Tag Archives: Diet (nutrition)

Bizarre advice on web site affiliated with education secretary nominee

23 Jan

It was brought to my attention that education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is an investor in a company that promises “brain enhancement. ” While visiting the site I found this amazing claim:

The cavemen had it right all along! Because bone broth is full of collagen (and 30% of our bodies’ protein consists of this), it acts as a “gut healer.” According to research by clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe, gut health and brain health are highly connected to each other. And, gut-healing is said to help lower anxiety and other mood-related disorders.

I am almost speechless. Where to begin? I guess we could start by asking who the heck is Josh Axe? He is

a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine.

I have no special prejudice against chiropractors, but the DeVos affiliated website claims that he has conducted research. If he has, why aren’t links provided?

It is true that there is collagen in the brain, but it doesn’t follow from that that consuming collagen helps brain performance. Moreover there is evidence that bone broth may have high levels of the neurotoxin lead.

The butter brain hypothesis

10 Oct

I always enjoyed reading the late Seth Robert’s blog. He never hesitated to question orthodoxies and always had some interesting new idea. However, some of the things he advocated were troubling. One example, of this was the butter brain hypothesis, the idea that consumption of butter might improve cognitive performance.

The idea is not implausible. The brain, after all, contains many lipids and the idea that consuming certain lipids might improve its performance does not sound unreasonable. The problem is butter is high in saturated fats and has been linked to heart disease.

I know, I know, many recent news reports tell us that “butter is safe” or that “butter is back.” These kind of person-bites-dog stories are popular in the media, but the science around saturated fats and cardiovascular disease is well established.

Here is an article from the New York Times reflecting on evolution and the dietary needs of the brain.

And here is a recent paper on the dangers of saturated fats. The abstract reads:

In recent years, many nutrition news headlines exclaimed that saturated fat was not linked to heart disease, leaving the public confused about whether to limit intake, as has been the dietary recommendation for several decades. However, a more nuanced look at the evidence indicates that high saturated fat diets are in fact not benign with respect to heart disease risk. Dietary recommendations should emphasize replacing saturated fats typical in red and processed meats, and certain tropical oils and dairy forms, with healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat-rich foods, such as nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish, as well as healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as fiber-rich whole-grain foods, rather than refined-grain and sugar-laden foods.

 

“High Fat Diet Consumption is Associated with Brain Inflammation”

5 Sep

Be very careful of the recent claims being made about dietary fat.

It is certainly true that diets high in refined carbohydrates are bad for our heath. And the marketing of low fat / high sugar products has been a public health disaster. But it does not follow from this that all dietary fats are safe, indeed some fats pose a risk to brain health. Here is the abstract from a paper looking at the effects of saturated fats on rat cognition:

“Diets rich in cholesterol and/or saturated fats have been shown to be detrimental to cognitive performance. Therefore, we fed a cholesterol (2%) and saturated fat (hydrogenated coconut oil, Sat Fat 10%) diet to 16-month old rats for 8 weeks to explore the effects on the working memory performance of middle-aged rats. Lipid profiles revealed elevated plasma triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL for the Sat-Fat group as compared to an iso-caloric control diet (12% soybean oil). Weight gain and food consumption were similar in both groups. Sat-Fat treated rats committed more working memory errors in the water radial arm maze, especially at higher memory loads. Cholesterol, amyloid-β peptide of 40 (Aβ40) or 42 (Aβ42) residues, and nerve growth factor in cortical regions was unaffected, but hippocampal Map-2 staining was reduced in rats fed a Sat-Fat diet, indicating a loss of dendritic integrity. Map-2 reduction correlated with memory errors. Microglial activation, indicating inflammation and/or gliosis, was also observed in the hippocampus of Sat-Fat fed rats. These data suggest that saturated fat, hydrogenated fat and cholesterol can profoundly impair memory and hippocampal morphology.”

See here for  a related paper.

And here is an eye opening video from Dr. Greger:

Methionine and dementia

22 Sep

Methionine is an essential amino acid and some level is necessary in the diet. However, there is a growing body of evidence that high levels of dietary Methionine may have negative health consequences, including a possible increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (pdf).

Adopting a vegan may be a reasonable strategy for reducing these risks. Here is a  pdf of a paper forcefully making this pint.

Dr. Greger weighs in on the low methionine diet:

%d bloggers like this: