Cognitive function

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Cure Chronic Conditions with Bacon and a Steak

The top three issues I’ve observed being improved by a carnivore diet are joint pain, digestive health, and mental health. The likely reason for this is because these issues are among the most common ailments. Mental health disorders are often given a special place in the landscape of human disease, probably because of the emotional turmoil associated with them. However, mental health issues are just diseases, as diabetes and arthritis are. Given that, no one should get upset when someone suggests that nutrition may play a role in the development or mitigation of these diseases, but some people do. Why is it considered radical to suggest that a diet of processed seed oil, grains, and oxalates is linked to depression? I just don’t understand that reaction.

Examinations of depressed patients show that they often suffer from lower levels of carnitine than people who don’t suffer from depression. You might recall from earlier discussions that humans can produce carnitine, but when we eat meat, our levels of it tend to increase. It’s possible that the higher levels of carnitine are the reason so many people notice an improvement in mood after they’ve eaten a nice steak.

Low cholesterol levels also are associated with higher rates of depression, as well as violence and suicide. Hyperinsulinemia has been associated with some mental health disorders, and in my informal studies, we have seen that eating a carnivore diet is often very effective in improving insulin status. Gut issues and inflammation are other ailments that are highly associated with mental health status. Guess what—a carnivore diet helps in those areas as well.

In 1933, noted wilderness activist Robert Marshall wrote in his book Arctic Village that the people he lived with, who survived on caribou meat in the remote wilds of Northern Alaska, were the happiest civilization he had ever encountered. I had a patient who had spent eighteen years living off the land and surviving primarily on caribou meat in remote Alaska. There’s even a movie about her experience—The Year of the Caribou. She was eighty-three when I knew her, and she told me that the happiest she had ever been and the best health she had experienced was during that time in Alaska.

Vegan propagandists often claim meat is inflammatory, and to support their claims about inflammation, they sometimes cite a study that used an isolated situation in which meat was not the only variable. We have to remember that human physiology is an incredibly complex system, and you can’t take an isolated lab test or cell culture study and extrapolate it to the entire system.

The best way to see whether meat is inflammatory to the human body is to feed it, and nothing else, to humans for a prolonged period to find out what happens via both clinical and laboratory assessment. Contrary to what the vegans would like us to believe, as more and more people try out the carnivore diet, we have more evidence that meat is very much an anti-inflammatory diet.

Autoimmune diseases are strongly linked with gastrointestinal problems, and increased intestinal permeability may be one of the chief culprits. Some of the recent literature on this subject focuses on altering the microbiome—often by using probiotics—to affect the intestinal permeability. This technique has generally produced little success because the microbiome is incredibly responsive to diet, and if the diet isn’t altered, then the probiotic-induced shift in microbiome will likely be short-lived at best.

As I previously mentioned, some of the common food components that appear to cause gut permeability issues are plant oils, drugs and supplements, legumes, grains, dairy, and sweeteners. The carnivore diet pretty much excludes all these items, except occasional limited dairy for those who can tolerate it. It’s interesting to note that many people see a resolution of a variety of autoimmune conditions when they exclude those items from their diets.

Aside from the benefits that a carnivore diet has on autoimmune-related arthritis, it seems that a fairly high number of people also report improvement in the more common osteoarthritis. Conventional wisdom has been that osteoarthritis is a mechanical problem and a disease of “wear and tear.”

Recent studies indicate that pathophysiology of osteoarthritis has a much greater component of inflammation than previously thought, and perhaps it also has a relationship with gut permeability. A recent animal study has shown a link between carbohydrate consumption as a possible etiologic agent in osteoarthritis. So, I owe an apology to all the patients who I didn’t believe when they used to tell me that eating certain foods made their joints hurt.

Common conditions such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity often get better on a carnivore diet. These same conditions sometimes improve on other low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diets. A decrease in vascular inflammation likely contributes to improved blood pressure; often, people who have high blood pressure see improvement within a few weeks of adjusting their diets.

Blood glucose stabilization typically occurs over several months. If we look at postprandial blood glucose readings of long-term carnivores, they tend to be very stable with no significant elevations, which is in contrast with what we see with most diabetics, who often have fairly wide swings in their blood glucose numbers. Likewise, overall insulin sensitivity seems to improve fairly consistently, based on observation of long-term carnivore dieters who have shared their data.

 


Excerpted from The Carnivore Diet, By Dr. Shawn Baker.
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Cognitive function tips by coach Elizabeth B

 

Healthy cognition is judged by your ability to remember and the speed at which you are able to solve problems. Language, imagination, perception, and planning are all cognitive functions of the brain. Any neurological degeneration will cause a decline in cognitive function, which is defined a dementia. This will also cause the loss of motor function. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. 

 

It was originally described by german neurologist Alois Alzheimer. His papers describing presenile dementia were first recorded as Alzheimer’s in 1910. 

