Ketones To Combat Alzheimer’s Disease
Despite decades of efforts to develop a drug that prevents or cures Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most prevalent form of dementia afflicting our aging population, there is currently no treatment for this devastating condition. Emerging research suggests that such a miracle treatment might already exist, not in the form of a pill, but as a simple dietary change. A growing number of studies report that interventions to improve metabolic health can alleviate symptoms and reduce brain pathology associated with AD. A popular theory posits that AD has multiple causes, but their common thread may involve metabolic dysfunction. Indeed, markers of poor metabolic health, such as diabetes, inflammation and high cholesterol, are major risk factors for AD. Just like our muscles, the brain requires energy to function properly. Both neurons and muscles have the unique capacity to metabolize ketones as an alternative fuel source when glucose is in short supply, for instance during fasting or on a low-carbohydrate diet. In the 1920s scientists discovered that a high fat diet promoting ketogenesis controlled epilepsy, and ketosis remains one of the most effective treatments for the condition. This raised the possibility that ketones may also be neuroprotective against other diseases that stem from aberrant neural metabolism, such as AD. Since then, research has confirmed that ketones do in fact alter brain metabolism in ways that reduce neuropathology and relieve behavioral symptoms. Ketones alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease Over the past decade, several studies have supported the clinical value of ketosis in cognitively impaired patients. In a 2004 study twenty individuals with AD or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) were treated with placebo or medium chain triglycerides, a t Continue reading >>
Feeling Euphoric On A Low-carb Diet? The Effect On Your Brain Is Similar To An Illicit Drug
Feeling euphoric on a low-carb diet? The effect on your brain is similar to an illicit drug June 21, 2017 4.02pm EDT Some people on very low-carb diets say they feel euphoric, have clear minds and lose their appetite. Going low-carb might even mimic the effects of GHB – the recreational drug better known as fantasy, liquid ecstasy or grievous bodily harm – on the brain. To understand why we need to look at how the body processes a very low-carb diet, one that typically limits carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams a day. That’s one cup of rice, two slices of bread or roughly 10% of your total daily energy needs. Your body thinks it’s starving A very low-carb diet flips your metabolic switch from burning more carbs than fat, to more fat than carbs. This usually takes a few days in a process known as ketosis. During this time, your body thinks it’s starving. Once it uses up most of your glucose (carb) reserves, the body stimulates the breakdown of stored fat into fatty acids and releases them into the blood. When fatty acids reach the liver they’re converted into acetoacetate, an excellent metabolic fuel that belongs to a family of chemicals called ketones. That’s why very low-carb diets are sometimes called “ketogenic” diets. Acetoacetate decomposes to carbon dioxide and acetone, the smelly solvent best known for its ability to remove nail polish. This is why very low-carb dieters and people who are fasting often have sweet smelling breath. A healthy liver minimises the acetone lost via the lungs by converting most of the acetoacetate it produces to a more stable substance, called beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB. And this is where those euphoric feelings could come from. BHB is almost identical to GHB, the naturally occurring neurotransmitter, called gamma- Continue reading >>
Can Ketones Help Rescue Brain Fuel Supply In Later Life? Implications For Cognitive Health During Aging And The Treatment Of Alzheimer’s Disease
1Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada 2Department of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada 3Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada We propose that brain energy deficit is an important pre-symptomatic feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that requires closer attention in the development of AD therapeutics. Our rationale is fourfold: (i) Glucose uptake is lower in the frontal cortex of people >65 years-old despite cognitive scores that are normal for age. (ii) The regional deficit in brain glucose uptake is present in adults <40 years-old who have genetic or lifestyle risk factors for AD but in whom cognitive decline has not yet started. Examples include young adult carriers of presenilin-1 or apolipoprotein E4, and young adults with mild insulin resistance or with a maternal family history of AD. (iii) Regional brain glucose uptake is impaired in AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but brain uptake of ketones (beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate), remains the same in AD and MCI as in cognitively healthy age-matched controls. These observations point to a brain fuel deficit which appears to be specific to glucose, precedes cognitive decline associated with AD, and becomes more severe as MCI progresses toward AD. Since glucose is the brain’s main fuel, we suggest that gradual brain glucose exhaustion is contributing significantly to the onset or progression of AD. (iv) Interventions that raise ketone availability to the brain improve cognitive outcomes in both MCI and AD as well as in acute experimental hypoglycemia. Ketones are the brain’s main alternative fuel to glucose and brain ketone uptake is still normal in MCI and in early AD, which would help explain why ketogenic i Continue reading >>
How Does Gut Bacteria Influence The Brain?
