Table of Contents
An essential part of brain health is what we eat. In this article we will discuss:
- Oxidative stress, inflammation, and the telomere. How our brain is affected by what we eat.
- What is a normal diet?
- How and why we have diverted from that diet.
- Aging, Alzheimer’s and our diet.
- What is a healthy brain diet? The five “Ss” and the harmonic diet plan.
What is a Normal Diet?
In the 1970s the obesity rate in the United States was 6% what it had been for the past thirty years. In 2010, the obesity rate grew to 32%, a 5.3 fold increase. What happened?
Let’s turn the clock back 100,000 years. The caveman comes out of his cave and goes to a plant, and eats a fruit or a vegetable. There were no donuts, candy, or white bread on these plants. They did not exist. The body’s chemistry and GI tract was created 100,000 years ago and is the same now as it was then, created to eat fruits, vegetables, and protein fish and red meat.
Now let’s now shift to 1960-1970, the National Institute of Health finds fats are associated with increased cholesterol and heart disease. They create the “Titanic Food Pyramid” whose base is Carbs. Result, physicians placed their patients on high carbohydrate diets. The USDA Department of Agriculture helps by fortifying all foods with high fructose corn syrup, a refined carbohydrate. By 2008 the amount of high fructose corn syrup used from 6,000 tons in 1960 to 6 million tons. Obesity, heart rate, and Alzheimer’s disease are now epidemic. Why? Because high fructose corn syrup is a poison to our body. If it did not exist when we were a caveman, it was supplied to us by modern man’s manipulation of the normal food chain after the 1970s.
Since our body and GI tract is not different genetically than 100,000 years ago, it does not know how to handle refined carbohydrates and, so, overreacts producing high amounts of insulin. The result, more than 60% of adults over 60 are insulin resistant and 20% have diabetes. At present, more than 66% of adults and children are overweight or obese. Another change in the American diet at this time was the birth of the fast food burger industry and MSG (Monosodium glutamate). These modern changes have produced the modern obese, overweight patient prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease; all what we call the metabolic syndrome. Obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia.
How and Why Our Diets Changed
I know you are saying it is obvious why our diets have changed, our fast lifestyle, breakdown of the traditional family unit to a single family household. Other obvious problems are the economic factors, the fast food industry, and advertisement. The fast food highway. Every town has one on Main Street. You don’t even need to stop, just drive in. The major cause of why our diets have changed is hidden in our bedroom .It is a major brain mechanism to cause carbohydrate craving, poor impulse control with food binging. It is sleeplessness and poor stress management.
The lack of sleep and/or stress management cause a series of brain hormonal and neurotransmitter changes. Serotonin and dopamine, are our calmative, sleep and anti-addictive and executive hormones. Dopamine is our Do it, that is it gets things done, and anti-addictive keep control hormone. Serotonin our calm after sleep hormone. Both are dependent on our sleep and stress management. So what has modern man done? The average youth and adult get less than 6.5 hours sleep when 9-10 hours is needed for youth and 8 hours for adults. The result is high oxidative stress with low levels of serotonin and dopamine. Therefore we have poor self-control and are at the mercy of what we crave to keep us awake and give us false highs that sugar rushes give. This is followed by sudden low blood sugar causing rebound craving and a downward spiral that keeps us heavy and sedentary occurs. Yes, a couch potato eating chips and sipping soft drinks or beer.
Why Our Brain Ages
It has been known all cells in the body have tails known as telomeres. As we age they shorten to a critical point. At that point, the cell no longer repairs itself or recreates itself and eventually dies. What hastens this are many factors. The two primary ones are oxidative stress and inflammation.
Third, is the Harmonic Diet Plan. It is known that oxidative stress, inflammation and cell repair is dependent on our hormones, our anti-oxidants in the blood, and the reparative abilities of our cells. These, as we have discussed, in the hormonal symphony depends on our youthful hormones, such as growth hormones, testosterone, estrogen, thyroid, and youthful neurotransmitters as serotonin and dopamine, together with a healthy vagal nervous system called the rest and digest system. On the other hand, the aging hormones are those of the ACTH and glucocorticosteroids. Also, the neurotransmitter, epinephrine, and the sympathetic nervous system which is our alarm or fight or flight nervous system.
The Harmonic Diet Plan
The Harmonic Diet Plan is more than just a diet. It is a method just like taking one’s supplements in the morning, brushing one’s teeth, and combing one’s hair sets up a good habit to initiate the day. The Harmonic Diet Plan does the same.
We will discuss the overall plan for brain health, healthy diet, and then the diet itself. The plan is first to set the proper hormones in place to help you eat rationally. I say rationally because most people eat like they are “out of their minds”. For instance, most people understand that highly refined foods are poisons to your body. Then, why do we start each meal with them. As we have discussed, refined carbohydrates cause insulin peaking, a major cause for Alzheimer’s disease. It also causes addictive behavior in carbohydrate craving. Diet drinks provoke ghrelin and don’t turn off our carb craving. So, what does the typical American do? (More than 50% of our meals are eaten outside of the home, excluding breakfast) At restaurants we eat bread first. At fast food restaurants we eat fries and often a diet drink. This habit, or rather addiction, causes the three elements to destroy our brain; oxidative stress of foods themselves, insulin peaking, and inflammation. We age quickly and sickly. Yes, this is insane.
How Can a Brain Healthy Diet Plan Change This Chain of Events
The Harmonic Diet Plan consists of one minute of exercise prior to ordering or eating. This exercise stimulates leptin, our feeling full hormone. Second, the order of eating. Eat protein or Omega III fats and complex carbohydrates, as salads, with Omega 9 or olive oil first. This causes the provocation of glucagon, rather than insulin. Then after 15 minutes potato and bread can be eaten if you still want them. By eating this way, glucagon rather than insulin is secreted as noted by the pancreas. Glucagon also stimulate leptin, our satiating hormone. Glucagon also converts sugar to protein, whereas insulin converts sugar to fat. Fat, itself, when deposited is not an innocuous tissue. Especially abdominal fat provokes the secretion of an insulin-like compound which when going to the hypothalamus of the brain provokes hunger. Therefore, those individuals who are actually overweight because of a self-repeating hormonal mechanism. Fat begets fat. Fat provokes increased hunger. It is not genetic. It has to do with that extra tire of fat around our stomach.
As you can see by eating the proper foods first you can change the gut and the brain hormones that drive us towards being in or out of control. Remember there is a reason why restaurants give you bread first and for nothing. Where else can you get something for nothing, certainly not from a retail store. Why fast food restaurants give you “a break” or value meals which give fries laced with MSG into your stomach. Their studies show that you are 5 times more likely to return because they have changed your brain to an addictive one craving for carbs.
In the Harmonic Diet Plan, I often advise taking a supplement prior to starting a meal. They also give you, in most restaurants, a glass of water with lemon. Drink the 8oz water with your supplement and it will fill your stomach and decrease your appetite. Harmonic diet consists of one-third protein, one-third Omega III and 9 fats, and one-third complex carbohydrates.
What Omega III does for the brain and the five “Ss” can be brought in as a Mediterranean diet that is proved to be brain friendly, vegetables, and fruits, juice plus act as antioxidants, anti-inflammants, which protects the telomere, that part of the cell that keeps it healthy.