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Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimer’s’

eat greens to save memory copy

Memory loss and dementia are valid concerns for everyone these days: one in three seniors dies of Alzheimer’s or dementia and Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, dementia is largely preventable with many lifestyle and dietary adjustments, one of which is including plenty of greens in your diet.

New research shows eating plenty of spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens can help slow cognitive decline. Researchers believe the high vitamin K content in these vegetables plays a role in preserving brain health.

The study tracked almost 1,000 older adults during five years and saw significantly less cognitive decline in participants who ate leafy green vegetables.

In fact, the elders who ate one to two servings a day of leafy greens had the cognitive ability of someone 11 years younger.

Researchers credited not only the vitamin K in leafy greens for slowing cognitive decline, but also lutein and beta-carotene. Other brightly colored fruits and vegetables are also high in these vitamins.

Vitamins aren’t the only brain benefits of leafy greens — greens promote healthy gut bacteria

The vitamins in leafy greens aren’t their only benefits.

For one, leafy greens are also rich in fiber, which are good for the gut. Plenty of dietary fiber not only prevents constipation, but it also supports the healthy bacteria in your gut. People who eat diets high in plant fiber show a more beneficial composition of gut bacteria compared to those who eat a typical western diet.

Scientists have increasingly been discovering how vital beneficial gut bacteria are to brain health. For instance, healthy gut bacteria promote the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, the lining that protects the brain.

Gut bacteria have also been shown to influence depression, anxiety, learning, and memory. This is because the gut and the brain communicate closely with one another through the vagus nerve, a large nerve that runs between the brain and the organs.

Eating greens is usually part of a healthy brain lifestyle

Another factor to consider with this study is that people who eat greens every day are typically more conscious of their health. Someone who is taking the time to shop for and prepare greens every day is probably eating a healthier, whole foods diet and avoiding dementia-promoting junk foods, sodas, and sugars.

Exercise is the golden bullet to lasting brain health

People who eat healthier also tend to exercise more regularly, whether it’s just taking a daily walk or hitting the gym every day. Both strength training and aerobic exercise have been shown protect neuron health, ensure better blood flow to the brain, and protect the brain from the damaging proteins that cause Alzheimer’s.

One study that followed more than 600 people ages 70 and older found those who engaged in the most physical activity showed the least amount of brain shrinkage.

Another study found that older adults who walked as little as 30 to 45 minutes three days a week increased the volume of the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

So although eating your greens is a great way to boost brain health (and gut health), if you eat your greens AND exercise every day, you drastically reduce your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Considering there is no cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s — the neurons that die in these conditions cannot be recovered — the best approach is a preventive one.

Ask my office for more details on lowering your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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3 05 dementia doubling lower risk

The numbers of people with dementia are expected to more than double in 30 years and outpace both heart disease and cancer in terms of cost. Because dementia can take root in the brain years or decades before symptoms appear, you can take action now to avoid becoming part of this skyrocketing statistic.

Today, nearly 15 percent of people aged 71 or older have dementia—almost 4 million people. Experts predict that number will more than double to 9 million people by 2040, costing the country more than $500 billion.

What’s worse is these statistics do not include mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or “pre-dementia,” which accounts for another 22 percent of people over 71.

How to lower your risk of dementia

Some experts say there is no way to prevent dementia, but studies show diet and lifestyle influence brain health. We can use that knowledge to lower the risk for dementia.

For instance, poor diet and lifestyle choices can cause inflammation throughout the body, which ultimately inflames the brain and accelerates the degeneration of brain tissue. It may cause symptoms such as brain fog or a gradual decline in cognition, but the average person will not connect this with an increased risk of dementia later in life.

The good news is you can slow the rate of brain degeneration and lower your risk of dementia with the following tips:

  • Ditch the sugar, processed starchy foods, and junk foods. These foods lead to insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and Type 2 diabetes. The link between a sugar-laden diet and brain degeneration is so strong some researchers call Alzheimer’s “Type 3 diabetes,” a totally diet and lifestyle driven disease. Sugars and processed starches and the insulin surges they create are devastating to brain health.
     
