Web Searches Workout the Brain

I’m a genius! I do HUNDREDS of web searches each day. A new report claims searching the net TRAINS our brains to stay active and healthy; Reuters reports.

This is GREAT! And centenarians would agree. In a recent survey, U.S. centenarians listed “keep your mind active” as a TOP TEN tip for living to 100.

I wonder how many searches you’d have to do to STOP alcohol from shrinking your brain. Oh, and here's more tips! Check out Dr. Fuhrman’s Seven Secrets of Longevity.

Eat for Health: Heart Disease and Dementia Aren't Inevitable

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

As this chart shows, heart disease as a major cause of disability and death is a recent phenomenon.

Heart disease was not inevitable in the past and it doesn’t have to be inevitable now. It has known causes. Populations where these predisposing lifestyles are not lived out have practically no heart disease. When studies look at these issues, they find that the cultures that eat a healthy, vegetable-rich diet have almost no recorded heart disease, including hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese who have not had a single documented heart attack.1 Because heart disease has become so ubiquitous in America, many people believe the myth that heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and dementia are largely genetic or the consequence of aging. It may be rare in the modern world that any majority of a population exercises, does not smoke, and eats very healthfully, but those that do earn a low-risk status and do not have heart attacks.2

The same factors that cause atherosclerosis, leading to heart attacks and strokes, also create dementia, and I am referring to both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. This includes the same diets that are high in animal fat and low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, and green vegetables.3 Of course, smoking and lack of physical exercise play a role in these common diseases, but the point is that it does not have to happen to you. These diseases, and others that plague modern America, are not the inevitable consequences of aging. They can actually resolve and improve with age or can be avoided entirely. They are simply the result of years of poor nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle. My hope for you is that through this eating-style, you, like my patients who have embraced this program, can rid yourself of migraine headaches, acne, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. So many of my patients have restored their health after conventional physicians—and the conventional beliefs about the inevitability of disease— told them their problems were going to be life long. Their doctors were wrong.

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Runners Live Longer

Sweet! Running alone, I do about 16 miles a week. Not to mention another 8 miles on the elliptical machine. New research by Stanford University has determined that running helps people live longer and healthier. Reuters reports:

A study published on Monday shows middle-aged members of a runner's club were half as likely to die over a 20-year period as people who did not run.

Running reduced the risk not only of heart disease, but of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, researchers at Stanford University in California found.

"At 19 years, 15 percent of runners had died compared with 34 percent of controls," Dr. Eliza Chakravarty and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Any type of vigorous exercise will likely do the trick, said Stanford's Dr. James Fries, who worked on the study.

"Both common sense and background science support the idea that there is nothing magical about running per se," Fries said in a telephone interview. "It is the regular physical vigorous activity that is important."

The team surveyed 284 members of a nationwide running club and 156 similar, healthy people as controls. They all came from the university's faculty and staff and had similar social and economic backgrounds, and all were 50 or older.

Running is really awesome! It gives me a fantastic rush. Now, if you live near NYC, try running in Central Park. They say it’s great. Actually, just get out there an exercise, the benefits are infinite. In fact, many cancer patients are becoming avid gym rats—via The New York Times.

Health Points: Tuesday


"What I learned about those first two seasons is they are long. They are a grind, especially with the Western Conference not getting any easier,'' Roy said.

Roy hired a trainer, Ron Tate, who focuses heavily on stretching in addition to weight lifting. He also forces Roy to drink a gallon of water every day before 2 p.m.

In previous summers, Roy would play basketball nearly every day. Now he plays maybe twice a week, even though the Blazers would prefer it was one or less.

"I think I have gotten smarter with the way I work,'' Roy said. "It's not so much pound, pound, pound. It's more stretching and lifting with lighter weight but more reps.''
“What they are doing is developing their own system for evaluating things,” said Dr. Warwick L. Morison, professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins and chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s photobiology committee, which tests sunscreens for safety and effectiveness. “Using this scale to say a sunscreen offers good protection or bad protection is junk science.”


Dr. Morison has no financial ties to sunscreen makers, and his work with the Skin Cancer Foundation is unpaid.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, said the database and rating system were based on an extensive review of the medical literature on sunscreens. Of nearly 1,000 sunscreens reviewed, the group recommends only 143 brands. Most are lesser-known brands with titanium and zinc, which are effective blockers of ultraviolet radiation. But they are less popular with consumers because they can leave a white residue.

Olympic host city Beijing was shrouded in haze on Monday 11 days before the Games begin, raising anxieties about whether it can deliver the clean skies promised for the world's top athletes.


The city's chronic pollution, a sometimes acrid mix of construction dust, vehicle exhaust and factory and power plant fumes, has been one of the biggest worries for Games organizers.

Beijing has ordered many of its 3.3 million cars off roads and halted much construction and factory production in an effort to cut pollution before the Games open on August 8.

But a sultry haze persisted on Monday, and state media said Beijing might be forced to restrict more cars and shut more factories if the pollution persists.
"At baseline, before they were supposed to be following a diet or exercise plan, we found on weekends, people gained weight," study author Susan Racette, an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis said. During the week, the weight would decline. But the weekend effect was strong. "If you translate it out to a year, it could have increased weight by 9 pounds."


Before the intervention, participants ate an average of 2,257 calories on Saturday compared to just 2,021 during the week. But the average activity on weekends overall didn't differ much from average weekday activities. So, it was the food, not the lack of activity, that was to blame, Racette said.

Racette monitored the participants for a year after they started the intervention, and the weekend indulgences continued. The calorie restriction group stopped losing weight on weekends, while the physical activity group gained slightly (about .17 pounds). There were not significant weight changes in the controls on weekends.

Four years ago, ahead of the Athens Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed caffeine from its list of banned substances in sport. This was "presumably because WADA considered (caffeine's) performance-enhancing effects to be insignificant," notes Mark Stuart in a commentary published in the journal BMJ Clinical Evidence.


