Since the release of Grain Brain I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments from mothers, including expectant mothers, about the wonderful health benefits of our dietary recommendations as they relate not only to fetal brain development, but also for brain development during infancy. In this video I address these issues and focus especially on the critical role of the omega-3 DHA in brain development. Watch the video, and keep in mind DHA’s important role for brain health for people of all ages.
By: Austin Perlmutter, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine
While we may be familiar with the dangers of eating too much sugar, the actual effects of this indulgence may be far more frightening than previously imagined. Certainly, science supports the idea that excess sugar consumption leads to weight gain, increases our chances of diabetes and heart disease, and portends worse health outcomes. But now, new data shows that sugar can harm us in a place we didn’t expect, by actually attacking our DNA.
To properly explain this fascinating research, let’s quickly review some biology basics. The human body is made up of roughly 37 trillion cells, our structural building blocks. The “brain” of the cell is called the nucleus, and the nucleus contains our DNA. For years, we’ve assumed that DNA was a product of our heritage, handed down from mother and father, a rigid pre-determinant of everything from our height to our mathematical skills. However, the revolutionary new field of epigenetics has lead to the discovery that what we do actually changes the way our DNA is used, that the choices we make can forever transform our genetic code
Reactive medicine means treating problems once they’ve happened. For instance, reactive medicine describes giving a pain medicine to a patient to treat a headache, or an antidepressant to treat depression, or even giving a child a powerful amphetamine drug because he or she had been given a diagnosis of ADHD.
Proactive medicine, also called preventive medicine, seeks to keep these types of issues from happening in the first place. And isn’t is interesting to see how medical literature is now showing that gluten sensitivity may be related to these and so many more brain disorders.
We’ve all come to accept the notion that our brain will continue to shrink as we age. Nowhere is this decline more impactful than in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, one of the primary brain areas that’s first to decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers measuring the size of the hippocampus using MRI scans demonstrate a clear correlation between shrinkage of the hippocampus and declining cognitive function. So, at least as it relates to the hippocampus, size does matter.
Challenging the status quo notion that loss of hippocampal function is inevitable is new and exciting research showing that we have the potential to actually grow new cells in this vitally important are of the brain, expanding the hippocampus in size and enhancing memory function.
Our emotional responses to everyday events are governed and influenced by many factors, including our past experiences, upbringing, and medications. But can the foods we eat play a role in our emotions?
In a recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers at UCLA demonstrated that daily consumption of a fermented milk product containing five different strains of probiotic bacteria actually changed the brain’s emotional response to various stimuli, as measured on an advanced brain imaging technique called functional MRI.
Think of it. Changing the composition of the bacteria living in the gut caused a profound change in how the brain responded to its environment!
This week, the British Journal of Cancer published an incredibly important report that found a strong relationship between a simple blood test and the risk for various forms of cancer. The study found that the common blood test used by diabetics to measure their average blood sugar, A1c, was strongly predictive in terms of cancer development.
For those of you who are not diabetic, you may not be familiar with this simple test that has profound health implications well beyond diabetes. Basically, the A1c test measures the amount of glycation that the protein hemoglobin has undergone. Glycation simply means that sugar has become bonded to a protein, in this case hemoglobin, and this is a relatively slow process. Hence, it’s a way to get a sense as to how high the blood sugar has been, in this case over a 3-4 month period of time, and this is why it’s so helpful for diabetics.
For those of you who have been following my blog posts, the theme that is redundant focuses on the importance of choosing foods with a low glycemic index as a way to enhance brain health and function.
But beyond brain health, I want all of you to recognize that there is a direct and powerful relationship between blood sugar, the glycemic index of foods consumed, and risk for various other health-related issues. Eating foods lower on the glycemic index scale is associated with weight loss as well as improvement in a wide range of cardiovascular risk parameters.
In addition, the science is now clearly correlating reduced risk of various forms of cancer including breast, colon and prostate related to food consumption lower on the glycemic index scale. Continue reading