ASK AN EXPERT
Answers About Alzheimer’s, Part 2
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: November 16, 2012
Q. “..the risk of getting (Alzheimer’s) was 3.3 times greater among people whose blood folic acid levels were in the lowest one-third range and 4.5 times greater when blood homocysteine levels were in the highest one-third”. Clarke et. al. Arch. Neurol. 55 (1998): 1449-1455. Folic acid is derived exclusively from plant-based foods like green and leafy vegetables. Homocysteine is derived primarily from animal protein. Does this make sense? Where people are primarily plant food eaters, the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s is very low to virtually none. Why isn’t this critical information more widely distributed to patients by the medical community? No drugs involved. Food Inc. doesn’t make a bundle on green and leafy vegetables, but it sure does on animal protein dairy, eggs, processed meats, on and on. Even the heavy emphasis on grains and potatoes displaces green and leafy vegetables in the diet. – Jerry A., Hollis, N.H.
A. You make a good case (I must say I am biased being a vegetarian mostly). Animal studies show a link between saturated fats and brain amyloid plaque buildup. And with a vegetarian diet, there is no risk of mad cow disease. Vegetarians have to make sure they get plenty of vitamin B12. Clinical trials of folate and B vitamins have not been that successful once someone has already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but maybe it’s too late by then.
Posts tagged ‘Alzheimer’s Disease’
View the attached photo for an infographic from the WildAlchemist blog
Obese Brain May Thwart Weight Loss: Diets High in Saturated Fat, Refined Sugar May Cause Brain Changes That Fuel Overconsumption
Diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar may cause changes to the brains of obese people that in turn may fuel overconsumption of those same foods and make weight loss more challenging, new research indicates. (Credit: iStockphoto/Geo Martinez)
Just because you lose the weight doesn’t mean you regain the brain function. This could help explain why it is so difficult for formerly obese people to keep the weight off.”
ScienceDaily (Oct. 1, 2012) — “Betcha can’t eat just one!” For obese people trying to lose weight, advertising slogans such as this one hit a bit too close to home as it describes the daily battle to resist high calorie foods.
But new research by Terry Davidson, director of American University’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, indicates that diets that lead to obesity — diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar — may cause changes to the brains of obese people that in turn may fuel overconsumption of those same foods and make weight loss more challenging.
“It is a vicious cycle that may explain why obesity is so difficult to overcome,” said Davidson, also a professor of psychology at AU.
Davidson recently published his research, “The Effects of a High-Energy Diet on Hippocampal-Dependent Discrimination Performance and Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity Differ for Diet-Induced Obese and Diet-Resistant Rats,” in the journal Physiology & Behavior.
Fat Rats Suffer Memory Impairment, Damage to Brain’s Armor
Davidson, formerly with Purdue University, focuses his research on the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
For this study, Davidson and his team trained rats given restricted access to low-fat “lab chow” on two problems — one that tested the rats’ hippocampal-dependent learning and memory abilities and one that did not. Once the training phase completed, the rats were split into two groups: one group had unlimited access to the low-fat lab chow, while the other had unlimited access to high-energy (high-fat/calorie) food.
The high-energy food was high in saturated fat (animal fats, such as those found in cheese or meat or certain plant-based fats, such as cottonseed oil and coconut oil) — considered to be the most unhealthful dietary fat as research has linked it to cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
When both groups of rats were presented the problems again, the rats that became obese from the high-energy diet performed much more poorly than the non-obese rats did on the problem designed to test hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. They tested the same as the non-obese rats on the other problem.
When the researchers later examined all of the rats’ blood-brain barriers (if the brain were an exclusive nightclub, the blood-brain barrier — a tight network of blood vessels protecting the brain — would be the bouncer at the door carefully policing who gets in), they found that the obese rats’ blood-brain barriers had become impaired as they allowed a much larger amount of a dye that does not freely cross the blood-brain barrier into the hippocampus than did blood-brain barriers of the non-obese rats (the dye was administered to all of the rats).
Interestingly, the non-obese rats group included rats from both the low-fat lab chow group and the high-energy diet group. But this isn’t a matter of some rats having a super-high metabolism that allowed them eat to large amounts of the high-energy food and remain a reasonable weight.
“The rats without blood-brain barrier and memory impairment also ate less of the high-energy diet than did our impaired rats,” Davidson said. “Some rats and some people have a lower preference for high-energy diets. Our results suggest that whatever allows them to eat less and keep the pounds off also helps to keep their brains cognitively healthy.”