Stuart, a BMJ editor, has worked with doping control for past Olympic Games and helped train medical staff for the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

Despite questions about caffeine's effects on athletic prowess, Stuart points out, studies indicate that many athletes still use the stimulant. In a study published last month, for example, researchers found that of 193 UK track-and-field athletes they surveyed, one-third used caffeine to enhance performance -- as did 60 percent of 287 competitive cyclists.
Numbers like those, coupled with ads for sleep aids, persuaded yoga instructor Shanon Buffington that the time was right for a workshop she developed.


"Most of us don't sleep like babies anymore," the instructor said as participants gathered last month for her "Yoga for Better Sleep" workshop at Dallas Surya Center for Yoga.

"We're typically tired, and when we do rest, we don't sleep well.

"My goal," she said, "is to give you a toolbox of techniques." These include breathing techniques, relaxing restorative poses and an introduction to Yoga Nidra, a guided visualization.

These yoga tools work, Buffington says, by calming the autonomic nervous system, specifically by nudging the body toward the parasympathetic, or "rest and digest," state as opposed to the sympathetic, or "fight or flight," state.

A new study has found that high bone mineral density (BMD) predicts a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer, independent of how high her risk is on the often-used Gail model.


The two measurements together might be used in tandem to better predict breast cancer risk, the researchers said.

The findings, which were expected to be published in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer, follow closely on the heels of other research linking different aspects of bone health with breast cancer risk. One study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in May found that Zometa (zoledronic acid), a drug used to treat osteoporosis, lowered the risk of breast cancer recurrence in premenopausal women.

And another study released this spring found that women with breast cancer who have a vitamin D deficiency at the time of their diagnosis were more likely to have a recurrence or to die from their disease. Vitamin D is also critical to bone health.
Fitness and exercise have been shown to slow age-related changes in the brain in healthy people. The latest finding suggests people with early Alzheimer's disease may still benefit.


"The message is essentially if you have Alzheimer's disease, it's not too late to become physically fit," Dr. Sam Gandy, chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's Medical and Scientific Advisory Council, said in a statement.

Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City studied the relationship between fitness and brain volume in 56 healthy adults and 60 adults with early Alzheimer's disease. All were over the age of 60.

Exercise, Prevents Brain Shrinkage


New research contends exercise may slow brain shrinkage in the early stages Alzheimer's disease. Malcolm Ritter of the Associated Press reports:
Getting a lot of exercise may help slow brain shrinkage in people with early Alzheimer's disease, a preliminary study suggests. Analysis found that participants who were more physically fit had less brain shrinkage than less-fit participants. However, they didn't do significantly better on tests for mental performance. That was a surprise, but maybe the study had too few patients to make an effect show up in the statistical analysis, said Dr. Jeffrey Burns, one of the study's authors…

…Burns, who directs the Alzheimer and Memory Program at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, reports the work with colleagues in Tuesday's issue of the journal Neurology.

The study included 57 people with early Alzheimer's. Their physical fitness was assessed by measuring their peak oxygen demand while on a treadmill, and brain shrinkage was estimated by MRI scans.
Hey folks. Clearly, you got to exercise—not sure you can get around it.

Low HDL Linked to Poor Memory, So Go Nuts!


A new study associates HDL cholesterol—good cholesterol—with bad short-term memory in middle-aged adults. Reuters reports:
The researchers examined the relationship between blood fats and memory using data on 3673 individuals, who were an average of 55 years old when tested between 1997 and 1999.

Short-term verbal memory was assessed at the outset with a 20-word free recall test. Memory deficit was defined as recalling no more than four words. Memory decline was defined as a reduction of two or more words between the first test and a second test, performed in 2002-2004.

The results are reported in the medical journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Compared with a high HDL level, low HDL was associated with memory deficit during both tests. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, illnesses, and medication use, those with low HDL were 27 percent and 53 percent more likely to have a memory deficit on the first and second test, respectively.
Fret not, nuts and seeds are a great natural way to boost your HDL cholesterol. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Nuts & Seeds Protect Against Heart Disease. Here’s a bit:
Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3


Ellagitannins (ETs) are dietary polyphenols with potent antioxidant and other cancer chemopreventive activities that are found in berries, nuts (especially walnuts), and seeds.4 Walnuts can reduce Creactive protein and harmful plaque adhesion molecules, two significant markers of inflammation in arteries. The result is improved, and even restored, endothelial function (which includes the elastic property of arteries that allows dilation when necessary to meet an increased demand of blood).According to the researchers, walnuts are the first food to show such cardiovascular benefits.5
See, going nuts is a good thing!
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Be Social, Save Memory

New research claims that maintaining good relationships with family and friends may prevent age-related memory loss. Reuters reports:
"Our results suggest that increasing social integration may be an important component of efforts to protect older Americans from memory decline," Dr. Lisa F. Berkman from the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and colleagues conclude in a report in the American Journal of Public Health.

They looked at the impact of social integration on changes in memory over 6 years in 16,638 Americans aged 50 and older enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study. Memory was gauged by immediate and delayed recall of a 10-word list, and social integration was assessed by marital status, volunteer activity, frequency of contact with children, parents, and neighbors.

The average memory score declined from 11.0 in 1998 to 10.0 in 2004, the investigators found.
Healthy social ties are important, Dr. Fuhrman explains in An Emotionally Satisfying Environment is Vital. Here’s a bit:
Humans are complicated creatures, and our minds have powerful effects on healing and wellness. A positive purpose, loving relationships, self-respect, and the power to control our destiny have beneficial effects on our physiological—and ultimately physical—well-being. Few people have the perfect life without any negative stressors, but it makes a difference if you deal with those stressors with hope and action, rather than resignation and passivity.
So, I guess having more ex-girlfriends than fingers and toes wouldn’t be considered cultivating loving relationships. No worries, I’ll just wait for the memory loss to kick in.

Research: Flavonoids Good, Acrylamides Bad

A new study claims that flavonoids—found in fruits and vegetables—may help treat Alzheimer's disease. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:

In experiments with mice, two flavonoids called luteolin and diosmin reduced levels of beta-amyloid, which forms the harmful plaques that build up in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease.


