Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention?

What Do We Know About Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Changes in the brain can occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occur.  It also should be noted that the focus of diet factors on diseases should be the prevention or delay of the disease in question and not a “cure.” Unlike other risk factors for Alzheimer’s that we cannot change such as age and genetics, the current thought is that with lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and cognitive training, many chronic diseases can possibly be avoided adding health to our lifespans.

How could our diet affect our brains?

“It’s possible that certain diet patterns affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation that underlie many chronic diseases. Or perhaps diet works indirectly by affecting other disease risks, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. A new avenue of research focuses on the relationship between gut microbes in the digestive system and aging-related processes that lead to Alzheimer’s.”

Several diet patterns show some promise. One is the Mediterranean Diet or its variations, the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) or the DASH diet. (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. All are based on leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, berries, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, wine (1 glass a day), whole grains and preferably olive oil.

“For example, two recent studies suggest that, as part of the Mediterranean diet, eating fish may be the strongest factor influencing higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline. In contrast, the typical Western diet increases cardiovascular disease risk, possibly contributing to faster brain aging.”

The problem with the research is that most is called observational (subject to recall from the participants). To rectify this, several organizations like National Institute of Aging are conducting clinical trials (considered the gold standard of medical proof to shed more light on any cause and effect.

What About Supplements?

Clinical trials in humans have had mixed results, some with positive effects, others with negative results. These types of studies often attempt to measure the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. However, at this time:

Despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.

Note: I personally conducted animal research using high or low omega-3 or omega-6 diets on breast cancer incidence. The study was repeated two times and no significant differences in breast cancer incidence, tumor weight or immune system parameters were found between the study groups. (SJF)  

Note: A deficiency in vitamin B12 or folate due to aging or strictly following a vegan diet may cause memory problems that are reversible with proper treatment. Please consult with your physician.

Reference: National Institute on Aging

This content is partly provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA) scientists and other experts review this content, so it is accurate and up to date. This content was reviewed November 27, 2019.

Vegans, Longevity, Weight

Vegans, Longevity, Weight LOSS

Sally Feltner MS, PhD Aging and Lifestyle, Diet and Health, Food and Culture, Nutrition Research, The American Plate, Vegetarianism, Weight Loss June 9, 2022 2 Minutes

Lose weight and live longer on a vegetarian diet.? From the Harvard Medical School Health Guides

There is a lot of attention being paid to switching to a plant-based diet. There are many published articles on plant-based diets to achieve a lower body mass index, lower blood pressure, and reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes type 2, cancer, and longevity. Plenty of attention is being paid to the health benefits of those centenarians living in the Blue Zones, particularly ones that live with a vegan diet as well as those with a modified vegetarian approach.

The predominant American Blue Zone is represented by the Seventh – Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. “The first Adventist Health Study (AHS-1) was funded by the National Institutes of Health followed 34,000 Adventists in California for 14 years. It was found that the Adventists who most strictly followed the religions’ teachings lived about 10 years longer than people who did not.

“The practices most likely to yield that longevity were narrowed down to five, each adding about two years to life expectancy.” Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.

  • Eating a plant-based diet with only small amounts of dairy or fish
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a medium body weight
  • Eating a handful of nuts four to five times a week
  • Doing regular physical activity

Diet Options:

  • A flexitarian diet – meat is limited as a condiment and not considered the main attraction. Use vegetables, appetizers instead.
  • Semi vegetarian diet (no red meat)
  • Pescetarian – avoid meat and poultry but eat fish and seafood.
  • Lacto -ovo -vegetarian – skip all meat, fish, and poultry but include dairy and eggs in your diet.

If you’re trying to lose weight -go heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but limit foods high in saturated fats (ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.)

An important aspect of losing weight is often not what you eat – but how much you eat to keep daily calories in check.  

Our meals and snacks are taking on gargantuan proportions. The food industry decided they had to make portions larger to stay competitive and people got used to larger sizes very quickly. “Today, normal sizes seem skimpy,” says Marion Nestle,PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University.

When eating out, the transition to a plant-based diet is easier than thought. Fill your plate with vegetables – cooked, raw, or in a salad. Check out the sides that are offered. Then gradually introduce all vegetarian meals once or twice a week and if you like, increase it until you are as “vegan” as you want to be.

Childhood Obesity Rising?