How does gut bacteria influence the brain? Bacteria in the human body outnumber our own cells 10:1. Most of those bacteria reside in the gut. Research shows that when the balance between healthy bacteria and disease-causing bacteria is changed (in the gut of rodents), they became more bold or more anxious. In a 2011 study of the "microbiome-gut-brain axis," published in Gastroenterology mice that are breed to be timid, were given an antibiotic. They became bold and adventurous and reverted back to their previous timid selves once the antibiotic was stopped. Mice that were raised in sterile environments (no bacteria), had more stress hormones. When fecal samples from healthy mice were implanted, they became normal in their stress response, but only if the implant took place prior to being weaned. Also in another study, mice that were fed probiotics were more resilient to getting depression. Further gut bacteria research on rodents shows that the gut bacteria influence neural development, brain chemistry and many other behavioral phenomena, including emotional behavior, pain perception and the stress system response. The human gut, is often referred to as the "second brain,", and it is the only organ to have its own independent nervous system embedded in the gut wall. Although the gut bacteria affect our brain (via the immune system and , the brain also affects gut bacteria. Stress alters the bacteria balance and can leave the host open to infections, and other problems, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. This is due to the vast number of neurochemicals the gut bacteria produce, for example they produce about 90% of our seratonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy. Research on infant monkeys whose mothers got startled by loud noises d Continue reading >>
The Amazing Changes Intermittent Fasting Does To Your Body And Brain
Stars like Beyonce and Hugh Jackman have spoken out about following intermittent fasting plans to get in shape. How does intermittent fasting work? We spoke with one of the leading neuroscientists in this field, Mark Mattson at the National Institute on Aging Intramural Research Program, to learn more. Following is a transcript of the video. How long has it been since you last ate? People who fast intermittently often eat within an 8-hour block, leaving 16 hours of fasting in between. During that 16-hour stretch, their bodies undergo an important change that sets them apart from non-fasters. Here's how it works. When you eat, you store some of that energy in the liver as glycogen. But after 10-12 hours of not eating, your glycogen reserves will be extremely low. As a result, you may feel more irritable than normal, a term scientists call "hangry." The upside is — with little glycogen left — fat cells in your body release fats into your bloodstream. The fat cells head straight to your liver, where they're converted to energy for your body and brain. So, you are literally burning fat to survive. Blood samples show that people who had fasted for 12-24 hours experienced a 60% increase in energy from fat, with the biggest change occurring after 18 hours. This is the benefit to intermittent fasting because it puts you in a state called ketosis. And it's why researchers think intermittent fasting could be the key to a longer, healthier life. The process of burning fat releases chemicals called ketones. In the brain, ketones trigger the release of an important molecule called BDNF. BDNF helps build and strengthen neurons and neural connections in areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Which could explain why a boost in ketone production has been shown to im Continue reading >>
How Low-carb And Ketogenic Diets Boost Brain Health
Low-carb and ketogenic diets have many health benefits. For example, it is well known that they can cause weight loss and help fight diabetes. However, they are also beneficial for certain brain disorders. This article explores how low-carb and ketogenic diets affect the brain. Although there is a lot of overlap between low-carb and ketogenic diets, there are also a few important differences. Ketogenic diet: Carbs are limited to 50 grams or less per day. A major goal is to increase blood levels of ketones, molecules that can partly replace carbs as an energy source for the brain. Low-carb diet: Protein is usually not restricted. Ketones may or may not rise to high levels in the blood. On a ketogenic diet, the brain is mainly fueled by ketones. These are produced in the liver when carb intake is very low. On a standard low-carb diet, the brain will still be largely dependent on glucose, although it may burn more ketones than on a regular diet. Low-carb and ketogenic diets are similar in many ways. However, a ketogenic diets contains even fewer carbs, and will lead to a significant rise in blood levels of ketones. You may have heard that your brain needs 130 grams of carbs per day to function properly. This is one of the most common myths about low-carb diets. In fact, a report by the US Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board states: "The lower limit of dietary carbohydrates compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed." Although a zero-carb diet isn't recommended because it eliminates many healthy foods, you can definitely eat much less than 130 grams per day and maintain good brain function. It is a common myth that you need to eat 130 grams of carbs per day to provide the brain with energy. Low-carb d Continue reading >>
