You can help your brain, especially as it ages, by eating and drinking right
A study involving 61 women, of whom 33 were chronically stressed caring for a spouse or parent with dementia, has found that highly stressed people who ate a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food were likely to have:
This association was not found among the low-stress women who ate the same amount of unhealthy food.
The findings are consistent with animal studies.
A 2-year trial involving 59 patients with type 2 diabetes has found that those on a low-carbohydrate diet showed lower levels of inflammation compared with those on a traditional low-fat diet. Weight loss was similar in both groups.
Contradicting some earlier studies, new research using data from the very large and long-running Nurses' Health Study has found that calcium supplement intake was not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in women.
Preliminary studies have demonstrated that grape skin extract exerts a novel inhibitory activity on hyperglycemia and could be developed to aid in diabetes management.
An Italian study has found that older adults with the highest concentration of resveratrol metabolites were no less likely to have died of any cause than those with no resveratrol found in their urine.
A review and meta-analysis of all international studies that compared the effects of higher versus lower added sugar consumption on blood pressure and lipids (blood fats or cholesterol) has uncovered evidence that sugar has a direct effect on risk factors for heart disease, and is likely to impact on blood pressure, independent of weight gain.
Two studies help explain why kidney disease increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and vascular calcification. The mediator seems to be a hormone called FGF23, which is sensitive to the level of phosphates in the body.
Phosphate rich foods include processed cheese, Parmesan, cola, baking powder and most processed foods.
A finding that free radicals promote longevity in the roundworm challenges the theory that free radicals (oxidants) are damaging and cause aging.
Analysis of eight studies on diet and stroke published between 1990 and 2012 has found that risk of first-time stroke dropped with every 7g increase in total daily fibre. That amount of fibre is contained in a bowl of wholewheat pasta plus two servings of fruit or vegetables.
Insufficient data is available to say whether soluble or insoluble fibre is better. The studies came from the United States, northern Europe, Australia, and Japan.
A large study reveals that a diet with high levels of carbohydrate and sugar greatly increases the chance of developing MCI or dementia, while high levels of fat and protein reduce the risk.
In a large Mayo Clinic study, self-reported diet was found to be significantly associated with the risk of seniors developing mild cognitive impairment or dementia over a four-year period.
The study involved 1,230 older adults (70-89) who completed a 128-item food-frequency questionnaire about their diet during the previous year. Of these, around three-quarters (937) showed no signs of cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study period, and were asked to return for follow-up cognitive assessments. These assessments took place every 15 months. After about four years, 200 (21%) had developed mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia.
The likelihood of cognitive deterioration was significantly affected by the type of diet. Those with the highest carbohydrate intake were nearly twice as likely to develop cognitive impairment compared to those with the lowest carbohydrate consumption, and when total fat and protein intake were taken into account, they were 3.6 times likelier to develop impairment.
Those with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times more likely to develop cognitive impairment.
But — a finding that will no doubt surprise many — those with the highest fat consumption were 42% less likely to develop cognitive impairment, compared to those with the lowest level of fats.
Less surprisingly, those with highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21%.
In other words, the worst diet you can have, if you want to keep your brain healthy, is one that receives most of its calories from carbohydrates and sugar, and relatively little from fats and protein.
The findings about carbs, sugar, and protein are consistent with other research. The finding regarding fats is somewhat more surprising. The inconsistency may lie in the type of fat. Research implicating high-fat diets as a risk factor in Alzheimer’s have used saturated fats. Diets high in olive oil, on the other hand, have been found to be beneficial.
It seems likely that the danger of carbs and too much sugar lies in the effects on glucose and insulin metabolism. Saturated fats also interfere with glucose metabolism. Alzheimer’s has sometimes been called Type 3 diabetes, because of its association with insulin problems.
Roberts RO, Roberts LA, Geda YE, Cha RH, Pankratz VS, O'Connor HM, Knopman DS, Petersen RC. 2012. Relative intake of macronutrients impacts risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Journal of Alzheimers Disease, 32(2), 329-39.
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