A Vicious Cycle
The hippocampus is also responsible for suppressing memories. If Davidson’s findings apply to people, it could be that a diet high in saturated fat and refined sugar impacts the hippocampus’s ability to suppress unwanted thoughts — such as those about high-calorie foods, making it more likely that an obese person will consume those foods and not be able to stop at what would be considered a reasonable serving.
“What I think is happening is a vicious cycle of obesity and cognitive decline,” Davidson said. “The idea is, you eat the high fat/high calorie diet and it causes you to overeat because this inhibitory system is progressively getting fouled up. And unfortunately, this inhibitory system is also for remembering things and suppressing other kinds of thought interference.”
Davidson’s findings are compatible with other studies finding a link between human obesity in middle age and an increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive dementias later in life.
“We are trying to figure out that link,” Davidson said. “We have compelling evidence that overconsumption of a high fat diet damages or alters the blood-brain barrier. Now we are interested in the fact that substances that are not supposed to get to the brain are getting to it because of this breakdown. You start throwing things into the brain that don’t belong there, and it makes sense that brain function would be affected.”
A Lifelong Battle
As evidenced by contestants of NBC’s reality show “The Biggest Loser,” formerly obese celebrities who undergo gastric by-pass surgery, and other numerous examples of extreme weight loss, it is possible for obese people to win the battle of the bulge. Unfortunately, the attempt to keep it off is, more often than not, a lifelong battle that requires permanent lifestyle changes. Davidson says this could be due in part to permanent changes in the brain.
“I do think it [the damage] becomes permanent, but I don’t know at what point it becomes permanent,” Davidson said. “Other research has found that obese people and formerly obese people have weaker hippocampal activity when consuming food than do people who have never been obese. Just because you lose the weight doesn’t mean you regain the brain function. This could help explain why it is so difficult for formerly obese people to keep the weight off.”
57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan
Vegans are frequently misunderstood as fringe eaters with an unnatural passion for animal rights. While many vegans do feel passionately about animals, its time for others to see that a vegan diet and lifestyle go way beyond animal rights. Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet ensures a host of health benefits as well as prevention of some of the major diseases striking people in North America. Read these blogs to find out about the health benefits or going vegan or just provide better information to your patients.
All of the following nutritional benefits come from a vegan diet full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products.
- Reduced saturated fats. Dairy products and meats contain a large amount ofsaturated fats. By reducing the amount of saturated fats from your diet, you’ll improve your health tremendously, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health.
- Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy for your body. When you don’t have enough carbohydrates, your body will burn muscle tissue.
- Fiber. A diet high in fiber (as vegan eating usually is) leads to healthier bowel movements. High fiber diets help fight against colon cancer.
- Magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of calcium, magnesium is an often overlooked vitamin in importance to a healthy diet. Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.
- Potassium. Potassium balances water and acidity in your body and stimulates the kidneys to eliminate toxins. Diets high in potassium have shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
- Folate. This B vitamin is an important part of a healthy diet. Folate helps with cell repair, generating red and white blood cells, and metabolizing amino acids.
- Antioxidants. For protection against cell damage, antioxidants are one of the best ways to help your body. Many researchers also believe that antioxidants helpprotect your body against forming some types of cancer.
- Vitamin C. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C also helps keep your gums healthy and helps your bruises heal faster. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.
- Vitamin E. This powerful vitamin has benefits for your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A diet high in grains, nuts, and dark leafy greens is full of Vitamin E.
- Phytochemicals. Plant-based foods provide phytochemicals, which help to prevent and heal the body from cancer, boost protective enzymes, and work with antioxidants in the body.
- Protein. That protein is good for your body is no surprise. It may be a surprise to learn that most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein. Beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and soy products are all great ways to get the right amount of protein in a vegan diet.
Eating a healthy vegan diet has shown to prevent a number of diseases. Find out from the list below what you could potentially avoid just by switching to a healthy, balanced vegan way of eating.
- Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
- Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
- Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.” Read more about it here.
- Prostate cancer. A major study showed that men in the early stages of prostate cancer who switched to a vegan diet either stopped the progress of the cancer or may have even reversed the illness.
- Colon cancer. Eating a diet consisting of whole grains, along with fresh fruits and vegetables, can greatly reduce your chances of colon cancer.
- Breast cancer. Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a much lower rate of breast cancer than do the women in countries that consume more animal products.
- Macular degeneration. Diets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, can help prevent the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
- Cataracts. Much the same way macular degeneration is headed off by a vegan diet, cataracts are also thought to be prevented through the intake of the same fruits and vegetables. Produce high in antioxidants are also believed to help prevent cataracts.
