Month: December 2016

8 Links Between Your Diet and Alzheimer’s

Much of the research concerning Alzheimer’s disease involves the impact of food choices on triggering, preventing, and treating the disease. Researchers have identified inflammation and insulin resistance as key factors in this neurodegenerative disease, as they damage neurons and interfere with intercellular communication.

The good news is we can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease if we make choices that help reduce inflammation, support our brain’s messaging system, improve insulin resistance and promote blood flow. Fortunately, there are many foods that address these needs. Here are eight dietary choices that can help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.

Read about natural ways to prevent, delay, or even reverse Alzheimer’s disease

1. Reduce sugary and blood glucose-spiking foods.

Foods high in sugar as well as processed, refined carbohydrates (e.g., white rice, white pasta, white flour) can result in sharp rises in blood sugar levels, which leads to inflammation in the brain. High blood sugar levels have been associated with a greater risk of dementia. Read labels carefully because many foods have hidden sugar, such as breakfast cereals (organic cereals with low sugar options), protein and energy bars, condiments, pasta sauces, and foods advertised as being low-fat or no-fat, which often have added sugar to make up for the reduction in fat. In fact, the link between blood sugar levels and Alzheimer’s has led many experts to refer to the disease as type 3 diabetes.

2. Eat omega-3 fatty foods.

Cold water fatty fish and seaweed (for vegetarians/vegans and nonfish-eaters) are the best food sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Evidence indicates that DHA may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout are fish sources of these healthy fats.

3. Go a little nuts.

Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts) have been shown to benefit cognitive function, largely because they are a healthful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and help circulation, as well as a good source of B vitamins and vitamin E. Nuts have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

4. MIND your diet.

The acronym MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and it combines critical elements from the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, plus includes specific foods and nutrients that have been shown scientifically to benefit the brain. The MIND diet, which was developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center, was shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent among individuals who followed the eating program rigorously, and by about 35 percent among those who followed it more moderately. MIND is easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet, according to Morris, in part because of much less emphasis on fish consumption and a different focus on getting more fruits and vegetable.

Read about the supplements that cut Alzheimer’s risk in half

5. Consume lots of fruits and vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables and berries should be at the top of our list, as they have been shown to be helpful in promoting cognitive function. Blueberries are especially beneficial, as are strawberries. Green leafy veggies such as spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and other salad greens support brain function because they are rich in lutein, a potent antioxidant, as well as folate, vitamin K, and beta-carotene.

6. Avoid trans fats.

These fats are associated with free radical production and inflammation, both of which can have a negative impact on brain function. Although trans fats are now listed on food nutrition panels and some foods are advertised as “trans-fat free,” be sure to read the ingredients, especially on packaged foods because of a loophole that allows labels to state zero trans fat if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving. Avoid other items known to be havens for trans fat, such as fried foods, fast food, and margarine.

7. Drink green tea.

Enjoy two to four cups daily of green tea, hot or cold, to help boost memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous studies have shown an improvement in cognitive function, a slowing of cognitive decline, and/or a decrease in oxidative stress associated with consuming green tea on a daily basis.

Read about preventing Alzheimer’s with green tea and exercise

8. Go light on saturated fats.

Saturated fats are not the enemy, but they aren’t your best friends either. Limit your intake of red meats (3 or fewer servings per week), fried foods (less than 1 serving per week), and butter (less than 1 tablespoon daily), cheese (less than 1 serving per week), and other full-fat dairy foods. Decades of research have shown strong evidence of the “deleterious effects of saturated fat on dementia.”

9. Spice it up with curcumin.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been the topic of scores of studies exploring its role in fighting Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent review from a team of Australian scientists, it was noted that curcumin can alter the beta-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s and that the substance’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to influence brain function and the development of dementia. Curcumin can be used to spice up vegetable and grain dishes, mixed into smoothies, stirred into soups, and sprinkled on salads.

Read more about the benefits of curcumin and turmeric

Written by Andrea Donsky. Reposted with permission from Naturally Savvy

Photo Credit: Alfonso Cenname/Unsplash

Here’s Today’s Tip… Is eating before bedtime a “no no”?