Scientists Studying Effect Of Ketogenic Diet On Brain Cancer
Scientists are tracking the effects of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for its potential to starve brain tumours and treat cancer patients. The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s to help people with epilepsy. It works by forcing the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the body converts carbohydrates into glucose. But a low-carbohydrate diet causes the body to convert fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies; the latter acts as a replacement for glucose. High levels of ketone bodies are associated with reduced seizure frequency. It is theorized that the ketogenic diet could be used to "starve" some forms of cancer. Cancer cells use to glucose to grow, and they’re inefficient at using ketone bodies for energy So far, the diet’s effects on cancer cells has only been examined in animals and noted only anecdotally in human cases. A 2012 study on mice found that the ketogenic diet "significantly enhances" the anti-tumour effect of radiation. Dr. Jong Rho, head of pediatric neurology at the Alberta Children's Hospital, previously used the diet to treat patients with epilepsy and was part of the 2012 study. Rho has also been monitoring the case of 15-year-old Adam Sorenson. More than two years ago, the Calgary teen was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer. The average time of survival after diagnosis is 12 to 15 months. Following Adam’s diagnosis, doctors performed surgery to remove a baseball-sized brain tumour. Sorenson then received radiation treatment. Chemotherapy was an option, but tests suggested he might not benefit. With few options left on the table and a real chance the cancer would return, Sorenson's parents did some research and put their son on the ketogenic diet. "You f Continue reading >>
What Happens To The Human Brain When It Gets Old?
The other Quora participants have focused on the decline that happens with age. While it’s true that nothing last forever, neither brain nor reign, there is some good news about brain aging. Perhaps the most striking brain research today is the strong evidence we now have that exercise may forestall some kinds of mental decline. It may even restore memory. Myriad animal studies have shown that, among other brain benefits, aerobic exercise increases capillary development in the brain, meaning more blood supply, more nutrients and - a big requirement for brain health - more oxygen. The preeminent exercise and brain-health researcher in humans is Arthur Kramer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In a dozen studies over the past few years, Kramer and his colleagues have proved two critical findings: Fit people have sharper brains, and people who are out of shape, but then get into shape, sharpen up their brains. This second finding is vital. There’s no question that working out makes you smarter, and it does so, Kramer notes, at all stages of life. Just as important, exercise staves off heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other maladies that increase the risk of brain problems as we age. A confirmation of the benefits of aerobic conditioning for brain aging was presented in a cross sectional study. “Aerobic Fitness Reduces Brain Tissue Loss in Aging Humans”, Colcombe and Kramer, 2003. Aerobic fitness of 55 highly educated, cognitively normal persons (aged 55–79 years) was assessed by estimating VO2max . Brain integrity was assessed by MRI scans using VBM methodology. The analysis showed a typical pattern of age related differences: reduced brain tissue density in association with cortical regions (prefrontal, superior and inferior parietal, and inf Continue reading >>
Your Brain On Ketones
The modern prescription of high carbohydrate, low fat diets and eating snacks between meals has coincided with an increase in obesity, diabetes, and and increase in the incidence of many mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. In addition, many of these disorders are striking the population at younger ages. While most people would agree that diet has a lot to do with the development of obesity and diabetes, many would disagree that what we eat has much to do with our mental health and outlook. I believe that what we eat has a lot to do with the health of our brains, though of course mental illness (like physical illness) has multifactorial causes, and by no means should we diminish the importance of addressing all the causes in each individual. But let's examine the opposite of the modern high carbohydrate, low fat, constant snacking lifestyle and how that might affect the brain. The opposite of a low fat, snacking lifestyle would be the lifestyle our ancestors lived for tens of thousands of generations, the lifestyle for which our brains are primarily evolved. It seems reasonable that we would have had extended periods without food, either because there was none available, or we were busy doing something else. Then we would follow that period with a filling meal of gathered plant and animal products, preferentially selecting the fat. During the day we might have eaten a piece of fruit, or greens, or a grub we dug up, but anything filling or high in calories (such as a starchy tuber) would have to be killed, butchered, and/or carefully prepared before eating. Fortunately, we have a terrific system of fuel for periods of fasting or low carbohydrate eating, our body (and brain) can readily shift from burning glucose to burning what ar Continue reading >>
#147: Ketosis And Your Brain