"Our lab has been investigating beta-amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer's, and how we can reduce it using natural compounds," said lead researcher Kavon Rezai-Zadeh, from the Rashid Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at Silver Child Development Center at the University of South Florida.

The research team would like to use the two flavonoids to see if they can reduce amyloid plaque in humans, since they believe flavonoids would be safe and have few side effects compared with drugs that are being developed to reduce amyloid plaque.

Rezai-Zadeh also thinks that flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant properties, might guard against Alzheimer's. "A lot of these compounds can be derived from the diet, and they may have preventive effects against Alzheimer's disease," he said. "Increasing the flavonoids in your diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's."
Now, acrylamides—commonly found in processed junk foods—are being linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer. Kathleen Doheny HealthDay News is on it:

Studies of the chemical have been ongoing since 1994, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the chemical as a probable human carcinogen. Experts thought the main exposure was environmental, through cigarette smoke and, to a lesser extent, cosmetics.


But in 2002, Swedish scientists reported the presence of the chemical in carbohydrate-rich foods produced at high temperatures, including French fries and potato chips.

Studies of the chemical's link to various cancers have yielded mixed results.

The Dutch research team took data from the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which includes more than 120,000 men and women, aged 55 to 69. They followed them for more than 13 years, looking at all the cases of kidney, bladder and prostate cancers. They took a random sample of 5,000 people to look at their dietary habits.

The average intake of acrylamide from the diet was 21.8 micrograms -- a little less than what is included in a 2.5-ounce serving of French fries. Those who took in the most -- averaging 40.8 micrograms a day -- had a 59 percent higher risk of kidney cancer (but not the other cancers) than those consuming the least.
Here’s a plan. Eat lots and lots of fruits and veggies, and, ditch the trans-fat laden, overly processed, salty and sugary junk food—good idea?

Living to 100

Do you want to live forever? I do. I plan on sticking around for as long as possible and Dan Buettner of The Huffington Post has compiled a list of nine healthy habits that’ll help get you to 100. Take a look:
For the the last five years, I've been taking teams of scientists to five pockets around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. We call these places the Blue Zones. We found a Bronze-age mountain culture in Sardinia, Italy, that has 20 times as many 100-year-olds as the U.S. does, proportionally. In Okinawa, Japan, we found people with the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. In the Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, Calif.; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica), people live 10 years longer, experience a sixth the rate of cardiovascular disease and a fifth the rate of major cancers.
  1. Move naturally: Be active without thinking about it. Identify activities you enjoy and make them a part of your day. Cut calories by 20 percent.
  2. Cut calories by 20 percent: Practice "Hara hachi bi," the Okinawan reminder to stop eating once their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  3. Plant-based diet: No, you don't need to become a vegetarian, but do bump up your intake of fruits and veggies.
  4. Drink red wine: In moderation.
  5. Plan de Vida: Determine your life purpose. Why do you get up in the morning?
  6. Down shift: Take time to relieve stress. You may have to literally schedule it into your day, but relaxation is key.
  7. Belong/participate in a spiritual community.
  8. Put loved ones first/make family a priority.
  9. Pick the right tribe: The people surrounding you influence your health more than almost any other factor.
These are fantastic suggestions. Be active, eat plants, and relax—perfect! You won’t get much argument out of Dr. Fuhrman:
Increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains…

… Centenarian studies in Europe illustrate that those individuals living into their hundreds were likely to have consumed a plant-based diet consisting of fewer than 2000 calories per day. Multiple studies have confirmed that the thinnest people live the longest…

… As we condition our muscles and gain strength, our bones thicken and strengthen along with the muscle. Without regular exercise along the way, your bone structure can deteriorate as you get older. Some people survive with weak bones, but their quality of life suffers when they are immobilized by arthritis and osteoporosis…

…A safe and satisfying work environment, a happy marriage, a satisfying social and/or family life, and activities you enjoy are all related to positive health outcomes. Emotional wellness starts right here your finger tips end. As you respect and appreciate the value in the world around you and develop interests in other people and in such things as art, music, entertainment, sports, nature, and physical activity, you can respect yourself more for your ability and desire to appreciate the value of things not yourself.
Okinawans are fascinating people. These avid plant-eaters live a long-long time. In fact, they made John Robbins’s list of longest-lived people in his book Healthy at 100. Check it out:
  1. Abkhasia: Ancients of the Caucasus, where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age.
  2. Vilcabamba: The Valley of Eternal Youth, where heart disease and dementia do not exist.
  3. Hunza: A People Who Dance in Their Nineties, where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown.
  4. The Centenarians of Okinawa: Where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world.
Now, for the flipside, primitive people like Inuit Greenlanders and Kenyan Maasai have short life expectancies—why? Too much meat in their diets. More from Dr. Fuhrman:

Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1


Similar statistics are available for the high meat-consuming Maasai in Kenya. They eat a diet high in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. Life expectancy is 45 years for women and 42 years for men. African researchers report that, historically, Maasai rarely lived beyond age 60. Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai show that they have a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59.2
I guess the same can be said about us; between all the fast food, beef jerky, potato chips, cheese pizza, and no exercise, Americans start dying at middle-age. We’d learn a lot from our foreign neighbors.
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Health Points: Friday

Imaging technology shows that people who practice meditation that focuses on kindness and compassion actually undergo changes in areas of the brain that make them more in tune to what others are feeling.

"Potentially one can train oneself to behave in a way which is more benevolent and altruistic," said study co-author Antoine Lutz, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How far this idea can be extrapolated remains in question, though.
FDA said it is reviewing reports of mood changes, suicidal behavior and suicide in patients who have taken the drug, which was Merck's best-selling product last year.


In the past year Merck has updated the drug's labeling four times to include information on tremors, anxiousness, depression and suicidal behavior reported in some patients.
The runner’s-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete’s mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain’s naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise.


The problem with the hypothesis was that it was not feasible to do a spinal tap before and after someone exercised to look for a flood of endorphins in the brain. Researchers could detect endorphins in people’s blood after a run, but those endorphins were part of the body’s stress response and could not travel from the blood to the brain. They were not responsible for elevating one’s mood. So for more than 30 years, the runner’s high remained an unproved hypothesis.

