The Grain Brain Quiz

I'm going to have at this abomination that is sweeping the nation faster than Wheat Belly and Fructose Alarmism combined, or so it seems.  But Grain Brain promises to be a classic from first blush.  Yes ... I just got my "hands" on a Kindle copy.

Here's a risk assessment quiz (Kindle Locations 210-227) ... note that if your answer is "sometimes" you are instructed to answer True.
1. I eat bread (any kind). TRUE/ FALSE    
2. I drink fruit juice (any kind). TRUE/ FALSE    
3. I have more than one serving of fruit a day. TRUE/ FALSE    
4. I choose agave over sugar. TRUE/ FALSE
5. I get out of breath on my daily walk. TRUE/ FALSE    
6. My cholesterol is below 150. TRUE/ FALSE    
7. I have diabetes. TRUE/ FALSE    
8. I am overweight. TRUE/ FALSE    
9. I eat rice or pasta (any kind). TRUE/ FALSE
10. I drink milk. TRUE/ FALSE 
11. I don’t exercise regularly. TRUE/ FALSE
12. Neurological conditions run in my family. TRUE/ FALSE
13. I don’t take a vitamin D supplement. TRUE/ FALSE
14. I eat a low-fat diet. TRUE/ FALSE
15. I take a statin. TRUE/ FALSE
16. I avoid high-cholesterol foods. TRUE/ FALSE
17. I drink soda (diet or regular). TRUE/ FALSE
18. I don’t drink wine. TRUE/ FALSE
19. I drink beer. TRUE/ FALSE
20. I eat cereal (any kind). TRUE/ FALSE
A perfect score on this test would be a whopping zero “true” answers. If you answered true to one question, your brain— and your entire nervous system— is at greater risk for disease and disorder than if you scored a zero. And the more trues you tallied up, the higher your risk. If you scored more than a ten, you’re putting yourself into the hazard zone for serious neurological ailments that can be prevented but cannot necessarily be cured once you are diagnosed.   (Kindle Locations 227-230)
There you have it.  It's amazing I can even write this post.  What a load of hooey from the get go.   

He goes on to misrepresent our "Ancestors Diet" as 75% fat, 5% carb and 20% protein, while the US Recommendations are stated as 20% fat, 20% protein and 60% carbs.    Lots to deal with in this book at some point.  I'll share as I go along.  


carbsane said…
Just make sure it's not sangria! :-)
Gina said…
I'm a vegan and only have eight trues despite a grain-heavy diet.

I don't have any neurological (or metabolic) problems these days, but during my low-carb stint I had horrible issues. What was that, butter brain? The symptoms were fatigue, insomnia, shakiness and malaise. All the low-carb zealots could say was "Eat more fat!". They will tell you that even if you say that all you eat is grass-fed butter, eggs and fish oil. Butter brain turned out to be easily and rapidly cured with single massive meal of white rice. If you need ten cups of buttered coffee a day just to stay upright, you probably have butter brain.
Valhalla said…
What an absolute load of shit. I love my bread, goddammit, you can pry it from my cold dead hands!

Seriously though. I drink milk, therefore I have a "grain brain?"

The gluten seems to have integrated with my body and is turning me into some kind of human/wheat borg terminator.
John Smith said…
I drink the milk straight from the udder of a cow
LWC said…
I was out at #1... and no points even for gluten free bread! BTW did you see the Atlantic's take on Grain Brain (
NoGimmicksNutrition said…
"Alternative medicine". ;)
Screennamerequired said…
The "no grains/gluten free/Atkins rehash" books seem to be quite profitable at the moment. Seriously, I have seen some pretty shocking quiz's but that one should surely entice any sane person to flush that book down the toilet upon no further reading.
Bris Vegas said…
I've hired a wet nurse.
Jaie Jac said…
What evidence does his provide that "The ancestors" diet was

