Here you will find posts related to the most groundbreaking science that is available to us as it pertains to gluten intolerance and brain health. We all have the gift of brain plasticity, meaning that if we apply the conclusions of these studies to our daily lives we can actually grow new brain cells!
With all the nuances of dietary recommendations from keto to paleo to vegan to who knows what else, one thing is clear: there is absolutely no need for added fructose, or any sugars for that matter, in the human diet. And there is an ever-expanding body of research that clearly points out the incredible threat that fructose poses to human metabolic health. Fortunately, many people are getting this message and doing what they can to almost eliminate, or at least substantially reduce the amount of fructose that they consume.
Among the highest sources of fructose in the human diet are sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices. Statistics are clearly demonstrating that consumption of these beverages, at least here in America, is declining, no doubt because of the increasing recognition of the health threat posed by fructose. Continue reading
While we accept the notion of the important influences of lifestyle choices as they relate, for example, to the heart, the immune system, lung function, longevity, and even cancer risk, the notion that what we choose to eat and the amount of exercise we get, in terms of influencing the brain, until recently, has been kept off the table. Fortunately, there are dedicated researchers around the country who are part of a vanguard team, making it very clear that we are, in fact, the architects of our brain’s future. Our choices, day in and day out, are exceedingly influential in terms of how our brains will change over time, for better or worse.
Certainly, this has been a central theme in the books I have been writing over the years, as well as other elements of my social outreach. But importantly, and gratefully, I am not alone in this endeavor.
With ever increasing rates of overweight and obesity in America, we see, almost in lockstep, increasing rates of diseases that are linked to weight gain. Likely, mostly for cosmetic reasons, weight loss programs are proliferating at a record pace. And, truth be known, most weight loss programs, with strict adherence, will lead to weight loss, despite how they may vary in the diets that are recommended. While this challenges the notion as to what type of diet should be recommended for weight loss, it begs the question as to what gets people into trouble as it relates to weight gain in the first place.
It seems clear that there is a relationship between high consumption of refined carbohydrates and risk for weight gain. And for sure, other issues that are not specifically related to the types of foods people consume also have an impact on weight gain including things like sleep and exercise. But in this blog, I would like to consider new research that reveals how exposure to cigarette smoking from parent to child sets that child up for weight gain later in life. Continue reading
We are now at the dawn of a new age as it relates to our understanding of important chronic diseases like metabolic syndrome, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is now clear that uric acid, previously just considered to be a waste product of metabolism, is playing a central role mechanistically in these pervasive problems.
In a recent review published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine entitled Uric Acid in metabolic syndrome: From an innocent bystander to a central player, scientists explored how uric acid plays a fundamental role, signaling the body to make and store fat, increase its blood pressure, and enhance glucose production. We all carry this type of physiology as a legacy of our primate ancestors for whom making and storing fat, for example, proved to be a survival mechanism during times of food scarcity. Continue reading
There is so much we can do from a lifestyle perspective to help safeguard our brains against declining function. And certainly getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important choices a person can make to help preserve and protect this vital organ. In October 2020, I wrote a piece on the relationship between sleep duration and cognitive decline, and it was based on a very large study performed in England. This study demonstrated that there was risk for cognitive decline with not enough sleep as well as too much sleep. And it concluded that between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is the “sweet spot” in terms of being related to the least risk for cognitive decline.
This week, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications entitled “Association of sleep duration in middle and old age with incidence of dementia” reviewed data from close to 8,000 participants over a 25-year period of time. They demonstrated that there was higher risk for developing dementia with sleep duration of six hours or less at specific ages of 50, 60, and 70 years. The findings of the study showed the risk for actually developing dementia was increased by 30% in all three age categories. To be sure, these findings were independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors.
Interestingly, in contrast to the study I quoted last year, these researchers did not find strong evidence that longer sleep duration is associated with dementia risk. In fact, there were very few individuals in the study who actually experienced long sleep duration so this was difficult to evaluate. Continue reading
How does SARS-CoV-2 reach the brain? This is actually a critically important question for which we now have meaningful answers. In this podcast, I have the honor of interviewing Dr. Frank Heppner. His research uses electron microscopy to visualize intact coronavirus particles in the human brain. We now know that COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disease but can affect various other parts of the body including the gastrointestinal system as well as the nervous system. One in three individuals with COVID-19 does in fact have neurological symptoms and we are going to explore this in our time together today. Continue reading
Over the past several years a mechanistic concept has arisen that seeks to explain the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. This has been called the bioenergetic theory. Basically, it describes a situation in which the highly energy demanding cells of the brain are somehow compromised in their ability to use fuel. Make no mistake about it, brain cells require an incredible amount of energy to perform their function. In the resting state, the brain, which typically represents only 2 to 5% of total body weight, consumes up to 25% of calories burned.
The brain’s primary fuel is glucose. And one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive failure of the brain’s ability to use this source of fuel, basically a situation in which brain cells are not able to utilize glucose for energy. In fact, specialized PET scanning of the brain can visualize signature areas of the brain that are less functional in terms of glucose utilization that correlate with Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading
Fair to say that we all assume that aging is inevitable. In reality however, there is no biological law that says we must age. Over the years we’ve seen a variety of theories proposed to explain why we age including the accumulation of damage to our DNA, the damaging effects of chemicals called “free radicals,” changes in the function of our mitochondria, and so many others.
Our guest today, Dr. David Sinclair, believes that aging is related to a breakdown of information. Specifically, he describes how, with time, our epigenome accumulates changes that have powerful downstream effects on the way our DNA functions. Reducing these changes to the epigenome is achievable and in fact, even taking it further, his research now reveals that the epigenome can be reprogrammed back to a youthful state. Continue reading
A recent survey of 2,000 American adults revealed an absolutely incredible fact: over their lifetime, the average US adult will spend the equivalent of 44 years looking at a screen. This shocking statistic comes from looking at the breakdown of how we’re spending our day, with 4.5 hours watching TV, around 5 hours on computers, and over 3 hours on gaming devices. Continue reading
The term “long-haul COVID” has now entered our lexicon in relationship to this infectious disease. Unlike so many other infectious events, it looks like, in many people, COVID-19 is not monophasic. This means that a significant number of individuals have persistent symptoms for extended periods of time. This experience may now be affecting millions of people globally following their supposed “recovery.”
In fact, the NIH in December 2020 sponsored a meeting to call attention to this specific problem because of its global extent. Indeed, the long-term consequences of COVID-19 are now being described as a “second health crisis,” globally.