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David Perlmutter, MD, a leading board certified neurologist, recently published Grain Brain, a New York Times best-selling book that teaches us all how we can feed our brains and actively work to prevent Alzheimer’s. Sounds fantastic, but hundreds of research studies bear it out.
We are all fat heads! 60% of our brains are fat!
Dr. Perlmutter explains that humans have eaten diets high in fat and protein for millennia. Our brains have evolved to flourish on this kind of nutrition. So what is happening now? About 20 years ago we were told to go on low fat, high carbohydrate diets. Remember? The biggest part of our diet was supposed to be carbohydrates. Eat grains and ditch the fat. Have a big plate of pasta for dinner…and so forth. Turns out that wasn’t very helpful guidance.
What happened on this low fat, high carb diet? Americans became much more obese, the rate of diabetes tripled, the rate of Alzheimer’s sharply increased.
What is the connection here? Carbohydrates turn into sugar in our bodies much faster than fats or proteins. Carbohydates as well as sugar are harmful to our brains.
What is the evidence? A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine explained that even mild blood sugar increases over the long term dramatically increase our risk of developing dementia. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a study that showed that people who ate higher levels of carbohydrates in their diets had about an 89% increased risk for developing dementia! People whose dietary intake was highest in fat (the “good fats” – not donut kind of fats) saw a reduction in risk of dementia of 44%.
How does sugar hurt the brain anyway? A recent article published in Neurology notes that the elevations of blood sugar in the brain leads to compromised memory and a shrinking hippocampus. Hippo…..what? This is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory. Yes, memory!
So what are these good fats?
- Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
- Eggs (preferably organic)
- Cold water fish (avoid tuna due to mercury content)
- Nuts – particularly walnuts, pistachios, almonds, pecans, cashews
- Butter (yes!) from organic grass fed milk
- Grass fed meats (organic)
This is just a partial listing. Learn more about good fats from Dr. Joseph Mercola here.
If you buy just one book this year, consider making it Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter. It may save your brain – and your life.
This unfortunate man developed an infection from a thorn and died due to lack of sufficient penicillin available at that time.
Antibiotics, as we all know, can save our lives. They fight infection and support our health. Antibiotics attack bad bacteria while protecting us.
So, what’s new? Remember the Human Microbiome Project? Scientists are discovering that some bacteria also keep us alive! They break our food down to digestible bits of nutrients, detoxify poisons, nurture our immune systems, help to create vitamins, serve as a shield on our skin and internal organs to keep bad bacteria and viruses out. There are about 20 million genes we carry in our bodies – and only about 20,000 of these are human genes. The rest are beneficial bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Imagine that: only 10% of the genes are human. This mix is our own microbiome that supports our health and well being.
What is the problem then? Antibiotics can discriminate between bacteria and human genes…..but they cannot discriminate between the bad bacteria and the good ones that nurture us. Antibiotics can kill what is infecting you, but also those bacteria that are helping to keep you healthy.
Scientists are studying the effects of antibiotics on the whole human microbiome and are finding some very interesting facts. What happens depends upon what kind of bacteria are infecting you, what kind of antibiotics you are taking, and your general state of health before the antibiotics. An article just published in the journal Gut published results on the effect on the microbiome of a man taking antibiotics for a pacemaker infection. They found that the entire microbiome responded to the antibiotics!
The good bacteria produced defenses against the drug and powered down. Among other metabolic effects, they stopped making vitamins and dimmed their immune systems. Some could survive the chemical onslaught and some could not.
This man had 41 species of bacteria in his gut before the antibiotic. By day 11 that was down to 13. However, 6 weeks later it was up to 38 but many of the bacteria were different kinds. Some major groups were missing. Scientists are finding that this effect can last for months – affecting our immunity, our absorption of nutrients from our food and our ability to make the necessary vitamins to keep us healthy.
Physicians at Seattle Children’s Hospital found that children who took antibiotics were at an increased risk of asthma as well as inflammatory bowel disease (later in life).
Scientist have even found that long term antibiotic use can lead to the development of more fat!
Sometimes it is possible even to fight bacteria with other bacteria!
Take home message: make sure you really need that antibiotic before you take it. If you do need to take antibiotics, take probiotics to help keep the good bacteria alive, though you will need to take those at separate times from the antibiotics. Eat less sugar – it feeds the bad bacteria and can lead to inflammation in our guts – disrupting the normal bacterial balance.
You can learn more by following the links above.
Be healthy – be happy. Eat well……..
Our founder, Karen Mercereau RN, has a feature article in Advance For Nurses
(Click the article below to read a larger version)