There was a time not so long ago when nutrition was simple: carbs good, fats bad. But since this neat summary was from the same people who told us to eat more margarine and fewer eggs, well, let’s just say that advice wasn’t the most accurate. Welcome to the ketogenic diet. A high fat, low carb diet based on how our ancestors probably ate, it can control epilepsy, help you get a leaner body, and make your thinking clearer and sharper. Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, Associate Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida and Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), is here to talk to us about what exactly is going on in your body on a ketogenic diet. The Evolution of Human Diets When you think about how our caveman ancestors lived, they didn’t have access to a glut of high glycemic load foods like ripe fruit or honey, and they definitely weren’t snacking on white bread. They were eating a diet high in fiber and fat, and low in carbs. They were also probably in ketosis for most of the year. Cognitive Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet When your body is in ketosis, your brain just works better: you’ll feel more lucid and sharp. Like so much about the brain, we don’t know exactly why this is. But from an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense. If you haven’t been successful in getting food, it’s time to make a new plan, and you more likely come up with a successful one if your thinking is clear and sharp. Getting into Ketosis Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your brain and body’s energy comes from ketone bodies, instead of from glucose. There are a few ways of pushing your body into ketosis, including sustained periods of fasting and following a ketogenic diet (as the name so obvio Continue reading >>
Ketosis Makes Your Brain Work Better
Every morning for the last four and a half months, I’ve broken off a large chunk of grass fed butter (usually around 50 grams or just over three tablespoons) and a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and thrown them in a blender with my morning coffee. You might have heard of this idea, dubbed ‘bulletproof coffee’ and created by a guy called Dave Asprey. 1 (this essay was originally posted at Aaron’s blog HERE) You might ask why the hell somebody might want to put butter in their coffee, but all you’d be proving is that you haven’t tried it (because it tastes amazing) and according to Dave Asprey, apparently will help make you healthier, feel better, perform better, think better – everything short of give you superpowers. Now, I didn’t want to like Dave Asprey… he’s just a little bit too charming – especially once you realize he’s created a whole line of supplements and other consumables that meet his extra-special toxin-free super-executive standards. I tried his upgraded mycotoxin free coffee beans and didn’t notice any difference between them and any other local fancy-shmancy coffee I’ve purchased since – not that I doubt that some people are more sensitive to these toxins, I just didn’t notice a difference. Nevertheless, I do like him. He does a good podcast and he clued me into something that I previously would have thought was completely insane, but now am starting to think is key to keep my brain working optimally – eating a high fat diet. A diet that is high in fat (60-70% of calories), is almost by definition low in carbs, and this means that when eating a high fat diet, it is likely that one is at least partially and some of the time in a state of ketosis. For those of you who don’t know, ketosis is what it is called when the Continue reading >>
Ketogenic Diets And Alzheimer’s Disease
1. Introduction Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia, accounting for over 50% of individuals affected . This disease is characterized by progressive memory impairment and cognitive decline interfering with daily life activities. The most common early symptom of AD is difficulty remembering recent events. The symptoms of patients with advancing disease can include executive dysfunction, disorientation, problems with language, mood swings, behavioral changes and impaired self-care . Age-standardized prevalence for individuals aged over 60 years varied between 5% and 7% in most world regions . An estimated 35.6 million people lived with dementia worldwide in 2010, with numbers expected to almost double every 20 years . AD has a long preclinical phase of several decades and the most important risk factor for AD is increasing age. Impaired vascular health has been shown to be another major risk factor for cognitive decline and interventions for cardiovascular risk may therefore improve cognitive health at the population level [4,5]. Other lifestyle-related factors, such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, diet, physical and mental inactivity, have been suggested to play a role in dementia, and potential preventive measures related to these risk factors should be investigated . AD is neuropathologically defined by neuronal loss and the accumulation of extracellular amyloid β-peptide (Aβ)-containing plaques and intracellular hyperphosphorylated tau protein-containing neurofibrillary tangles in the brain . The accumulation of abnormally folded Aβ and tau proteins in amyloid plaques and neuronal tangles, respectively, appear to be causally associated with the neurodegeneration in AD . However, Continue reading >>
These Mice Stopped Eating Carbs So You (maybe) Don't Have To
