The aging brain diet – 2017

Category: Blog

In a 2015 survey conducted by the Nielsen company, Americans were asked what was their number 1 New Year’s resolution. The top two answers?

  • Stay fit and healthy 37%
  • Lose weight 32%

It is certain that for New Year’s 2017 these will be somewhat the same results.

For the aging American, adhering and maintaining body and brain health becomes more difficult. This national wide, indeed global wide problem has lead to a new wave of research addressing the problem of deteriorating health and dementia as it relates to diet and nutrition.

Let’s explore some of the newest research and their suggested guidelines.

Doctors at the US National Institutes of Health teamed up with Australian doctors from the University of Sydney, Sydney’s Aging and Alzheimer’s Institute. Here is their report from November 2016

  • Given the growing recognition of the role of aging biology in dementia, studies might provide a new approach for dietary interventions for optimizing brain health and preventing dementia in older people.
  • During recent decades there have been major advances in understanding the biology of aging, and the development of nutritional interventions that delay aging including calorie restriction and intermittent fasting, and chemicals that influence pathways linking nutrition and aging processes.
  • Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting has been shown to influence brain aging and recent findings suggest that this dietary intervention can influence brain health and dementia in older humans.
  • The role of individual macronutrients in brain aging also has been studied, with conflicting results about the effects of dietary protein and carbohydrates.1

Caloric restriction

Caloric restriction diets should only be discussed and initiated under doctor’s orders.

Here is what doctors are saying in new research: “Long-term consumption of a high-calorie diet affects the brain and increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. And consumption of a low-calorie diet caloric restriction could delay aging, and protect the central nervous system from neurodegenerative disorders.”2

This is supported by Chinese researchers in their December 2016 study that suggests caloric restriction extends lifespan and suppresses age related problems by its ability to prevent cell death normally associated with aging.3

Dutch researchers at the University Medical Center in Amsterdam reported in November 2016 that “Already in the first week of caloric restriction in obese postmenopausal women, various favourable metabolic changes occur before clinically relevant weight loss is achieved.” 4

Again, caloric restriction diets must be monitored by doctors, in 2015 the National Institutes of Health issued these possible side effects:

  • No increased risk of serious adverse clinical events was reported. However, a few participants developed transient anemia and greater-than-expected decreases in bone density given their degree of weight loss, reinforcing the importance of clinical monitoring during calorie restriction.5

Age-related brain damage influenced by diet

Researchers writing in the medical journal Neurology clearly state that being overweight or obese at midlife independently increases the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and vascular dementia. They concluded: “weight loss can significantly affect public health strategies for the prevention of dementia.”6

Researchers writing in the medical journal Lancet noted that reported cases of Alzheimer’s Disease will triple over the next 40 years and that they noted seven modifiable risk factors to aid in prevention. They include:

  • diabetes,
  • midlife hypertension,
  • midlife obesity,
  • smoking,
  • depression,
  • cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment,
  • and physical inactivity.

They suggest that half of all Alzheimer’s cases can be attributed to these factors singularly or in combination. The connection to obesity and factors related to obesity are apparent. 7

Being overweight or obese is not the only risk factors in accelerated mental decline in people with poor eating habits. Recent research is out that suggests that older adults with diabetes and poor blood sugar control are at increased risk for greater memory decline. 8

Writing in the medical journal Archives of Neurology, researchers found: “Among well-functioning older adults, diabetes mellitus and poor glucose control among those with diabetes mellitus are associated with worse cognitive function and greater decline. This suggests that severity of diabetes mellitus may contribute to accelerated cognitive aging.” 9

Cognitive deficits and hippocampal atrophy, features that are shared with aging and dementia, have been described in type 2 diabetes mellitus. 10

Consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss

Recent research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older.

The study involved 1,233 people between the ages of 70 and 89 and free of dementia residing in Olmsted County, Minn. Of those, 163 had MCI. Participants reported the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire and were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day, one-third between 1,526 and 2,143 and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

“Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age,” said study co-author Yonas E. Geda, MD.11,12

Longevity and brain-function program

What kinds of patients do we treat in our program?

