Thursday, August 14, 2008

Carbs Clog Your Brain

Sure, my title is a little sensational, but according to Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, eating foods that spike your insulin levels can encourage the development of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is associated with the build up of toxic beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. If your brain is full of insulin from bread, rice, potatoes, sugar or other carby foods, the enzymes responsible for getting rid of those toxic proteins can't because they are too busy trying to get rid of the excess insulin. So, in a sense, your brain gets clogged.

Dr. Vincent Fortanasce, who lost his own father to Alzheimer's, believes that carbohydrates are about as healthy as cigarettes. "Binging on carbs is like smoking cigarettes each time we do it; it leaves a residual “amyloid” deposit on the brain like a cigarette leaves tar on the lungs."

Considering all the carbs I ate up until one year ago, the brain cells I killed during my misspent youth, and a family history of Alzheimer's, ingesting carbohydrates isn't something I can afford to do.

Dr. Fortanasce recommends a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars, but still advocates whole grains. Taking the doctor's analogy a bit further, refined carbs can be considered an unfiltered Camel cigarette and whole grains would be a filtered Virginia Slim. No thanks! At least he recommends lots of anti-inflammitory fish, nuts, berries and vegetables and states that you should eat proteins and fats first. His recommended anti-Alzheimer's diet might not have a low enough carb level for me, but you have to admit it is far superior to the standard American diet.

So next time you consider scarfing those cupcakes, drinking that sweet tea, or even eating whole wheat pasta with a side of multi-grain garlic bread, think about what it will do to your brain. Can you really afford the cost later in life? I already lose my purse and keys on a regular basis, forget birthdays or meetings, and leave my cell phone in the refrigerator (still not sure how I ended up doing that, but yeah, I really did do that). It may already be too late for me, but for goodness yourself!


GK said...

Or just the opposite:

from which we get, "New research shows that a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol zaps your memory. It impairs short-term or “working” memory, the information you need to have at your fingertips to solve problems. It interferes with structural proteins that affect how nerve cells function. And it contributes to inflammation in the brain, which is linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. (Moore, AB et al. J Alzheimer’s Dis, 14:2;133-145.)"

So much conflicting information in the media.


Abigail said...

GK... I don't see that is conflicting at all... low carb is not necessarily high in saturated fat or cholesterol.

I love how much healthier I feel eating low carb and it is improving my ability to jog (having heart issues in my family, I find cardio VERY important).

I have had to raise my carb level to keep my weight up, but I'm still trying to work out a lower insulin balance for myself :)

Thanks, Auntie Zilla! Good to know I won't be killing my crazy brain any further. *laughs*

GK said...

I just checked further and read the journal abstract. They fed the rats hydrogenated coconut oil as the saturated fat component in the test rats. Ugh. No wonder they didn't fare well.

Linda said...

Hi GK...

Thanks for re-checking that. Fats get lumped all together and little details like hydrogenated vs a natural saturated fat get left out.

That site you gave was from a dietician. Not surprising she got the cause of inflammation totally wrong! LOL

GK said...

I actually sent her a note about that. Somehow I'm betting I will not get a reply.


Anna said...

Hmmm, the brain is made up mostly of fat, and saturated fat at that. Saturated fat is a structural material, essential for life and health. Even if one doesn't eat saturated fat, the body makes saturated fat from carbohydrates in the liver. So even a low fat/high carb diet is a high fat diet in the end (the problem is that low fat/high carb (even from whole grains) also raises insulin, promotes excess fat storage and inhibits fat/energy metabolism and makes BG control difficult).

The myelin sheath that covers part of the neurons is made of fat, sort of like the insulation covering on an electrical wire. If the myelin is missing, defective, or inadequate, then disease and decreased mental function ensue.

Dr. Larry McCleary (a pediatric neurosurgeon) calls Alzheimer's "diabetes of the brain", which from my "library" research, is an apt description. He has interesting blog (www dot drmccleary dot com) and a good book, The Brain Trust program, that was recommended by Dr. Mike Eades.

Traditional fats, teh ones humans have consumed for thousands of years, if not millions, not the industrial seed oils that came into use just over 100 years ago, are healthy to consume and are a great source of energy and build healthy strong bodies. That is why I find it so alarming that the American Academy of Pediatrics has thrown caution to the wind and has further recommended low fat diets and cholesterol lowering medications for growing infants and children, whose brains and neural pathways are still growing and developing! Furthermore, cholesterol is the base material for hormone production, and is needed for proper growth and development during puberty. The AAP recommendations will force even reluctant pediatricians to go along, because they are only legally liable if they don't follow the AAP's recommendations (even if the recommendations are later proved unsound). Our children face a very, very difficult future if this takes hold.

Wifezilla said...

Thanks for posting Anna and providing some more science for us. I have also heard the "diabetes of the brain" term and I agree.

Once you understand that Alzheimer's, Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease all tend to show up in populations at the same time, it isn't hard to track it all to the same cause...easily digestible carbohydrates.

Vikki said...

The Brain Trust was indeed and excellent book. Made some things very clear to me, one of which was if I wanted to keep my mind sharp as I age, keep the insulin levels down. How to do that? Low carb of course.