How Inflammation Affects the Developing Brain

How Inflammation Affects the Developing Brain

I have posted several blogs relating the fundamental role of inflammation to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Indeed, this is one of the central themes of Grain Brain.

That said, we’ve also got to take a look at the role of inflammation in the developing brain because the same damaging effects of the chemical mediators of inflammation in the adult might well lead to issues in the delicate brains of infants and young children.

In a new study just published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, researchers looked at several parameters in infants including the frequency of febrile illnesses, as well as blood markers of increased inflammation including IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-4 which is thought to indicate reduction of inflammation.

Continue reading

Your Health Depends on Your Gut Bacteria

Your Health Depends on Your Gut Bacteria

As we watch America’s waistline continue to expand, and along with it the perpetual increase in diseases associated with this increased incidence of obesity, it’s really important to identify potential causes associated with this issue. No doubt, our lust for sugar and carbs is playing a central role, as I discussed in Grain Brain. In fact, the number one source of calories in America is now high fructose corn syrup.

It would be simple to call it a day, point an accusatory finger at the dramatic dietary changes that have shifted Western cultures away from fat in favor of sugar and carbs, and do our very best to get this information out to those involved in such areas as public health, product development, advertising, etc., and hope for the best.

But there’s new research that quite clearly reveals that another factor may well be playing a role not only in the soaring rates of obesity, but also in increasing the risk for metabolic syndrome, which is the name given for a group of risk factors known to increase the risk for such conditions as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and others. Continue reading

Childhood Obesity – Not Just the Carbs

Childhood Obesity – Not Just the Carbs

Doubling in incidence over the past 30 years, and increasing an astonishing four-fold amongst adolescents, childhood obesity is now an epidemic in America. Make no mistake about it, this isn’t just a cosmetic issue. These children have a profoundly increased risk for a variety of associated medical problems including asthma, diabetes, and even high blood pressure, not to mention the fact that they will likely end up as obese adults with a higher risk for dieases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis and heart disease.

Clearly, the diets of our children have changed – radically. It makes perfect sense, from a biological perspective, to blame the dramatic rise in carbohydrate and sugar consumption for these issues. That’s why we’re all over the idea of promoting a higher “good” fat and low-carb diet for adults and children alike, but there’s another factor to consider. Continue reading

Pregnancy and Grain Brain

Pregnancy and Grain Brain

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.

Dietary Epigenetics: New Frontiers

Dietary Epigenetics: New Frontiers

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

The Role of Gluten Elimination in Preventive Medicine

The Role of Gluten Elimination in Preventive Medicine

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.

Stem Cell Therapy Proven to Increase Memory

Stem Cell Therapy Proven to Increase Memory

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.

Continue reading