Childhood obesity is rising again and seems to have few programs or solutions that address the issues. Many factors contribute to this epidemic such as genetics, unhealthy habits, lack of physical activity and environmental difficulties. Children are often unaware of the patterns or conditions that cause obesity, therefore, placing the responsibility on adults to lead them in the right direction. Obesity in childhood may lead to the same conditions and associated problems when these children reach adulthood.

Where are the programs????? Perhaps successful approaches should start with the food industry itself. A simple beginning is to check the “Added Sugar” on Nutrition Labels and limit sweetened soft drinks.

“The recommendation is that at most 10% of calories can come from added sugar. But 5% would obviously be better. That ‘s about five teaspoons a day. In terms of 2000 calories per day, that’s a small soda, or a teaspoon of sugar in each of five cups of coffee, or some ice cream or sweetened yogurt … We’re not saying “don’t eat sugar”. We’re saying “don’t eat a lot of sugar.” (Mark Bittman, David L. Katz, MD. How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. p. 178-9.)

.

The Epigenetics of Obesity

Obesity is a chronic condition characterized by excess body fat. Its origins are mulfifactorial including heredity, behavior and environment. Obese people are at risk of developing many diseases. In fact, obesity is the second most important predictor of cancer, preceded only by tobacco use.

Epigenetics refers to those elements of the genetic code that you are able to change without altering your DNA sequence. It includes which genes you express, to what degree and at what time. Consequently, epigenetic processes determine whether a specific gene is active or not at any given time. In the absence of further studies. Genes can be expressed or not expressed.

Your epigenetics develop in the uterus and continues to change throughout your life. A study in the Netherlands during the famine period of 1944-1945 demonstrated how genetics affects obesity. Fetuses of mothers exposed to extreme hunger experienced more glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, early coronary heart disease, and obesity. Therefore, starving could cause some of the diseases that are prevalent in society today. These genes can be transmitted from generation to generation. Unlike the genome (the complete set of genes in a cell), the epigenome is reversible. Epigenetic marks can be modified throughout life. However, modificationss at critical periods of prenatal development have greater effects on the results. So DNA is not your destiny!!

Lead a healthy lifestyle prior to conceiving a baby, especially the mother; however, there are some indications that the father’s lifestyle can also be influential. Ideally, both expectant parents and the offspring should maintain good lifestyle habits to include healthy diets, physical activity, adequate sleep, stress reduction, and avoidance of inflammation.

CLICK HERE.

DNA

The Mediterranean Diet Shopping Guide (and How to Use It)

The Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

Jamie Vespa, M.S., R.D –Eating Well Magazine (Special Edition)

There is no one Mediterranean diet but many versions, and at the core of any of them is extra virgin olive oil – rich in vitamin E, carotenoids and polyphenols – all rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used in cooking or in dips, spreads, and salad dressings.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Look for the colors – green, red, purple, yellow, orange are pigments that have protective functions for the plants they come from. Moreover, they furnish the antioxidants we need to thwart oxidative stress or inflammation with phytonutrients needed for optimum health and disease prevention. Buy them fresh and seasonal when possible but canned or frozen are just as effective.

FRESH HERBS AND SPICES

Aromatic herbs and spices are staples in Mediterranean cooking. These reduce the need to use excess salt in addition to their antioxidant properties. You can count on parsley, basil, oregano, coriander, and bay leaves. Use fresh basil to make a pesto.

FRESH AND CANNED SEAFOOD

Omega -3 fish such as tuna, sardines and salmon are

enjoy ed fresh, canned or frozen. Clams and shrimp can used in pasta or grain dishes. Most can be served with lemon, olive oil and herbs. Most Med diet patterns suggest seafood twice per week.

WHOLE GRAINS

Wheat is the foundation; however, other grains can provide some variety. Farro is one of the traditional grains in dishes in Italy. Another classic grain is bulgur made from cracked wheat berries and used in pilafs. Coucous, pasta and barley are also found in regional cooking. On the ingredient labels. Look for “whole-grain” as the first ingredient.

LEGUMES (DRIED AND CANNED)

The chickpea is predominantly used for making hummus. Lentils are used commonly in soups and stews. Both are good sources of fiber.                               

NUTS AND SEEDS

Nuts are good for snacking thanks for their protein, fiber, and healthy fats. A common condiment is tahini made from ground sesame seeds. Use as salad dressing or over roasted vegetables.

