The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan

Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health


By David Perlmutter MD

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$36.50 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 15, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The official guide to Dr. David Perlmutter’s revolutionary approach to vibrant health as described in his New York Times bestsellers Grain Brain, The Grain Brain Cookbook, and Brain Maker.

With more than a million copies sold worldwide, Dr. Perlmutter’s books have changed many lives. Now, he’s created a practical, comprehensive program that lowers the risk for brain ailments while yielding other benefits, such as weight loss, relief from chronic conditions, and total body rejuvenation. Science-based and highly accessible, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan expands upon the core advice from Dr. Perlmutter’s previous works, and introduces new information about the advantages of eating more fat, fewer carbs, and nurturing the microbiome. Including original recipes, tips and tricks for common challenges, meal plans, and advice on everything from sleep hygiene to stress management, exercise, supplements, and more, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan shows how to live happily and healthily ever after.



You've Come to This Book for a Reason

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH destiny. Whether it's effortless weight loss. Freedom from neurological disorders and other chronic conditions. Boundless energy. A radiant appearance. Sound sleep. A happy belly. A robust immune system. Relief from depression and anxiety. A sharp, fast-thinking brain. A great sense of self-confidence and well-being. A super-high quality of life.…

These are all terrific goals, and my bet is you're hoping to achieve them yourself soon enough. People who've followed my protocols in the past have indeed experienced these results. Seriously. But to be sure: Such monumental accomplishments don't come without hard work and sacrifices. You can't necessarily turn away from the standard American diet—bread, soda, OJ, sugar, cereal, muffins, bagels, processed foods—and embrace a totally gluten-free, low-carb lifestyle overnight. It takes commitment. It takes effort. But it's doable with this book in your personal library.

More than a million people around the world have improved their health—physical, mental, and cognitive—thanks to Grain Brain, a book that became an instant bestseller. The book was followed by Brain Maker, another instant bestseller that added to the conversation by highlighting the importance of the human microbiome—the trillions of microbes that inhabit the gut—to our health. Now the time has come to bring these two forces together in a highly practical, step-by-step holistic lifestyle program.

Welcome to The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan.

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. It expands upon the core advice in my previous works and introduces exciting new information about the advantages of eating more fat and fiber, consuming fewer carbs and protein, evicting gluten forever, and catering to your intestinal flora. Included in the book are a bounty of delicious original recipes, tips for addressing unique challenges, a 14-day easy-to-follow meal plan, and advice about habits beyond the diet. From sleep hygiene to stress management, exercise, supplements, and more, The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan details how to live happily and healthily ever after.

I was motivated to write this book from my own personal experience, too. I have tried my best to do everything possible to remain healthy. But now in my sixties, I've experienced my own health issues, and I have learned how to navigate through them successfully within the context of my own principles. I started to think about this book as an opportunity to get myself into the very best shape for the next forty years. Like anyone my age, I'm certainly at risk for all the common disorders. And, by virtue of my family history, I have a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease. But I know I am reducing my risk and stacking the deck in my favor by following the strategies presented in these pages. I want to show you what I have learned and what I do day in and day out.

Some of you are coming to this with the assumption that it is just another diet and lifestyle book that will test your willpower and resolve for a finite period. I'm delighted to disappoint you on that front. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives you a jump-start to a healthy way of living that you will be able to sustain indefinitely.

Food is a central component of the program, but so are other key aspects to achieving the best results: the timing of when you eat, sleep, and exercise; skipping breakfast once or twice a week; knowing which supplements to take and which medications to potentially drop; reducing daily stress and even chemical exposures in your physical environment; nurturing relationships and your own self-care; addressing the challenges in life with grace and ease; routinely creating goals for your personal development; and finding time for the kinds of physical activities that power the brain while healing the body.

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. You'll start, however, with a prelude to Step 1, during which you will perform a self-assessment to gauge your risk factors, undergo some laboratory tests, and prepare your mind. The main steps are as follows:

Step 1: Edit your diet and pill-popping.

Step 2: Add your support strategies.

Step 3: Plan accordingly.

Part II gives you all the information you need to follow my program, from which foods to eat to which supplements to take and how to leverage the power of sleep, physical movement, and other stress-reducing strategies that will enhance your success.