75% fat, 5% carb and 20% protein?
ExEffectsGuy said…
I have learned in my personal life that such a binary, arbitrary and simplistic quiz was written by either a fool, someone with an agenda ($$$$) or both. It doesn't matter to me which category this "quizter" falls in.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
I was under the impression that this little piece of illogic had peaked
and was in decline. But maybe the rise had stalled and is now on the
rise again.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
A diet that doubles as a fetish
Ian East said…
I would just say this to Dr Perlmutter. If gluten is screwing up just about everyone who eats it, why are not most people in the world sick? In fact, I have just been Christmas shopping, and most people seem to be getting along fine.
carbsane said…
Probably has stalled, but he's still being interviewed all over the place and more articles and a 90 minute PBS special :(
carbsane said…
Absolutely NONE. It's not even in the text, it's a graphic seemingly stuck in as an afterthought.

Given the mainstream response to Taubes, Lustig, Wheat Belly and this, I'm really losing faith. It seems they want to foment nonsensical memes of "you've been lied to" and "what if everything you thought was right was wrong". Such claims should require EXTRAORDINARY evidence. The only one coming close there is Taubes, and that's if you don't do any fact checking and/or critical thinking.
charles grashow said…

"When it comes to Grain Brain I’ve read most of it and find it interesting. Although Dr. Perlmutter certainly exaggerates the level of scientific support for his ideas – most of the studies he cites just find statistical correlations supporting his ideas, not proof."
Karin said…
Why didn't they just call it "Carb Brain?" Since when did milk or fruit qualify as a grain?? And now I'm supposed to believe grains (carbs) cause "neurological ailments?" Geez, is there anything that hasn't been blamed on carbs? I really hope you didn't pay for this schlock. It sort of turns my stomach to think of giving these idiots money.
carbsane said…
I did buy ($6.49) the Kindle version because aside from scrounging for a bootleg, that's the only way I get a copy. The publishing of books of this nature is really pathetic -- a ton of 5star reviews from people given courtesy copies and a crapload of hysterical mass media exposure.

I keep thinking someone is going to say something? After reading Deep Nutrition -- dietary bible to the NBA now apparently! -- and what I've skimmed of this ... SIGH!!!
Jaie Jac said…
Hmm, Interesting.
It always struck me as odd when some within that "paleo" community claim our ancestors diet is high in fats and low in starches. I live in the United States, and within my community there are stands of cattail everywhere, Curly Dock and Goosefoot. The seeds and roots are plentiful and high in Carbohydrates. I would be more inclined to gather these first (if i were an imaginary caveman) before i waste all that energy chasing some Deer.
charles grashow said…
They choose to ignore Cordain, Eaton, Lundberg because they don't fit into the high fat paradigm.
Dylan said…
5% carbohydrate? I guess people just lived underneath coconut trees and waited for large game to walk by, then would quickly kill it.

On the rare occasion you find someone that actually lives a healthy lifestyle (including at least moderately intense activity from time to time) recommending low-carb... just wait a year or two, they will have changed their minds.
carbsane said…
There's one "outlier" paper by Cordain and Konner that "admits" to errors in determining percentage animal vs. plant food ... even that one puts the RANGE of fat at 35-65%. It is relatively easy to get to around 55-60% fat with whole foods, but even then added oils and dairy fats are almost required to reach that (unless someone is eating a bunch of avocados, nuts and eggs).

The only super high fat paleos are folks like Gedgaudas who badly misunderstands and mangles human metabolism in her book, and flat out misrepresents Lindeberg's "prehistoric diet" as very low carb.

