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 >>
6 Ways A Ketogenic Diet Improves Brain Function
The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920’s as a medical approach for reducing seizures in cases of pediatric epilepsy. Although we didn’t fully understand the mechanisms on how this worked, it was understood that elevated levels of ketones in the blood correlated with a significant decrease in epileptic episodes. Since then, we have come understand deeper ways in which a ketogenic diet improves brain function. The ketogenic diet remerged in recent years when people realized they would have more energy and elevated mental acuity when following it. After years of sideways science claiming that the body must have a constant intake of carbohydrate to be healthy, people are discovering the truth. On top of improved mental performance, the ketogenic diet is now being highlighted as a therapeutic strategy for mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases. Here I am going to break down the benefits and applications of the ketogenic diet for brain-related disorders. Low-Carb Vs. Ketogenic Before we get into it, it is important to understand what exactly a ketogenic diet is. If your goal is to employ the ketogenic diet as a healing strategy, it is important to be scientific to improve your chances of success. Many people think that a ketogenic diet is simply a high-fat, low-carb diet. While this is true, it does not provide the whole picture. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to drop blood sugar so low that the body resorts to fats for energy instead. This means if you eat too many carbs or too little fat, you may not fully shift into ketosis. Consuming too much protein can also prevent a shift into ketosis as excess amino acids are converted into glucose. Everyone reacts a little differently and so I usually recommend measuring your blood sugar and ketone levels througho 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
Ketones Suppress Brain Glucose Consumption
Go to: 1. INTRODUCTION Neurodegeneration after oxidative stress limits the recovery of tissue response and appears to be caused by impaired glycolysis. If indeed there is a defect in glucose metabolism it might be beneficial to supplement energy metabolism with an alternate substrate. It was suggested that brain can supplement glucose as the principal energy substrate with ketone bodies1–3 without altering oxygen consumption4,5. Classic studies of ketosis induced by fasting or starvation in humans showed that brain function was maintained which was attributed to the utilization (oxidation) of ketone bodies as alternate energy substrates to glucose by the brain6. Rats that have been fasted for 2–3 days showed no difference in cerebral blood flow (CBF) or CMRO27. One mechanism by which ketosis might be beneficial is through the metabolic step where ketones enter the TCA cycle at the level of citrate bypassing glycolysis, the step after pyruvate dehydrogenase complex where the enzyme activity is often impaired. Through feed-back regulation, ketones are known to down regulate glycolytic rates at various levels such as citrate, phosphofructokinase and/or hexokinase. In addition, particularly in brain, ketones are a carbon source for glutamate (anaplerosis) and thus help to balance glutamate/glutamine homeostasis through stabilization of energy metabolism in astrocyte following recovery from a hypoxic/ischemic event. Based on our experiments and evidence in the literature, we have developed the hypothesis that ketones are effective against pathology associated with altered glucose metabolism, the rationale being that ketosis helps to regulate glucose metabolism. In this study, the effects of ketosis on the local cerebral metabolic rate of glucose consumption (CMRglu) were Continue reading >>
How To Use The Ketogenic Diet For Productivity And Mental Performance
Beginning in the 1920’s, the ketogenic diet, or “keto” diet — which involves eating mostly fat and protein as an energy source with low intake of carbohydrates — has been used by many for weight loss and in helping patients with diabetes or epilepsy. But there’s another less-talked about benefit of this diet: ketosis for mental performance. If you’re experiencing brain fog, lack of productivity, or poor mental performance, ketosis might be a solution for you. We’ll go over some of the ways ketosis can have a positive effect on cognition and may help you be more productive throughout your day. KETOSIS FOR MENTAL PERFORMANCE First, let’s start with a little refresher around ketosis and energy. The basis of the ketogenic diet is that it uses specially designed macronutrient balance to get a certain response from the body. Those on the keto diet eat normal amounts of protein, higher amounts of fat than the average person, and they keep their carbohydrate intake very low, less than 50 grams per day. When carb intake is this low, it triggers a response in the body that is similar to how it would act during starvation. Instead of simply utilizing glucose, the primary source of energy, the brains pulls from its alternative energy source: fat. But before fats can be used by the body, the liver has to first convert them to ketone bodies. Then, these ketone bodies are used as energy for the body and brain when there is lack of glucose. This is how ketosis works. Now that we’ve understood that, let’s talk about how ketosis might be used as an advantage for your mental state and productivity. KETONES IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION The standard Western diet is deficiency in many areas, including the very important essential fatty acids. This is detrimental to health bec Continue reading >>
Powerful Role Of Ketone Fats In Brain Health And Alzheimer’s Treatment
Brain cells function with far greater efficiency when they are utilizing fat (ketones) as a fuel source as opposed to sugar. The exciting news is that scientists are now taking advantage of this finding in the actual treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, as you can see in this recent research publication. This research clearly substantiates the health benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet as a powerful lifestyle change to achieve the goal of brain health and functionality. While there actually exists a pharmaceutical “medical food” based on the science explained in this report, you can boost the availability of ketones for your brain by simply adding coconut oil or MCT oil to your daily regimen. But to make this effective, carb restriction is a must! Alzheimer’s now affects some 5.4 million Americans. It is my belief that this dietary approach may well go a long way to keeping the brain healthy and allowing us to remain free of this dreaded condition. 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 >>
What Are The Effects Of Marijuana On The Brain?