  • Avoid hydrogenated oils (trans fats) found in processed foods, pastries, and many restaurant fried foods. The brain is mostly fat and the fats you eat play a role in its health. Hydrogenated fats are more like plastic than food and research shows eating hydrogenated fats leads to loss of cognitive function and smaller brain volume, evidence of degeneration. Eat healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and seafood, and get plenty of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Ask my office how you can do this to lower your risk of dementia.
     
  • Go gluten-free and ditch other food intolerances. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have been found to damage neurological tissue more than any other tissue in the body. Gluten causes brain inflammation in many people, which accelerates brain degeneration, increasing the risk of dementia. Find out through testing or an elimination diet whether you have intolerances to foods that could be triggering brain inflammation and degeneration.
     
  • Exercise your body and your brain. Exercise has been well documented as a way to boost brain health and lower your risk of dementia. You should engage in both aerobic exercise and weight training for ultimate dementia prevention. You should also exercise your brain with mentally stimulating activities, such as learning new things, reading, writing, playing chess, etc.

You need to be both a scholar and an athlete to prevent dementia

As Dr. Kharrazian says in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, if you want to lower your risk of dementia and enjoy optimal brain health, you need to be both a scholar and an athlete. Ask my office for more ideas on how to boost your brain health and lower your risk of dementia.

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blood sugar and chronic disease

Heart diseasestroke, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s — chronic diseases are the most common and costly health problems in the United States. What’s worse is they are largely lifestyle diseases, meaning they often can be prevented through changes to the diet.

Many Americans today eat diets that throw their blood sugar out of balance and cause inflammation. Along with lack of exercise, these diets underpin the development of many chronic diseases today.

The body has several ways to keep blood sugar within a narrow range so it doesn’t go too high or too low. For the average American, unfortunately, the body must constantly struggle to manage overly high blood sugar.

This is because people consume diets high in sugars, sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates—pasta, white rice, breads, pastries, soda—that quickly spike blood sugar.

Insulin resistance stepping-stone to diabetes and other chronic diseases

When a person eats too many sugary and refined foods on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin.

Eventually the constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. Now insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy. As a result you feel sleepy after eating. 

Also, because glucose can’t get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that also leads to fatigue after meals. The excess sugar in the bloodstream also damages blood vessels and the brain.

Insulin resistance is a stepping stone to Type 2 diabetes, a breakdown in the body’s blood-sugar handling system. Studies show links between insulin resistance and many chronic diseases, including heart diseasestrokecancer, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

Reduced uptake of glucose by cells, high triglycerides, and high circulating amounts of sugar in the bloodstream all promote the inflammation and damage that leads to chronic disease. To add insult to injury, people with insulin resistance often feel too tired to exercise, are prone to overeating, and have intense sugar cravings.

Symptoms of insulin resistance

Symptoms of insulin resistance include:

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Constant craving for sweets
  • Strong desire for sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

One of the best ways to prevent or manage chronic disease is to eat a diet that stabilizes your blood sugar and reverses insulin resistance. This includes a whole-foods diet free of added sugars and refined carbohydrates, plenty of fiber, and healthy proteins and fats. Regular exercise is important to increase insulin sensitivity. Certain nutritional and botanical compounds have also been shown to help improve blood sugar handling and manage insulin resistance.

For support in preventing chronic disease and managing insulin resistance, please contact my office.

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insulin-resistance-dementia-alzheimers-risk

Do you feel sleepy or have intense cravings for sugar after meals? Are you a woman whose hair is thinning, yet you’re growing facial hair? Are you a man who cries at movies and has “moobs” (male breasts)? If so, you probably suffer from insulin resistance. Not only does insulin resistance gender bend your hormones, research shows it also raises your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is insulin resistance?

A high-carb, high-sugar diet consistently raises blood sugar levels, which in turn requires the body to secrete high levels of insulin to lower blood sugar. Eventually these insulin surges exhaust the body’s cells, which then refuse entry to the insulin, causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance brought on by high blood sugar arises from eating a diet that is high in sweets, soda, and starchy foods such as breads, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, etc.; a habit of overeating; and living a sedentary lifestyle.

The link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s

Insulin resistance has long been linked with many common health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances. More recently, researchers have discovered that it also increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, the link is so well established that some researchers refer to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.” This is because a high-carbohydrate diet has the ability to accelerate brain degeneration and cause dementia.

