A Conversation with Dr. David Perlmutter on Diet and Exercise

 In General

ARPF President and Medical
Director, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., had the opportunity to interview Dr. David
Perlmutter earlier this year during an ARPF teleseminar.

David Perlmutter, MD, FACN, ABIHM
is the #1 New York Times Best Selling Author of “Grain Brain” and is a
Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition.

Here is an excerpt of that
conversation centered on diet and exercise:

Dr. Khalsa:  I just want to
share a personal story.
  About three
years ago, I had gained weight for some reason and I wanted to figure out why
it was.
 I wanted to get my health back
and I decided that I was going to put my health first.
  I went to Canyon Ranch in Miami Beach,
Florida and they did a food sensitivity test.

I was sensitive to gluten.  I
don’t know if you know Dr. Karen Koffler, who is the Medical Director.
  I met with a nutritionist, decided no more
wheat and actually dairy as well, some cheese and other things, but the gluten
was the big thing.
  Dr. Koffler said I
didn’t even have to do anything else to lose weight.
 You don’t have to exercise unless you want to
and I love to exercise.
  You don’t have
to make many other changes in your diet. What you are going to find is that
when you eliminate gluten from your diet your body is going to shrink, you will
lose weight, and
you are going to look a lot
she was right.
  I did shrink, but I also
lost 23-24 pounds just by eliminating gluten.

Gluten, I think, is a very big risk factor for so many problems that we
see in America and as you are saying now, it’s also a big problem for your
brain health, isn’t that right?

Dr. Perlmutter:  No question
about it. And again if people did not see the Dr. Oz show today it’s free and
available beginning 24 hours later, so by tomorrow afternoon that whole program
is going to be posted. I have tried to do my very best to explain the mechanism
whereby gluten is threatening to the brain.

Now there is wonderful work by Dr. Alessio Fasano at Harvard.  I have had the unique opportunity to lecture
with him.
  His work is demonstrating
remarkable things about gluten.
only does it lead to leakiness of the gut, leaky gut that leaks things into the
blood stream that really shouldn’t be there, but he is now demonstrating what
is called the blood grain barrier.
is the protective barrier that kind of keeps the brain in a sanctuary. That’s
exactly what we demonstrated today on the program when we broke the glass
covering over the brain. That was the hot water that broke the glass which
represented the gluten.
  It’s scary
business on the one hand, but on the other hand it is very empowering because
we know that this is a real leg up for health and once you understand this, you
can make these changes.
 I would caution
your listeners to recognize that they need to understand that shopping the
gluten free aisle in the grocery stores is not what I am suggesting.
  It is not to gravitate towards the gluten
free breads, the gluten free pasta, gluten free cakes and cookies, because you
are still pounding your body with carbohydrates.

The other thing I mentioned today
on the program is a concept called neurogenesis.
  We can grow back new brain cells, that’s
breath taking.
  You know and I know when
we were younger men, we were told that we are given a finite number of brain
  It was 100 billion.  By the time we are 18 years of age, it was
all downhill and indeed that’s what we observed until science finally allowed
us to visualize that humans have this process of stem cell, brain cell
regeneration that persists throughout our life times and we can enhance that
  That process is enhanced by
something you mentioned earlier that you have adapted in your life and that is
physical exercise.
  Aerobic exercise
modifies the genes, the DNA expression that turns on a gene that actually makes
a type of growth hormone for the brain called BDNF.
  With reference to the first e-mail, this was
published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
  A very well respected journal of Dr. Kirk
Erickson, University of Pittsburgh, which demonstrated in a one year study that
those individuals who did stretching every day found that their memory center
of the hippocampus shrunk. Individuals who engaged in about 20 minutes of
aerobics actually had a 2% increase in size in one year in their brain’s memory
center with higher levels of the BDNF growth hormone of the brain and improved
  What I just said is aerobic
exercise does what no pharmaceutical agent can do and that is it leads to
improvement in memory and growth of new brain cells, per the National Academy
of Science, January 31, 2011.

Dr. Khalsa:  Great. One thing
I just want to mention here is something we found in our own research.
  We found that doing a 12-minute yoga
meditation called Kirtan Kriya, (this was done at UCLA and published in the
Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and other journals) decreases inflammatory
markers, increased blood flow and definitely changed the brain including
reversal of memory loss in people with early cognitive decline.
  I think the increased blood flow, you might
even be able to neurogenesis, although that was not necessarily measured, so I
think what you are saying is in addition to nutrition and physical exercise, it
takes a whole lifestyle and nutrition is I think a major part of that because
you eat a lot.

Dr. Perlmutter:  It is what
we call a holistic program.
  Which looks at
all kinds of thoughts in mind and in your program, I believe people were given
a meditation program for 12 minutes once daily for eight weeks, but I am also
asking for 20 minutes of aerobics.

Well, I think these go together.
You feel so good when you meditate and exercise. That’s the amazing thing you
know, people who start on a program like this, it is not difficult to maintain
because you feel so much better when you are eating well, are exercising, and are
doing yoga and meditation. You can totally rejuvenate your body and your brain.
  You are definitely a new person

People need to get their arms
around what you just said and that is you can rejuvenate your brain.
  It is not as we were told.  You and I were told it is a one-way street, drink
a beer; you will lose 20,000 brain cells.

Fortunately, those brain cells can regenerate.  We might be having a different conversation
or possibly no conversation for that matter, but the point is what a notion
that each and every one of your listeners right now is engaged in stem cell
  It is happening, each of you is
growing new brain cells in your brain’s memory center called the hippocampus
and here is what’s really cool.
  You can
enhance that process doing meditation, getting aerobic exercise, sunlight, and
the omega-3 DHA as well as vitamin D.
are tied into increasing levels of this hormone, brain-derived neurotrophic
factor, (BDNF) and increasing the growth of your brain cells.
  Now what
is really very exciting about that information was just published in the Journal
of the American Medical Association on April 20
th. I am holding the
article in my hand.
  Here is the article theorem,
brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and the risk for
dementia. This
was from the Framingham Heart Study
They looked at blood samples of
individuals from 1992 to 1998.
followed these people for 10 years.
individuals with the highest level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor had a
dramatic 35% risk reduction of developing dementia.
  That was just published two weeks ago in the
Journal of American Medical Association.

They are saying we are going to have to develop some kind of way to
develop a medicine that will provide BDNF. That is in the future…Well; you can
raise your BDNF level right now.
  You can
do this by doing aerobic exercise that was described as I mentioned in the
proceedings of the National Academy of Science article from January 2011.
  They measured BDNF levels in those people who
exercise and their levels went way up and their memory improved and their
brains grew.

What are we are waiting for?  The reason people don’t talk about this on a
larger scale is because it is not monetizable.

You can’t own it.  All folks need
to do is get a pair of sneakers and hit the road.
  And if you can’t do that, get on a stationary
bike, get on a treadmill, or move your arms up and down.
  Participate in a meditation program, cut your
carbs, eat more good fat, and take a DHA supplement that is an omega-3.
  These are the keys to not only brain
preservation, but growing back your memory center.

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