Here are some highlights: Short term effects: Some effects may include a general alteration of conscious perception, euphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music or the arts, joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, creative, abstract or philosophical thinking, disruption of linear memory and paranoia or anxiety. Anxiety is the most commonly reported side effect of smoking marijuana. Between 20 and 30 percent of recreational users experience intense anxiety and/or panic attacks after smoking cannabis. Cannabis also produces many subjective and highly tangible effects, such as greater enjoyment of food taste and aroma, an enhanced enjoyment of music and comedy, and marked distortions in the perception of time and space (where experiencing a "rush" of ideas from the bank of long-term memory can create the subjective impression of long elapsed time, while a clock reveals that only a short time has passed). At higher doses, effects can include altered body image, auditory and/or visual illusions, pseudo-hallucinatory or (rarely, at very high doses) fully hallucinatory experiences, and ataxia from selective impairment of polysynaptic reflexes. In some cases, cannabis can lead to dissasociative states such as depersonalization and derealization; such effects are most often considered desirable, but have the potential to induce panic attack and paranoia in some unaccustomed users. Some of the short-term physical effects of cannabis use include increased heart rate, dry mouth (cotton mouth), reddening of the eyes (congestion of the conjunctival blood vessels), a reduction in intra-ocular pressure, mu Continue reading >>
3 Reasons Why Keto Is Better For The Brain
The rigors and stress of life often leads us astray when it comes to our diet. Whether it’s a lack of proper nutrients or consuming either too few or too many calories – this can put our bodies out of equilibrium. With a failure to maintain an equilibrium, the body’s energy levels decline and performance on day to day tasks can suffer. We also observe deterioration in more complex tasks. Plus, as we age, it becomes more important to maintain a balance to perform and succeed in daily life. The keto diet is the answer to this! We’ll go over three reasons why the ketogenic diet is great for you and your brain. Increased Energy A lack of energy is an all too familiar feeling for most of us. As many of us try to squeeze more time out of each day, we find ourselves constantly running on fumes, nearing the end of our “tank”. As each day passes, we progressively become more fatigued and sluggish – we see that our mental performance and physical drive declines. But, there’s good news! Research has shown that those who follow a ketogenic (ketone) based diet can develop an increase in mitochondrial function and a decrease in free radicals. (1) What does this mean for you? In a nutshell, the major role of mitochondria is to process the intake of food and oxygen and produce energy from that. An increase in the mitochondrial function equates to more energy for your cells – which leads to more energy for you. Free radicals are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules in the body. They are highly reactive and the danger comes from the damage they’re able do to our mitochondria. When this occurs, cells may function poorly or die. Reducing the production of free radicals can lead to better neurological stability and cellular performance, leading to more ene Continue reading >>
Ketosis Carbohydrates And The Brain – Q&a
Question: I’ve been doing the CKD effectively. However, I have a major exam on Friday. Is there any effect on limited carbs on cognitive processes? Does limiting carbs ( 20g / day) have a negative effect or could it retard my performance on a major exam, i.e. MCATs, Series7, etc? Is there any study or suggestion you could give based on your research? Answer: First a quick definition for anyone who isn’t familiar with the abbreviation: as discussed in the Comparing the Diets Series , a CKD refers to a cyclical ketogenic diet. This is simply a diet that alternates between periods of very low-carbohydrate eating (typically 4-6 days) and very high-carbohydrate eating (1-3 days). Dan Duchaine’s Bodyopus, Mauro DiPasquale’s Anabolic Diet and my own Ultimate Diet 2.0 are all examples of CKD’s. My first book The Ketogenic Diet discusses CKD’s generally in mind-numbing detail. Now back to the question: does ketosis negatively impact on cognitive function? And the answer is one huge it depends. Certainly early studies found