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Healthy Brain: Get Off the Fad Diets!

Posted Oct 23 2008 9:02pm

This 5th step from Dr. Amen is my favorite, because he tells it like it is, or should be, and puts fad diets in their place. It's all about balance if you want a healthy brain.

5. Balance Protein, Good Fats and Carbohydrates

Given the weight issues in my family, I have read many of the diet programs popular in America. Some I like a lot, others make me a little crazy. The idea of eating protein and fat only, avoiding most grains, fruits and vegetables may be a quick way to lose weight, but it is not a healthy long term way to eat for your body or your brain.

The best thing in my mind about the Atkins Diet and its many clones is that they get rid of most of the simple sugars in our diets. Diets high in refined sugars, such as the low fat diets of the past, encourage diabetes, tiredness, and cognitive impairment. Yet, to imply that bacon is a health food and that oranges and carrots are as bad as cake seems silly.

The more balanced diets, such as The Zone by Barry Sears, Sugarbusters by H. Leighton Steward and a group of Louisiana based physicians, the South Beach Diet by cardiologist Arthur Agatston, and Powerful Foods for Powerful Minds and Bodies by Rene Thomas make sense from a body and brain perspective.

The main principles to take away from these programs is that balance is essential, especially balancing proteins, good fats, and good carbohydrates. Having protein at each meal helps to balance blood sugar levels; adding lean meat, eggs, cheese, soy, or nuts to a snack or meal limits the fast absorption of carbohydrates and prevents the brain fog that goes with eating simple carbohydrates, such as donuts. At each meal or snack, try to get a balance of protein, high fiber carbohydrates, and fat.

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