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It’s no surprise to know that many of the food circulating today contains toxins that are harmful not only for our gut, but ultimately for our brain and our overall health.
So today, we’re dedicating this episode to this specific topic and with the help of Dr. David Perlmutter, we hope to shed light on how great an impact this toxins have in our brain health.
Donny Osmond: Hi, I'm Donny Osmond and welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way, hosted by my friends Daniel and Tana Amen. In this podcast, you're going to learn that the war for your health is one between your ears. That's right. If you're ready to be sharper and have better memory, mood, energy and focus, well then stay with us. Here are Daniel and Tana Amen.
Daniel Amen: We are back with Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, Brain Maker, The Grain Brain Cookbook, and his most recent book, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan. David it is just such a joy to spend time with you.
Tana Amen: We've been learning so much.
Daniel Amen: I really want to talk about toxins. And we have been talking about gut health and almost the assault on our gut from toxic food, from pesticides. When you think of toxins and brain health, toxins and gut health, what comes to mind for you?
David P: That's a terrific question. And normally, when this is the topic of discussion, toxins, whether it's professionally or at a cocktail party, you know people are talking about mercury and aluminum and know that fish that lived near Fukushima that are swimming over here and they're going to jump on the plate. With that said, I think there are far more pervasive toxins that are having a much bigger effect on the brain that we are exposed to on a daily basis. So I would say probably on the top of the list would be the toxic contributors to our diet from sugar. I consider sugar to be a toxin.
Tana Amen: Wow.
David P: Often doesn't enter in the conversation when you're talking about lead and cadmium and mercury, et cetera. I think sugar is a huge toxin. I think the work of Dr Lustig is very much on point.
Tana Amen: I loved him.
David P: Plenty of people have indicated now how devastating it is to the brain. When you bind sugar to proteins, a process called glycation, you dramatically increase inflammation. That's what sets you up for coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, you name it. So I put sugar at the top of the list. And on that list we'll have to put artificial sweeteners, but let's just spend a moment talking about a toxin that's really fairly widespread in our food that very few people are talking about and it is a toxin called glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, which is what people use to kill weeds around their home. That's one thing, but I think the far more worrisome aspect of Roundup and glyphosate is that, well, glyphosate is found in more than 750 products that are used around the world. Currently, we're using an estimated 1.35 million metric tons of this poison on the very food that we eat each and every day. And it's the reason that GMO crops are by and large created.
Farmers plant seeds to grow corn and soy, for example, that are resistant to this herbicide glyphosate. So the farmer is then able to spray the crops with glyphosate, kill the weeds, but the soy and the corn, now they've been sprayed with this poison. They don't seem to react. So it ends up in the food that we eat and even the extracts of those foods, the oils for example. It ends up in the diets of cows and other farm animals that we then consume.
The reason that glyphosate is such an issue ... And let me just say, in addition to that, we don't have GMO wheat in America, but yet farmers have now been convinced to spray their crops of wheat with glyphosate to dry it out and so that they can get another round of growing in and grow more wheat in a given year. So now even wheat by and large is contaminated with this chemical. The reason that glyphosate presents such a threat to us and why I brought it up is because it challenges the health of our microbiome, of our gut bacteria in a very, very big way.
And this is work that comes to us from MIT. The researcher's name is Dr Stephanie Seneff and I actually had the opportunity to interview her recently on my online program and she's published research demonstrating profound changes that happen to our gut bacteria. And that turns out to be a very, very big deal when you begin to understand how important our gut bacteria are for the brain. Beyond that, we know that this chemical glyphosate dramatically hinders our body's ability to detoxify. It inhibits the action of what we call cytochrome p450 enzymes that are involved in breaking down other toxins that we may be exposed to. It also compromises our ability to absorb certain minerals and also inhibits our ability to make a certain amino acids.
And finally, it reduces the activation of vitamin B. So glyphosate is a very, very bad player. And how interesting it is that last year the World Health Organization publishing in the very prestigious journal, the Lancet, indicated that glyphosate, again, this stuff being put on our food, is a probable human carcinogen. Not a likely carcinogen in laboratory animals, but probably carcinogenic in humans and likely that's happening because of the damage to our immune system, which takes place once we change our gut bacteria. So I would rank that way up there in terms of the toxins that we're exposed to.
Daniel Amen: And process food has corn, soy, and about 80% of it. And if it's not raised without pesticides, this pesticide is found in almost all of our bodies. So I was at the movies last night. We went and saw Sing, which was really [crosstalk 00:06:10].
