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!
It’s fairly common knowledge these days that there are some really important health benefits associated with consuming olive oil. No doubt, one of the reasons that the Mediterranean diet turns out to be so healthful is because it is rich in olives and olive oil. And this may explain why following the Mediterranean diet is associated with significant risk reduction for things like breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia.
But it’s been a bit challenging to try to delineate specifically what it is about olive oil that makes it so special as it relates to health. There are multiple chemicals found in olive oil that are bioactive in a positive sense, and new research has identified yet another chemical and mechanism that may explain why olive oil is so good for us. Continue reading
As you’re planning your New Year’s Resolutions, consider my list of suggestions for 2016:
- Exercise – Yes, you’ve heard it so many times before, but our understanding of what exercise does to enhance health is undergoing a revolution. While its been recognized for decades that aerobic exercise in particular is associated with risk reduction for various inflammatory and degenerative conditions, including type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, chronic back pain and even low libido, the breakthrough has been the discovery that aerobic exercise actually changes the expression of our DNA! These changes in gene expression turn on pathways that increase our body’s production of antioxidants while reducing inflammatory mediators and amping up detoxification pathways. Yes, it’s easier to take a pill or even a nutritional supplement, but the science supporting what and how exercise does its magic is really compelling. So moving forward, I’d like you to consider 20 minutes of aerobics, every day. Continue reading
What better place to ponder the benefits of the Mediterranean diet than from the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea where I made this video blog.
The Mediterranean diet has certainly garnered a lot of attention, and with good reason. Adherence to this way of eating has been clearly associated with reduced risk for a variety of medical conditions including coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and even dementia.
In a recent report, researchers again demonstrated a significant reduction in risk for cognitive decline in people following the Mediterranean diet. However, when a subgroup added high amounts of olive oil to their regimen, dementia risk was even further reduced.
In this entry, I discuss some of olive oil’s health enhancing properties that may explain why we should consider it to be a brain “super food.”
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Google Hangout discussing dietary recommendations in response to a case presentation of an elderly woman who was beginning to experience decline in cognitive function.
Basically, the case was selected as she was experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), generally thought to be a harbinger of future Alzheimer’s disease.
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. 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, and this is a disease for which we currently have no meaningful treatment. 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
Risk of dementia relates dramatically to the foods we choose to consume. Diet can have a profound, preventive impact on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease risk. Dementia can be prevented, and we know how to do that today: with dietary changes, and healthy (natural) fats. Avocados, grass-fed beef, organic olive oil, and wild-caught fish can help you build a better brain.