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brain health



Grain Brain Take 2: Another look at how wheat, carbs, and sugar affect your brain

This morning I read a nutrition article that was popping up all over my Facebook feed. The story, This is Your Brain on Gluten, which appeared in The Atlantic, covered the science behind a new book called Grain Brain. From the sound of things, the author of the article, James Hamblin, who is a medical doctor, had been hesitant to cover the book—he wasn’t sure what to make of the general hypothesis, which is that eating all grains ultimately causes mental deterioration such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. But because it’s been a best-seller since its release he finally gave it a read.

grains in handTo say Hamblin remained skeptical after reading the book—and speaking with the author of Brain Grain, David Perlmutter, MD, as well as a handful of other notable researchers and physicians, including David Katz, MD—would be an understatement. He pokes holes in some of the claims and reminds readers that much of the “science” that the diet is based on is either not widely accepted or is simply speculation—a connecting of dots that can’t actually be proven.

Hamblin’s overview of the book and the scientific basis for following or eschewing this type of diet seemed spot-on, but it also felt familiar. After a quick search on DietsInReview I realized why: Our resident dietitian Mary Hartley, RD, wrote a similarly cautionary article on Grain Brain back in October!


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Take Grain Brain’s Villainization of Carbs with a Grain of Salt

Grain Brain is the catchy title of a new self-help diet book on the New York Times Advice and How-to Best Sellers lists. The author, neurologist David Perlmutter, makes the case for a slow death to brain cells caused by wheat, “carbs,” and sugar. Those foods, he says, are behind most of the common but incurable neurologic diseases including Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, anxiety, depression, and others. To prevent and treat those conditions, he recommends a diet of fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil, sans the “carbs” from grains, milk, fruit, and sugary sweets. Grain Brain is in the same vein as Wheat Belly and other best-selling Paleo-type diet books.

grain brain

David Perlmutter and his co-author, writer Kristin Loberg, followed the diet book formula: reel in the lay audience with indisputable scientific facts and then lead them to ungrounded conclusions because they all sound good. With technical expertise, Dr. Perlmutter explains the workings of the brain and central nervous system. He is up on the hot nutrition topics and buzzwords of the day: inflammation, free radicals, bacteria in the gut, and metabolic fuels.

Sure, we agree that neurological diseases are scary and seem to be everywhere, but are gluten and carbohydrates the cause? Not so fast. David Perlmutter is often called “cutting edge,” which means research verification is needed.  
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ThinkFood Provides Recipes for Brain Health

Most fitness efforts are focused on what happens below the head. However, as important as it is to keep your body healthy and fit, your brain deserves some attention, too. The brain plays some role in every function of your day-to-day life, from sleeping to exercising to thinking and feeling. Like other body parts, it too loses agility as you age. To help slow this agility loss and keep the brain healthier, the AARP has released a new cookbook, ThinkFood: Recipes for Brain Fitness.

mixed nuts

The cookbook features a variety of recipes enhanced with ingredients science and research suggest help keep the brain healthy. “Too often, when we think about staying fit, we generally think from the neck down,” said Jodi Lipson, director of AARP’s Book Division in a release. “ThinkFood recognizes the importance of our brain and its need for care and maintenance. This book provides readers of all ages with fun and tasty ways to lead healthier lifestyles.” Recipes in the book are the creations of a partnership between 50 popular food bloggers and Posit Science. Posit Science is a leader in providing brain fitness exercises and education.


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To Lose Weight, You Have to Build More Muscle

We all have that friend. The skinny one who eats whatever they want and never exercises. We all secretly dislike them for this trait and at the same time, wish we could be like them. New research is showing that they might be in a bad position, even worse than an overweight person who hits the gym. As scientist Bente Pedersen said this week, “It’s much better to be fit and fat, than skinny and lazy.”

Pedersen contributed along with many other professionals in Bill Gifford’s article for Outside this week. The article focused on more truths that have been revealed about fat. The report was lengthy but it highlighted some important misnomers about fat. Most know that we have “good” fat and “bad” fat, or subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. The good fat is more or less padding, while bad fat builds up in our mid-sections and can infiltrate our organs. A picture of fat invading muscles like the marbling of beef was used to describe how visceral fat can affect the inactive, not just the obese.

This bleak outlook of how fat can literally take over was explained further by Gerald Shulman, M.D., a diabetes researcher at Yale who contributed to the Outside article. Shulman explained how the amount of fat one has isn’t the problem, more so, it’s how the fat is distributed. He explained how fat build up in areas like the muscle and liver, or places it simply should not be, is when ailments like type 2 diabetes arise.
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10 Essential Foods for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Alzheimer’s: The word conjures up scary thoughts of slowly losing your memory as you become a shell of your former self. Experts project that diagnoses of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the primary cause, will triple worldwide by 2050. But scientists tell us that preventative measures can go a long way in protecting the brain from memory loss diseases, and they are as simple as doing things like making changes in your diet.

Here are 10 super foods that work to boost brain power and, in turn, lessen your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. No one food has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but healthy eating habits appear to be one of the top factors in lowering your risk for developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

1. Wild Salmon, Tuna, Sardines (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week because it contains vital omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats help the body function properly and may slow cognitive decline by 10 percent, studies show.

“The main concept is that a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids creates BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a protein between nerve cells that helps increase the strength between connections,” said Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, author of “Super Body Super Brain.” Trout, mackerel, and herring are also good choices, and taking a fish oil vitamin can also help your body obtain this much-needed nutrient.
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