Insulin necessary for brain function

Insulin does more than regulate blood sugar in the body. Appropriate levels of insulin in the brain manage glucose levels for sustained mental energy. In turn, this regulates inflammation and helps produce brain chemicals that regulate mood.

The insulin surges and insulin resistance that result from a sugary, high-carbohydrate diet raises inflammation in the brain and disrupts the brain’s ability to perform even simple operations.

For many people, insulin resistance eventually becomes type 2 diabetes—the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar has broken down. Moreover, studies have demonstrated a clear link between diabetes and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Both insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes often can be reversed by changing your diet and lifestyle. So, it’s best not to wait until you have developed dementia or Alzheimer’s to take action. While a low-carb, ketogenic diet has been shown to be beneficial to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, it is also key to prevention.

Reversing insulin resistance to prevent Alzheimer’s

Some of the most powerful tools to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s are, unsurprisingly, the same tools that can reverse insulin resistance. These include:

  • Ditching all sweets, sugars, desserts, and sodas. Beware natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and agave, as they still raise blood sugar and insulin. Also, avoid over-indulging in sugary fruits.
  • Adopt a lower-carb diet. Some people will need a low amount of carbohydrates—coming primarily from leafy green vegetables—for optimal function, some will need more. Ask our office for guidelines to get started.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies show a combination of both aerobic and weight lifting exercises offers the best brain protection. High-intensity interval training and weight lifting have been shown especially effective to reverse insulin resistance (but do not derail your progress by overtraining). Even just a half-hour walk daily can be extremely beneficial.
  • Eat healthy, natural fats instead of processed vegetable oils. Coconut oil has been shown to be especially beneficial for brain health.

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sitting-disease

Do you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly but sit long hours each day at work? If so, you could be undoing all your good work.

Sitting, even if you otherwise practice healthy habits, is associated with poor cardiovascular health, higher inflammation, and more belly fat, according to a 2011 Australian study. This is bad news for the millions of Americans who must work at a desk. In fact, it can feel downright insulting to learn that all our healthful efforts are being thwarted by our jobs.

Studies link prolonged sitting with compromised metabolic health, higher risk of disease, and shorter life span. Witness this cascade of ill effects:

  • Electrical activity in muscles goes silent
  • Calorie burning plummets
  • Insulin sensitivity drops, raising the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes
  • Enzymes responsible for clearing fat and triglycerides from the bloodstream plunge, lowering the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol

Sadly, these risks remain regardless of our physical activity level outside of work. Worst of all, these metabolic changes don’t happen gradually, but instead swiftly, within 24 hours.

Antidotes to sitting long hours

The results of your good exercise and diet habits needn’t be lost to your office chair. Sitting disease antidotes can be as simple as moving around more or working while standing.

Create a treadmill desk

A treadmill desk is just what it sounds like, a desktop built over a treadmill. Users walk very slowly on the treadmill and can easily talk, type, and perform other desk work while burning 100 calories an hour and staving off metabolic risks. Treadmill desks can be homemade, purchased to fit over an existing treadmill, or ordered, all inclusive, for up to $4,400.

Stand at your desk

A quicker and less cumbersome fix is a standing desk. To make one, try stacking something tall on your desk on which to set your computer. If you work at home, you might choose to work on your laptop while standing at the kitchen counter. Standing burns more calories than sitting and engages more muscles, enhancing metabolic activity.

Frequent breaks are key

If you do choose to sit, you can mitigate the effects of sitting disease with frequent breaks and lots of movement throughout the day. Australian researchers found those who took frequent breaks had lower levels of C-reactive protein, an important marker of inflammation, and smaller waists as well. Waist size, like excess belly fat, is a marker for increased risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other inflammation-related disorders. High-risk waist circumference is over 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women.

Take a stand against excessive sitting. Get up every half hour. Move about in your chair. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the outer reaches of the parking lot. Go ahead and fidget and bustle, and trot between the computer and the printer, or to the bathroom. Research shows not only will you combat sitting disease, but you’ll also be less likely to gain weight compared to your more sedentary coworkers.

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