In Part III, you'll find final tips and reminders, a menu of snack ideas, a basic shopping list, the 14-day meal plan, and delicious recipes to enjoy on your journey. For ongoing support and additional resources, go to


Before we jump into the science in the coming pages, I'd like to share something personal. A lot has happened to me since Grain Brain was first published in 2013. In 2015 I lost my dear father, once a brilliant neurosurgeon, to Alzheimer's disease. I also closed my medical practice and took to spreading my message through teaching, the media, and the lecture circuit. I've had the privilege of collaborating with the world's top experts in various fields of clinical medicine and biomedical research whose work further reinforces my recommendations. (You'll be reading about some of these people in the book; for videos of my interviews with many of them, please visit

In early 2016, I came to grips with the sudden, tragic loss of a beloved friend. This was followed by a medical crisis of my own as I lay in the intensive care unit. You'll read about this event later in this book, but suffice it to say that it radically changed my perspective. It vividly taught me the perils of stress and the power of love. And it reinforced the notion that having a healthy mind and body goes far beyond what we eat and how much we exercise.

The day after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to a yoga class with my wife and her mother. At the end of the class, the instructor read a moving passage that struck me right away. It came from the book How Yoga Works and basically said that in order for us to reach our highest goals in life, we should try to maintain "… a constant, modest, joyful state of mind which is always looking for ways to protect others from harm—all day long, just in the little world we live in."

Although I am no longer directly involved in patient care on a daily basis, in moving forward, I believe my purpose will be to do just that—to continue to write, lecture, teach, learn, and do my best to protect you from harm. I will keep connecting with people, hearing their stories of transformation, and cheering them on. It's incredibly gratifying to know that I can change people's lives for the better—no surgery or prescription required. May you, too, be a changed person through the execution of a few practical strategies. By reading this book, you are already getting a head start on the path to a better, healthier future.

So no matter what brings you to this book, whether you are concerned for your own health or that of a loved one, rest assured that you have an amazing opportunity right in front of you. And despite your trepidations, this isn't that hard. You've done more difficult things in your life, for sure. Maybe you've given birth, raised a child, cared for someone with special needs, run a company, eulogized a loved one, or battled a serious illness such as cancer. Just getting through life's day-to-day battles is challenging enough. So pat yourself on the back because you've gotten this far, and know that what lies ahead can positively and profoundly change your life for the better.

All that I ask of you at this point is to accept the commitment. You will change your relationship with lots of things in your life, from food to people. You will create new habits and traditions. You will transform how you live your life and reap the ultimate rewards: reaching all those goals I listed earlier. You will not be counting down the days of my 14-day meal plan, waiting for it to end, or suddenly feel like you're force-feeding yourself foods you can't stand no matter how they are prepared. Much to the contrary, you will proceed at your own pace and learn a new way of life that's doable and sustainable for you by making a few adjustments to your daily habits.

Take it one day, one new habit, at a time. Be patient and kind with yourself. I have a friend who is also a doctor, and he likes to ask his patients this question: "Who is the most important person in the world?" If they don't answer with a resounding "I am," he teaches them that lesson. Because that's the truth: You are the most important person in the world. Admit that. Live up to that. You deserve it. Choose health. That's the first step to take on the path to radiant wellness.

Welcome to The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan. Now let's get going.



I was given Grain Brain and Brain Maker as birthday presents on January 22, 2016, when I reached age seventy-one, and started a gluten-free, sugar-free, high-fat diet on February 1. After twenty-five days, I have solved two of the three "neurological" health problems I had: left arm trembling while leaning the arm on the arm of a chair, loss of equilibrium, and memory deterioration. The first two are now gone, but for the memory recovery I cannot yet claim an improvement, but I am hopeful. Further, I would like to think that maybe I have improved my speech as well, since before the diet I was reaching the point where it was difficult to have a fluent conversation, because my brain and mouth simply could not speak to each other. I have also lost 3 kilograms [about 6½ pounds] of weight!

—Antonio L.


What Is the Grain Brain Whole Life Plan?

