David Perlmutter, MD, became well-known last year as the best-selling author of Grain Brain, which demonizes wheat (and, of course, gluten) and he recently claimed that simple dietary changes would prevent half of Alzheimer's cases.
His claims lack what we might consider an ethical barometer. If you and I read 'possible association' in a paper that was based on 13 people, we know it means there is a curve that matches in a small study, but that isn't causation. Perlmutter found that same paper and declared the science was settled and that denying it was a Vast Conspiracy to keep us over-medicated. As was hysterically noted on Twitter, Andrew Wakefield's vaccine/autism studyonly had n=12 so Perlmutter's n=13 claim is 8.5% less completely wrong.
Unsurprisingly, a publication called Alternative and Complementary Therapies is completely twitterpated with him anyway and let's him gush all over his newly created fad in Scare Journalism. Alternative medicine is afraid of double blind clinical trials but it loves when anyone with an MD after their name says something off the wall, like that carbohydrates and gluten are responsible for anxiety, depression, chronic headaches, ADHD, Alzheimer's and whatever else mainstream media will scare us about next month. They also give us articles on chelation therapy and brain imaging of yoga in the same issue.
A publisher has even created a new journal to ride this wave. Brain and Gut will "explore" links between gluten and cognitive decline and its first editor-in-chief will be, of course, Perlmutter. It's going to be peer-reviewed. That used to mean something, when paper cost money and so it was a barrier to entry for woo. Today, with online open access journals and a variety of peer review flavors, including peer review lite and editorial review all flying that same flag, there is as much skepticism about the validity of claiming peer review among scientists as there is about food in Perlmutter's target demographic. Can't Sasquatch searchers and homeopaths all get together on the Internet and verify each other and call that peer review? Of course they can. What are the chances that a paper debunking Perlmutter's intentional misrepresentations will make it into a peer-reviewed journal about his misrepresentations? Not very high, even for a man who takes n=13 as definitive.
"We live with this notion that a calorie is a calorie, but at least in terms of brain health, and I believe for the rest of the body as well, there are very big differences between our sources of calories in terms of the impact on our health," he notes quite reasonably, before going off into unsubstantiated fantasy land with "Carbohydrate calories, which elevate blood glucose, are dramatically more detrimental to human physiology, and specifically to human health, than are calories derived from healthful sources of fat."
Detrimental how again? Oh right, just look at some epidemiology results and find an association you like. Doing that, I can also correlate the civil war in Kiev with the price of steel. And a whole bunch of Bilderberg Group conspiracy theorists will probably believe it.
Maybe I could write a best-selling book on this premise. I used more valid data than Perlmutter had.