Recent lectures and reading that I have done point to statistics that cognitive decline is on the rise and surpassing other ailments in costs and concern over the utilization of resources in the future. The brain and the nervous system once damaged is hard to treat and return to normal, and studies are showing that development of these structures in the womb is influenced by nutritional factors that will set the course for the individual’s life.
Never has it been truer as wisely stated by Ben Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Researchers are putting more attention on diet and how it influences health as well as expression of good genes and bad genes. It is showing more and support that you are what you eat.
There are studies that are showing that the highest carbohydrate diet is linked to a 90% increased risk in dementia and the highest fat diet is linked to a 44% decreased risk in dementia. A recent study looking at 3 groups of diets, the first allowing people to eat anything they wanted, the second eating a Mediterranean diet high in lean meats, vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and the third group eating a Mediterranean diet plus extra good fats, showed that the third group had a 30% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and death compared to the other two. The researchers ended up stopping the study since the results were so significant in preventing heart attack, stroke and death, that they wanted to make sure the other two groups could also benefit from the third diet.
Another study looked at long term effects of high carbohydrate diets and found that in 10 years, diabetes and obesity tripled. Some people are considering Alzheimer’s to be a form of diabetes of the brain, which doesn’t allow the fuel of the brain, glucose, to get into the cells and hence causes death of the brain cells.
Higher levels of cholesterol are also being shown to be associated with lower risk of dementia, so much so that the FDA is now requiring pharmaceutical companies to put warnings on statin medication that lowers cholesterol since these are putting people at risk for dementia. There is also an increased risk of diabetes for women who are post-menopausal who are taking statins.
Statins also reduce the body’s ability to produce co-Q 10, which is important for muscle energy production, hence the warning of muscle weakness as a side effect with statins. The heart and the brain uses a lot of co-Q 10.
Cholesterol is also the raw material for developing vitamin D, which is now touted as the number 1 vitamin since it is important for bone health, immune function and acts more like a hormone than a vitamin.
Gluten is a pro-inflammatory protein that is found in wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt. It has been associated with muscle cramps, bone and joint pain, leg numbness, chronic fatigue, foggy brain, eczema/rash, gastrointestinal symptoms and depression. Gluten is like glue and interferes with the intestinal tract in absorbing nutrients. Since the gastrointestinal tract is also important in producing much of the neurotransmitters that are needed for brain function, this may be one reason for foggy brain.
Exercise is a great way to produce antioxidants in the body that help give a protective effect for the damaging effects of free radicals, which can damage cells, cause accelerated aging, and can contribute to inflammation.
Lifestyle habits can lead to health or illness. My experience has shown that it is not easy to make changes in your daily routine, but it can be done and done with great results. Find a way to make positive steps in the right direction, no matter how small a move you make. Be consistent and surround yourself with a good support system, helpful information and keeping your motivation high. Start eating more fruits and vegetables, take more walks, laugh more often and robustly, sleep more and drink more water. Don’t wait until you “have to do something or else you will die.” Do it now, while you are in the pre-disease state. You will live healthier and happier and will live a fuller life.
I focus on the topics you care about most.