But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.
     
People who have big bellies in their 40s are much more likely to get Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in their 70s, according to new research that links the middle-age spread to fading minds for the first time.


The study of more than 6,000 people found the more fat they had in their guts in their early- to mid-40s, the greater their chances of becoming forgetful or confused or showing other signs of senility as they aged. Those who had the most impressive midsections faced more than twice the risk of the leanest.
Dr. Carol Byrd-Bredbenner of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues found that many college students engaged in eating behaviors that could make them sick, like eating raw homemade cookie dough or runny eggs.


While people are becoming increasingly aware of food safety issues, Byrd-Bredbenner and her team note, surveys still show a substantial proportion run the risk of food poisoning by eating raw eggs, undercooked hamburger and other foods that may harbor harmful bacteria.
The disclosure of hidden tobacco money behind a big study suggesting that lung scans might help save smokers from cancer has shocked the research community and raised fresh concern about industry influence in important science.


Two medical journals that published studies by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers in 2006 are looking into tobacco cash and other financial ties that weren't revealed. The studies reported benefits from lung scans, which the Cornell team has long touted.
The IARC has labeled these occupations as "probably carcinogenic to humans," a classification the agency reserves for those exposures backed by fairly strong evidence. In 1993, the IARC found that hairdressers and barbers were probably exposed to cancer-causing substances, but at that time, evidence of an increased cancer risk in this population was "inadequate." This week's report, published in the Lancet Oncology, is based on a review of epidemiological studies published since that time.


Some of the products used by hairdressers and barbers--such as dyes, pigments, rubber chemicals, and curing agents—have been found to cause tumors in rats in laboratory studies or have been known to cause bladder cancer in humans. In some studies, increased risk has been associated with permanent dyes and use of darker-colored hair dyes.

Alzheimer's: The Five Million Mark

Preventing age-related mental decline is actually pretty easy. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Japanese studies have found the same relationships: individuals with low consumption of vegetables and high consumption of meat were found to be the ones most likely to develop Alzheimer’s.1
Apparently we didn’t get the memo. According to a new report more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's. Reuters reports:
An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and it could steal the minds of one out of eight baby boomers, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.


The report found there were 411,000 new cases of Alzheimer's in 2000, a number expected to grow to 454,000 new cases a year by 2010. By 2050, 959,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease every year, the report predicts…

…That includes 16 percent of women and 11 percent of men in that age group.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

It starts out with mild memory loss and confusion but escalates into complete memory loss and an inability to care for oneself. There is no cure and the handful of drugs that can treat Alzheimer's only slow its progression for a short time.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman makes it perfectly clear. Eating well is our primary defense against Alzheimer's and dementia. Check it out:
Just as in the case of heart disease, the world’s leading researchers on the subject consider diets high in animal fat to be the major factor in the causation of Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress to our brain tissue from the combination of a diet rich in saturated fat and low in the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables lays the groundwork for brain damage later in life. Deficiencies of DHA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) which often are found in Alzheimer’s patients, also have been shown to promote dementia.2 Inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, leafy greens, and certain fish also are implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer’s.
Makes me feel great about the walnuts and leafy greens I had with breakfast!
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Food Scoring Guide: Silent, Invisible Damage

We continually are being told that heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even dementia are inevitable consequences of aging. So it is not surprising that most people assume that we have to expect these things as they are. We also are told that they are primarily the result of genetics and, therefore are beyond our control. The statistics seemingly bear this out. Over 90% percent of elderly Americans require medications for high blood pressure or other heart conditions. But these diseases are not the consequence of aging; they are the consequence of consuming a low-nutrient diet over time.

We don’t see the harm as we hurt our bodies in tiny increments, day after day, by eating a low-nutrient diet. Children, teenagers, and young adults “seem” to get away with years of poor nutrition. But after enough time goes by, the damage is easily seen. Then, we blame it on aging.

Health Points: Wednesday

On Monday, Pfizer took the doctor and inventor of the artificial heart off the mound as pitchman for the world's best- selling medication, after his credentials - in medicine and in his own exercise regimen - came under fire.

In the ads, which began their heavy rotation on TV and in print in 2006, Jarvik touts the benefits of Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering drug. As of Monday afternoon, Jarvik's photo still appeared on Pfizer's Web site advertising the drug.

But House Democrats said the ads could be misleading to consumers because Jarvik appeared to be giving medical advice, even though he is not licensed to practice medicine. While Jarvik holds a medical degree, he did not complete the certification requirements to practice medicine.
The study raises ethical questions about when it's acceptable to withhold perhaps futile treatment and let people die, and whether public health issues should ever be considered.


"Advanced dementia is a terminal illness," said study co-author Dr. Susan Mitchell, a senior scientist with the Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston. "If we substituted 'end-stage cancer' for 'advanced dementia,' I don't think people would have any problem understanding this."

Many experts, including the Alzheimer's Association, consider Alzheimer's and other dementias to be fatal brain diseases. Patients die of infections such as pneumonia and other complications, but the underlying cause is damage to brain cells.
“Eating a big meal just before going to bed has been found in studies to elevate triglyceride levels in the blood for a period of time,” r. Louis J. Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight control program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said. A higher triglyceride level “has been associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance,” both related to weight gain, he said.


Dr. Aronne suggested a theoretical framework for why late meals may stay with you. “If you ate 500 calories during the day but walked around afterward, your muscles would be competing with your fat cells for the calories and could burn them up as energy for physical activity,” he said. “But if you consume it at bedtime, with no physical activity, the body has no choice but to store the calories away as fat.”
Heart disease in Europe claims over two million lives every year, and cost the European Union 192 million euros (285 million dollars) in 2006, a group of health organizations said Tuesday.


A statistical study by the European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network also shows huge differences across Europe in death rates due to coronary artery disease and strokes, the two main types of heart disease.

Several countries in eastern and northern Europe -- notably Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia -- have mortality rates five to seven times higher than western European nations, especially France, Portugal and Switzerland, the study showed.
Another systematic review, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2004. It looked at multiple studies and found that stretching “was not significantly associated with a reduction in total injuries,” but also concluded that more research was needed.


