logo
food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


June 2012

Sugar Babes – Don’t Be Crazy

 

Editorial by Patrick Holford, CEO, Food for the Brain Foundation
Over the last two decades there’s been over 1,000% increase in ‘adult onset’ type 2 diabetes in children. Childhood obesity is rocketing and, despite never ending changes and government guidelines for under 5 year olds most are not receiving those valuable nutrients required to build their brains.

Over a third of 3 – 4 year olds consume no vegetables [1], which are the main source of vital brain-friendly B vitamins. One survey of nursery schools found that all failed to meet the requirement for iron [2], vital for brain function.

Too much sugar and not enough nutrients is a recipe for mental health problems such as ADHD. Sugar stimulates the same feel good dopamine pathways as heroin, which makes children want to eat more, feeding into obesity. There’s also a link between schizophrenia, sugar and weight gain [3].

The main medical intervention being pushed for childhood diabetes are drugs that increase weight gain. Behind diabetes and weight gain is ever-increasing insulin resistance, linked to depression and poor memory. The solution should be a change in diet, not drugs. Apart from sugar, many key nutrients help maintain blood sugar stability such as vitamin C and the minerals magnesium and chromium. These are found in fruits, vegetables and wholefoods.

To help parents, teachers and those working with children in the early years know what to eat and recommend, we are launching our Smart Kids website area, with clear guidelines for all on what optimum nutrition really means for helping young children develop healthy brain and eating habits. It is hoped that with our golden rules and easy and clear explanation for parents and early years workers, it will assist in the push that the early years are vital for their developing brains and worth the change. Have a look yourself and help us spread the word by sending this link www.foodforthebrain.co.uk/smartkidsto anyone you know with, or working with children.

References

[1] Cockroft, J., Durkin, M., Masding, C. & Cade, J. (2005). Fruit and vegetable intakes in a sample of pre-school children participating in the „Five for All? project in Bradford. Public Health Nutrition, 8, 861-869.

[2] East Sussex County council (2008) Nursery Nutrition Survey. Available at: www.eastsussex.gov.uk/childrenandfamilies/childcare/infantnutrition.htm

[3] Thornley S, Russell B, Kydd R (2011) Carbohydrate Reward and Psychosis: An Explanation for Neuroleptic Induced Weight Gain and Path to Improved Mental Health? Current Neuropharmacology. 9(2): 370–375.

 

Parkinson’s diet?

 

Mediterranean diet might lower risk for Parkinson’s disease
Research published in the journal Movement Disorders shows a correlation between strong adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet and Parkinson’s disease status. Specifically, the 257 Parkinson’s disease patients showed significantly lower adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet than 198 controls. A Mediterranean-type diet is characterised by a high intake of vegetables and fruit, pulses, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and whole grains, with a relatively low intake of red meat and dairy products, and regular (but light) alcohol consumption.

Our comment: The Mediterranean diet has been linked with a reduced risk of numerous degenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s and heart disease. While, further studies are needed to test this relationship, it makes sense for sufferers of Parkinson’s and those at higher risk of developing the disease (for example, those who have a family member with Parkinson’s) to follow a Mediterranean-type diet.

Alcalay RN, Gu Y, Mejia-Santana H, Cote L, Marder KS, Scarmeas N (2012) The association between Mediterranean diet adherence and Parkinson’s disease. Movement Disorders, Feb 7 [Epub ahead of print]

Click here for the abstract.

 

Ω-three beats β-amyloid

 

Omega-3 fats reduce beta-amyloid in the blood
β-amyloid deposits in the brain are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and elevated blood measures of this protein correspond with β-amyloid deposits in the brain. In this study, 1,219 healthy elderly people recorded their diet for 1 ½ years and had their blood tested for β-amyloid. It was found that those who consumed the highest levels of omega-3 fats had the lowest levels of AB in the blood.

Our comment: This study adds to the body of evidence that supports the proposition that higher intakes of omega-3 fats (primarily from oily fish, fish oil, seeds, nuts, green vegetables) may be useful in staving off Alzheimer’s.
Gu Y, Schupf N, Cosentino SA, Luchsinger JA, Scarmeas N. (2012) Nutrient intake and plasma β-amyloid. Neurology. May 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Click here for the abstract.

 

Ketogenic diet for Alzheimer’s

 

Ketogenic diet may be useful in Alzheimer’s disease
The Ketogenic Diet is a high fat and extremely low carbohydrate diet which has been used as a treatment for epilepsy, particularly in children, with some success. This review looked at the evidence for the ketogenic diet’s effectiveness in other neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The key feature of the diet is that the extremely low consumption of carbohydrates forces the body to produce a compound called a ketone body. The ketone bodies may be protective against the toxic effects of ?-amyloid in vitro (ie a test tube, not in a living being). Furthermore, patients with AD have a higher incidence of seizures compared to the unaffected population, as well as increased neuronal excitability (over-excited brain cells) which is one of the symptoms of epilepsy. This suggests that the ketogenic diet may be an avenue for treatment of AD.

Our comment: The ketogenic diet is extreme and not particularly healthy so it is not advisable to follow it without appropriate supervision. What is interesting however, is that a strong link has been established between poor blood sugar control and the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementias which suggests that a less extreme form of the diet, which reduces sugar and refined carbohydrate intake significantly, but is otherwise healthy, may be beneficial.

Stafstrom CE, Rho JM. (2012) The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Front Pharmacol. 3:59

Click here for the abstract.

 

Cognitive Function Test

 

Some bugs in the test are under review
Over 107,000 people have now completed the Cognitive Function Test and more than 6500 people have now received the annual reminder and completed the annual re-test. This is also great news for the Alzheimer’s Prevention Project which continues to collate anonymous data to support the research. For more information on the Alzheimer's Prevention Project click here.

We have however found some bugs in the system which we are fixing and these should be complete by the end of June.

 

Smart Kids project

 

Now live on the Food for the Brain website
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new smart kids area which is aimed at providing parents and early years workers with golden rules for a smart kid’s diet. The new site provides easy and clear explanations on hidden sugars, smart shopping, healthy recipes and ideas, smart weaning and smart kid’s supplements.

The site also includes the Food for the Brain Child Questionnaire which is a 5 minute Test of your child's diet and performance and gives you personalised advice on simple changes to make to maximise their potential.

Visit the new website here: www.foodforthebrain.co.uk/smartkids.

 

Skype consultation - now available at the Brain Bio Centre

 

We are excited to announce that The Brain Bio Centre are now doing consultations over skype. This service is available to people living in the U.S, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and is also an option for those in the UK who are not able to visit the clinic.

 

Help us with fundraising

 

We are also looking for volunteers to build up a team of fundraisers helping to organise fundraising events, supporting at events, apply for grants and help out with the administration. If you are interested in joining the team and can spare 2-3 hours a week then please email volunteer@foodforthebrain.org and title your email Fundraising.

Please call 0044 20 8332 9600 and make your appointment today!

 

Help us with technical support

 

If you are a computer whizz with skills in converting paper-based forms to electronic forms then we need your help at the Brain Bio Centre. If you are interested and available then please email volunteer@foodforthebrain.org and title your email Technical Support.