that, in the short-term (first 1-3 weeks), low-carbohydrate diets tend to cause some problems. For this reason short-term studies (usually a week long) tend to report decrements in a lot of things including cognitive performance. Empirically, as well, many report fatigue, lethargy and a sort of mental ‘fog’ until they adapt to the diet (the brain adjusts to using ketones for fuel over those first 3 weeks). I’d note that supplementing with sodium, potassium and magnesium seems to go a long way towards limiting or eliminating that feeling of fatigue. So, for most I certainly wouldn’t recommend starting a very low-carbohydrate/ketogenic diet right before some major test or cognitive challenge. Odds are it’s going to cause problems. But what Continue reading >>
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 >>
Ketosis – Key To Human Babies’ Big Brains?
Prof Noakes is on trial for ‘advising’ a mom to wean her baby onto low carb, high fat foods. Could babies’ innate ketosis – a state more often associated with low-carb, high-fat diets – be an arrow in Prof Noakes’ defence’s quiver? By Tamzyn Murphy Campbell BSc, BSc Med(Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics, RD Did you know that human newborns and exclusively breastfed babies are in ketosis? 1 I am a dietitian, with two years of intensive postgraduate training in nutrition, and I didn’t realise this until just over a month ago. The fact that human babies are naturally in ketosis is an inconvenient truth because it implies that ketosis (which also occurs when fasting or eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet) is not only a natural metabolic state for human infants, but that it’s probably beneficial too. Nature seldom does something without a reason, so it’s likely that ketosis may confer some kind of evolutionary advantage to human infants. Research suggests that it may be one of the main factors behind the development of the large human brain. 2 “Nature seldom does something without a reason, so it’s likely that ketosis may confer some kind of evolutionary advantage to human infants. Research suggests that it may be one of the main factors behind the development of the large human brain. ” A word on ketones and ketosis Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body uses fat as fuel in preference to carbohydrates – as occurs when fasting or eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. The body makes ketones from fat, when dietary glucose (from carbohydrates and sugar) is low. Ketones can be used as fuel to produce the energy your body and brain needs to function. The human brain only has two options for fuel: glucose or ketones. The other body orga Continue reading >>
Ketogenic Diet And Brain Cancer
Brain cancers accounts for 1.8% of all cancers worldwide (1). The number of new diagnoses made annually is 2 to 3 per 100,000 people in the US and Europe. Brain and other CNS tumors are the 11th most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 3% of all new cases (2). Types of Brain Cancers Primary brain tumors are a varied group of both benign and malignant tumors. There are over 120 types of brain and central nervous system cancers. Some tumors are often given a grade to signify the rate of growth (3). Grade I is classed as the least malignant with grade IV being classed as the most malignant. Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive type of brain tumor. The average lifespan of patients diagnosed with GBM is between 12-18 months, with less than 10% surviving at 5 years. The survival for low-grade gliomas ranges from 7 to 14 years (4). Standard Treatment Approaches The treatment of brain cancers generally involves a multifactorial approach of surgery followed by chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. Conventional treatment options for GBM are more regarded as palliative and rarely curative due to their aggressive nature. Likewise, complete surgical resection is often impossible due to GBM’s ability to infiltrate normal brain tissue. Due to this, other types of treatments are being looked at to help with the overall prognosis of these types of cancers. Proposed Mechanism of the Ketogenic Diet in Cancer The way in which cancer cells work in the body are very different to that of normal cells. Namely, cancer cells have been shown to exhibit an altered metabolism. Compared to normal cells, cancer cells appear to have a greater glucose uptake, even when oxygen is present. Certain tumors function and thrive purely on glucose. Image source: Role of ketogeni Continue reading >>