For now, many experts say that what may work is a quick warm-up, like low-impact aerobics or walking. It also helps to ease into an activity by starting off slow and then increasing speed, intensity or weight (for lifting).

Research suggests that stretching does not affect soreness or risk of injury during exercise.
Scientists are investigating other causes for the deterioration of brain function, including the deposition of a protein called amyloid in brain tissue. This process is thought to be accelerated by inflammation in the body.


Research shows that the foods we eat probably play a role in decreasing inflammation in the body. Taking this into account, the brain-healthy diet includes:

* Five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This includes apples and onions for their flavonoids, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach for their carotenes, cooked tomatoes for lycopene (another carotene) and blueberries for their antioxidants.
Between August and October 2007 Food Standards Agency (FSA) surveyed 2627 people about if they had five or more portions of fruit and vegetables the day before being questioned. There were 58% positive answers, which shows an increase compared to 2006's 55%. However, the increase is too low to indicate healthy diet improvement.


Besides, the survey shows disparities between different social classes: AB class reported 71% positive answers, DE class reported 45% positive answers. This means, that higher social grades are more successful in diet management that lower ones.

Disparities also occur between men and women: 63% of surveyed women were able to manage five or more portions of fruit and vegetables compared to 54% men.
Dr. Kenneth R. Wilund and colleagues found that the overall gallstone weight was 2.5-fold greater in sedentary mice compared with mice that exercised. The researchers suggest that exercise may provide similar benefit to humans.


"The basic physiology of gallstone formation is pretty similar in humans and mice," Wilund told Reuters Health. Many of the proteins involved in the liver's cholesterol and bile acid metabolism are very similar, he said.

"So it is reasonable to suggest that the changes we believe were responsible for the reduction in gallstone formation in the exercise-trained mice could also occur in response to exercise training in humans," commented Wilund, of the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Beta-Carotene and Dementia

Beta-carotene has received some mixed press over the years. Lots of hoopla over one little vitamin, Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Years ago, high doses of betacarotene were shown to increase the risk for cancer and death in smokers. In the last few months, beta-carotene has gotten more bad news. Six years after a study was halted early because a risky association between high-dose beta-carotene supplementation and heart disease and cancer was detected, follow-ups showed that for women, the bad effects lingered. The participants took 30 milligrams per day of beta-carotene plus extra vitamin A.


Researchers found that the increased risk of heart disease and cancer disappeared when the men in the study stopped taking the beta-carotene supplements, but the risk for women continued. Before the study was halted, the participants who took the supplement had a 28 percent greater incidence of lung cancer and 17 percent more deaths from all causes compared with those who didn’t take the beta-carotene. In the follow-up, women were 30 percent more likely to develop lung cancer, 40 percent more likely to die of heart disease, and 30 percent more likely to die of all other causes.

This lingering increased risk for women may be because beta-carotene and vitamin E are both fat-soluble, allowing any excess to accumulate in fat-cell membranes. This could explain the adverse effects of beta-carotene in women, who have more body fat than men. Vitamin C is water-soluble, and any excess leaves the body via urine.
And today, there’s some good news. Ed Edelson HealthDay News reports that beta-carotene may protect us against dementia. Take a look:
Taking supplements of the antioxidant beta carotene for a long time -- 15 years or more -- appears to lessen the decline in thinking ability that comes with Alzheimer's disease, a study finds…

…The idea that antioxidants such as beta carotene can help protect against Alzheimer's disease is not new. But the idea remains controversial, because a number of studies have not produced positive results. This latest trial, which started as the Physicians Health Study II, stretches back to 1982…

…The idea that long-term use of the supplements is necessary "is certainly plausible, given that the neuropathologic changes underlying clinically significant impairment appear to take years, if not decades," Dr. Kristine Yaffe, professor of psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California wrote. But evidence for that concept would be difficult to obtain, since it would require trials lasting 25 to 30 years, she said.
Now, if you’re curious about veggie sources of beta-carotene, here’s a list from Dr. Fuhrman. Check it out:
Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, broccoli, and asparagus); deep orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe, mango, and papaya); deep orange vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin).
You can’t beat a nice ripe cantaloupe—so good!

Alzheimer's This and That

Okay busy bees, this should make you feel a lot better about yourselves. A new study claims organized driven people have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press has more:
A purposeful personality may somehow protect the brain, perhaps by increasing neural connections that can act as a reserve against mental decline, said study co-author Robert Wilson of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center.


Astoundingly, the brains of some of the dutiful people in the study were examined after their deaths and were found to have lesions that would meet accepted criteria for Alzheimer's -- even though these people had shown no signs of dementia.

"This adds to our knowledge that lifestyle, personality, how we think, feel and behave are very importantly tied up with risk for this terrible illness," Wilson said. "It may suggest new ideas for trying to delay the onset of this illness."

Previous studies have linked social connections and stimulating activities like working puzzles with a lower risk of Alzheimer's. The same researchers reported previously that people who experience more distress and worry about their lives are at a higher risk.
Couple this with last year’s report showing that exercise helps stop Alzheimer’s and task masters everywhere can rejoice! Now, if you also eat healthfully, you’re in really good shape because Dr. Fuhrman links superior nutrition to Alzheimer’s prevention. Here’s a quote:
Alzheimer’s dementia is an irreversible brain disorder that typically develops in the elderly. It leads to memory loss, personality changes, and a general decline in cognitive function.


With the high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in our aging population, more and more research is underway to come up with novel treatments for this brain disease. Given the large distortion of brain architecture that occurs in Alzheimer’s, it is unlikely that drug treatment will offer a solution to this debilitating problem.