Five percent carbs is indeed insane. But I hear that's around the levels NuSI will be studying to find the ultimate answers to life itself.
carbsane said…
Yep -- the last paragraphs are the best ... I wish the author had led with the skepticism. Citing Kresser as if he were some sort of doctor is disheartening.
charles grashow said…
Jaie Jac said…
Cordain and Konner base their dietary guidelines on many existing modern human H/G populations, right? How good is that comparison? Modern Hunter gatherers largely live on marginal land that agriculture has failed to gain a foothold in. When the earth lacked cities and agriculture, our range of food resources obviously spread into much more fertile areas. Was it not estimated in the 60's by several archeologists that one can still gather enough wild wheat and barley by hand over the course of several weeks to feed a family of four? It's very likely the natufians exploited these resources widely.
charles grashow said…
So what would the good doctor say about this study then

Diet intervention and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

To compare the effects of a 4-week high-saturated fat/high-glycemic index (HIGH) diet with a low-saturated fat/low-glycemic index (LOW) diet on insulin and lipid metabolism, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of Alzheimer disease, and cognition for healthy adults and adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).

Randomized controlled trial.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center clinical research unit.

Forty-nine older adults (20 healthy adults with a mean [SD] age of 69.3 [7.4] years and 29 adults with aMCI with a mean [SD] age of 67.6 [6.8] years).

Participants received the HIGH diet (fat, 45% [saturated fat, > 25%]; carbohydrates, 35%-40% [glycemic index, > 70]; and protein, 15%-20%) or the LOW diet (fat, 25%; [saturated fat, < 7%]; carbohydrates, 55%-60% [glycemic index, < 55]; and protein, 15%-20%) for 4 weeks. Cognitive tests, an oral glucose tolerance test, and lumbar puncture were conducted at baseline and during the fourth week of the diet.

The CSF concentrations of β-amyloid (Aβ42 and Aβ40), tau protein, insulin, F2-isoprostanes, and apolipoprotein E, plasma lipids and insulin, and measures of cognition.

For the aMCI group, the LOW diet increased CSF Aβ42 concentrations, contrary to the pathologic pattern of lowered CSF Aβ42 typically observed in Alzheimer disease. The LOW diet had the opposite effect for healthy adults, ie, decreasing CSF Aβ42, whereas the HIGH diet increased CSF Aβ42. The CSF apolipoprotein E concentration was increased by the LOW diet and decreased by the HIGH diet for both groups. For the aMCI
group, the CSF insulin concentration increased with the LOW diet, but the HIGH diet lowered the CSF insulin concentration for healthy adults. The HIGH diet increased and the LOW diet decreased plasma lipids, insulin, and CSF F2-isoprostane concentrations. Delayed visual memory improved for both groups after completion of 4 weeks of the LOW diet.

Our results suggest that diet may be a powerful environmental factor that modulates Alzheimer disease risk through its effects on central nervous system concentrations of Aβ42, lipoproteins, oxidative stress, and insulin.
charles grashow said…
"Kresser also tells concerned patients about cultures that do just fine on carbohydrate-based diets. “The Hadza of north-central Tanzania and the Kuna of Panama obtain a high percentage of their total calories from foods that are high in natural sugars, such as fruit, starchy tubers and honey, yet they are remarkably lean, fit and free of modern disease.” He also mentions the Kitava in the Pacific Islands, whose diet heavy in yams, banana, and papaya is 69 percent carbohydrate; the Tukisenta in the Papua New Guinea highlands, whose diet is over 90 percent carbs; and the Okinawans, whose diet is “mostly from sweet potato.”

Better-known still are the Greeks, in particular from the islands like Crete, and other Mediterranean diets that are grain-centric.

“All of these cultures,” Kresser notes, citing Swedish researcher Staffan Lindeberg’s book Food and Western Disease (and, I would add, Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones) “are fit and lean with practically non-existent rates of neurological disorders and other modern chronic disease.”

SO - what does Dr Perlmutter say about this??
charles grashow said…
“Of course,” Katz added, “Everything about the Paleolithic Era is subject to debate. Most of us don’t know what we had for breakfast yesterday, let alone what people were doing 100,000 years ago. Yeah, I’ve read the same thing that the average life expectancy was between 20 and 40 and, consequently, the diseases of old age didn’t happen because
old age didn’t happen. There’s nothing about their diet that we know tobe protective against things like Alzheimer’s. That’s just silly.”