OLIVES AND CAPERS

Kalamata olives are most popular in the region and often tossed with green salads, pastas or as tapenades. Olives of all kinds are rich in heart-healthy fats and phytochemicals as snacks.  Capers are used to perk up flavors of pasta, baked fish and dressings.

CANNED TOMATOES

Tomatoes in any form (diced, whole, stewed, crushed, canned, fresh) are rich in a phytochemical called lycopene which may protect against some cancers. There is a plethora of marinara sauces in cans and jars as well as simply home-made.

GREEK YOGURT AND ARTISANAL CHEESES

The Med Diet favors full-fat dairy in small amounts. Yogurt is fermented and healthy for our microbiomes as gut-healthy probiotics. Cheese are made from milk and natural cultures in contrast to some U.S. processed cheeses.  Feta cheese is used classically in salads. Harder cheeses like Pecorino Romano and Parmesan-Reggiano are often grated into pasta.

RED WINE

Wine is commonly served in moderation with food – Not as part of “happy hour” (a 5 oz. pour is the standard). Red wine contains antioxidant polyphenols and the flavonoid resveratrol may help to increase healthy HDL cholesterol and decrease unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.

Good Luck and Bon Appetit!!

Detox: TikTox?

Detox? A Lot of Pseudoscience

Sally Feltner MS, PhD Diet and Health, Food History July 20, 2020 5 Minutes

Before you dust off that juicer, you should take a long hard look at the latest fad – detoxing your body from alleged accumulated toxins from environmental chemicals that supposedly lead to illness. When searching Amazon, detox, natural, and hygiene is frequently mentioned in the titles of the latest diet books, not to mention the myriad of products from tablets, massages, tinctures and tea bags that promise to cleanse your body of these impurities and your hard earned money. You can go on two-day to seven-day detox diets which promise cleansing and weight loss. You may lose weight, but that is more than likely due to starvation rather than the diet itself. These toxins are never identified by the manufacturers of these products. When asked to provide some scientific evidence that support their claims, no one seems to be able to provide evidence that “detoxification” is not a bogus treatment.   Despite this, the detox industry has become a huge business with a little help from some celebrities like Ann Hathaway and Gwyneth Paltrow. If toxins build up in the body with no way to excrete them, we would die or need serious medical intervention. However, we have kidneys, a liver, a colon, skin and lungs that physiologically are designed to rid our bodies of any unnecessary substances we don’t need.

Detox is actually not a new concept.  Health reform began in earnest in the 19th century in America. During that time, there had to be a great deal of food anxiety; food often was adulterated with chemicals in order to make it palatable. As Upton Sinclair in 1909 writes of the meatpacking industry in his famous book, The Jungle: “And then there was “potted game” and ‘potted grouse’ and ‘potted ham’ made out of the waste ends of smoked beef… and also tripe, dyed with chemicals so that it would not show white… and potatoes, skins and all, and finally the hard, cartilaginous gullets of beef… All this was ground up and flavored with spices to make it taste like something.” Ronald Deutsch, The New Nuts Among the Berries: How Nutrition Nonsense Captured America, Bull Publishing, 1977.

Food preservation was crude and foodborne illnesses were rampant. People had little resources to turn to in dealing with even the common diseases of society. Whom did they have to rely on for medical advice on how to remain healthy in an age of so much misinformation and confusion? People were vulnerable to just about any ideas from anyone medical or nonmedical that would help them to maintain health and avoid disease.

In the 1848 edition of Buchan’s Domestic Medicine was listed the general causes of illness: “diseased parents, night air, sedentary habits, anger, wet feet and abrupt changes of temperature.” “The causes of fever included injury, bad air, violent emotion, irregular bowels and extremes of heat and cold.” I’m going with the “diseased parent theory.
Cholera, shortly to be epidemic in many British cities, was caused by rancid or putrid food, by ‘cold fruits’ such as cucumbers and melons, and by passionate fear or rage.” William Buchan, Domestic Medicine, 1848: A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases; Google eBook .

There are two major ideas that flourished and dominated  the 19th century that led to the premise that toxins must be removed from the body by detoxification – auto-intoxication and the natural hygiene theory..

AUTO-INTOXICATION

During the 19th century, people were told that constipation was at the root of most diseases and the term, autointoxication, became the mantra of the medical community. In 1852, a publication called The People’s Medical Lighthouse, a series of popular scientific essays on nature, uses and diseases of the lung, heart, liver, stomach, kidney, womb and blood had this to say about this common digestive problem: “daily evacuation of the bowels is of utmost importance to the maintenance of health”; without the daily movement, the entire system will become deranged and corrupted.” People’s Medicine Lighthouse, Lecture 71. Harmon Knox Root, A.M, M.D. 1852.

