Friday, September 21, 2012

Eating right for brain health

I just read a well-balanced article from Carol Butler in The Washington Post entitled Brain foods for back-to-school- and the rest or your life:
While the article initially starts off with advice for parents about children’s diets, she moves beyond that to make comments that are important for everybody interested in brain health.  She quotes neurologist Majid Fotuhi, chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness in Baltimore who said thatt “Food can affect the brain in minutes. You don’t need scientific evidence to know that if you have a doughnut, after a while — it could be minutes or an hour — you feel tired and drained because of the spike in blood sugar, and of course you know that when you’re hungry, you’re grumpy and you usually can’t make good decisions.”

I don't know about you, but ask my wife and she'll tell you that hungry and grumpiness go hand in hand for me (or is it "hand to mouth?").
Here’s another insight she got from Fotuhi that is consistent with everything else I’ve read, “While the short-term consequences of food consumption on the brain are well appreciated, many people don’t realize that nutrition has a huge impact on brain function over years and over decades. What you eat now — both the quantity and quality of food — can significantly impact long-term cognitive function and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.” He noted that a poor diet has been linked directly to known “brain killers” such as heart attack and stroke, as well as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inflammation, all of which can have a negative impact on brain function and performance.

Like fad-busters?  I do.  Butler smartly notes that experts caution people not to get caught up in claims surrounding one trendy fruit or grain over another. “You can get brainwashed into thinking that if you eat a lot of blueberries, you’ll automatically be smarter and have a higher IQ, and that’s just not true,” says endocrinologist Thomas Sherman of Georgetown University School of Medicine. “A lot of these ‘brain foods’ are just healthy for you in general. They contain a series of vitamins and nutrients that most people don’t get enough of, and together they would make pretty decent meal. But that doesn’t mean you should go home and eat a pound of blueberries or goji berries.”

All this made a lot of sense to me…and also made me hungry.  So I’m going to the kitchen to have some organic blueberries.


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