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Diet and lifestyle approaches to better nutrition for the brain

You may wish to take a look at the main findings of four studies. For example, Saturated and trans fats and dementia: A systematic review, Neal D. Barnard, Anne E. Bunner, and Ulka Agarwal. Link and PDF. The study's main points is that saturated fat intake was also positively associated with total dementia in 1 of 2 studies, with MCI in 1 of 4 studies, and with cognitive decline in 2 of 4 studies. Relationships between trans fat intake and dementia were examined in 3 reports with mixed results. Several, although not all, prospective studies indicate relationships between saturated and trans fat intake and risk of cognitive disorders.

Diet and lifestyle approaches to better nutrition for the brain.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

You may wish to check out the study or it's abstract, "Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease," The authors are Neal D. Barnard, Ashley I. Bush, Antonia Ceccarelli, James Cooper, Celeste A. de Jager, Kirk I. Erickson, Gary Fraser, Shelli Kesler, Susan M. Levin, Brendan Lucey, Martha Clare Morris, and Rosanna Squitti. Check out the PDF. Or see another study or its abstract, "Vegetarian diets and blood pressure: A meta-analysis." The study is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Finally more physicians and scientists are studying dietary approaches to risks of developing certain diseases. For example, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease is increased by older age, genetic factors, and several medical risk factors. Studies have also suggested that dietary and lifestyle factors may influence risk, raising the possibility that preventive strategies may be effective.

This body of research is incomplete. However, because the most scientifically supported lifestyle factors for Alzheimer's disease are known factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, it is reasonable to provide preliminary guidance to help individuals who wish to reduce their risk. At the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain, Washington, DC, July 19–20, 2013, speakers were asked to comment on possible guidelines for Alzheimer's disease prevention, with an aim of developing a set of practical, albeit preliminary, steps to be recommended to members of the public. From this discussion, 7 guidelines emerged related to healthful diet and exercise habits. You also may wish to take a look at the study or its abstract, "Dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease."

Another study, "Meat consumption as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes," connects meat consumption with type 2 diabetes as a risk factor. Authors are Neal D. Barnard, Susan Levin, and Caroline Trapp. Download.

Disease risk factors identified in epidemiological studies serve as important public health tools, helping clinicians identify individuals who may benefit from more aggressive screening or risk-modification procedures, allowing policymakers to prioritize intervention programs, and encouraging at-risk individuals to modify behavior and improve their health, the study's abstract explains

These factors have been based primarily on evidence from cross-sectional and prospective studies, as most do not lend themselves to randomized trials. While some risk factors are not modifiable, eating habits are subject to change through both individual action and broader policy initiatives.

Meat consumption has been frequently investigated as a variable associated with diabetes risk, but it has not yet been described as a diabetes risk factor. In this article, the researchers evaluate the evidence supporting the use of meat consumption as a clinically useful risk factor for type 2 diabetes, based on studies evaluating the risks associated with meat consumption as a categorical dietary characteristic, for example, meat consumption versus no meat consumption, as a scalar variable. The study also looked at gradations of meat consumption and examined meat consumption as a part of a broader dietary pattern.

Brain disorders are the newest frontier in medical science

Back in 2013, some of the world’s foremost experts shared the latest insights on the role of nutrients in Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions at a national conference that was held in Washington, DC. On one session held on July 19, 2013 last year, focus was not the usual emphasis on drug marketing to doctors that you read about in various news stories, but rather on how a fascinating interplay of dietary fats and trace metals may damage delicate brain structures, and the dietary patterns that may protect the brain.

The next day, the scope widened to include the surprising effects of exercise and sleep on brain structures, the even more surprising effects of chemotherapy, a hopeful new intervention for multiple sclerosis, and details on how clinicians can help their patients. What the participants in that conference learned during those days of the meetings focused on the following objectives:

  • Participants learned how to evaluate how dietary fat plays a role in both increasing risk and prevention for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Participants learned how to identify lifestyle factors that modulate the risk of developing common Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Participants learned how to explain which brain regions are most consistently affected by participation in physical activity.
  • Participants learned how to state the possible role of sleep in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis.
  • Participants learned how to describe the role of diet in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Participants learned to identify evidence-based approaches to incorporating dietary recommendations into clinical practice.

Now if the general consumer could have access to these types of conferences, but brought to the general consumer in plain language that focused on dietary recommendations, it would give people a chance to open doors to new knowledge about using food as a helpmate in anyone's quest for health at any age.

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