What Everyone Ought to Know About Improving Brain Health
Guess what organ suffers the most from a poor diet and even poorer nutrition? Your brain is crying out for help, but the good news is that you can improve your brain health! According to a recent study by Herbalife, the FDA’s new nutrition labeling regulations resulted in updated daily values (DVs) which were found to score statistically lower on the Nutrition Rich Food index. Read on to find out how to improve brain health by harnessing the power of nutrition!
The FDA Implemented A New Nutrition Labeling Regulation
Herbalife Nutrition is a premiere global nutrition company whose #1 goal is to make the world a healthier and happier place. During the Poster Sessions at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Annual Meeting in Boston this month from June 9th through June 12th, Herbalife announced the results of a fascinating study.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began a new nutrition labeling regulation. The daily values or DVs are used to calculate the Nutrition Rich Food (NRF) index scores and estimate the nutrient density and dietary quality of foods. The primary object of Herbalife’s study was to examine the impact of changes in DVs on the calculation of NRF index for major food groups and their nutrient density.
Herbalife Study on the Impact of FDA’s Updated Daily Values
This study entitled: “The Impact of FDA’s Updated Nutrient Daily Values on Nutrition Rich Food (NRF) Index” was presented by Simon Sum, DCN, RDN, ACSM-CPT, FAND, manager, Product Science and R&D at Herbalife Nutrition. Sum, one of the lead authors of the study, stated in this quote:
“Our research determined that the changes to the daily values were found to have a significant impact on the NRF index scores for many of the frequently consumed food items in major food groups other than vegetables. This study is a further validation of the importance of nutrient density in maximizing nutrition, while limiting excessive calories. While the impact on the NRF index of each food item may not affect the Index of the food group as a whole, the Index and other nutrient density scores should be updated constantly to reflect current regulations and the nutrients of current public health concerns.”
9 Major USDA Food Groups Featured in Study
The 9 major United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food groups featured in the study were comprised of the following:
- Milk and Milk Products
- Meat, Poultry, Fish and Mixtures
- Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
- Grain Products
- Fats, Oils, and Salad Dressings
- Sugars, Sweets, and Beverages
Each of these groups were represented by the top 10 most frequently consumed items according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The food’s nutritional density was evaluated utilizing an algorithm processing method.
The study calculated Nutrition Rich Food Index scores through a process of examining the most frequently consumed food items in six groups including milk and milk products, meat, fish, poultry and mixtures, legumes, nuts, and seeds, grain products, fruits, sugar, sweets, and beverages. There were no significant changes discovered in the vegetable group.
Nutrition Rich Food Index Study Results
The researchers discovered that the NRF index scores were found to be statistically lower with the new daily values opposed to the old daily values amongst the most frequently consumed food items. Interestingly, the use of new daily values resulted in a significant increase in NRF index scores opposed to those using the old daily values in the food items in the groups of eggs, fat, oils, and salad dressings.
You’ll notice that Herbalife’s study didn’t note a major difference in the daily values for vegetables. Perhaps we should take a hint and start consuming more vegetables to provide our daily nutrition. As we will discover, whether or not we can improve our brain health is dependent on the quality of our diet.
We determine the quality of our diet and thus our quality of life. The two are inexorably intertwined, and I’m sure you’ve heard the popular adage: “You are what you eat”. Let’s take that mentality one step further by examining how the Standard American Diet (SAD) detrimentally impacts your brain health.
Standard American Diet Detrimental to Brain Health
You wouldn’t want to mix water with the fuel that goes into your vehicle, but that is the equivalent to what we do to our brains when we eat the typical Standard American Diet. This diet’s abbreviation translates to “sad” for a reason. Americans are facing nutritional deficiencies on a major scale. Our brains are functioning on fumes because you can’t fuel a body on dirty fuel any better than you could the engine of your vehicle.
Do you feel exhausted on so many levels that you’ve lost track of the last time you genuinely enjoyed your day? Common factors that contribute to our exhaustion on a daily basis include insufficient sleep, a poor diet, environmental toxins, and other culprits like a high-stress lifestyle. All of these factors negatively impact our brain health.
Examples of food that act as dirty fuel to our brains include food additives, preservatives, and dyes, refined sugar, hydrogenated fats, and processed grains. We really need to start asking ourselves what we want when it comes to our quality of life. Does sleep that refreshes you, food that energizes you, and a pace that stimulates you instead of running you into the ground sound like a dream come true?
All one needs to change is a vision. If that is the lifestyle you are seeking, the good news is that it is highly possible and even easily attainable to improve your brain health with a few adjustments.
Alzheimer’s Disease Statistics Continue to Climb
Dr. Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained how the quality of the diet does indeed affect the brain: "The latest research, including my own work, indicates that a poor diet causes the loss of key structural and functional elements in the brain, with an aggressively higher vulnerability to brain aging and dementia."
The statistics for Alzheimer’s disease are reaching skyrocketing proportions. Researchers estimate that by the year 2050, 14 million Americans will need full-time care for Alzheimer’s disease. If we want to avoid this grim fate, then we must take steps toward prevention by improving our brain health now.
Quick Tips to Improve Brain Health
You can take steps to improve brain health today by following a diet specifically geared for brain health such as the Ketogenic diet or Wahl’s protocol, implementing a weekly exercise regimen (ideally strength training), reducing your exposure to environmental toxins, and lowering your stress level.
Making some adjustments to your diet may not be enough to correct your nutritional deficiencies as we have witnessed with the decline of nutritional value in many foods. If this is the case, ask your doctor or nutritionist how to supplement your diet with the proper vitamins and minerals.
Your brain doesn’t have to suffer anymore. As you improve your brain health, the rest of your body will benefit in more ways than you could ever imagine. Americans need to pause to evaluate the nutritional value of the foods they consume on a daily basis with their brains in mind if they want to experience the best quality of life and reduce their risk of disease and cognitive decline.