 

 

You may have heard that eating before bed is a big-time “no no” for those looking to lose weight. In fact, you’ve probably even heard that eating late at night will undoubtedly cause you to GAIN weight…even worse!

Well, there’s good news, and that good news is that not every food that you eat past 7PM will be automatically deposited to your butt, thighs, and love handles.

In fact, there are certain foods that you can eat as a late-night snack that can actually INCREASE your fatloss results! The key is knowing which foods to eat, and which to avoid, as the evening progresses.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Avoid carbs before bed in favor of slow-digesting high-quality protein.

Carbohydrate consumption causes significant rise in the storage hormone insulin, which also puts the breaks on fat-burning. That’s a recipe for disaster in the late evening hours as your metabolism is winding down, but fortunately, slow-digesting protein isn’t.

Instead, slow digesting proteins provide your body with a steady flow of amino acids throughout the night to help you recover from exercise and maintain your calorie-burning lean muscle as you lose fat.

Here are my top 3 pre-bedtime choices:

1. White Meat Animal Protein (not red meat or fish) – White meat protein sources such as chicken and turkey are great pre-bed meal choices because they digest slowly and have a very low insulin release. These sources also promote the release of another hormone, glucagon, that assists the body with breaking down stored carbs and fat within your body to be burned for energy…a double win! Red meat and fish have a significantly higher insulin response so they’re best to avoid in the evening.

2. Cottage Cheese – Cottage cheese is very slow digesting and coats the stomach to be assimilated by the body over many hours. As a protein, it also stimulates glucagon release; a solid pre-bedtime choice. Just make sure you’re using plain cottage cheese, not the flavored varieties with added sugars.

3. Green Vegetables – While these aren’t considered a protein, they contain virtually no calories, are high in fiber, and they’re very filling. Often times when I get a late night craving I eat a big bowl of green veggies and it completely kills my craving…a diet savior!

 

To The Bed-Time Snack,

Change That Up

This Is How Aspartame Causes Obesity

 

December 06, 2016

By Dr. Mercola

The allure of artificial sweeteners — zero calories and a sweet taste — is a strong one, such that up to 180 million Americans use them routinely.1

There have been concerns from the beginning, however, that consuming synthetic compounds with hyper-sweetness (200 times that of sugar in the case of aspartame) has some serious drawbacks.

One of the most appalling, especially to those consuming artificially sweetened sugar-free and diet products in the hopes of losing weight, is their propensity to fuel weight gain. Researchers wrote in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine:2

“Intuitively, people choose non-caloric artificial sweeteners over sugar to lose or maintain weight …

Whether due to a successful marketing effort on the part of the diet beverage industry or not, the weight conscious public often consider artificial sweeteners “health food.” But do artificial sweeteners actually help reduce weight?

Surprisingly, epidemiologic data suggest the contrary. Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.”

Although their reputation as a weight-loss aid has held strong since the beginning, it’s been known for years that they seem to have the opposite effect.

Recently, a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators even revealed a potential reason why artificial sweeteners like aspartame prevent, rather than promote, weight loss.3

Aspartame May Promote Obesity by Blocking Gut Enzyme Activity

A study on mice revealed that animals fed aspartame-laced drinking water gained weight and developed symptoms of metabolic syndrome while mice not fed the artificial sweetener did not.

Further, the researchers revealed that phenylalanine, an aspartame breakdown product, blocks the activity of a gut enzyme called alkaline phosphatase (IAP).

In a previous study, IAP was found to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome (and reduce symptoms in those with the condition) when fed to mice.4Study author Richard Hodin, MD, of the MGH Department of Surgery, said in a press release:5

“We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; so we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.”

Mice in the study were fed either plain water or water infused with the equivalent amount of aspartame found in two to 3 1/2 cans of soda, along with a normal diet or a high-fat diet. Mice in the high-fat group that drank aspartame-infused water gained more weight than those eating the same diet without aspartame in their water.

Further, all the mice fed aspartame had higher blood sugar levels — an indicator of glucose intolerance — and higher levels of inflammatory protein TNF-alpha, which is suggestive of systemic inflammation. Given aspartame’s inhibition of IAP, the researchers suggested its use is counterproductive.

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Weight Gain Since the 1980s

Artificial sweeteners are still viewed as a weight-loss aid in 2016 even though their hindrances to weight loss have been documented since at least the 1980s.

