Thursday, November 1, 2012

Brain food - what not to eat

Amazingly the key to keeping your brain firing on all cylinders as you get older may have been in your kitchen all along. No. Not a superfood. It's a food you should avoid at all costs.

New research from the Mayo Clinic finds that eating a lot of carbohydrates and sugar puts you at higher risk for mild cognitive impairment as you age. That translates to problems with memory, thinking, and judgment. Mild cognitive impairment is also considered an early sign of Alzheimer's.

The study included 940 people between the ages of 70 and 89. At the beginning of the study, all of these folks were clear of cognitive problems. Within four years, though, 200 of them were starting to show signs of mild cognitive impairment. 

Study participants who ate the most carbs were about twice as likely to have mild cognitive impairment compared to those who were relatively carb-free. The highest sugar intake was associated with being 1.5 times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

But, when fat, protein, sugar, and carbs were considered together, the people with the highest carb intake were 3.6 times more likely to develop cognitive impairment.

Scientists believe the raised risk that comes from carbs and sugar could be because carbohydrates affect glucose and insulin metabolism. Too much sugar can actually keep the brain from using fuel properly. It's basically the same effect you see with type 2 diabetes.

When you start cutting those carbs and sugars, replace them with good fats (coconut oil, etc.) and healthy proteins. People with the highest intake of fat were 42 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who ate the least. And those in the group with the highest intake of protein were 21 percent less likely.

Some people may develop mild depression when first making the switch. You can overcome that down feeling by maintaining adequate levels of vitamins B-12 and D.

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