October 3, 2013

Foods for a Healthy Brain. ~ Kathrina Jane B. Tiangco

Growing up, everyone has been told at one time or another that in order to have a healthy body you have to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet.

In fact, so much has been made about this fact that no one really makes any attempts at disputing it. We brag about eating well and often hang our heads in shame when we opt for the less nutritious route.

But when we eat, we often think of our bodies below the neck. We worry about the pounds an unhealthy meal will add to our midsection or our hips. We may concern ourselves with how junk foods will affect our stomach and digestive system or how sluggish we might feel after binging on less than wholesome foods.

Seldom do we associate healthy meals with healthy brain function, however it is something that most people need to start considering.

Recent findings

Dr. Greenwood, a senior scientist at Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences explained that a wealth of new evidence indicates that a healthy diet; one that includes whole grains, vegetables and fruit helps maintain brain function, slow memory decline and may help reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Dr. Greenwood, “a healthy diet, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, helps decrease our risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease – which contribute to poor brain health.”

The Alzheimer’s Association supports this as well, advising people who visit their website that the “brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well.” Their research suggests the following foods appear to have the greatest effect on protecting brain cells:

● Kale

● Spinach

● Brussels sprouts

● Alfalfa sprouts

● Broccoli

● Beets

● Red bell pepper

● Onion

● Corn

● Eggplant

● Prunes

● Raisins

● Blueberries

● Blackberries

● Strawberries

● Raspberries

● Plums

● Oranges

● Red grapes

● Cherries

● Halibut

● Mackerel

● Salmon

● Trout

● Tuna

● Almonds

● Pecans

● Walnuts

Diets to aid the treatment of tumors 

While most foods are consumed to prevent problems with the brain, some diets might help fight off medical problems like tumors.

Led by Adrienne Sheck of the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona have been studying the effects of a ketogenic diet to aid radiation therapy in the treatment of brain tumors.

“We found that the ketogenic diet significantly enhances the anti-tumor effect of radiation, which suggests that it may be useful as an adjuvant to the current standard of care for the treatment of human malignant gliomas,” she explains.

Mice who were fed a ketogenic diet to treat high-level malignant gliomas showed higher survival rates than those in the control group who ate a standard diet. The ketogenic group also showed no signs of tumor reoccurrence.

The diet, which consists of high fats, low carbohydrates and controlled proteins, has been used since the 1920s to treat epilepsy. When followed, it causes the body to produce ketones as a result of the body using fat for energy in place of carbohydrates.

The speculation is that ketones reduce the growth factor hormones that cause the tumors to appear. It is also believed that the diet might help reduce inflammation and edema around the tumors.

This type of treatment could hold a great deal of promise for people who might be facing surgery as a way to remove brain tumors.

While it won’t alleviate the need for surgery or other treatments, it will help minimize the size of the tumors that are being targeted.

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Assistant Ed: Danny Garcia/Ed: Bryonie Wise 


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