David P: Oh, I want to see that. I can't wait.
Tana Amen: It's really cute.
Daniel Amen: It was really cute. I play table tennis at night so I didn't have time to eat. And so my thought is, "Oh, I should get some popcorn," until my brain actually saw it as a weapon of mass destruction. And so I just waited until I got home.
David P: Well, let me tell you that the corn that is used in a popcorn is not GMO. And by and large what they're using to cook the popcorn is coconut oil. The real suspect in the mix is when you say buttered popcorn. And there is no chance that that is butter. Lord knows what that is. There's so many ingredients that you're not going to be able to figure that one out. But I'm glad that you saw that because my wife and I were just talking about that last night. We wanted to go see that movie.
Tana Amen: It's really cute.
Daniel Amen: So what do you think about corn overall? I mean we sort of picked on wheat. We have concerns about dairy. What's your thought and isn't it a very high percentage of the corn in the U.S. sprayed with Roundup?
David P: Yeah. More than 90% of the corn available here in America is GMO. And by and large you can assume that the reason they're planting the GMO corn is to allow them to spray it with Roundup. And that said, a certain amount of that corn is then given to cattle. Even what is called grass fed beef oftentimes is finished, they say it's finished with corn. Why do they do that? Well, they do that to marbleize the beef and so it has a nice texture. People will then like it. If you eat 100% grass fed beef, it's actually a little bit more difficult to chew and you have to cook it less. When you marbleize the meat, in other words, put more fat into it, it's more appealing and that's why they finished beef with corn. You can be almost certain that that corn has been sprayed with glyphosate at some point in its life.
I think we have to look at all grains and corn is a grain because it is the seed of a grass in terms of not just their gluten content. Corn does not contain gluten and that doesn't necessarily mean it's a vote of approval. We still have to look at corn in terms of its carbohydrate content. It is a pretty darn concentrated source of carbs. That said, if you can get organic non-GMO corn and could you have that as a small portion with a meal? I think that would be not unreasonable. Not Very easy to get organic corn.
So I wouldn't throw out the baby with bath water here, to castigate all corn, but I think by and large, corn is very, very high on the list of foods that are worrisome. But again, I would indicate that popcorn, to my knowledge, at least to date, is not made from anything genetically modified.
Tana Amen: Even movie popcorn?
David P: Popcorn in general. Now I don't know what the latest science is developing, but popcorn as a general category, movie popcorn or what you're going to do at home, so far to my knowledge is not genetically modified.
Tana Amen: That's interesting.
Daniel Amen: So we should look into that.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Daniel Amen: But what about aluminum? And as we think about preventing Alzheimer's disease, you did mention mercury, when we test for mercury, it's often very high. And so some people say you should take your silver fillings out. Other people say not. Aluminum is in so much of the deodorants. I mean, if you're not really thinking about it, you are putting it on your body every day. What do you think about it?
David P: I think that the research relating aluminum to Alzheimer's risk, that's been 25 years now that that people have been looking at that. There's been some concern that aluminum might exacerbate the formation of a specific protein in the brain called beta amyloid, but in point of fact, humans have been eating aluminum, probably the most common metal in the Earth's crust as part of what we've eaten as we've eaten dirt as long as we've been here. So we do have on a good day, a fairly robust mechanism for ridding ourselves of about 40 milligrams of aluminum on a daily basis. But we far exceed that aluminum exposure when we take certain antacids, for example-
Tana Amen: Interesting.
David P: ... of that aluminum based. How much aluminum is absorbed through the use of aluminum containing antiperspirants is a little bit unclear, but I think that it does raise a question and it brings us to a topic of prevention of Alzheimer's disease. And there are certainly other things to be considered with that as a title to a conversation well beyond aluminum. I'm not saying aluminum isn't important. Certainly it is, but I think the biggest issue in terms of what can people do to prevent Alzheimer's disease ...
And let's just be clear. To restate it, I am talking about preventing Alzheimer's disease, a disease affecting 5.4 million Americans for which we have no treatment or cure as we have this conversation. None whatsoever. For example, I recently interviewed Dr Melissa Schilling at New York University who wrote an amazing paper in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicating that if we can reduce our risk for becoming type two diabetic, we will cut our Alzheimer's risks in half at least. There are powerful correlations between blood sugar elevations and risks of Alzheimer's. That's something that you can do right now.