Green vegetable consumption was low and animal fat consumption was high in the past histories of Alzheimer’s patients.1,2 Japanese studies have found the same relationships: individuals with low consumption of vegetables and high consumption of meat were found to be the ones most likely to develop Alzheimer’s.3

Just as in the case of heart disease, the world’s leading researchers on the subject consider diets high in animal fat to be the major factor in the causation of Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress to our brain tissue from the combination of a diet rich in saturated fat and low in the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables lays the groundwork for brain damage later in life. Deficiencies of DHA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) which often are found in Alzheimer’s patients, also have been shown to promote dementia.4 Inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, leafy greens,and certain fish also are implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer’s.
All this certainly gives you a fighting chance against this often mysterious disease. For more on Alzheimer’s, check out DiseaseProof’s Alzheimer’s category.
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Smell Gone, Alzheimer's In?

The Associated Press reports that a declining sense of smell could be an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. Carla K. Johnson is on it:
Difficulty identifying common smells such as lemon, banana and cinnamon may be the first sign of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study that could lead to scratch-and-sniff tests to determine a person's risk for the progressive brain disorder.


Such tests could be important if scientists find ways to slow or stop Alzheimer's and the severe memory loss associated with it. For now, there's no cure for the more than 5 million Americans with the disease.

Researchers have long known that microscopic lesions considered the hallmarks of Alzheimer's first appear in a brain region important to the sense of smell.
For more on Alzheimer’s check out DiseaseProof’s Alzheimer’s archive.

Sugar Pills for Alzheimer's?

Not really, but according to a new study they’re just as good at treating Alzheimer’s disease as commonly prescribed antipsychotic drugs. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
Antipsychotic drugs, which are commonly prescribed to treat psychosis, agitation and aggression in Alzheimer's patients, are essentially no more effective than a sugar pill, new research suggests.
Gardner’s report does point out that two of the drugs tested in the study did combat some symptoms of the disease, but severe side effects outweighed their advantages.

DiseaseProof’s Alzheimer’s archive has more.

Eating Fewer Calories

Reducing caloric intake, by filling up on foods with lots of nutrition and not a lot of calories, is a pretty big deal to Dr. Fuhrman. In his book Eat to Live he explains it is an important part of increasing life span:
The evidence for increasing one’s life span through dietary restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Reduced caloric intake is the only experimental technique to consistently extend maximum life span. This has been shown in all species tested, from insects and fish to rats and cats.
In Eat to Live he provides a detailed list of the many benefits calorie restriction has to offer:
  • Resistance to experimentally induced cancers
  • Protection from spontaneous and genetically predisposed cancers
  • A delay in the onset of late-life diseases
  • Nonappearance of atherosclerosis and diabetes
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides and increased HDL
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Enhancement of the energy-conservation mechanism, including reduced body temperature
  • Reduction in oxidative stress
  • Reduction in parameters of cellular aging, including cellular congestion
  • Enhancement of cellular repair mechanisms, including DNA repair enzymes
  • Reduction in inflammatory response and immune cell proliferation
  • Improved defenses against environment stresses
  • Suppression of the genetic alterations associated with aging
  • Protection of genes associated with removal of oxygen radicals
  • Inhibited production of metabolites that are potent cross-linking agents
  • Slowed metabolic rate1
Impressive, but it looks like we should add Alzheimer's prevention to this list. According to HealthDay News a new study shows consuming fewer calories may ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Krisha McCoy reports:
In the November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, a team of researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City maintained a group of squirrel monkeys on either calorie-restrictive or normal diets throughout their lifespans.

Compared to those on a normal diet, the monkeys that were fed the reduced-calorie diet were less likely to have Alzheimer's disease-type changes in their brain.

The reduced-calorie diet was also associated with increased longevity of a protein known as SIRT1, which influences a variety of functions, including age-related diseases.
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Your Genetics And Your Life

“Heart attack? I’m not going to stop eating bacon! My grand pappy ate bacon three times a day, everyday, and he died of natural causes at the ripe ole’ age of a’ hundred and three.” We’ve all heard this or something like it before. A lot of people seem to stake their long-term health on family genetics and dumb down the importance of their environment, nutrition, and exercise habits.

A new article by Gina Kolata of The New York Times takes a look at how genetics affects our overall health and lifespan. The information will surprise you, it seems people’s cavalier attitude about family genetics and individual health is a little unfounded:
Life span is determined by such a complex mix of events that there is no accurate predicting for individuals. The factors include genetic predispositions, disease, nutrition, a woman’s health during pregnancy, subtle injuries and accidents and simply chance events, like a randomly occurring mutation in a gene of a cell that ultimately leads to cancer.


The result is that old people can appear to be struck down for many reasons, or for what looks like almost no reason at all, just chance. Some may be more vulnerable than others, and over all, it is clear that the most fragile are likely to die first. But there are still those among the fragile who somehow live on and on. And there are seemingly healthy people who die suddenly.

Some diseases, like early onset Alzheimer’s and early onset heart disease, are more linked to family histories than others, like most cancers and Parkinson’s disease. But predisposition is not a guarantee that an individual will develop the disease. Most, in fact, do not get the disease they are predisposed to. And even getting the disease does not mean a person will die of it.
Apparently genetics can still leave you at risk for certain diseases, but it isn’t a slam dunk:
Yet even diseases commonly thought to be strongly inherited, like many cancers, are not, researchers found. In a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000, Dr. Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and his colleagues analyzed cancer rates in 44,788 pairs of Nordic twins. They found that only a few cancers—breast, prostate and colorectal—had a noticeable genetic component. And it was not much. If one identical twin got one of those cancers, the chance that the other twin would get it was generally less than 15 percent, about five times the risk for the average person but not a very big risk over all.


Looked at one way, the data say that genes can determine cancer risk. But viewed another way, the data say that the risk for an identical twin of a cancer patient is not even close to 100 percent, as it would be if genes completely determined who would get the disease.
Earlier in Kolata’s article she mentions that decades ago people were more inclined to believe environment factors, eating right, exercising, and quality medical care most strongly influenced long-term health. I think Dr. Fuhrman would agree. Check out this from Eat to Live:
Both patients and physicians act as though everyone’s medical problems are genetic, or assumed to be the normal consequence of aging. They believe that chronic illness is just what we all must expect. Unfortunately, the medical-pharmaceutical business has encouraged people to believe that health problems are hereditary and that we need to swallow poisons to defeat our genes. This is almost always untrue. We all have genetic weaknesses, but those weaknesses never get a chance to express themselves until we abuse our body with many, many years of mistreatment. Never forget, 99 percent of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job.
Most chronic illnesses have been earned from a lifetime of inferior nutrition, which eventually results in abnormal function or frequent discomfort. These illnesses are not beyond our control, they are primarily genetic, and they are not the normal consequence of aging. True, we all have our weakest links governed by genetics; but these links need never reveal themselves unless our health deteriorates. Superior health flows naturally as a result of superior nutrition. Our predisposition to certain illnesses can remain hidden.

