FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented?

 

It is too bad that prevention is not emphasized more often to the younger population in order to possibly prevent the ravages of chronic diseases later in life. Research suggest that cognitive decline can at least be delayed by “healthy” lifestyle choices earlier in life rather than after the offending damage has occurred.

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The younger population appears to be less healthy than previous generations of the same age group affecting retirement age and health care costs. For more, CLICK HERE.

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Brain Supplements?

How many times have we heard  this advice?  Get your nutrients from foods, not supplements. When there is any effect, more than likely it is working through the placebo effect.  As a general rule, if you eat less than 1200 kcal a day, you may consider taking a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement. Also if you are a vegan, you should consider getting your vitamin B12 from fortified foods.   A B12 deficiency is more likely due to a problem from poor absorption rather than from a low intake alone. Even though vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, blatant deficiency is rare because the body stores and reuses it efficiently. Check with your doctor about your vitamin B12 status and diet supplement use especially if you are elderly or on a restricted diet of any kind.

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The Brain and Sweeteners?

The headlines screamed “diet soda” but the studies also included some disturbing results from sugary drinks, too. There is an inexpensive, widely available, low calorie alternative – it is called water. In other words, the advice often given is “don’t drink your calories”.

There is no doubt that these studies require further research to establish reproducible results  and to further elucidate on what is happening to the brain in the presence of natural and/or artificial sweeteners.

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Mediterranean Diets and Cognition

English: Olives in olive oil.

English: Olives in olive oil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can your diet affect your brain health?  A recent  Spanish study suggests that a Mediterranean Diet can have positive benefits.

Dementia has been a concern for quite some time now as our population ages.  Dementia is caused by degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain such as in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s and diseases that affect blood vessels, such as stroke, often called vascular dementia.

Research from the University of Navarra reports that a Mediterranean diet consisting of extra virgin olive oil, moderate amounts of fish and seafood, a moderate intake or red wine as well as lots of  fruits, vegetables and nuts seemed to improve the brains of older people at risk for vascular dementia when compared to a low fat diet.

The trial consisted of 522 men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 without cardiovascular disease but they were considered at higher risk for vascular disease because of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes type 2, being a smoker, having high blood pressure, and/or having a family history of cardiovascular disease early in life.

The participants were assigned to one of three diet groups.  In one group, they followed a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil; the second group followed a Mediterranean diet with added nuts; the third group (the controls) were only given advice on following a low fat diet.

The results?  After a followup period of 6 .5 years, the two groups following the Mediterranean diets had brain function scores significantly higher than the control group on the low fat diet. Brain function tests included assessment of memory, attention, language, spacial and abstract thinking.

The authors concluded:  “An intervention with Med Diets enhanced with either extra virgin olive oil or nuts appears to improve cognition compared with a low-fat diet.”  This study was published in the May issue (2013) of the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

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