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How Does Fasting Affect Your Brain?

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Despite popular concerns to the contrary, fasting has potentially incredible benefits to various brain functions. Perhaps the most amazing benefit may stem from the activation of autophagy, a cellular cleansing process. Recently, one of the pioneers of research into autophagy was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Medicine in growing recognition of this major pathway of disease. Fasting also has known anti-seizure effects.

From an evolutionary standpoint, mammals respond to severe caloric deprivation with a reduction in the size of all organs with two prominent exceptions – the brain and the male testicles. The preservation of the size of the testicles is also a significant advantage in trying to pass on our genes to the next generation. Continue Reading →

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“Preventing Alzheimer’s Is Easier Than You Think”

Can you prevent Alzheimer’s by limiting foods that raise insulin levels, especially refined carbs? The science suggests that the answer could be yes, as the psychiatrist Dr. Georgia Ede writes about in this post:

Psychology Today: Preventing Alzheimer’s Is Easier Than You Think

According to the article, Alzheimer’s disease (sometimes referred to as type 3 diabetes) is in large part due to insulin resistance in the brain. This starves the brain of energy and can lead to cognitive malfunction. An illustration of this is that 80% of people suffering from Alzheimer’s either have insulin resistance or full-blown type 2 diabetes.

It’s thus possible that the risk of Alzheimer’s could be reduced by following a low-carb diet, just like it can prevent or improve other similar conditions. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to cure dementia, even if a few studies suggest there could be some improvement. The most powerful effect, however, could be significantly reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the first place.

Continue Reading →

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A Higher-Fat Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Dementia

A higher fat diet seems to be good for preserving our brains and reducing the risk of dementia.

Today there’s a new publication from the PREDIMED study. It has previously shown that a higher-fat Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil or nuts is good for preventing heart disease and improving diabetes. Now it turns out it preserves cognitive function as well: Video report / Study

People in the study who were told to instead eat a low-fat diet did worse on everything. They got more heart disease, more diabetes and more cognitive decline. Don’t eat a low-fat diet.

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Could Vitamin D Protect Against Alzheimer’s?

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Could Vitamin D protect against Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia? The media recently wrote about this after a new study:

However, there are a few important points to keep in mind. The study is based solely on statistical associations (an observational study). The statistics show that people with dementia are more commonly Vitamin D deficient. But this doesn’t mean that we know what the cause is.

We know from similar previous studies that almost all diseases are more common in people with Vitamin D deficiency. However, it may just as well be that for some reason people with diseases are less often out in the sun than healthy people.

If you only look at the statistics, you might think that Vitamin D is the all-time magic bullet that with some luck, may cure any disease. The most incredible pill that ever existed. However, it isn’t that fantastic.

To know for sure you need to test Vitamin D supplements in large high-quality studies to see what the effect is. Existing studies investigating supplementing with Vitamin D show more modest results than the fantastic hopes.

Maintaining a good Vitamin D level through supplementation (or sun) seems to, on average, have small or moderately positive effects on the immune system (including in several autoimmune diseases like MS), muscle strength and coordination, bone density, mood as well as fat and lean mass. It might also, on average, slightly prolong life.

Large reviews of existing studies on supplementation don’t, however, show any significant protective effect on common diseases such as heart disease, cancer or stroke. When this is tested, it will probably also be shown to apply to Alzheimer’s. But we don’t know yet.

Personally, I continue to supplement with Vitamin D daily, especially during the winter months. This is the only supplement I take daily. I think it’s good for my health and well-being – but I don’t expect any miracles. Continue Reading →

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Higher Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar, Poorer Memory

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Yet another study shows that by middle age people with elevated blood sugar levels and high blood pressure may already have significantly worse cognitive function:

UCSF: Early Cardiac Risks Linked to Worse Cognitive Function in Middle Age

As usual, this is about statistics, and correlation doesn’t prove causation. But the brain is sensitive – and it will likely be best off with a normal blood sugar and blood pressure.

If you want to keep your brain functions, you probably want to go easy on the Easter candy. And of course, it’s even more important how you eat on a daily basis.  Continue Reading →

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“This is Your Brain on Gluten”

Can a strict low-carb diet dramatically reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? And the risk of almost every other neurological disease, like depression and ADHD? That’s what Dr. Perlmutter argues in his bestselling book Grain Brain.

Here’s a good article on Perlmutter’s claims with comments from several other doctors:

TheAtlantic: This is your brain on gluten

I find it amusing that Dr. Katz whines about how Dr. Perlmutter’s book is getting so much attention. His own newly-released book, Disease Proof, is much more “sensible” he says, yet it’s no bestseller.

Is it just me or is Dr. Katz sounding jealous? Like most people I haven’t read Dr. Katz book, but the title “Disease Proof” seems like the least sensible one I could imagine.

When it comes to Grain Brain I’ve read most of it and find it interesting. Although Dr. Perlmutter certainly exaggerates the level of scientific support for his ideas – most of the studies he cites just find statistical correlations supporting his ideas, not proof.

I think it’s safe to say that reducing the amount of sugar and processed junk carbs is good for anyone’s brain. Whether everyone would benefit from also reducing the intake of unprocessed carbs and eating a strict high-fat diet… that’s still speculation.

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More Blood Sugar, More Dementia!

Want to avoid dementia as you get older? Then perhaps you should use caution with foods that raise blood sugar.

A recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal New England Journal of Medicine shows that the risk for dementia is higher in people with higher blood sugar levels. This also applies to so called “normal” blood sugar levels, not just diabetics.

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Above is a graph from the study showing average blood glucose levels in non-diabetics and the relative risk for developing dementia.

Continue Reading →

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Better Blood Sugar, Better Memory

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Yet another recent study shows that people with better (lower) blood glucose levels have a better memory and fewer signs of brain damage:

Neurology: Higher glucose levels associated with lower memory and reduced hippocampal microstructure

As usual, these are only statistical associations, and not evidence that blood sugar affects memory. However, more and more data suggest that high blood sugar levels risk causing long-term damage to the brain.

I just checked my blood sugar, an hour after an LCHF breakfast (eggs fried in butter, roast beef, coffee with cream). It was 99 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/l) – excellent.

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Dr. Oz Positive to LCHF Against Alzheimer’s!

Order a blood glucose monitor at Amazon.com (Affiliate link, ordering supports this free blog)

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Dr. Oz Positive to LCHF Against Alzheimer’s!

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You have to see this to believe it.

Dr. Oz, the widely popular TV doctor in the U.S., has for a long time had a very conventional approach to dietary advice. A lot of whole grains and antioxidants and more. But lately something has happened.

Time after time in the past year he has invited guests who have a completely different view of fat (for example, in the shows on cholesterol and the problems with wheat).

Now Dr. Oz goes further than ever before.  Continue Reading →

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The Secrets of Sugar – Great New Canadian Documentary

Here’s a great new episode called The Secrets of Sugar, from Canada’s investigative program the fifth estate on CBC.

Watch it for your weekly dose of dr Lustig and new research on the links between sugar, obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Shownotes: CBC: The Secrets of Sugar

Continue Reading →

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