- Arthritis. Eliminating dairy consumption has long been connected with alleviating arthritis symptoms, but a new study indicates that a combination of gluten-free and vegan diet is very promising for improving the health of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoporosis. Bone health depends on a balance of neither too much or too little protein, adequate calcium intake, high potassium, and low sodium. With a healthy vegan diet, all four of these points set a perfect scenario for preventing osteoporosis.
In addition to good nutrition and disease prevention, eating vegan also provides many physical benefits. Find out how a vegan diet makes your body stronger, more attractive, and more energetic.
- Body Mass Index. Several population studies show that a diet without meat leads to lower BMIs–usually an indicator of a healthy weight and lack of fat on the body.
- Weight loss. A healthy weight loss is a typical result of a smart vegan diet. Eating vegan eliminates most of the unhealthy foods that tend to cause weight issues. Read more about weight loss and a vegan diet here.
- Energy. When following a healthy vegan diet, you will find your energy is much higher. This blog post in Happy Healthy Long Life describes how NFL tight-endTony Gonzalez started eating vegan and gained energy–while playing football.
- Healthy skin. The nuts and vitamins A and E from vegetables play a big role in healthy skin, so vegans will usually have good skin health. Many people who switch to a vegan diet will notice a remarkable reduction in blemishes as well.
- Longer life. Several studies indicate that those following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle live an average of three to six years longer than those who do not.
- Body odor. Eliminating dairy and red meat from the diet significantly reduces body odor. Going vegan means smelling better.
- Bad breath. Vegans frequently experience a reduction in bad breath. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having morning breath.
- Hair. Many who follow vegan diets report that their hair becomes stronger, has more body, and looks healthier.
- Nails. Healthy vegan diets are also responsible for much stronger, healthier nails. Nail health is said to be an indicator of overall health.
- PMS. When switching to a vegan diet, many women tell how PMS symptoms become much less intense or disappear altogether. The elimination of dairy is thought to help with those suffering with PMS.
- Migraines. Migraine suffers who go on vegan diets frequently discover relief from their migraines. Read more about the food-migraine connection in this article.
- Allergies. Reduction in dairy, meat, and eggs is often tied to alleviation of allergy symptoms. Many vegans report much fewer runny noses and congestion problems.
Too Much in the American Diet
The typical American diet not only consists of too much food, it also relies on too much of unnecessary food products or toxins. The following list explains how a vegan diet can eliminate these problems.
- Animal proteins. The average American eats twice as much protein as necessary for a healthy diet and much of that is from red meat. Getting protein from beans and grains is much healthier and reduces the risk for osteoporosis (see above).
- Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
- Eggs. Many nutritionists believe that the number of eggs in the American diet is too high. While sometimes disputed, it has been shown that eggs can raise cholesterol levels.
- Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.
- Sugar. Most people have heard that Americans consume way too much sugar. Relying on other sweeteners that are not synthetic, processed, or derived from animal products is a healthier way to eat. Many vegans do not eat processed sugar due to the fact that most of the cane sugar is refined through activated charcoal, most of which comes from animal bones.
In addition to the health benefits above, following a vegan lifestyle and diet also provides these benefits as well. From helping the environment to avoiding serious bacterial infections, learn other benefits to eating the vegan way below.
- Animals. Many people begin a vegan diet out of concern for animals. Whether opposed to the conditions of animals intended for food or eating animals in general, going vegan will help your conscience rest easily.
- Environment. Growing plants takes much fewer resources than growing animals. By eating vegan, you can help reduce the toll on the environment.
- E. coli. E. coli comes from eating contaminated red meat and is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children, those with compromised immune systems, and elderly people can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating vegan means completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection.
- Salmonella. Another gastrointestinal illness from animal products, salmonella food poisoning is closely related to E. coli. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat from chickens infected with salmonella. Again, going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
- Mad cow disease. It’s safe to say that most people would want to avoid contracting a fatal, non-treatable disease. One way to ensure you don’t get Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is by not eating animals infected with mad cow disease. While the incidence of mad cow disease is not reportedly so high in North America, it does exist.
- Global food supply. Feeding grain to animals meant as food sources reduces the amount of food that is available to underdeveloped nations. Many people will go hungry while that same food they could be eating is given to animals raised for slaughter. Eating vegan ensures that you have removed yourself from the participation of this imbalance.
- Hormone consumption. Eating animals that have been given hormones to speed growth (a common practice in the meat industry) means those hormones go into your body. Not only can this disrupt the natural balance of your hormones, but some of the hormones given to animals have shown to cause tumor growth in humans.
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics are frequently given to feed animals, which can lead to bacterial resistance. Many of the antibiotics used to treat human infections are also used in feed animals.
Read the rest at: http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/19/57-health-benefits-of-going-vegan/