In the ever-more masochistic world of wellness-boosting, pound-shedding diets, the latest trend involves putting your body into a controlled state of starvation known as “ketogenesis,” by cutting out nearly all carbs. If that doesn’t sound like your particular brand of torture, guess what? You’re already on it. Well, at least while you’re sleeping. Two independent studies published Tuesday in the journal Cell Metabolism raise hopes that ketogenic diets, if followed full-time, do more than just slim waists. They also appear to improve the odds of living longer and remembering better … if you’re a mouse. The same effects have yet to be proven in humans, and plans for that are in the works. But in the meantime, self-experimenting biohackers (i.e. dieters) are collecting anecdotal evidence all around the world. Every time you wake up from a solid snooze and exhale out the fiery iron breath of a thousand rotting apple cores, that’s the taste of the “keto” lifestyle. That smell is acetone, and a little bit of it in the morning is a normal sign of a healthy metabolism. Over millennia, humans evolved a backup energy production system, for when glucose—your body’s main fuel source—gets depleted. Like during a famine, or just a good long nap. The goal of keto diets is to switch your body over to to this alternative metabolic pathway not just at night, but during your waking hours as well. By limiting carbs to just a few grams per day, your body begins to rely on its fat stores instead, and voila, epic weight loss. That works pretty well for things like your heart and lungs and muscles. But your brain—that electrical power suck, which consumes about a quarter of your daily calories—can’t burn fats. So in the absence of glucose, it snacks on somethin Continue reading >>
Do Low Carbohydrate Diets Make You Dumber?
Low-carbohydrate diets, where carbohydrates constitute anywhere from 5 to 30 percent of total caloric intake (approximately 25 to 150 grams each day), are all the rage right now. For many, they're a successful impetus to sustained weight loss and improved health. But there could be an unforeseen toll. Because of the way that the human brain functions, low-carbohydrate diets may adversely impact cognitive ability. Does a low-carb diet really make you duller? To examine this question, let's first discuss its focus: the brain. There's no reason to beat around the bush, your brain is a pig. Though idle enough when observed outside its home cranium -- all pink, squishy, and squelchy; kind of cute really -- the brain is a charged biological machine. In an unseen electrical storm that would rival even the mightiest lightning display, 86 billion neurons fire -- almost nonstop -- to create the mosaic of thoughts, emotions, and mental images that we call the mind. The whole operation is an immense power suck, ravenously consuming roughly 250 to 300 calories each day, 20-25% of a human's base energy expenditure. As far as food goes, the brain is a fairly picky eater. Like a young candy-craving child, it prefers simple sugar molecules -- glucose to be specific -- and when the brain doesn't get glucose, it gets crabby and distracted. Since the body most easily creates glucose by metabolizing carbohydrates, it stands to reason that limiting carbohydrates could dampen cognitive function. When consuming low-carb diets in the short term, this is certainly true. In a 2008 study, psychologists placed 19 women on either a calorie restricted low-carb diet or a calorie restricted high-carb diet for 28 days. Throughout the study, participants' memory, reaction time, and vigilance were tested Continue reading >>
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How Does Listening To Music Affect The Brain?
There are two main competing views. For Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, music is simply "auditory cheesecake," and "[a]s far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless." In other words, certain vibrations enter your ear and stimulate your eardrum, information is fed to your auditory cortex, contained within close to the intersection of your parietal and temporal lobes and, without serving any particular survival function or other purpose, neurotransmitters that induce feelings of pleasure are released. For Pinker, the neural response to music is something akin to masturbating or eating a delicious, yet un-nutritious, meal - it is simply a method of artificially tickling an ancient pathway designed for pleasure. In contrast, in his famous book "Musicophilia," Dr. Oliver Sacks argues that music is, for humans, a fundamental and essential experience, that requires the recruitment of vast areas of the brain, but most directly connects to our limbic system and directly induces powerful emotional sensations. Following from Sacks's argument flows the entire field of music therapy, which has used music to help stimulate people with all sorts of cognitive deficiencies. Certain people with brain damage who have lost the ability to speak, form coherent thoughts, or even really interact with other people, come to life, redevelop the ability to sing, and can interact with their loved ones again, all thanks to being exposed to music. So, it really depends on who you ask. Pinker looks at these things from the perspective of evolutionary biology, attempting to understand how particular neural and psychological phenomenon serve a clear survival function, while Sacks recounts several stories as a clinician and practicing physician, observing the power of music to s Continue reading >>