Perlmutter has estimated that the Stone Age diet was 75 percent fat, a claim Katz finds “wildly preposterous.” Anthropological research, he pointed out the work of Loren Cordain,
suggests that in the age before cooking oil, humans ate mostly plants with a scattering of seeds and nuts. “Virtually nothing in the natural world is that concentrated of a fat source, except maybe for the brain. Maybe if they just ate the brains of animals? They didn’t have oil. They only started adding oil to the diet after the Dawn of Agriculture. Whatthe hell could they possibly have eaten that would be that fatty?'"
Bris Vegas said…
During the Paleolithic Era animals were very frequently killed by falling coconuts. The coconuts were always split open when they hit the animals. Life was easy back then. /sarc
Bris Vegas said…
Any primary care doctor would totally disagree with your claim that most people are "fine". Poor health is the norm in virtually all developed countries with most middle aged people having multiple potentially serious health issues. Hypertension, obesity, GERD, Type II diabetes and IBS are virtually at epidemic levels. It is quite common for older people to be taking 5-10 different medications on a daily basis.
!! I should seriously put the coffee down any time I see your name in a thread.
They have grain brain, but are in denial. They're so incognisant that even their cells and body fail to realise that they should be malfunctioning and dying of chronic disease. Mind over matter! LOL!
carbsane said…
The only danger back then was getting clocked in the noggin with a coconut. Coconut brain more deadly than grain brain!
charles grashow said…
Alexander said…
I would highly doubt that Ian was referring to such sicknesses, which are "relatively easy" to live with in comparison to some of the things that are claimed to be caused by carbs. (e.g. neurological damage)
I would also like to see some proof for your claims that "poor health" is the norm in EVERY developed country. This would seem like gross exaggeration even IF there was statistical data available that would indicate such general tendencies as limited samples will only get you so far with large and diverse populations.
Jaie Jac said…
I just think the entire idea of basing your diet off of what paleolithic man "may" have eaten is totally foolish from the get go. Heart disease, as Katz pointed out, likely was not a factor for these populations because the disease itself kills your after you would generally die. The paleo crowd seems confused by the word "Adaptation" they think any adaptation in evolution necessarily means your body is perfectly suited to that substance or enviroment. Evolution is a trade off, and by "design" is flawed. Evolution is about Sex primarily, and not about being ripped and heart disease free at the age of 60.
carbsane said…
Agree totally.
Bris Vegas said…
The baseline definition of "healthy" in developed countries is so low that even potentially serious health problems are considered normal.

In Kitiva a 60yo with BP of 120/70 , a resting heart rate of 80 and a BMI of 25 would probably seem to be very unhealthy. In any developed country the same person would probably be congratulated by their doctor for being so "healthy". [My BP of ~105/65 often impresses the nurses when I donate blood. Yet this reading would be considered completely normal, or even slightly elevated, in New Guinea]
Sanjeev Sharma said…
the atlantic 's standards seem so much higher than most popular outlets.

(prefix the following with my usual spiel on memory errors) - Wasn't there a time they were deeply into the woo - IIRC late 80s they ran a lot of content similar to San Francisco's "granola culture".

one could almost believe in 10 years HuffPOO may improve ...

nah, that's crazy talk
Sanjeev Sharma said…
I try to muscle into the time management, diet and sex self help industries ... a niche between David Allen, Alan Aragon and Sue Johansson[1] but my friends & colleagues think I'm joking.

back to the career change drawing board ...

maybe my niche is between Allen, Aragon, Johansson and Dave Attell.

[1] my Dr Ruth accent is "ahem ... suboptimal"[3]

[2] yes, a 3-way

[3] yes, I got you to read THREE footnotes IN A JOKE. (insert evil scientist laugh here)