Dakim Blog

March 17, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention Can Make a Bigger Difference Than You May Think

Written by: Dan Michel

For I don’t know how long, we Americans have looked to our physicians to cure what ails us—with scalpels and medications. But we find ourselves in a tough bind these days. The economy is struggling, our senior population is growing rapidly, and health care costs continue to rise.

Even though we all want the best care, we have to do something to control health care costs, or our health care system will indeed go bankrupt, as so many fear.

So, what can we do?

My brother, who was a very well respected oncological surgeon, once told me there is a lot of truth to the adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I can think of two ounces of prevention, and happily, Dakim BrainFitness can help with both of them.

January 7, 2009

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Brain "Superfood"

Written by: Dakim

Traditionally, we’ve been told to avoid fat for our health, particularly for cardiovascular health. But there’s new research that tells us that some fats are not only good for us, our bodies require them. In particular, our bodies need the omega-3 fatty acids, often simply referred to as “omega-3.” These are substances our bodies can’t produce, but must obtain from our food. They’re found in a number of foods, including walnuts, some fruits and vegetables, and coldwater fish like as anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, and sturgeon. Omega-3s help maintain the containing membranes around every cell in our body. Other benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin problems. There are studies that suggest that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease. Most of these are because omega-3s help reduce all sorts of inflammation.

In addition, omega-3s reduce the negative impact of yet another kind of equally essential fatty acid known as omega-6s. Omega-6s are found in eggs, poultry, cereals, vegetable oils, baked goods, and margarine. Omega-6s have profound effects on skin health, they lower cholesterol, and, most importantly, affect the ability of blood to clot. But omega-6s can have unpleasant side effects if they aren’t balanced with sufficient amounts of omega-3s.

Another factor to consider is that there are several kinds of omega-3s; there’s the particularly important omega-3s known to chemists and nutritionists as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). They’re mostly found in cold-water fish. Then there’s Omega-3 ALA (alpha-linolenic acid); two of the best sources are soybean oil, and flaxseed. Others are broccoli, spinach, canola oil, cantaloupe, kidney beans, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, and walnuts; even a handful of walnuts has about 2.5 grams of omega-3 ALA. The ideal balance between the two omegas is roughly 4 parts omega-3s to 1 part omega-6s, according to experts.

Bottom line? Eat lots of walnuts, and tofu, and whole foods naturally containing ALA, but be particularly sure to eat fish, especially cold water fatty fish. You could do worse than follow the American Heart Association’s suggestion to eat fatty fish at least twice weekly, at three or four ounces a serving. The Association suggests that patients with coronary heart disease should include 1,000 milligrams of DHA plus EPA daily in their diet.

January 5, 2009

Moderate Drinking May Help Prevent Dementia

Written by: Dakim

Moderate drinkers often have lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive loss when compared to non-drinkers.

Researchers who reviewed 44 studies published since the 1990s discovered that in more than half of the studies, moderate drinkers had less risk of dementia than nondrinkers. The study cites “significantly reduced risks of cognitive loss or dementia in moderate, nonbinge consumers of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor).” In a scant handful of the studies moderate drinkers had higher risks. The study, published in the current issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, defines “moderate alcohol consumption” as 1 drink or less per day for women and 1-2 drinks or less per day for men.

One of the authors of the study, Michael Collins, a Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine professor and neuroscientist, observed that “Alcohol is a two-edged sword. Too much is bad. But a little might actually be helpful.” The study speculates about “neuroprotective” effects of moderate amounts of alcohol against some of the damaging proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, because the moderate alcohol triggers “mild stress-associated, anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the heart, vasculature, and brain that tend to promote cellular survival pathways.”

The study authors don’t suggest those who don’t drink should begin drinking, but they note that moderate alcohol consumption as part of a healthy diet rich in omega-3, antioxidants, a regular physical exercise program (and naturally, cognitive fitness activities that emphasize new experiences and learning), are all important in preserving quality of life, and warding off dementia.