How does excess body fat affect the brain? Over the past several years we have been describing the various mechanisms whereby body fat increases the production of the chemical mediators of inflammation, and how inflammation is the underpinning mechanism of brain degeneration like we see in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. But beyond considering risk of these conditions, it’s worthwhile to gain some understanding as to how excess body fat might, moment to moment, affect how the brain is functioning. Continue reading
Today, in honor of Brain Awareness Month, I went to the Alzheimer’s Association’s web site to explore their “10 Way to Love Your Brain”, which include:
Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Really? From what I’ve learned, we need more fat in the diet to protect the brain against dementia, not carbs at the expense of healthy fats. It even looks like the Mayo Clinic, publishing in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, totally agrees. Continue reading
Alzheimer’s disease, far and away the most common form of dementia, now affects some 5.4 million Americans, representing the third leading cause of death in our country. Even more troubling is the fact that this number is predicted to double in just the next 15 years. Moreover, women are disproportionately at risk, representing 65% of Alzheimer’s cases. In fact, a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease now exceeds her risk of developing breast cancer. The annual cost for caring for Alzheimer’s patients exceeds $200 billion. All this for a disease for which we currently have no meaningful treatment.
This is sobering information that should cause us to take a step back and wonder why this is happening in the first place. Continue reading
We are certainly hearing a lot these days about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and with good reason. There is so much being written how effective this diet is in terms of being associated with reduced risk for a vast panorama of diseases. From diabetes to obesity to coronary artery disease, the foods that constitute this diet are really gaining the attention of scientists and consumers around the world.
When you analyze the Mediterranean diet you learn that it differs from what most Americans seem to be eating in that it’s remarkably lower in added sugars and processed fats. It also includes foods that are nutrient-dense and help boost the amount of fiber a person consumes. As it turns out, the fact that many of the fiber-rich foods that you’ll find on this diet are high in prebiotic fiber may well explain why we’re seeing such health benefits with this way of eating.
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
By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine
After 20 years, the FDA has plans for a major overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label. This is a big deal, as the sticker is required on the majority of American packaged foods. In reality, the Nutrition Facts label represents one of the best sources of information on our groceries. The FDA claims its changes reflect a “greater understanding of nutrition science,” and will lead to a label that will “[address] current public health concerns.” These are important changes, and here’s what’s actually happening. Continue reading