"Hi carbohydrate diets may increase your risk of dementia"
Dr Mercola

Dementia, alzheimers and healthy strategies to avoid it.

I am privileged to have as friends people whose work takes them to the frontiers of what is healthy and promotes longevity.

I first came across the ground breaking research that demonstrates gluten is implicated in Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by talking to friends in the medical profession.

This alerted me to many strands of comment and science that point towards this being the case. Dr David Perlmutter is one such person. His work as a leading natural medicine neurologist in the USA has been followed up by Dr Mercola, and together they are bringing the link between grains and the detrimental effect they have on cognitive ability to the forefront.

According to recent research published in the magazine ‘Neurology’, chronically higher blood sugar levels have a profoundly negative influence on cognition, which the researchers believe is "possibly mediated by structural changes in learning-relevant brain areas." Grains, or more specifically, carbohydrates, spike blood sugar.

 

One of the most important aspects of the study, however, was that these negative effects occurred even in people without type 2 diabetes, which suggests even if you're "healthy," keeping your blood sugar levels lower than what is typically considered "normal" is probably still best for your brain health. The researchers noted that “strategies aimed at lowering glucose levels even in the normal range may beneficially influence cognition in the older population."

This isn't entirely surprising, as separate research has found that impaired insulin response was associated with a 30 percent higher risk of Alzheimer's disease and overall, dementia and cognitive risks were associated with high fasting serum insulin, insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, and glucose intolerance.

However, the new study and another published last year suggest higher blood sugar levels may be detrimental to your brain even if you don't have any of the former conditions.

 

It's becoming increasingly clear that the same pathological process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may also hold true for your brain. As you over-indulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signaling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities, and eventually causing permanent brain damage

Dr. Perlmutter stresses that gluten sensitivity is involved in most chronic disease, including those affecting your brain, because of how gluten affects your immune system. Unfortunately, many people, physicians included, still believe that if you don't have celiac disease or digestive symptoms, gluten is fair game and you can eat as much of it as you like.

Full-blown celiac disease, which is an extreme form of immune-mediated gluten sensitivity primarily affecting the small intestine, affects an estimated 1.8 percent of people in Western cultures. But non-celiac gluten sensitivity may actually affect as much as 30 to 40 percent of all people, and according to Dr. Alessio Fasano at Massachusetts General Hospital virtually all of us are affected to some degree.

This is because we all create something called zonulin in the intestine in response to gluten. These difficult to digest proteins known as prolamines, found in wheat, barley, and rye, make your gut more permeable, which allows undigested proteins to get into your bloodstream that would otherwise have been excluded. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity tendencies.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, much of our current disease burden stems from the fact that we are contaminating our immune systems with proteins to which the human immune system has never, in the history of humankind, been previously exposed.

According to Dr. Perlmutter, our current dietary fat phobia "has been the cornerstone of our most common degenerative diseases of the day, including Alzheimer's."

Why? Because when you cut dietary fat and keep protein about the same, you're going to fill in the gaps with health-harming carbohydrate foods, predominantly grains.

Beneficial health-promoting fats that your body—and your brain in particular—needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, olives, organic virgin olive oil, and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, fish oil supplements about which I have written already on this web site and avocado, for example.  Moderate protein, high fat and low-carbohydrate diets are fundamental to retaining good cognitive health. Most low-carbohydrate diets advocates were very accepting of, if not promoting, high protein, and protein was, and still is, often recommended as a replacement for the carbohydrates.http://www.thehealingtouchtherapy.co.uk/contentextra.asp?ContentId=91

However, a high-fat, low-carb diet is very different than a high-protein, low-carb diet and this is a major source of confusion by both the public and researchers when doing studies and publishing conclusions. The average amount of protein recommended for most adults is about one gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. (As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight.) In short, most people consume too much low-quality protein and carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fat. The key is to eat high-quality natural fats, and a lot of them. Dr. Perlmutter expands:

“The quality of the fat that we consume is absolutely fundamental. When we're saying high-fat diet, we're not talking about prepared foods on the Twinkie aisle at the grocery store that contain modified trans-fats; hydrogenated fats that are clearly coffin nails. They're a great risk for brain disorders, heart disorders, diabetes, etc. We're talking about these beautiful, natural fats that we have been consuming for more than two million years."

Lifestyle strategies that promote neuro-genesis and re-growth of brain cells include the following

  • Reduce (non-vegetable) carbohydrate consumption, including sugars and grains.

·              Increase healthy fat consumption.

·              Increase your omega-3 fat intake and reduce consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. I recommend Igennus ethyl-EPA 90% concentration of omega 3 fatty acids to reduce the omega 6 Arachadonic Acids causing so much inflammation.

 

·              Exercise - Physical activity produces biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body but also your brain—particularly areas associated with memory and learning.

 

·              Reduce overall calorie consumption, including intermittent fasting.

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All of these strategies target a specific gene pathway called BDNF or brain-derived neuro-trophic factor, which promotes brain cell growth and connectivity as demonstrated on MRI scans (as exemplified by the work of Professor Basant Puri at the Hammersmith Hospital London and now at Imperial College). So if you're looking for the most straightforward way to lower your risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's, this is the plan to follow. As you'll notice, a great deal of the plan involves modifying your diet to lower unhealthful carbohydrates and increase healthful fats.

If you would like to find out more and receive recommendations based on your personal conditions of ill-health please contact Cynthia Sillars on 07599520406 or you may email her through the contact page on this web site.