Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Fasting May Help to Prevent Dementia


Around the age of 50 many people become concerned about the effects of aging on the brain.  Science and research has already shown us that there are things that we can do to fight the ravages of age and time on the mind: partaking of new and exciting activities to stay young in heart and in mind such as learning a new language, socializing, exercising and playing challenging puzzles can help folks stay young.

Wholesome foods are important in the battle against
 age-related mental decline.

 However, we are learning about new things that we can do to stay mentally astute and healthy. What are they? One is the systematic and planned program of fasting.
 
Fasting and overall health

Research suggests that fasting can initiate a number of beneficial, health promoting hormonal and metabolic changes.(Fasting is defined as consuming between 500 and 800 calories a day) 

Among other benefits, fasting can reduce:

-Inflammation, which, when elevated, are indicators of future potential for serious disease including those involving cognitive abilities .
-Bad LDL cholesterol.
-Growth factor, which is a hormone that has been linked with cancer and diabetes

Finally, fasting can help lessen free radical damage, which is responsible for aging and illness in the body. And the good news is that for those who can't remain on a daily restricted program, fasting at least two days a week may provide the same benefits as fasting daily.

Brain Health

Great news is that calorie restriction can protect brain cells and make them more resistant to stress. This is due to fasting's effect on two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which are both involved in renewing brain cells.

Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that have a large influence on the body's energy.  Leptin regulates energy level and suppresses food intake, which can trigger weight loss.  Ghrelin, is a fast acting hormone which appears to play a part in initiating hunger. Although not fully understood, fasting appears to have a regulatory effect in balancing the two hormones and starting the process of brain cell renewal and weight loss, which are both important in battling dementia.

Exercise

Of course, the role of exercise can't be stressed enough in helping the brain take in adequate amounts of oxygen and stimulating neurotransmitter release which can help the body battle cognitive loss and disease.

Are all calories created equal?

That is the key question.  It's not a matter of randomly cutting calories, but ensuring that adequate health and nutrition are taking place.  So, that means knowing what calories to cut.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the  American diet comes from carbs from grains and sugars.  This has been a large contributor to the obesity epidemic. So, restricting carbohydrates is a start. Once carbs and sugars have been cut, it is important to replace them with high quality proteins and fats. A sampling of such foods might include: cage-free, organic eggs, nuts, avocados and coconut oils.



Sources:

Dr. Mercola, "New Discovery May Safeguard Your Brain from Dementia"
       

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