The term auto-intoxication was coined by Charles Bouchard, a French physician. Other physicians further defined the theory by describing the phenomenon as caused by the putrefaction or decay of proteins in the intestine generating offending toxins. This theory dominated a major part of the 19th century and has survived to this day

The obsession with the auto-intoxication theory led to the marketing and sales of a myriad of bowel cleansing products along with laxatives, enema and colonic irrigation equipment. These gimmicks are still available today. Although doctors prescribe colon cleansing as preparation for medical procedures such as colonoscopy, most do not recommend colon cleansing for detoxification. Their reasoning is simple: Your digestive system and bowel naturally eliminate waste material and bacteria; your body does not need colon cleansing to do so.

In fact, colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful. Colon cleansing can cause side effects, such as cramping, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. More serious concerns with colon cleansing are that it can increase your risk of dehydration, lead to bowel perforations, increase the risk of infection, and cause changes in electrolytes. Civilisation and the colon: constipation as the “disease of diseases. James Whorton BMJ 2000; 321: 1586-9

According to Quackwatch In 2009, “Dr. Edzard Ernst tabulated the therapeutic claims he found on the Web sites of six “professional organizations of colonic irrigations.” The themes he found included detoxification, normalization of intestinal function, treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, and weight loss. He also found claims elated to asthma, menstrual irregularities, circulatory disorders, skin problems, and improvements in energy levels. Searching Medline and Embase, he was unable to find a single controlled clinical trial that substantiated any of these claims.Quackwatch, Gastrointestinal Quackery: Colonics, Laxatives, and More, Stephen Barrett, MD. August 4, 2010 www.quackwatch.com

My own investigations of the online “yellow pages” in searching for “Colon Cleansing” revealed that there were about twelve establishments advertising this service in my city of Asheville, North Carolina as of this writing.

NATURAL HYGIENE

Isaac Jennings, MD put forth the original ideas of natural hygiene in 1822 and became known as “The Father of Natural Hygiene.” He helped to developed a healing system called “Orthopathy” that claimed that Nature knows better than the most learned physicians of the time. That could be true – my opinion. Among earliest promoter of natural remedies was Samuel Thompson, a New Hampshire farmer who prepared “botanics”, as they were called, made from native herbs. In 1835, Dr. William Alcott, a graduate of Yale Medical school mixed part time farming with his medical practice. Other professors from Dartmouth and Amherst followed. A popular health cure came in the form of water cures. In 1849, the Water Cure Journal, Physiology, Hydropathy and the Laws of Life, edited by Dr. Russell Trall entered the health reform movement. By 1850, the Journal had 20,000 subscribers. Dr. Trall is quoted as saying: Typhoid and pneumonia are neither more nor less than a cleansing process – a struggle of the vital powers to relieve the system of its accumulated impurities”. http://www.whale.to/v/trall2.html.

A vulnerable public eagerly received their proclamations due to limited information and confusion on the causes of disease. Other proponents among many included Arnold Ehret, a German author of several books on diet, detoxification, fruitarianism, fasting, food combining, naturopathy, physical culture and vitalism. There was also Herbert M. Shelton who opened schools in Natural Hygiene and founded the American Society of Natural Hygienists Universal Healing, wwwuniversalhealingbelize.com/Brief- history- of –naturalhygiene.

In a previous post, the misguided principles of detoxification were supported and practiced by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg .  Detoxification still is alive and thriving in the form of a pseudo-medical concept..  The bottom line:  Detoxification is  primarily designed to “sell you something”.  If you want to “detox”, do not smoke, do exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet.

In the News: Vitamin D and Fish Oil

Can vitamin D and fish oil prevent autoimmune disease.? Autoimmune diseases are a category of conditions where an individual’s immune system acts abnormally, often attacking and destroying healthy tissues by mistake. Many triggers can cause an individual’s body to start making components referred to as antibodies. Usually, antibodies help the body fight off infections. However, in patients with an autoimmune disease, attack the body’s healthy tissues instead. These diseases include diabetes type 1, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or thyroid disease to name a few (possibly 80 of them) and usually affect women more than men. Symptoms vary, but can include pain, fatigue, skin problems, and other chronic conditions.

