Carbohydrate and Our Brains

In our office we receive many questions regarding “Counting our Macros”, how many carbohydrates we should have in a day, is a ketogenic diet the right diet for weight loss, or what about that Atkins diet. Well, we now have a new book out there called Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, that is recommending a low carbohydrate diet for everyone to prevent “toxic brain”, aka neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and others. So, does this mean all of us should be focusing on a very low carbohydrate diet (<60 grams/d) to prevent these conditions? Well, people are all individualized and a one size fits all plan is not the best option! There is some truth here, very low carb (VLC) and ketogenic diets can be effective therapeutic tools for treating many neurological disorders like epilepsy and studies have shown some promise with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s but there has not been any research yet showing that a VLC diet will help prevent these conditions! You will find no argument here the idea that refined and processed carbs like flour and sugar contribute to modern disease, there’s no evidence to suggest that unrefined, whole-food carbohydrates do. In fact, there are three compelling reasons why this is not the case.

Here is a great link discussing this new book and three compelling reasons why this is not the case.

Breakfast vs. Dinner

Can eating a large breakfast and small dinner help with weight loss?

In a recent study, scientists randomly assigned 74 overweight or obese women with metabolic syndrome (having at least 3 out of 5 of the following: low HDL “good” cholesterol; elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and/or blood triglycerides; and increased waist size) into two groups. Both groups were given a 1,400-calorie diet for weight loss and assigned to the breakfast group or the dinner group. In the breakfast group, the women consumed more calories at breakfast and fewer calories at dinner (Breakfast-700 calories, Lunch-500 calories, Dinner-200 calories). In the dinner group, the women were advised to consume fewer calories at breakfast and more calories at dinner (Breakfast-200 calories, Lunch-500 calories, Dinner-700 calories).

After 12 weeks, the breakfast group showed greater weight loss, waist circumference reduction, and lower blood sugar compared to the dinner group. The mean triglyceride levels decreased by 34% in the breakfast group and rose by 15% in the dinner group. The breakfast group also reported being less hungry during the 12 weeks compared to the dinner group.

This is only one study, which isn’t enough to prove that a bigger breakfast leads to more weight loss than a bigger dinner. However, we do know that eating breakfast every morning is important for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

Check out the full article http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20460/full

Don’t Let Discomfort Keep You from Being Healthy

I read an interesting article that a patient gave me that I think applies to a lot of people, especially when it comes to getting healthier.

The main point of the article is we all typically run from things that cause us discomfort, such as exercise or eating a healthy diet. Discomfort isn’t an intense pain, but we still have a fear of it because it means we have to leave our comfort zone. For example, some people feel discomfort while eating vegetables because it is not something that they regularly do, therefore it becomes uncomfortable.

Most people tend to run from this discomfort instead of facing it. When you are constantly running from discomfort, you are limiting yourself to a small comfort zone and you miss out on a lot of great things. If exercise and eating healthy food make you uncomfortable, this can lead to a very unhealthy lifestyle.

Learning how to become okay with discomfort can lead to a better, healthier life, but how do you start? First, try it in small doses. If eating vegetables makes you uncomfortable, try a vegetable anyway. It might not be the best thing in the world, but it won’t be the worst either. You can actually learn to love vegetables if you try!

Second, immerse yourself in discomfort. Instead of avoiding certain emotions and covering them up with food, face those emotions and immerse yourself in them. It may be uncomfortable for a while, but you can find others ways to cope.

Third, seek discomfort by challenging yourself daily. Find something that is uncomfortable to you and do it, such as exercise. You might surprise yourself when it ends up not being as bad as you thought.

Fourth, watch yourself run from things. Notice what you have been avoiding because it causes discomfort. What have you allowed yourself to rationalize? When it comes to getting healthier, we can rationalize anything. For example, you are waiting to start exercising or waiting to start your “diet” once you aren’t so busy or once things calm down at home. Become aware of this process and learn how to stop yourself from avoiding things.

Fifth, learn that discomfort is your friend. Embracing discomfort and learning that it is not something to fear can be a really good thing. When you feel uncomfortable you are usually trying something new, such as a new food or your learning, expanding and becoming more than you were before.

Bottom line; don’t let your fear of discomfort keep you from becoming a healthier, happier person. Go out and try something new today! Maybe go for a walk or try a healthy recipe. Either way, it will most likely be easier than you thought. Check out the full article at http://zenhabits.net/discomfort-ruin/.

The Mediterranean Way

According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or olive oil dramatically reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke compared with a low-fat diet.

A total of 7,447 people with high cardiovascular risk participated in the study and were assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, beans, fruits, and vegetables and supplemented with either mixed nuts (30 g a day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) or extra-virgin olive oil (one liter a week) or a controlled diet (advised to reduce dietary fat).

Both Mediterranean diet groups had approximately 30% risk reduction in major cardiovascular events compared to the low-fat diet. These results are supported by other studies. The Lyon Diet Heart Study also showed a large reduction in rates of coronary heart disease with a modified Mediterranean diet and the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial showed no cardiovascular benefit from a low-fat dietary approach.

In conclusion, the New England Journal of Medicine study supports the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Check out the full study at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303#t=articleTop