Alzheimers is progressive and characterized by the loss of memory, language skills and cognitive impairment. Personality changes are also seen with Alzheimers’, 

characterized by aggression and an infantile response to stress. In contrast with Parkinson’s Disease, motor functions remain intact until the final stages of neural degeneration. Alzheimer’s is linked more to cognitive decline than Parkinson’s.

Alzheimer’s is caused by the malfunctioning of several  physiological functions. 50% of dementia is considered to be caused by Alzheimer’s. It is associated with vascular degeneration in the brain, first in the capillaries, and then in the arteries of the brain. Onset is described between 40 and 90 years of age, which is a huge time span for cognitive impairment. A person who is 40 years old will spend over half of their life with brain impairment.

 

The brain is one of the four most vascularized organs in the human body. It needs a huge amount of oxygen, as well as energy. Vascular degeneration causes a decrease in the number of nerve cells. Only a brain biopsy or autopsy can diagnose Alzheimers. This means you have to be dead to know if you have it. For this reason, standardized testing with questions in a clinical setting and drawing puzzles is used to attempt to diagnose it. This is also a reason Alzheimer’s is often misdiagnosed or confused with vascular dementia, Parkinson’s and other disorders. Several medications can cause common Alzheimer’s symptoms. These include anticholinergics, corticosteroids, pain relievers, statins, chemotherapy drugs, and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. The side effects of these drugs not only impair cognitive function involving memory, speech, and attention while they are being taken, but also have been seen to increase the risk of cognitive impairment in some. 

 

The brain’s ability to regenerate by forming new neural connections throughout life is called neuroplasticity. Brain tissue is healthy when it gets the right nutrients to allow neurons in the brain to heal from injury and to adjust  to new situations or changes in the environment. Brain tissue is made up of 60 to 70% fat, and it is always hungry for more, so it can regenerate. A low-fat diet is associated with all kinds health issues, and neurological degeneration is one of them. DHA

The brain is  is an electrical organ which fires electrical impulses across cholesterol covered nerve tissue to communicate to all parts of the body. Alzheimer’s is often called diabetes of the brain or diabetes type 3. High levels of insulin resistance will damage brain tissue. Brain tissue has to respond to insulin to lower blood glucose. If neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin there will be degeneration. Some researchers believe insulin deficiency is central to the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s. 

 

Recently there has been an association between inflammatory bowel syndrome and an autoimmune component of neurological deterioration. People with IBS have more than twice the risk of developing dementia. The vagus nerve connects the brain to the stomach and intestines. 

Inflammation along this sensory route may cause the production of the abnormal proteins, also known as amyloid plaque, found in the brains of people who have had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Mitochondria, which are the small organelles in cells known as cellular batteries, help neurons grow and stimulate neuroplasticity. 

 

The brain needs a huge amount of energy, making it highly dependent on mitochondria.  

There are hundreds to thousands of mitochondria in a single neuron. 

The fact that the brain prefers fat as a nutrient is clear by the fact that newborns who breast feed are in ketosis due to the fat level in breast milk. Brain inflammation following stroke and brain trauma has been successfully treated using a low-carb high fat diet.

Ketone bodies, which are produced naturally by the human metabolism in the absence of glucose or reduced presence of glucose, have a neuroprotective impact on aging brain cells. Ketones improve mitochondrial function and reduce tissue inflammation.  This reduced inflammation also improves digestion and autoimmunity, so can also maintain healthy brain tissue.

 

Deficiencies in essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12 can cause impaired cognition. Attention span, intelligence, and sensory perception, as well as behavioral and mood issues are linked to anemia.  

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to forgetfulness, poor focus and concentration, memory decline, all indicators of decreased cognitive function. The carnivore diet is the greatest source of both iron and vitamin B12. As it is also a low-carb diet, it reduces insulin resistance. The absence or near absence of plant foods in the carnivore diet makes it a great tool for eliminating intestinal inflammation that can cause autoimmunity and inflammation along the vagal sensory route. It is also easy to eat plenty of omega-3 rich animal fat on the carnivore diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been associated with the evolution of the large human brain, as well as supporting and maintaining the human brain’s neuroplasticity, and therefore cognitive function.

 

Thyroid hormone is the first hormone produced in the human body, and is crucial for the neural development of the fetus, but it is also essential for cognitive function in the mature brain. If thyroid function is impaired it can manifest itself as depression, bipolar affective disorders, memory loss, and mood disorders. Thyroid hormone stimulates neurogenesis. Both depressed and accelerated thyroid hormone function affect the myelination process. Both insulin resistance and malnutrition damage the synthesis of thyroid hormones in the thyroid, in peripheral tissue and in the brain. The transport of thyroid hormones to their receptor targets in the brain. Hypothyroidism is fairly prevalent in the elderly, and is often confused with dementia.  The carnivore diet assures the optimum quantity of nutrients necessary for thyroid function, such as iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, tyrosine, and vitamin B12. It also improves intestinal absorption for said nutrients and the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone, thyroxine, to the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine.

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