Tana Amen: There's a lot we can do.
David P: The new research from Dr. Kirk Erickson at UCLA has demonstrated that those individuals who get the most aerobic exercise also have a reduced risk of this disease for which there is no treatment by 50%, so prevention is what we're talking about here. And as John Kennedy said, the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining.
Tana Amen: Right. I like that.
David P: When people tell me, "Look, you know, Doc, you don't know what it's like to have your dad or mom with Alzheimer's." My response is, "Well, you know my dad died of Alzheimer's so I get what it's like." And then they go on to ask, "Well, I don't want to end up like mom or dad, what can I do?" Man, that's when we go full guns. Because when people are receptive to this notion that Alzheimer's can be, to a significant degree, prevented, there's so much information that's out there.
And that's really what motivated all of my books. And that is to help people change their lives, so suddenly they're not at the mercy of the drug companies, which may develop a treatment for Alzheimer's 10, 20 years from now. I hope that they do and I would embrace that. That would be fantastic. But thus far, every drug that has been tried to either treat or reverse this disease has failed miserably. And most of them that are based on removing that amyloid from the brain, have actually made people much more demented very quickly. So hey, I embrace the idea of a cure. I'm all in, but when we know that the disease can be prevented to a significant degree right now, that's a message that we have to scream from the highest mountain tops because people need to get that.
Tana Amen: That's really-
David P: People are misled to think, just live your life however you want, modern science has got a magic pill for you. That's wrong.
Tana Amen: You know one thing-
David P: Yet, our lifestyle choices play a huge role in terms of your brain's destiny and that's the mission here.
Tana Amen: It's really important, I agree with you. When we talk about toxins, this is a frightening thing and I just ... Before we end, I wanted to touch on this. I heard that when cord blood was tested in newborns, they found over 200 environmental toxins in the blood. That's a frightening thing to hear about, which means mothers should be sort of thinking about this. We want to get that message out there also. I also heard that the fastest way for a woman to unload her toxic load is to breastfeed, which doesn't mean don't breastfeed. It just means be thinking about this before you get pregnant. Is this true? And we should obviously be planning to get pregnant, not just getting pregnant haphazardly and not thinking about the consequences of those environmental toxins. I mean, this is a problem.
David P: It is. And it kinda gets you to the place of people asking you, "Well, how do you feel about nutritional supplements, for example?" And I always respond by saying, "In an ideal world where we aren't threatened by those toxins that you're referring to, maybe we might not need a little help, but we do need help. We do need to amplify our detoxification pathways by taking various precursors that enhance the way we can offload toxins. So things like NAC, things like stimulating various gene pathways to help us detoxify by consuming foods like turmeric for example, and even coffee for that matter and green tea. Things that turn on our detoxification pathways are very, very helpful because we live in a toxic world and it's not just in cord blood or human breast milk, but it's within fat samples from people living in very isolated environments.
The world has been made toxic. So our goal is to recognize, okay, it's a toxic world. What can we do to offset that? A, we vote with our wallets and we buy foods that are organic and hopefully that will allow farmers to become less reliant on poisoning our food. But, B, we challenge our bodies the least we can with things that we know are toxic and see ... We enable our detoxification pathways to be amplified by targeting various techniques that well, we know, can turn on or detoxification pathway.
So I would not argue against breastfeeding. I think that we are a long way from developing an infant formula that comes anywhere near what breast milk does for the baby. In spite of what [crosstalk 00:16:39]-
Tana Amen: Right. We just need to be aware and take care of our own toxic loads.
David P: Still, breastfeeding is by far and away the only way to go.
Daniel Amen: So we have to stop today. My goodness. Stay with us. We are going to-
Tana Amen: One more thing though. Where can they find more information on your information on toxins? Really quickly.
David P: I would say just go to my website, which is Drperlmutter.com. D-R Perlmutter.com. And-
Tana Amen: Okay, good because this is so important.
David P: ... everyone [crosstalk 00:17:04].
Tana Amen: Okay, good.
David P: Stay with us.
Donny Osmond: Thanks for listening to today's show, The Brain Warrior's Way. Why don't you head over to brainwarriorswaypodcast.com. That's brainwarriorswaypodcast.com where Daniel and Tana have a gift for you just for subscribing to the show. And when you post your review on iTunes, you'll be entered into a drawing where you can win a VIP visit to one of the Amen clinics. I'm Donny Osmond, and I invite you to step up your brain game by joining us in the next episode.