So logic dictates, the more carbohydrates you eat, the better your brain should run.
But, researchers from the Mayo Clinic have put a spanner in the works of this thinking. They have discovered, in the elderly at least, too many carbohydrates, hasten foggy thinking.
Finding a few sharp old brains
The research team screened, 1230 old brains, belonging to people between the ages of 70 and 89 years, looking for old brains that were still ticking over efficiently.
Only brains in good working order, could be included in the study. A battery of tests later, whittled the number of brains to 940, all of these brains were judged to be free of cognitive defects.
These brains officially became part of the study, designed to see what older brains preferred to eat.
What are old brains eating ?
The team spent some time, documenting what each brain was eating, on a regular basis at the start of the study, through comprehensive diet analysis.
The brains and their owners, were asked to return each year, at which time the team repeated the battery of tests, to see if the brain was still running flawlessly.
Four years on, a significant number (200) of the old brains, were showing signs of failing circuitry, with slips in memory, language, thinking and judgement above and beyond normal age-related changes.
Soggy sandwiches causing fogging brains
The brains that were eating the most carbohydrates, at the start of the study, were more-often-than not, in the group of brains that were showing shortcomings in function. Interestingly, the brains consuming the highest levels of fat, were the least likely to fail.
After crunching the numbers, the team concluded that people with the highest carbohydrate intake, were 3.6 times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.
The so-called heart healthy diet is making you stupid.
Your low fat diet is putting strain on your brain
But the brain loves sugar – how could this be ?
I suspect too much sugar ends up putting strain on your brain, in a roundabout way.
A high carb meal, drops a lot of sugar into the body really quickly. On paper, the body’s sophisticated sugar clearing system, should mop it all up, quick quick. But, years of abuse and wear and tear, often cause the system to be a bit slow on the uptake. This slowness, manifests initially as insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
So the sugar rush, that results from a high carb meal, creates more than a little panic, it generates oxidative stress.
This oxidative stress, sees energy laden electrons buzzing about, poking holes in cells that get in the way. If those cells are brain cells, you get short circuits.
Too many short circuits bring those slips in memory, language, thinking and judgement above and beyond normal age-related changes.
Brain food is balanced
As one gets older, high carb meals are often the order of the day – they’re easy to prepare and a lot less pricey. But your brain needs both protein and fat to function at its best.
Protect your brain by obeying the rule of thirds and give it a little bit of everything it needs.Relative Intake of Macronutrients Impacts Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2012) 32(2): 317-328. Jinglong Wu, Jiajia Yang, Yinguha Yu, Qi Li, Naoya Nakamura, Yong Shen, Yasuyuki Ohta, Shengyuan Yu, Koji Abe.
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