By: The Dr. Perlmutter Team
As I’ve stated before, one of the most fascinating things about the human brain is that neuroplasticity, the process by which the brain undergoes changes in response to internal and external stimuli, affords us a great deal of control in determining the overall health of our brain. While there are many lifestyle changes one can make to improve overall brain health, studies have shown that dietary factors can have a significant impact. Choosing which foods you use to fuel your body goes far beyond counting calories; the macronutrients—fats, proteins, and carbohydrates—you emphasize in shaping your diet can have major repercussions for brain health. There is evidence to suggest that individuals who consume a diet high in carbohydrates have an 89% increased risk of developing dementia, while people who consume a diet high in healthy fats actually reduce their risk by 44%. Ensuring that the foods you consume are high in antioxidants, rich in healthy fats, low in carbohydrates, and powerfully anti-inflammatory can go a long way towards optimizing brain health and boosting memory and cognition.
Foods to Improve Brain Health and Memory
Generally speaking, I recommend a diet that is higher in fat and fiber, low in carbs, and rich in gut-healthy probiotics. To that end, please read on for some suggestions on specific foods around which to build a brain-boosting diet!
By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine
Lets talk nuts. From macadamias to pistachios, nuts are nature’s energy packets. For their taste, they’re a classic cocktail party snack, and for their calorie and fat content, they’re villainized. But curent research supports the idea that calorie quality matters at least as much as quantity, and despite prior misgivings about our tasty snacks, nuts may in fact be quite healthful after all.
First, lets look at the most recent data, a meta-analysis in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition relating to nuts and their interaction with ischemic heart disease, diabetes and all cause mortality, which found nut consumption inversely related to risk of heart disease and death from any cause. Suggestions for these findings usually center around the healthful fats found in nuts, as well as their anti-inflammatory effects and high mineral contents.
When heart disease tops the list of death causes in the US, it’s worthwhile to look closely at anything lowering our risk for developing this deadly condition. Some data even suggests that the same healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts act as antiarrhythmics, stabilizing our heartbeat patterns. This may help to explain the fact that nut consumption was shown in the same study to correlate with a lower risk of sudden cardiac death. Continue reading
There is no question that one of the biggest debates these days centers on the health risks or benefits of dietary fat. And rather then enter into this discussion from an opinion derived position, I believe it’s fundamentally important to first and foremost see what our most well respected institutions that are researching questions such as this are telling us in the form of peer-reviewed publications.
Arguably, one of the most well respected medical journals on the planet is the New England Journal of Medicine. And last year the journal published a study entitled, Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The researchers enrolled 7447 individuals whose age ranged between 55 and 80 years. There were slightly more women than men, 57%. There were three different dietary plans used in this interventional study including a standard low-fat diet, A Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil, and a group that received the Mediterranean diet with the addition of fat derived from added nuts.
The study was designed to look for particular “endpoints” and in this case there were three. They included having a stroke, a heart attack, or death. Continue reading