  • Patients who are generally in good health and would like to maximize their prospects for longevity, optimal health and reduced risk of chronic disease.
  • Patients who feel older than their numerical age and would like to regain the vigor they once enjoyed.
  • Patients who are afflicted with a chronic disease and don’t feel well much of the time. For such patients, we are often able to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals by using supplements, natural hormones, and lifestyle and dietary modifications.
  • Patients who are experiencing an early loss of memory, such as forgetting names, and would like to recover their mental sharpness.
  • Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. For such patients, we offer a program which can reverse the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s while preventing the onset of late-stage symptoms.

Our approach to helping you achieve longevity and reduce brain aging is to strengthen mind and body by using a combination of nutritional therapies, exercise and lifestyle changes, as well as specific brain exercises we  recommend to maintain and improve cognitive power. We encourage our patients to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, processed foods, and artificial chemicals. Our nutritionist and lifestyle counselor can guide you in making healthy food choices and initiating a stress-reduction program. We prescribe dietary supplements to protect you from free-radical damage on an individualized basis, often using specialized laboratory testing to determine areas of weakness. We also perform tests of blood, urine, and hair to check for toxins and heavy metals which can inhibit the brain from releasing hormones as well as directly damaging  it. (One such metal, aluminum, has been scientifically linked to Alzheimer’s disease.) One of the most powerful  tools we use to remove toxins, free radicals, and heavy metals from the body is chelation therapy — that is, direct intravenous infusion of antioxidants and other cleansing substances such as EDTA.

At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, our objectives are to improve the quality of life, relieve fatigue, increase mental function, return the biochemical markers of aging to youthful levels, and to maximize longevity and minimize brain aging through the development of individualized, integrated treatment plans. Our role is to serve as our patients’ primary resource in their quest for optimal health and longevity.

1 Wahl D, et al. Nutritional strategies to optimise cognitive function in the aging brain. Ageing Res Rev. 2016 Nov;31:80-92.

2. Dong W, Wang R, Ma LN, Xu BL, Zhang JS, Zhao ZW, Wang YL, Zhang X. Influence of age-related learning and memory capacity of mice: different effects of a high and low caloric diet. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2015 Jul 3

3. Ma L, Wang R, Dong W, et al. Long-term caloric restriction in mice may prevent age-related learning impairment via suppression of apoptosis. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Dec 15;315:45-50. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.07.036.

4. Jakobsdottir S, van Nieuwpoort IC, van Bunderen CC, de Ruiter MB, et al. Acute and short-term effects of caloric restriction on metabolic profile and brain activation in obese, postmenopausal women. Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Nov;40(11):1671-1678. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2016.103.

5. Ravussin, E., et al., A 2-Year Randomized Controlled Trial of Human Caloric Restriction: Feasibility and Effects on Predictors of Health Span and Longevity. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2015) 70 (9): 1097-1104. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv057.

6. Xu WL, Atti AR, Gatz M, Pedersen NL, Johansson B, Fratiglioni L. Midlife overweight and obesity increase late-life dementia risk: a population-based twin study. Neurology. 2011 May 3;76(18):1568-74.

7. Barnes DE, Yaffe K. The projected effect of risk factor reduction on Alzheimer’s disease prevalence. Lancet Neurol. 2011 Sep;10(9):819-28. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

8. Siervo M, Nasti G, Stephan BC, et al. Effects of intentional weight loss on physical and cognitive function in middle-aged and older obese participants: a pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Apr;31(2):79-86.

9. Yaffe K, Falvey F, Hamilton N, et al. Diabetes, Glucose Control, and 9-Year Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults Without Dementia. Arch Neurol. 2012;():1-6. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.1117

10 Bruehl H, Wolf OT, Sweat V, et al. Modifiers of cognitive function and brain structure in middle-aged and elderly individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Brain Res. 2009 Jul 14;1280:186-94. Epub 2009 May 20.

11. Overeating May Double Risk of Memory Loss AAN Press Release

12. Yonas Geda, MD, MSc, Marion Ragossnig, Lewis K. Roberts, Rosebud Roberts, MD, Vernon Pankratz, Teresa Christianson, Michelle Mielke, Bradley Boeve, MD, Eric Tangalos and Ronald Petersen, PhD, MD. Caloric Intake, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study. Advanced release – April 2012 Annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology