Diet and Brain Health

Wine a little, laugh a lot

We all know that overindulging in alcohol is bad for the body and the brain. But new research confirms that enjoying a small amount of alcohol can actually provide benefits for your brain. A glass or two of wine at the end of a busy day can do wonders for sweeping away stress, and Scientific Reports explains that it can also help the brain sweep away toxins. This study explores the benefit of minimal alcohol intake on the brain’s ability to remove waste products and minimize inflammation, associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Merlot, anyone?

Scientific Reports, 2018; 8:2246


Overeating: Not a brain-smart choice

The newest issue of Physiology & Behavior includes a compelling review of how diet impacts the central nervous system and brain function. According to the authors, “acute intake of hypercaloric diets impairs cognition, even in healthy subjects.” In other words, a habit of overeating impairs brain function, even if it does not result in obesity. The study also confirms a link between dietary-induced insulin resistance and cognitive decline, and correlations between fatty diets and diminished ability to control impulses. We’ve all known that overeating can cause obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; now we are learning that it can diminish brain function. Sounds like the ‘super-size-me’ order equates to a ‘stupid-me’ future.

Physiology & Behavior, March 2018; doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.052


Intermittent fasting: You’re halfway there!

PubMed recently posted a new study on the brain benefits of intermittent fasting. The research, published by Nature Reviews Neuroscience, refers to “intermittent metabolic switching” which can be achieved through periodic fasting or lengthy aerobic exercise. The good news is that most of us are already halfway to achieving such a metabolic switch via nightly shut-eye. Intermittent fasting refers to 12+ hours of not eating, thus sleeping for 6-8 hours per night gets close. According to the study, these phases of challenging the metabolic system create a state of ketosis, which affect neural activity, mood, and cognition. Beauty-sleep is one thing, but perhaps we should all go to bed earlier to achieve brain-health-sleep.

Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Feb 2018; 19(2): 63-80



Are greens the fountain of youth?

Mama always said to eat your greens, and new research once again confirms that Mama knows best. The American Academy of Neurology recently published a study regarding the chemical composition of those greens and how they can help diminish cognitive decline that occurs as we age. Scientists conclude that of the 960 research participants, those who ate at least one serving of leafy greens every day had diminished cognitive decline over four to five years. Impressive stats, and powerful motivation to toss a spinach and kale salad for dinner!

Neurology, Jan 2018; 90(3): 214-222