IN THE NEXT EIGHTEEN MINUTES, four Americans will die from the food they eat. That's one person every four-and-a-half minutes, a fact that's almost impossible to comprehend. But it's heartbreakingly true. That statement was how celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opened his eighteen-minute TED talk a few years ago, stunning the audience and the millions of people who have since watched his video. Oliver has been leading a crusade against the use of processed foods in schools, and he is a staunch advocate for children's rights to wholesome, healthy fare that won't lead to a lifetime of chronic conditions, pain, and illness. It has been postulated that today's generation of children may not live to as ripe of an old age as their parents, largely due to the downstream effects of obesity.

But it's not just about children. In developed Western nations, diet-related diseases kill more people than accidents, murder, terrorism, war, and all other diseases (not diet-related) combined. Overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, dental diseases, strokes, osteoporosis, dementia, and many types of cancer can all be linked somehow to diet. Some of these afflictions have been around for centuries, but not in such epidemic proportions.

I decided to be a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in brain disorders, more than thirty-five years ago. In the early years of my work, I practiced under the idea of "diagnose and adios" for the most part. In other words, once I made a diagnosis, I often found that I couldn't offer much to my patients in terms of a treatment, much less a cure. There wasn't anything available at the time, and that was immensely disappointing both for me as a physician and them as patients. I am here to tell you, however, that a lot has changed since then. But it's not all positive. Let me first put a few more facts into perspective.

As you may be aware, over the past century science has made great progress in many areas of medicine. One hundred years ago, the top three causes of death came from infectious germs: pneumonia and flu, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections. Today few of us die from contagions; the top causes of death are noncommunicable illnesses that are largely preventable: cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, and cancer. Sadly, while we've made some strides in reducing the rates of some of these chronic illnesses thanks to better prevention and pharmaceuticals, not much has revolutionized my field: averting and treating brain disorders. And these present some of the biggest challenges in medicine. Throughout my career, there have been so many times when I've had to tell patients that I have nothing left in my arsenal to treat them—they have a grave neurological disease that will likely shatter their life and the lives of those they love.

Despite billions of dollars of research, we've had no meaningful treatments or cures for conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, and so many others. Even chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, which affect tens of millions today and which are indeed connected to brain disorders, don't have reliable therapies and remedies. A whopping one in five deaths here in America is now attributed to obesity, which is among the biggest risk factors for brain-related ailments. You might be surprised to learn that obesity is really a form of malnutrition. As counterintuitive as it sounds, people are overfed and undernourished.

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. We, in fact, lead the way. Since 1979, deaths in America due to brain disease increased an astounding 66 percent in men and 92 percent in women. In America today, it's estimated that 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease, and that number is predicted to double by the year 2030! Someone in the United States develops the disease every 66 seconds; it kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.

More than 26 percent of adults in the United States—that's about one in four people—suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, from anxiety and mood issues to psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, and full-blown depression, which is now a leading cause of disability worldwide. One in four women in their prime takes an antidepressant, and may end up staying on that medication for the rest of her life.

When was the last time you had a headache? Yesterday? Right now? Headaches are among the most common brain ailments, and by some estimates they are the number one ailment. More people complain about headaches than any other medical problem. Although nearly everyone has a headache occasionally, one in twenty people has a headache every single day. And an incredible 10 percent of Americans suffer from debilitating migraine headaches—more than diabetes and asthma combined.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating autoimmune disease that disrupts the brain's and spinal cord's ability to communicate, affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide. Nearly half a million of those patients are here in America. The average lifetime cost of treating someone with MS exceeds $1.2 million, and mainstream medicine tells us that there is no cure in sight. Aside from MS, autoimmune disorders in general have been on the rise. I find it interesting and quite telling that, according to people who study ancient diseases, or paleopathologists, humans did not suffer from many autoimmune disorders before the adoption of an agricultural way of life. Autoimmune disease was not nearly as pervasive in the population as it is today. Some autoimmune diseases are three times more common now than they were several decades ago—especially in developed countries like the United States. I love how Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, explains it: "That's because it's grains that can turn the body against itself. Agriculture has devoured us as surely as it has devoured the world."

