Monday, February 3, 2014
Whether you have a child with neurological complications or not, you should read Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar-Your Brain's Silent Killers by David Perlmutter, MD. I might not be such a devoted believer in the evil of sugar and carbs if I didn't see the immediate effect they have on Alex. We know Alex has had too much sugar, even natural sugar, when within 20 minutes of consuming it, he has a behavior change. Sometimes that behavior change is hard to reverse. A year ago, before we understood that sugar and carbs are the triggers to his epilepsy, that behavior change triggered by sugar would be the start of a 24-72 hour spiral into a seizure. With the exception of a possible minor seizure while violently vomiting with the stomach bug, Alex has been seizure free for 5 1/2 months. Now that we understand what is going on, when we notice a behavior change, usually set off by diet or illness or lack of sleep, we have been able to course correct through high fats (fish oils, olive oils, avocado oils, coconut oils, butter, eggs) and then sleep. So, we are believers in the benefits of a low sugar, low carb diet. But, I never realized the extent to which sugar and carbs damage the brain. The root of much of our most debilitating diseases is inflammation. Although inflammation is the body's natural response to injury, chronic inflammation leads to problems ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's. In Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter walks us through the process whereby sugars and grains (with gluten at the center of it all) contribute to chronic inflammation and ultimately to brain diseases, diabetes, and other neurological problems. According to Dr. Perlmutter, many of our modern day ailments--ADHD, chronic headaches, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, gluten sensitivities, obesity--can be prevented or severely reduced by a change in diet with a decrease in sugars and carbs and an increase in fats. I went on my first long run of the training season yesterday, and I truly believe that my energy level remained strong and constant throughout the run on account of my change in diet. I'm sure by now my body has retrained itself to quickly access fat stores, since I'm not feeding it with carbs and sugars the way I used to. So I was able to cruise along for 3 hours without feeling tired or depleted. I used to bring along all kinds of fuel for my runs, but now I travel lightly. I have all the fuel I need stored in my fat. We have seen a dramatic increase in Alex's endurance as well. Until we changed his diet, Alex's day ended around 1pm. He could not stay until the end of the school day or even dream of an activity in the afternoon. But in the course of a few months, he has extended his day while remaining in good spirits and with lots of energy and focus. He has a full day of school, then goes off to a sport practice everyday after school, and two days a week he has karate before school even begins. Diet...it's amazing, the key to almost everything.