Then, the San Antonio Heart Study, which involved nearly 4,000 adults, found drinkers of artificially sweetened beverages consistently had higher BMIs (body mass index) than non-drinkers.6

Again in the early 1980s, a study of nearly 78,700 women found artificial sweetener usage increased with relative weight, and users were significantly more likely to gain weight compared to those who did not use artificial sweeteners.7

Such associations have only continued to grow over the passing decades. Artificially sweetened beverages, including diet soda, are among the key culprits, with intake associated with “striking” increases in waist circumference among older adults, according to one study.8

Research published in PLOS One also found regularly consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with several disorders of metabolic syndrome, including:9

The study found drinking aspartame-sweetened diet soda daily increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 67 percent (regardless of whether they gained weight or not) and the risk of metabolic syndrome 36 percent.

One way artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of weight gain, obesity and other related problems like type 2 diabetes is by inducing “metabolic derangements,” according to a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism:10

” … [A]ccumulating evidence suggests that frequent consumers of these sugar substitutes may also be at increased risk of excessive weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

… [C]onsuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interferes with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis.

Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.”

Soda Industry Pledge to Cut Calories Off to Slow Start

The soda industry has pledged to cut the number of calories Americans consume via beverages by 20 percent over a decade, but they’re off to a slow start.11 In 2015, this caloric intake dropped by just 0.2 percent, according to a beverage industry report.

In addition to introducing smaller package sizes and reformulating products, a key strategy toward this goal is the promotion of artificially sweetened diet drinks, but the consumption of low- and no-calorie soda fell by nearly 6 percent last year.

Americans are growing increasingly wary of artificial sweeteners, and the soda industry is becoming increasingly desperate to hold on to its once-loyal customers. One of their ongoing strategies to appear like they care about your health is to promote their diet beverages as a healthy alternative.

In 2013, they rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity, and then swiftly launched another campaign touting aspartame in its diet sodas.

According to the ad, aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetenerdemonstrating its harmful effects or the risks of consuming diet sodas in general.

In one study, people who drank diet soda had a 70 percent greater increase in waist size in a 10-year period compared to non-diet soda drinkers. Those who drank two or more diet sodas a day had a 500 percent greater increase in waist size.

Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also revealed that people who drink diet beverages may end up compensating for their “saved” calories by eating more foods high in sugar, sodium and unhealthy fats.12

Obese adults had the highest incremental daily calorie intake from unhealthy foods associated with diet beverages. Researcher Ruopeng An, a kinesiology and community health professor at the University of Illinois, noted:13

“It may be that people who consume diet beverages feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips … Or perhaps, in order to feel satisfied, they feel compelled to eat more of these high-calorie foods.”

For more on the detrimental effects of diet sodas, including in relation to aspartame and weight gain, check out our infographic below.

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Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code

Beyond Weight Gain: Problems With Aspartame

Aspartame is made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. But the phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, as that provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol.

When aspartame is in liquid form, it breaks down into methyl alcohol, or methanol, which is then converted into formaldehyde and represents the root of the problem with aspartame.

While industry funded studies, which are notoriously biased, attempt to support aspartame safety, 92 percent of independently funded studies found aspartame may cause adverse effects, including depression and headaches.14 A recent study also found the administration of aspartame to rats resulted in detectable methanol even after 24 hours, which might be responsible for inducing oxidative stress in the brain.15

The Bottom Line? If You’re Trying to Lose Weight, Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

There are a number of reasons to avoid artificial sweeteners (like their link to cancer), but one that may be most compelling for those of you trying to lose weight is the simple fact that they are likely to impede this process.

When a sweets craving strikes, resist the urge to reach for an artificially sweetened food or beverage and eat something naturally sour instead. Sour taste, such as that from fermented vegetables or water spruced up with lemon or lime juice, helps to reduce cravings for sweets.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, try a cup of organic black coffee, an opioid receptor that can bind to your opioid receptors, occupy them and essentially block your addiction to other opioid-releasing foods.16,17

I also recommend addressing your cravings on an emotional level. Turbo Tapping, which is a version of the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), is specifically suited to help eliminate sweet cravings and it can be done virtually anywhere, anytime a craving strikes.

[+] Sources and References