How to Ward Off ‘Grain Brain’

How to Ward Off 'Grain Brain'

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In his 2013 New York Times best-seller “Grain Brain,” neurologist and functional medicine expert David Perlmutter, MD, warned that eating wheat and sugar—staples of the typical American diet—has a deleterious effect on the brain and body, leading to conditions such as diabetes, depression, insomnia, anxiety, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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These so-called brain killers work by assaulting your noggin at a molecular level; Elevated blood sugar levels lead to brain shrinkage, specifically in the areas that determine cognitive and memory function, Perlmutter noted. Moreover, researchers discovered that people with higher than average blood sugar levels had a statistically significant increased risk for dementia.

“It can be hard to know what’s going on in your brain until it’s too late,” said Perlmutter, “and once the diagnosis is in for brain disease, it’s difficult to turn the train around.”

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Your best course of action, Perlmutter told Yahoo Health, is to eat more healthy fats, such as almond butter, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil—and swear off processed foods, sugar and gluten.

“It’s going to take two or three weeks to stop cravings carbs—you’ve got to tough it out,” Perlmutter said, adding: “I’m pretty strict and encourage my patients to never cheat—halfway measures work halfway.”

To help you in your pursuit of healthful eating, Perlmutter just released “The Grain Brain Cookbook.” He told Yahoo Health that many of the 150 recipes featured are meals he and his wife cook at home. He also hired a consultant to develop dishes that met his dietary rules, and each underwent a nutritional analysis and, equally important, a taste test.

Perlmutter’s promise is a big one: A carb-lite diet that’s paired with good fats and lean protein boosts energy, fosters deep sleep, fuels the brain, and helps you “control your genetic destiny.” An added bonus: Resisting the breadbasket will likely lead to weight loss (Perlmutter said in his experience most people lose 5-10 pounds soon after adopting his eating plan).

The recipes in “The Grain Brain Cookbook” are relatively easy to make and rely on simple ingredients such as eggs, nuts and broccoli. We asked Perlmutter to share his two favorite recipes here:

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Eggs Benedict with Zucchini Pancakes

How can you have eggs Benedict without the traditional English muffin? you might ask. Well, you just ditch the muffin and place the ham and eggs on a crispy zucchini pancake. A little more work for the cook, but extra pleasure for the diner. I always make more pancakes than I need because people invariably ask for another. I assure you that you’ll never go back to that muffin. Of course, if you are short on time, the eggs and sauce can simply be placed on a bed of leafy greens.

For perfect eggs Benedict, featuring eggs with tender whites and runny yolks, you must gently poach the eggs in just barely simmering water. They should never be cooked at a hard simmer or boil or the whites will become tough and the yolks firm. Since there is now much concern about the safety of lightly cooked eggs, I barely poach the eggs and then hold them in a saucepan of very warm water (130°F) for 15 minutes. This method allows the cook to prepare the remaining ingredients as the eggs warm and cook.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon white vinegar

4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

4 slices Canadian bacon

4 Zucchini Pancakes (recipe follows)

1 recipe Easy Hollandaise Sauce (page 42)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Heat about 3 inches of water in a large, shallow saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge. Add the vinegar.

In another saucepan of similar size, heat 3 inches of water to 130°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Working quickly with one egg at a time, carefully break each egg into a small custard cup and then gently slide the egg from the cup into the barely simmering vinegar-water.

When all of the eggs have been added, cook until the whites are just set but the yolks are still very loose, about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the barely cooked eggs, one at a time, and place them into the 130°F water. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. You should, from time to time, check the temperature of the water. If it falls below

130°F, slowly add enough boiling water to bring the temperature back up.

Place the Canadian bacon in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry, turning occasionally, until just lightly browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven to keep warm if the eggs or pancakes aren’t done yet.

Place a warm pancake in the center of each plate and top with a slice of Canadian bacon. Using a slotted spoon, lift the poached eggs, one at a time, from the water and pat gently with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess water. Place an egg on top of the bacon. (If the edges of the eggs are a bit ragged, carefully trim them with a small knife or kitchen scissors.)

Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the hollandaise sauce on top of each egg, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

NOTE: Those on a restricted sodium diet can eliminate the Canadian bacon from the recipe.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving: calories 485, carbohydrates 6 g, fiber 1 g, protein 16 g, fat 44 g, sodium 858 mg, sugar 2 g

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Salmon Roasted in Butter and Almonds

Salmon, butter, and almonds — what could be better? If you can, do garnish with the cracked pepper. It offers just a hint of heat to balance the fatty fish and the buttery sauce.

Serves 4

1 (1 1/2-pound) skin-on salmon fillet

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup slivered almonds

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Cracked black pepper, for optional garnish

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.Place the butter and almonds in a small baking pan in the preheated oven.

When the butter has melted, add the salmon, flesh-side down. Roast for5 minutes; then, turn and continue to roast until the salmon is barely beginning to flake, about 3 minutes more. (You can test by sticking the point of a small, sharp knife into the flesh to see if it flakes or easily comes apart.)

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the salmon to a serving platter. Stir the lemon juice and chives into the “sauce” in the pan and immediately pour over the salmon. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper, if desired, and serve.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving: calories 602, carbohydrates 5 g, fiber 3 g, protein 42 g, fat 46 g, sodium 377 mg, sugar 1 g

 

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