In our previous post, we discussed what gluten is and how it affects the body. If you need a refresher, just hit the link.

Part II – Gluten and Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease – the most common form of dementia – is affecting almost five and half million Americans. It’s anticipated that, in the next two decades, Alzheimer’s will affect 25% of all Americans. As if those numbers weren’t already devastating, the fact remains that there is NO cure for Alzheimer’s.

Dr. David Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain) spoke at length about this matter and how doctors, physicians, and pharmacists (in general) prescribe drugs that help symptoms, not the disease!

Dr. Perlmutter’s research has determined that, more so than our lungs and skin, our intestines are affected by our environment more than any other organ. In addition, his research has shown that even gluten sensitivity – not even intolerance – has contributed to most chronic diseases.

That’s the cornerstone of how gluten may be responsible for conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Originally, scientists were convinced that gluten intolerance could only be caused by a wheat allergy or celiac disease, but this is no longer the case. Even people whose intestines are not being ravaged by intolerance to gluten are experiencing symptoms. These people are gluten sensitive.

Gluten sensitivity has an impact on the brain because of how it affects the immune system. With gluten sensitivity (which studies are finding 40% of people suffer from), our bodies create zonulin in the intestines in response to gluten which increases the chance for inflammation and autoimmunity… What this means is essentially, harmful proteins can more easily get into your body through your bloodstream.

However, and this is also important to clarify, going gluten-free is not the be-all end-all diet to avoiding developing dementia or another chronic disease. What Dr. Perlmutter’s research shows is not that gluten causes dementia, but that it weakens the body, making it more susceptible to these diseases.

That’s what he reiterates again and again, research – like the drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies – should not tackle one symptom, they need to cure the disease.

So, this isn’t saying gluten causes dementia, but that it’s a component in chronic diseases. Tackling gluten is the first step, then, according to Dr. Perlmutter, next comes dairy, sugars, and carbohydrates.

What is the Solution?

It’s about changing one’s lifestyle and food choices to help prevent these chronic illnesses. To give a brief synopsis, Dr. Perlmutter indicates that the following helps lower your risk of suffering from dementia:

  • Reduce calorie intake
  • Reduce carbohydrate intake
  • Increase omega-3 consumption
  • Increase vitamin D consumption
  • Increase healthy fat consumption (dairy fats in particular since our brains are roughly 65% fat)

And, of course

  • Exercise.

In short, if you want to ward off dementia or Alzheimer’s, then one thing you can control is your diet and nutrition. It’s not simply a matter of keeping your body strong, but it is healthy for your mental stability and longevity.