Carbohydrates are a huge dietary problem in our country. Our diets are too unbalanced, we eat too much carbohydrates for the amount of healthy fat and protein we ingest. This is mostly due to the push in the 1970’s to cut or dramatically reduce fat in the American diet. We were told that fat was the problem and we needed to eat less. This created the endless supply of reduced fat foods in the grocery store. Our problem today is excessive carbohydrate consumption and it is a major contributor to the poor health of Americans. This topic of fat vs carbs deserves its own post, which I will try to do another day, but today I found a very interesting study worth mentioning.
A paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease followed a group of 937 elderly persons over a period of 3.7 years and monitored their risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. They found that a High carbohydrate diet is associated with dementia. Moreover a caloric intake low in fat and proteins may contribute the risk for dementia in elderly persons. In contrast persons with high fat and protein intake and low carbohydrate intake were found to have a reduced risk for dementia. The authors mention that “an optimal balance in the proportions of daily calories derived from carbohydrate, fat, and protein may maintain neuronal integrity and optimal cognitive function.” Fat and protein are required for the integrity of a neurons cell membrane and fats are important for the integrity of the myelin sheaths of the axon. The myelin sheath is important for the transmission of a signal along a nerve.
To reduce your risk for developing dementia as you age you need to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume and balance your diet between fats, protein, and carbs. This is difficult because we need carbs, we just need less and from healthy sources. A post about carbohydrates will come but for now Ill link to this book that has a lot of great info on eating healthy. I have talked about Omega-3 FFA intake being important for overall health including brain function. High intakes of vegetables and vitamins B, C, D, and E can reduce later life cognitive decline.
As we see our peers, parents, and grandparents age we have a desire to do it better if that is possible. Aging well is possible but requires work and living a lifestyle that is atypical of the average American. If you are curious were to start on your road to aging well, we can help.