Health Points: Friday

"It's a whole new way of thinking in the Alzheimer's field," said Dr. Andrew Dillin, a biologist at California's Salk Institute for Biological Studies who led the new research.

The discovery, published Thursday by the journal Science, was made in a tiny roundworm called C. elegans.

What do worms have to do with people? They're commonly used in age-related genetics research, and the new work involves a collection of genes that people harbor, too.
Pilates is one of the best ways to strengthen your body and relax your mind. And, it is perfect for pregnant women. The gentle exercise program helps to prepare your body for childbirth by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and core abdominal muscles, which support the uterus and baby. Pilates also improves posture and tones muscles, helping you build a strong body that can recover its shape and tone faster after pregnancy.
The 20-foot tree stands half naked, much of the bark stripped from its trunk. It has only months to live.

"It doesn't know it's dead," said U.S. Forest Service botanist David Taylor, pointing to the healthy leaves overhead.

This slippery elm has fallen victim to thieves who tore off its bark for profit in the lucrative and burgeoning herbal-remedy market.
Evidently, whether or not you think the drug is worth taking depends on whether you're a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full kind of person. But don't worry, my profession will take the choice away from you by making incorporating it into a guideline and thus making it standard of care, and thus an issue of "quality." And it will only cost you (or your insurance company, or the government) about a hundred dollars a month.
"Regretfully, there is also a perception that if a black woman is thin, she might have HIV/AIDS or that her husband can't afford to feed her well," van der Merwe said in a statement.

South Africa has one of the world's worst HIV/AIDS caseloads, with an estimated 5 million of its 45 million people infected with the virus. It also has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime.

Studies show that South Africa has weight problems across all race groups, with half of women and one third of men overweight. Those levels are just 20 percent lower than in the United States, regarded by many as the world's fattest country.

Health Points: Wednesday

An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year, and the "weight of evidence" strongly suggests that this sort of increased consumption is a key reason that more people have gained weight, the researchers say.

"We tried to look at the big picture rather than individual studies," and it clearly justifies public health efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, said Dr. Frank Hu, who led the report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Patients must be able to trust their surgeon. Lest you trust your surgeon completely, you should not allow her/him to approach you with a scalpel. That has been my personal policy, though I concede that I have never required any surgery yet. Patients meet me, talk to me, discuss medical issues with me, and I formulate a plan that sometimes involves surgery. And when the patients agree, there are brief moments when I am amazed that they will trust me to operate on them. Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt my abilities (I even admit to being secretly quite proud of my skills), but I find this trust almost overwhelming.
Exercise regularly, eat fruits and vegetables, control your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol. It may sound like a prescription for avoiding heart disease, but this checklist also serves as a guide for preventing Alzheimer's. According to a new study out of Sweden, people can gauge their risk for the brain-wasting condition by their lifestyle habits in middle age.
  • If you’ve ever been interested in a pet parasite read this Jewish fishworm story. Larry Zaroff of The New York Times explains:
Enter Dr. Earl Lipman, a close friend of Bob’s and an outstanding internist and diagnostician, who identified the culprit over the phone.

Earl asked, “Does Rita make her own gefilte fish?”

“Yes.”

“Does she ever taste the raw fish before adding salt?” Earl continued.

“Yes.”

“She most likely has a fish tapeworm.”

The fish tapeworm — a beast, stubborn as a dog with a beef bone — is reluctant to move, tightly gripping the wall of the small intestine with its two suction cups. The worm requires a powerful purging medicine to persuade it to leave its cozy cave and exit the gut into the light.

Research Suggest a Diabetes-Alzheimer's Link

Denise Grady of The New York Times reports new studies suggest diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Grady this is a daunting prospect:
The connection raises an ominous prospect: that increases in diabetes, a major concern in the United States and worldwide, may worsen the rising toll from Alzheimer’s. The findings also add dementia to the cloud of threats that already hang over people with diabetes, including heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.
Grady explains there are a number of ways diabetes detrimentally affects brain function:
Not everyone with diabetes gets Alzheimer’s, and not all Alzheimer’s patients are diabetic. But in the past decade, several large studies have found that compared with healthy people of the same age and sex, those with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The reason is not known, but researchers initially suspected that cardiovascular problems caused by diabetes might contribute to dementia by blocking blood flow to the brain or causing strokes.

More recently, though, scientists have begun to think that the diseases are connected in other ways as well. In both, destructive deposits of amyloid, a type of protein, build up: in the brain in Alzheimer’s, in the pancreas in Type 2 diabetes.

People with Type 2 often have a condition called insulin resistance, in which their cells cannot properly use insulin, the hormone needed to help glucose leave the blood and enter cells that need it. To compensate, the pancreas makes extra insulin, which can reach high levels in the blood. Too much insulin may lead to inflammation, which can contribute to damage in the brain.

In addition, abnormalities in glucose metabolism and insulin levels in the brain itself may be harmful. Some research has found that too much insulin in the brain can contribute to amyloid buildup. Researchers have even suggested that Alzheimer’s disease may actually be “Type 3 diabetes,” a form of the disease affecting the nervous system.
Dr. Rachel A. Whitmer of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California believes this link does not bode well for our future:
“With the whole diabetes epidemic we’re seeing much more Type 2, so are we going to see even more Alzheimer’s than we thought we would see? If we continue in this direction, it’s a little bit frightening.”

