There is certainly a lot of discussion these days about the ketogenic diet, especially as it relates to brain function. I thought it would be instructive to review one of the most important, and early, research studies in this area, as it reveals several very important findings that are worthy of attention.
The study, Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults, dates back to 2003. Why this is relevant with respect to the ketogenic diet is because beta-hydroxybutyrate is one of the ketones produced when somebody is in ketosis. The ketogenic diet is one that is aggressive in terms lowering dietary carbohydrate intake while increasing dietary fats. The production of ketones is amplified in people who supplement with things like coconut oil or MCT oil. Continue reading
Go to the mall. See a movie. Look around next time you’re in an airport. What you’ll see is the confirmation of all the statistics that we’re hearing so much about these days related to the ever-increasing prevalence of obesity. It’s everywhere and it’s affecting most of us.
Books, online information, infomercials, daytime T.V., and even nightly news programs are constantly hammering us with the scary news that relates increasing abdominal girth to just about every bad medical condition you don’t want to get. At the same time, these same resources offer up some new trendy solution to the obesity epidemic daily, often in the form of some new and exotic dietary supplement.
Truth is, losing weight doesn’t happen when you give in and buy the latest pill. Weight loss happens when the body shifts from storing fat to burning fat. It is that simple, and far and away how we signal our metabolism to make this fundamental shift depends on what we choose to eat. Continue reading
The prevalence of gluten sensitivity has been the subject of lively debate over the past several years with some researchers indicating that as many as 30% of us have a bona fide reaction to gluten and even more recent science indicating that in fact, all humans have some degree of gluten sensitivity. But that was until a recent massive Australian study was published in the journal Gastoenterology.
This new research has captivated the press as it has been manipulated to send a message that in reality, gluten sensitivity doesn’t actually exist, and that the reactions people may have to consuming gluten containing products may well have to do with other components of the foods called FODMAPS – a group of poorly absorbed carbohydrates.
I recently had the opportunity to appear on a National Public Radio interview in which several “gluten experts” were also interviewed. Sure enough, this study, calling into question the whole notion of gluten sensitivity was debated. In fact, one of the authors of this highly comprehensive study was also a guest on the program.
Studies have demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between changes in size of the brains memory center, the hippocampus, and declining memory function. So it’s obviously in our great interest to do everything we possibly can to preserve the size of hippocampus, which is to say, prevent hippocampal atrophy.
It has become clear that there is a powerful direct relationship between not only fasting blood sugar, but even average blood sugar, in terms of predicting the rate at which the hippocampus will shrink and therefore memory will decline. In a new report, recently published in the journal Neurology, researchers in Germany evaluated a group of 141 individuals, average age 63 years, with memory testing as well as a specific type of MRI scan of the brain to measure the size of the hippocampus in each participant. At the same time they looked at blood sugar levels as well as average blood sugar, by assessing a blood test called hemoglobin A1 c.
Think of it. For just the past 3 decades we have somehow become convinced that dietary fat represented a threat to our health. Mind you, fat has been a critical macronutrient for humans and our forebears for at least 2 million years. But suddenly, fat became responsible for every health woe you could think of.
Fortunately, science and common sense now prevail and this ridiculous aberration in human nutrition has been corrected.
Welcome fat back to the table. It’s good for the heart, brain, immune system and just about every aspect of human physiology you consider. And as it specifically relates to dementia, new research clearly shows us that individuals eating more of the “dreaded” fat actually have a substantial risk reduction for becoming demented while those with diets favoring carbohydrates the risk for dementia dramatically increased.
Debates about what we should be eating are often carried out from positions based on emotion. I believe we should place greater value on the published science coming to us from our most respected institutions.
I continue to receive a plethora of messages and questions from members of the Grain Brain community looking to find out if a particular gluten-free product is acceptable on the Grain Brain program. These products come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but some of the most common are the “gluten-free” breads, pastas, cookies, etc., often found in a dedicated gluten-free section of the grocery store.
So are these items fair game?
By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine
A few years ago, the science became too significant to ignore, and I decided to drastically cut back on my dietary carbohydrates. I believed in my good baseline health, and didn’t foresee any complications with this decision. A day in, I faced mood swings, crashing energy levels and intense cravings, and I started questioning my choice. Several days later, my mind cleared and my energy levels stabilized. I then realized how important my choice had been, and why I would never go back.
Years later, I counsel my patients and friends to venture down the same path, as the health benefits of a low carbohydrate diet cannot be denied. So often, I hear the same sentiment: it’s too hard to stop eating carbs! Ladies and gentlemen, I hear you loud and clear. Without help, cutting back your carbs is no easy task, especially if they’re a large part of your diet. But it doesn’t have to be that challenging! With the following tips and tricks, you’ll put your mind and stomach at ease. You’ll coast past this roadblock and come out feeling better than ever.
- Fight fire with fire: Data shows that sugar cravings work like drugs cravings, acting on the same neurochemical pathways. This helps to explain the withdrawal effect seen on stopping carbohydrates. Understand that the discomfort you face is your body withdrawing from an addictive substance, and use this as fuel to push yourself forward. Don’t allow a food to control you like a drug, and realize how much better you’ll feel when you purge this addictive substance from your body. Continue reading