In a recent study published in the juried medical journal, Neurology, December 28, 2011, researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University found some striking patterns relating what people eat to how their brains function. Using newer research methods, Dr. Gene Bowman (head of the project) looked at nutrients in the blood, tested cognitive function and imaged the brain with MRI technology. Putting all three together revealed some interesting associations.
Bowman found that people with high plasma levels of B vitamins and vitamins D, E and C had more total brain volume and better overall cognitive functioning. Additionally, people with higher levels of marine Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were found to have better executive function.
However, the most striking revelation of this study was that people with high levels of trans fats in their blood had significantly worse cognitive performance and less total brain volume.
In other words, the study indicated that eating foods high in trans fats — mostly junk food, like processed pastries, packaged foods and margarine –- may cause brain damage.
This is something nutritionists have been telling people for years. Dr. Mary Enig stood up to Big Ag and their cohorts in order to blow the whistle on trans fats. But we all thought it was the heart that was most damaged by trans fats. Now it appears that trans fats also damage the brain.
The cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the rise.
Today, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – 5.2 million aged 65 and over; 200,000 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans will have the disease. Two-thirds of those with the disease – 3.4 million – are women. Of Americans aged 65 and over, 1 in 8 has Alzheimer’s, and nearly half of people aged 85 and older have the disease.
They predict that in just five years the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will jump to 7.7 million and by 2050 the number is projected to more than double to 16 million. So why is this disease growing so rapidly?
Conventional health officials talk about how our population is aging and more people are living longer, in order to explain these alarming statistics. However, the rapid rise of chronic illnesses in middle aged people (and children) has paralleled the increase of thousands of additives in our food supply and the switch to a “Fast Food Nation.”
Some municipalities have actually banned trans fats from restaurants
However, they are still in many foods, such as french fries, packaged breads, cookies, crackers, chips, margarine (yes, it is still being sold), anything deep fried and beef.
Yes, there are trans fats in beef. The trans fat in beef is naturally occurring conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a healthy fat. This in the only trans fat that is actually very good for you. It is found in great quantities in the beef from grassfed cows. The amount of CLA in conventional feedlot beef is much less.
I go out of my way to eat the fat from grassfed animals
I know that grassfed beef contains many of the nutrients that are important for good brain function in particular and excellent health in general.
While Dr. Bowman admits that the study is small, 100 people, all elderly, all living in Oregon, and all Caucasian, the results certainly indicate further research is warranted. Dr. Bowman has published several studies that have demonstrated that blood levels of many nutrients are well correlated with a subject’s diet over a period of about a year.
Bowman said using actual blood levels is a more accurate and efficient method for determining nutrient status instead of asking a person what they ate and hoping they remember everything (especially if they are having memory problems!) In this research, he focused on nutrients that are known to be found at relatively high levels in spinal fluid and brain tissue; the B vitamins, D, E and C.
While this study is small and preliminary, it reinforces what we have been saying about the extraordinary dangers of trans fats.
How vigilant are you in avoiding these nasty fake fats?
Leave a comment and let me know!