Exercise For Sanity

New research concludes staying active decreases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The New York Times reporter Nicholas Bakalar reports:

Researchers studied a group of more than 2,200 people over 65 and without dementia from 1994 to 1996, then followed them through October 2003, examining their mental abilities with standard tests and their physical performance with strength and agility tasks.


During the follow-up, 319 people developed dementia. Of them, 221 had Alzheimer's. But the poorer their physical performance at the start of the study, even among people with no signs of dementia, the more likely they were to develop dementia.

The associations held even after adjusting for age, family history of dementia, heart disease and other factors.

The study appears in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

Research: Mediterranean Diet Cuts Alzheimer's Risk

According to the Associated Press a study published in the Annals of Neurology claims the dissipating Mediterranean diet, thought also to ward off heart disease, may reduce risk of Alzheimers. Lead author Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas explains the research:

The diet he tested includes eating lots of vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals and fish, while limiting intake of meat and dairy products, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and emphasizing monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil, over saturated fats. Previous research has suggested that such an approach can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Prior research has also suggested that certain components of the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's, Scarmeas said. But he said the previous work has tended to focus on individual nutrients like vitamin C or foods like fish. By studying a comprehensive diet instead, the new research could take possible interactions between specific foods and nutrients into account, he said.

Spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Association Dr. Marilyn Albert believes the study's message is clear:

The kinds of things we associate with being bad for our heart turn out to be bad for our brain.

Before you rush off to buy a vat of olive oil, consider Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet. From his book Eat to Live:

Even two of the most enthusiastic proponents of the Mediterranean diet, epidemiologist Martin Katan of the Wageningan Agricultural University in the Netherlands and Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, concede that the Mediterranean diet is viable only for people who are close to their ideal weight.1 That excludes the majority of Americans. How can a diet revolving around a fattening, nutrient-deficient food like oil be healthy?

Ounce for ounce, olive oil is one of the most fattening, calorically dense foods on the plant; it packs even more calories per pound than butter (butter: 3,200 calories; olive oil: 4,200). The bottom line is that oil will add fat to our already plump waistlines, heightening the risk of disease, including diabetes and heart attacks.

A recent edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times newsletter (they are archived in the member center) addresses Alzheimer's. This is from the main article:

Alzheimer's dementia is an irreversible brain disorder that typically develops in the elderly. It leads to memory loss, personality changes, and a general decline in cognitive function.

With the high incidence of Alzheimer's disease in our aging population, more and more research is underway to come up with novel treatments for this brain disease. Given the large distortion of brain architecture that occurs in Alzheimer's, it is unlikely that drug treatment will offer a solution to this debilitating problem.

Growing evidence has implicated vascular risk factors, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Cerebral ischemia (lack of blood flow secondary to lipid deposits), aided by marginal nutritional deficiencies, promotes the development of the pathology seen in Alzheimer's.2

Recent studies conducted in the United States have revealed that just as in heart disease, strokes, and vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease is the end result of nutritional inadequacy earlier in life. Patients with Alzheimer's, compared with controls, showed deficiencies of multiple vitamins, especially the antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits.

Green vegetable consumption was low and animal fat consumption was high in the past histories of Alzheimer's patients.3,4 Japanese studies have found the same relationships: individuals with low consumption of vegetables and high consumption of meat were found to be the ones most likely to develop Alzheimer's.5

Just as in the case of heart disease, the world's leading researchers on the subject consider diets high in animal fat to be the major factor in the causation of Alzheimer's. Oxidative stress to our brain tissue from the combination of a diet rich in saturated fat and low in the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables lays the groundwork for brain damage later in life. Deficiencies of DHA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) which often are found in Alzheimer's patients, also have been shown to promote dementia.6 Inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, leafy greens,and certain fish also are implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer's.

Aluminum Connection
The aluminum present in processed foods also may play a role in accelerating the development of Alzheimer's. Recent evidence has shown that high body stores of aluminum can potentiate the damage to brain DNA from a low body load of antioxidants.7,8 Aluminum calcium sulfate is used as an anti-caking agent so dry ingredients flow freely. Aluminum sulfate is used as a bleaching agent in flour and cheese. Aluminum stearate is used as a chewing gum base and as a defoaming component in the processing of sugar. Aluminum chloride and aluminum sulfate are used as leavening agents in baked goods. Cookies, cakes, cold cereals, and pancakes are all high in aluminum.

Fortunately, when you eat a diet low in processed foods and rich in vegetables, beans, fresh fruit, and nuts and seeds, you dramatically decrease your dietary exposure to aluminum and increase the level of antioxidant compounds in your brain.

Isolated nutrients
Taking vitamin E, vitamin C, or other isolated nutrients has been shown to be only slightly useful and cannot be expected to offer you a significant degree of protection against dementia. That is because vitamins are only a small part of the antioxidant story. For example, the vitamin C in an apple accounts for less than one half of one percent of the antioxidant activity in a whole apple. Most of the antioxidant activity in the apple (and in fruits and vegetables in general) is the result of phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and other compounds that work additively and synergistically to protect you against disease.

Multifactorial Causes
The development of Alzheimer's follows the same basic pattern seen in almost every disease affecting aging Americans. Diseases are multifactorial and develop as a result of environmental stresses, the most damaging of which are almost always nutritional excesses and deficiencies. Once these stresses have taken their overall toll, you develop one disease and not another, based on your inherited genetic tendencies and your inherent resistance to certain degenerative processes.

Recipe for Protection
The bottom line is that if you follow the Eat To Live dietary recommendations, you need not fear developing dementia later in life. A comprehensive nutritional program throughout life that includes the following important features can assure freedom from both heart disease and dementia as you age:
1. a vegetable-based diet;
2. high intake of greens, both raw
and cooked, and in soups containing
beans;
3. at least four fresh fruits a day;
4. daily consumption of raw nuts and seeds or avocado as your major fat source;
5. dramatic reduction or elimination of processed foods, sugar, white
flour, and animal products;
6. limited consumption of grains, in favor of colorful vegetables;
7. supplementation to assure adequate levels of vitamins D and
B12, iodine, and DHA fatty acids;
8. blood evaluation of homocysteine and, if needed, supplementation
to normalize.

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