Book Review: Brain Maker
The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain—For Life
By David Perlmutter, MD
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
The gut houses an internal compass, but could it also hold the key to health?
In Brain Maker, Dr. David Perlmutter makes a strong case for the genius of the gut. He proposes that our bellies—more accurately, the inflammation and negative bacteria found within them—have a profound influence on depression, Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related ailments. According to Perlmutter, the gut and brain are deeply intertwined, and skyrocketing rates of obesity and autism are directly related to a Western diet high in sugars and carbohydrates that throw the delicate balance of intestinal bacteria out of whack.
If Perlmutter’s first book, Grain Brain, was a taste of how gluten and sugar influence mental functioning, then Brain Maker is a seven-course meal. It details how the health of the microbiome, or the complex stew of intestinal bacteria, is influenced by everything from breast milk to artificial sweeteners. Cutting-edge research and historical background on the evolution of gut bacteria make it easier to, er, digest this dramatic shift away from the germ theory paradigm, with its focus on external causes of disease. Nurturing the gut via dietary changes (curb sugar and gluten, but coffee and wine are still allowed!), probiotic treatments, and fecal microbial transplants (a procedure known to dramatically alter intestinal health) make change practical and possible.
Perlmutter doesn’t just illuminate one connection between mental health and the microbiome, but rather reveals the endless pathways between the two. A “sick” gut can wreak havoc on the health of the brain, and vice versa. Grain Brain offers a remarkable reframing of the mind-body connection.