healthy fats

  1. How carbs lead to mild cognitive impairment

    The foods that will steal your memories

    There's the old joke about the man at the bar who drinks to forget what's-her-name -- but if you really want to shed some memories, don't drink.

    Eat.

    The more junk you eat, the more the junk will eat away at your memory -- and that's why new numbers show that seniors who eat the most carbs have four times the risk of mild cognitive impairment of those who eat the least.

    That's four times the risk of dementia's biggest warning sign -- but on the other hand, at least you'll finally forget what's-her-name (along with everything else).

    But if you're more interested in holding onto your memories than forgetting an old flame the new study also shows a few easy ways to help make sure you do.

    You can start by making sure you get enough healthy fats in your diet -- because it turns out that those fats can cut the risk of mild cognitive impairment by 42 percent.

    The key word here, however, is "healthy," not "fats." In other words, sorry -- that bacon double cheeseburger isn't going to do a thing to help your brain, and will almost certainly harm it. Healthy fats include nuts and olive oil, but there's one in particular that will almost always do the trick: fatty fish.

    Fish oil has shown before that it can help protect both mood and memory, and that's almost certainly because the brain itself is literally soaked in those same omega-3 fatty acids.

    If you're getting those healthy fats, odds are you're getting some healthy proteins, too -- and those proteins can also help keep your memory sharp as a tack. The new study finds that people who eat chicken, meat, and fish have a 21 percent lower risk of mild cognitive impairment.

    There's more than just a link between these foods and brain health. Diets high in carbs, for example, can wreck havoc on glucose and insulin. It's the kind of damage that leads to diabetes -- but insulin resistance can also damage blood vessels in the brain and even lead to the brain plaques found in dementia patients.

  2. Weight gain after diet can still improve health

    A diet that works -- even when it doesn't

    They say a diet only works if it keeps the weight off -- and that's partially true about weight gain. After all, there's nothing worse than working hard to lose weight only to have those pounds find their way back to your belly.

    But if that happens to you, don't give up too much hope -- because there's one healthy lifestyle that lets you keep many of the biggest benefits even if you regain some of the weight.

    That diet is the Mediterranean Diet, the common-sense lifestyle that cuts out some of the worst processed junk and unhealthy carbs while still allowing for a wide range of delicious foods -- including whole grains and healthy fats.

    In a new study, the diet helped people to lose more weight than a low-fat diet over the short term and led to lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

    That's not a surprise, since losing weight will almost always improve cholesterol levels.

    The real surprise is that four years after the study ended, after many had given up on the diet and most had experienced some weight gain, the improvements in cholesterol remained.

    That's critical, since we know that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are a major risk factor -- and keeping them down, even if you have some weight gain, can help lower your disease risk.

    The study also found similar long-term benefits for the low-carbohydrate diet, and while I'm certainly on board with the idea of giving up the worst of the carbs, the diet does have a few problems: too much fat, not enough fiber, and it's so restrictive that most people can't follow it.

    The Mediterranean Diet, on the other hand, allows you to keep eating healthier carbs such as whole grains while allowing more freedom to enjoy a wider range of other foods.

    But no matter which diet you follow, weight gain is always frustrating. If that happens to you, don't give up.

    Tighten your belt and try again.

    Weight loss is a war you can win, even if you lose a few battles along the way. Some people can do it alone, but others can't -- and if you're in that boat, a holistic doctor like me can help. You can make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine by visiting markstengler.com.

  3. Fats beat sadness

    Looks like the old maxim "fat and happy" isn't too far off -- but it's not fat in your body that'll lift your mood. It's fat in your diet.
  4. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health. Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

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