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known simply as ADHD, has been diagnosed in more than 4 percent of American adults and well over 6 million American children, and an astounding two-thirds of these children are taking mind-altering medications, the long-term consequences of which have never been studied. Fully 85 percent of the ADHD medicines used across the entire planet are used right here in America. This is certainly not something to be proud of. Are we genetically different from the rest of the world? Or is there something else going on that may be responsible for our overzealous use of drugs?

We also can't ignore the rising prevalence of autism. One in forty-five children age three through seventeen has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In boys, ASD is about 4.5 times more common than in girls. The surge in the number of diagnosed cases over the past fifteen years has led some experts to call it a modern-day epidemic. What is going on?

Why have we experienced such a disturbing spike in these afflictions over the past few decades? Why the lack of cures and better treatments? How can only one in one hundred of us get through life without a mental impairment, let alone a headache or two? With so many scientists and so much funding, why has there been so little progress? The answer may simply be that we have been looking in the wrong place. The solution to these challenging disorders may well lie outside the brain, and even outside the body:

It's in our food.

It's in our gut.

It's in how we live each day and deal with our commitments and responsibilities.

It's in how we move our bodies and stay active, strong, mobile, flexible, and agile.

It's in how we deal with setbacks, illness, injury, and pain.

It's in our relationships and social engagements.

It's in our outlook on life.

And it's in this book.

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives you a way to take control of your mind, body, and spirit. It's a solution to these challenging health problems. It's a way of life. I should emphasize from the get-go that it doesn't just address brain disorders. As I've detailed in previous works, virtually every noncommunicable disease has a lot in common. So whether we're talking about asthma or Alzheimer's disease, diabetes or depression, you might be surprised to learn about the connections among them. You'll read about that soon.

Now, let me play devil's advocate for a moment. Despite our vast knowledge in medicine today, especially compared to what we knew a century ago, the development of disease within the context of the human body still remains puzzling—even to the most educated, brilliant individuals who stay on top of the scientific literature. There's a lot we've figured out: We've cracked the human genome code, our DNA; we've developed advanced diagnostic tools and revolutionized treatments; and we've produced vaccines, antibiotics, and other antidotes to combat known invaders. But in the face of all this, we can struggle mightily to understand why one person dies relatively young while another lives vigorously past ninety. Or why one individual looks sixty-five at the age of eight-five, and another appears to be in her fifties when she's really barely forty. We've all heard of the athlete with no documented risk factors for coronary artery disease who dies suddenly of a heart attack; the lung cancer victim who never smoked; and the slim health nut who is diagnosed with diabetes or early onset dementia. What explains these phenomena?

We have to accept a certain mystery surrounding the body's functionality and whether or not it becomes sick and enfeebled. We also have to acknowledge that how we choose to live—and think—has a significant effect on our health and psychology. It's far easier, and cheaper, to prevent illness than to treat it once it's established. But there is no such thing as "spot prevention" targeting one specific area; we have to honor the body as a whole, complex unit. That is the main idea underlying this program.

Every day I meet people who've tried everything they can to achieve the health that they want and deserve. These individuals often fall victim to dubious, unproven health practices and poor nutrition, and they don't even know it. They complain of various symptoms that share common themes: low energy, difficulty losing weight, digestive disorders, insomnia, headaches, low libido, depression, anxiety, memory problems, burnout, sore joints, relentless allergies. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is a rallying cry for anyone who hasn't been able to discover true health and maintain that health indefinitely. All roads to perfect health—and ideal weight—begin with simple lifestyle choices.

As I always say, food is more than fuel for the body to survive. Food is information; what I mean by that is that it ultimately has the power to influence how your personal genome—your DNA—expresses itself. In biology this phenomenon is called epigenetics, a concept we'll be exploring shortly. Epigenetics has transformed the way we think about DNA, as well as about food. On a more basic level, food also helps generate the connection between your mind-set and how you feel. What you eat directly impacts how you experience life and nourish your body's needs. What you do—in your work, in your environment, in your routines, and in your efforts to reduce stress, manage chronic conditions, and address challenges—also affects your body and whether or not you put yourself in harm's way and at risk for serious health issues. And optimizing your body's innate requirements, my friends, is the essence of the Grain Brain Whole Life Plan.