Study Methods

The study called the VITAL study was published Jan 26, 2022 in the BMJ was a randomized controlled trial included 25,871 racially diverse people over the age of 50 who were split into two groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day; those in another group took 1000 mg of fish oil and a third group took both. Another group took two placebos. The study was blinded – i.e. no one knew which group they were in.

Results

“During a five-year follow-up, participants reported any diagnoses of any autoimmune disease that were verified with medical records.

Compared with a placebo, vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 22% reduced risk of autoimmune disease overall. The improvement was greater (39%) after the first two years of treatment. Fish oil alone showed less robust results, but still showed fewer participants with confirmed autoimmune diagnoses compared with placebo.”

Toxicity

Both vitamin D and fish oil may have some effects due to the ability of each to regulate or tame the inflammatory response that “drive autoimmune disorders.” It is too soon based on one study to make recommendations that people take either vitamin D or fish oil supplements – but those with a strong family history should consult with their primary health care provider about these decisions. The vitamin D dose used in the study is more than twice the recommended daily intake of 600 IU or 800 IU for people 71 and older. WARNING: The consequences of overdoses or toxicity can occur at 10,000 IU daily. It is not necessary to take megadoses of any supplement unless your doctor approves it.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Volume 29, Number 10 June 2022.

Vegans, Weight Loss, Longevity

Sally Feltner MS, PhD Aging and Lifestyle, Diet and Health, Food and Culture, Nutrition Research, The American Plate, Vegetarianism, Weight Loss June 9, 2022 2 Minutes

Lose weight and live longer on a vegetarian diet.? From the Harvard Medical School Health Guides

There is a lot of attention being paid to switching to a plant-based diet. There are many published articles on plant-based diets to achieve a lower body mass index, lower blood pressure, and reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes type 2, cancer, and longevity. Plenty of attention is being paid to the health benefits of those centenarians living in the Blue Zones, particularly ones that live with a vegan diet as well as those with a modified vegetarian approach.

The predominant American Blue Zone is represented by the Seventh – Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. “The first Adventist Health Study (AHS-1) was funded by the National Institutes of Health followed 34,000 Adventists in California for 14 years. It was found that the Adventists who most strictly followed the religions’ teachings lived about 10 years longer than people who did not.

The practices most likely to yield that longevity were narrowed down to five, each adding about two years to life expectancy.” Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. 2015

  • Eating a plant-based diet with only small amounts of dairy or fish
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a medium body weight
  • Eating a handful of nuts four to five times a week
  • Doing regular physical activity

Diet Options:

  • A flexitarian diet – meat is limited as a condiment and not considered the main attraction. Use vegetables, appetizers instead.
  • Semi vegetarian diet (no red meat)
  • Pescetarian – avoid meat and poultry but eat fish and seafood.
  • Lacto -ovo -vegetarian – skip all meat, fish, and poultry but include dairy and eggs in your diet.

If you’re trying to lose weight -go heavy on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains but limit foods high in saturated fats (ice cream, whole milk, and cheese.)

An important aspect of losing weight is often not what you eat – but how much you eat to keep daily calories in check.  

“Our meals and snacks are taking on gargantuan proportions. The food industry decided they had to make portions larger to stay competitive and people got used to larger sizes very quickly. Today, normal sizes seem skimpy,” says Marion Nestle,PhD, MPH, Professor of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University.

When eating out, the transition to a plant-based diet is easier than thought. Fill your plate with vegetables – cooked, raw, or in a salad. Check out the sides that are offered. Then gradually introduce all vegetarian meals once or twice a week and if you like, increase it until you are as “vegan” as you want to be.

What’s Wrong With the American Diet?

For one thing – it’s too many calories and processed food. Twenty five years ago, the average American consumed about 1850 calories each day. Since then, our daily diet has grown by 304 calories (roughly the equivalent of two cans of soda. That’s theoretically enough to add an extra 31 pounds to each person every year; judging from the ongoing obesity epidemic, many Americans are gaining those pounds — and then some. Obese children who carry the weight into adulthood (1 in 5 young people (ages 6-19) have a higher likelihood of developing hypertension, severe kidney and heart disease, and type 2 diabetes as well as mobility and self esteem issues. What has gone wrong? One thing is the takeover by the food industry of processed convenience food – our snack foods are often breakfast, lunch and even sometimes dinner for a lot of us. These foods are loaded with inflammatory compounds that eventually lead to chronic diseases.

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY