The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan by Dr. David Perlmutter
The purpose of THE GRAIN BRAIN WHOLE LIFE PLAN is to follow up on the author's prior best-seller, and show the reader how to put the doctor's ideas into practice. That is, this is a practical book--not so much a theory book as his prior book: "The main purpose of this book is to help you put my ideas into practice in the real world and to show you that living your best life is about much more than what you put in your mouth." Additionally, Dr. Perlmutter includes some updated information on more ways of "eating more fat and fiber, consuming fewer carbs and protein, evicting gluten forever, and catering to your intestinal flora."
Here's how the book is laid out: Part I of the book reviews, for those new to his program, the concepts: "Part I explains the what, why, and how of the program. I’ll detail the ground rules, present new data, and offer a 3-step framework that will help you execute my recommendations." Part II provides the details on how to use his program, and which foods to eat. Part III includes "final tips and reminders," plus snack suggestions, shopping lists, and also the 14-day meal plan with recipes.
To start, the doctor sets a backdrop to review WHY this plan is needed. Why do Americans need to change at all? The author explains the sad state of American health. In particular, a huge number of people suffer from some sort of mental illness: "The United States is among the ten wealthiest Western nations where death from brain disease, most commonly dementia, has skyrocketed over the past twenty years. . . 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is predicted to double by the year 2030!"
For those not familiar with the author's prior book explaining his plan, the doctor gives an overview of the diet. It's called a "ketogenic" diet, which means that 80 to 90 percent of calories from fat, and the rest from fibrous carbohydrates and high-quality protein. Instead of meals having a big protein-packed entree and small side dishes, this plan calls quite a drastic change. The main entrée is mostly "fibrous, colorful, nutrient-dense whole fruits and vegetables that grow above ground, with protein as a side dish." Other key features of the plan are: low-carb, higher fat and fiber, avoidance of gluten and sugar, and lots of "the incredible egg."
Besides just diet, the author provides a lot of tips on exercise. I actually thought the exercise tips were just as good as the diet tips. The doctor cites studies showing huge reduction in Alzheimer's for those at high levels of exercise: "Those at the highest level of exercise activity experienced an incredible reduction of risk for Alzheimer’s of 50 percent when compared to those who were more sedentary." I thought the best exercise tip was this: "Establish An Exercise Routine You Can Sustain." Here's another interesting point. The doctor notes that the problem people have with exercise is not just starting it, but continuing it.
The latter part of the book contains "Final Reminders." For example, "Drink Water Throughout the Day," and "Find a Partner" who shares your goals. In terms of eating, the author reminds us to "Make Vegetables Your Centerpiece. . . . A full three-quarters of your plate should be filled with fibrous, colorful, nutrient-dense whole vegetables that grow above ground."
Since I love to eat sweets (especially chocolate!), I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of healthy snack ideas. He suggests snacks such as "a handful of raw nuts, olives, and/ or seeds (no peanuts), a few squares of dark chocolate (anything above 70 percent cacao) • chopped raw vegetables, or hard-boiled eggs.
I was especially happy to see protein bars on the list of snacks. From the author's recipe online, here are the secret ingredients for a recommended protein bar:
• 2C almonds – soaked overnight
• 2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
• 1/2C shredded coconut
• 1/2C nut butter or coconut butter
• 1/2 tsp. sea salt
• 1/2C pastured butter or coconut oil or a blend of the two (melted)
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• Stevia, to taste (optional)
• Cacao chips (chopped, optional)
Besides the snacks, I just had to try one of the desserts listed. So I made the dessert with ricotta cheese, berries, and sliced almonds. It's simple to make--even I was able to do it.
All in all, I found THE GRAIN BRAIN WHOLE LIFE PLAN to be a useful, and encouraging book. The book is easy to read and nicely laid out. From similar books, I was already aware of many of the doctor's ideas, but it was good to have them reinforced. There is a useful Bibliography at the end, containing helpful reference information; for example, links to the Alzheimer’s Association.