You don't have to be sick to reap enormous rewards from the plan. Even if you feel relatively good and healthy, you can benefit. So whether you're desperate for a better body and clearer mind or just want to know you're doing all you can to live a healthier, longer life, this program is for you.

Most of you should start to feel the effects of the program within a matter of days. But it will take a little longer for it to have a lasting impact on your body at both the cellular and metabolic levels. It will also take a while to reset your attitude so that you can effortlessly enjoy your new lifestyle. It doesn't matter how often you've failed to follow protocols in the past or how much doubt you have in the effectiveness of my recommendations. What matters is that you focus on your goals and have faith that health and happiness await you.


The Chief Goals

IF YOU'RE LIKE MOST PEOPLE, you can't take time away from your busy life to check into a wellness retreat center or medical spa oasis for a month to concentrate squarely on good nutrition, stress relief, and twice-daily exercise classes worthy of a Biggest Loser episode. I've created this book to give you the tools you need to experience maximum results in the shortest period of time. I expect you to continue to go about your daily routine and do your best to make the modifications to your lifestyle that I describe. I will be asking you to start an exercise routine (see here) and to seriously consider all the advice I've outlined throughout the book. Some of the strategies will be easy to implement, such as drinking more water throughout the day and journaling to practice gratitude. But some, such as being strict with your sleep schedule, establishing a strength-training routine, spending distraction-free time for self-reflection, and evicting gluten, grains, and sugar from your diet, will likely take time to master. And that's okay. I've included plenty of ideas to help make these strategies doable and practical in today's world.


  • "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan provides a step-by-step, proven approach that will help you reclaim and sustain health, vitality, and happiness for a lifetime."—Melissa Hartwig, author of Food Freedom Forever and coauthor of The Whole30
  • "Dr. Perlmutter, an acclaimed neurologist, has for years been a pioneer of the gut-brain connection. In The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, he combines his clinical expertise, insights into the latest scientific developments, and immense compassion into a powerful prescription for brain health."
    David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of Always Hungry?
  • "Dr. Perlmutter's groundbreaking work has changed the way we think about inflammation--its causes and the damage it can do. I've gotten tremendous benefit from his books and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives us simple and direct ways to prevent and treat diseases in easy and delicious ways."—Bonnie Raitt
  • "Dr. David Perlmutter is one of the first people to not only suggest that modern degenerative diseases are likely caused by poor diet and alterations in gut health, but he has produced clinical research indicating these conditions may be avoided or reversed by altering one's diet and lifestyle. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is the culmination of more than 35 years of clinical practice and research that will help you look, feel and perform your best."
    Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution
  • "Dr. Perlmutter sifts through the emerging research on how to create brain and body health. And he created The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, a manifesto for the new medicine, the roadmap for how to care for the one precious human life that you have. If you want to live strong, feel good, boost your brain function, and become more connected and engaged to your own life, then you need a plan. This book is that plan."
    Mark Hyman, MD, author of Eat Fat Get Thin and director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
  • "If everyone were to follow The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, there would be a dramatic reduction in obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis--in short, the world would be a better place."
    Dale Bredesen, MD, professor and director of Alzheimer's Disease Research, UCLA
  • "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan presents a comprehensive, practical, step-by-step approach aimed at people suffering from a variety of chronic neurological, psychiatric, and medical conditions. Dr. Perlmutter not only gives specific dietary recommendations, including a diet rich in plant-based fiber, but also prescribes important lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, stress reduction, and improvement in sleeping habits."—Emeran A. Mayer, MD, author of The Mind Gut Connection and director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience at UCLA

On Sale
Nov 15, 2016
Page Count
304 pages
Little Brown Spark

David Perlmutter MD

About the Author

David Perlmutter, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He was the recipient of the Linus Pauling Award for his innovative approaches to neurological disorders. With his books now published in twenty-seven languages, Dr. Perlmutter is setting new standards for what healthy lifestyle means around the world.

He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grain Brain, The Grain Brain Cookbook, and Brain Maker, as well as The Better Brain Book and Raise a Smarter Child by Kindergarten. He lives in Naples, Florida.

Learn more about this author