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Exercise & Fitness
Brain health rests on heart health: Guidelines for lifestyle changes
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
I love the emphasis on diet as a means for preventing cognitive decline, but I have to object to the term “toxic” when talking about certain foods. Yes, a plant-based diet with few refined foods is a good strategy for brain health, and overall health, but enriched refined grains, which happen to have added B vitamins that play a key role in cognition, and added sugars are not toxic to the brain. The dose makes the poison. If people need a piece or two of white bread, or a serving of pasta or rice every day or a few teaspoons of added sugar in their coffee (raises hand!) to adhere to an overall healthier eating plan in the long run, then so be it. It’s unlikely that these modest choices will affect their cognition.
Interesting read with some compelling research.
But, how about all the research on the connections between gut and bran health?
What about the research being done on the link or connections between autoimmunity or the rise of autoimmune conditions and the increase of the development of brain diseases and Alzheimer’s risk? Or the idea that Alzheimer’s is perhaps a type of autoimmune condition?
Or, the research that shows gluten and dairy trigger inflammation in a lot of people (especially those with neuro conditions). Why gluten and dairy (especially cow dairy) cause inflammation – how gluten and dairy today is different from gluten and dairy that our grandparents ate. No mention of this? At least present this research as an options for folks to consider. There are now many grain free, paleo, gluten free, neuro health type diets out there. Mediterranean is not the only option.
I would expect Harvard to be up to speed on this and present current research.
Good overall article, BUT as far as the statement in there that says: “the WHO does not recommend taking any vitamins or supplements for brain health, because there is no solid evidence showing that these have any effect whatsoever”, that is simply not true!! Yes, the majority of supplements out there ARE WORTHLESS, but when we focus on eating nutritious food that has not been genetically modified or been sprayed with toxic substances as they grow, and SUPPLEMENT our diet with ones offered by a company that offers excellent-quality ones, there is definitely evidence that our lives will be ENHANCED. I’ve experienced it myself and so has my family and many of my friends.
It one is going to be a real joy ride. I don’t want to remove my defenses when it draws a parallel to Weight Loss.
White rice & flour aren’t “toxic substances”, TCDD, organophospates (latter comprise one category of pesticides) are, yet the latter are legal to use in the US. White rice grown in the US (whether organically grown or conventionally grown) is contaminated w/arsenic–at a lower level then brown rice. Although brown rice is generally thought to be healthier. Reason: the primary pesticide used on rice used to be arsenic based. Our very own USDA subsidized breeding of more arsenic tolerant rice because rice tends to be sensitive to As levels, i.e, grow less well. Brown rice has more As because it’s less processed.
Do I try to eat mostly whole grains, sure, but I don’t call white flour, white rice, or sugar, toxic compounds. I save that term for TCDD, organophosphates and a number of the poorly tested pesticides that are legal to use in the US. Or the diesel fumes emitted by so many vehicles in the US, the particulates released by combustion engine (gas) exhaust that are linked to a higher rate of cardiovascular problems and asthma in children. In the lead released by those fixed wing aircraft in the US that still (legally) use leaded fuel Or the lead in the paint that still exists in some military housing. Why isn’t the author writing about the effects of those truly toxic compounds?
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