office and recently sat down to read them.
After reading the first book, Grain Brain, I had a tough time enjoying the bundt cupcakes that my mortgage broker gave me after moving into our new place.
And that’s exactly the result that Dr. Perlmutter is hoping to get: optimize your brain and your health by ditching the processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugar. The current trend of eliminating gluten from our diets may be just the thing we need for whatever ails us and Dr. Perlmutter is intensely passionate about getting that message out.
His mission is also personal: he lost his father to Alzheimer’s for many years–and he wanted to understand the cause and progression of the disease. Dr. Perlmutter’s father was a neurosurgeon and he often brought his son in the operating room as a teen, teaching him all about the brain. “My father was a brilliant brain surgeon who taught me the important of compassion,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “He set an example by his life and his work. His passing was from Alzheimer’s, ironically, it’s the major focus of my life work, but the positive part of the experience has been one that lead me to even higher level of dedication to brain work.”
Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease, he says, in his blog post, Your Brain, Your Choice.
Think of gluten as glue. For years, we’ve been inundated with the message that whole grains are wonderful for us. When my mother suffered three heart attacks twenty-three years ago, her doctor’s advice was “more grains, less fat.” My mother loaded up on wheat bread and oatmeal, and avoided avocados and butter because of the high fat content.
Dr. Perlmutter himself thought that advice was sound in his early days of being a doctor. Today, he says the absolute opposite is true. Our brains need essential fats to function optimally.
So what are we supposed to be eating instead?
Here’s a quick list:
Avocados, mercury-free/wild fish, grass-fed/free range meats, olive/avocado/walnut oils, whole eggs, and leafy greens. For a more complete list: Dr. Perlmutter’s Gluten-Free Foods.
Many of the recipes from the Grain Brain Cookbook were developed by Dr. Perlmutter’s wife, Leize.
Dr. Perlmutter and his wife met on a blind date. Two weeks later, he proposed. They’ve been married 30 years and have a son and a daughter.
“So what’s the secret to a long-lasting marriage?” I asked.
“I think it’s having a sense of gratitude and understanding that no one is perfect,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “If you look into long range goals, you realize that the day-to-day issues are not really important. In any marriage or relationship, you have to understand that the union is more important than the parts– meaning each person brings something to the marriage that’s more valuable than adding up the virtues of the individual.
“And one more piece of advice: never go to bed angry!”
Giving to others is a surefire way to enjoy our lives, Dr. Perlmutter told me. After his father retired, he became a stockbroker, but came to realize that he wasn’t satisfied with that direction of his life. So he turned to giving–and opened a free clinic for those who could not afford health care. “We benefit by sharing our experiences and gifts with others,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “I demonstrate gratitude every day. Each of us have one or more gifts that can be utilized to demonstrate gratitude.”
Despite his years of research and bestselling books, Dr. Perlmutter has his share of critics who slam his work. He merely shrugs them off and continues on his mission to improve the health of others by sharing his knowledge and experience.
“Ronald Reagan said that, ‘Status quo is a Latin term meaning ‘the mess we are in.’ This means, to me, if we don’t challenge the status quo, we will not make progress,” Dr. Perlmutter said. “I clearly understand that my work challenges mainstream thinking. There’s a huge resistance to change and that’s okay– we have to embrace the outliers. My hope is that my work won’t be considered ‘outside the box,’ but to make the box bigger. The new ideas will eventually become inside the box–and that’s progress.”
Dr. Perlmutter’s Top Five Tips to Maximize Your Life:
- Aerobic Exercise Every Single Day Get the body moving aerobically– a body that moves is a body that will keep going for a long time. Put in a minimum of 20 minutes a day–and more is better. Water skiing, running, and biking are Dr. Perlmutter’s favorite ways to keep moving.
- Don’t Just Feed Your Body, Fuel Your Body Eat a low sugar, low carbohydrate, high healthy fat diet. For tips and recipes of what to eat, you’ll find those in Dr. Perlmutter’s cookbook. His favorite, ultimate recipe is the Mustard-Glazed Salmon, recipe below.
- Set Up a Gratitude Practice Every day, show or express gratitude. This simple practice shifts your own energy and the energy of those around you. Dr. Perlmutter and his wife begin each day reading something inspirational and practicing gratitude.
- Surround Yourself with People Vigorously engage in social interactions–become involved in your community and meet new people.
- Get Creative Find ways to express your creativity. Continue to learn something new each day.
Special offer from Dr. Perlmutter: Pre-order The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan and receive a free Brain Change DVD.
One of Dr. Perlmutter’s favorite recipes is the Slow-Roasted Salmon with Mustard Glaze, found in the Grain Brain Cookbook:
6 tbls unsalted butter, room temperature (plus more for greasing the pan)
1/4 cup finely ground raw almonds
2 tbls chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
4 (5-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Generously butter a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the fish without crowding.
Place the butter in a small mixing bowl. Add the almonds, parsley, mustard, mustard seeds, and lemon zest and use a rubber spatula to knead and blend thoroughly.
Spread and equal portion of the butter mixture over the top of each salmon fillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then transfer to the roasting pan.
Place in the preheated oven and roast just until the fish is barely cooked through and the top is glazed, about 20 minutes.
Karen Putz is an author, speaker, and Passion Mentor who helps others unwrap their passions at any age. For fun, she walks on water with the assistance of a rope, boat, and driver. Connect with Karen via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her website: Ageless Passions.