In January, I decided to try a new diet. My energy levels had been on the lower side for some time, and my mind felt sluggish. I needed to do something, but my annual health check-up had found no underlying illness, thyroid fluctuation, or vitamin D deficiency.
There was nothing there to explain my consistent state of brain fog and tiredness. I joked with my friends that I had premature Alzheimer’s disease. I am a hands-on mother of two boys and a health columnist and consultant with a decent (though hardly hectic) social life. Was this fatigue just a result of the normal demands of my life? But I eat mostly healthy food, drink enough water, take multi-vitamins, barely drink alcohol, work out five times a week, do yoga twice a week, and get about 7 hours of sleep on most nights.
I felt I deserved a more energetic body, and a livelier brain for all that effort. I searched the Internet, and that’s where I first came across the wheat-elimination diet. As the phrase suggests, this is a diet free of all wheat-containing foods—no biscuits, cakes, breads, pastas, rotis or puris. Wheat is also found in a range of processed foods and sauces like ice creams, cake mixes, soy sauce and batter-fried foods and stabilizers that are often found in store-bought masalas.
The diet sounded really hard. But the literature was intriguing. David Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs And Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers, had been published recently and I devoured it. In a nutshell, Dr Perlmutter, a neurologist and president of the Perlmutter Health Center in Florida, US, writes that the brain is exquisitely sensitive to the foods we eat and there is nothing worse than too many grains and too little fats in your diet when it comes to brain health. While there is a lot more to his book, he is particularly emphatic on the downside of eating wheat and how damaging it can be for the brain.Read More
Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US.