Carbs and the Diet-Brain Connection
Yes, you read that correctly. There is a carb-brain connection!
Check out this quote from Dr. David Tanne of Tel Aviv University...
"This study lends support for more research to test the cognitive benefits of interventions such as exercise, diet, and medications that improve insulin resistance in order to prevent dementia."
Dr. Tanne was talking about a new study that he just published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease that looked at the connection between carbohydrate tolerance and brain function as we age.
What is carbohydrate tolerance?
Essentially your body's ability to use and process carbohydrates. When your carbohydrate tolerance is really bad (pathological), that is considered type 2 diabetes. Here’s the good news. You have a lot of control over your carbohydrate tolerance.
5 Ways to Improve Carbohydrate Tolerance
Eating less carbohydrates (especially less refined carbs and foods with added sugars) and replace those calories/foods with protein or fat based foods. For example if you were eating chicken, rice, and sauteed vegetables. Cut the rice portion on your plate in half, eating a slightly larger piece of chicken or add a little more oil when you are sauteing the vegetables.
Maintaining a lower body fat/body weight is an excellent long term way to improve our carbohydrate tolerance. When we gain weight, our fat cells get bigger, and create more inflammation. Staying lean, reduces the overall inflammatory load our fat cells put on our bodies which is more and more important
Losing weight always improves carbohydrate tolerance. This is for the same reason that maintaining a leaner body weight helps you maintain better carbohydrate tolerance - lower inflammatory load on your system.
Being more physically active is an essentially daily strategy for improving your body’s ability to use and process carbohydrates. Exercise is the most powerful drug that you have access to (see my short video here) when is comes to carbohydrate tolerance. What is even better is that it can instantly enhance your carbohydrate tolerance.
Put all these keys to carbohydrate tolerance in play in your life and know that you won't be just improving your metabolism but your brain as well.
Back to the study...
Here's what Dr. Tanne and his colleagues did.
- They found 500 people with heart disease.
- They measured the carbohydrates tolerance (what scientists call insulin sensitivity) and cognitive/brain function.
- They followed these 500 people for 20 years.
- They measured their cognitive/brain function.
They found that the people with the poorest carbohydrate tolerance had the greatest decline in brain function over the 20 year study follow-up.
This is a really powerful message that we all need to hear. Our diet and habits TODAY can impact our brain function in 20 years.
What habits can we adopt to ensure better brain health in the future?
This same list from above:
- Eating less carbohydrates (especially less refined carbs and foods with added sugars)
- Maintaining a lower body fat
- Losing weight
- Being more physically active
I would also add to this: a daily cup of coffee.
A daily cup of coffee is constantly shown in population-based studies to reduce one's risk of type 2 diabetes. The protective effects are thought to be due to the strong antioxidants in coffee.
Neuro Coffee gives you an extra antioxidant kick with the addition of concentrated antioxidants from the coffee fruit itself (these antioxidants also help stimulate your body to grow and repair neurons).
Improving your brain health and function is not something that you want to be playing catch up on later in life. Control your carbs and enjoy your coffee now to reap the benefits in the future.