Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by Jhoanna Robinson
Can one’s diet really prevent someone from suffering from dementia during the later years of their life? This is what a posh new restaurant seeks to answer.
The menu at New York restaurant Honeybrains, allegedly contains meals that are good for brain health, enough so that they can lower the risk of you incurring dementia during your old age.
Among the treats that Honeybrains is proud of is “the daily catch”, which is a smorgasbord of salmon fillet, kale, honey and lemon dressing, and roasted sweet potato. This meal incorporates the five main basic food groups that are a staple in the Blue Zone diet: fruits, legumes, omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, and whole grains.
The Blue Zones are the five regions in the world with the longest lifespans and less risks of brain diseases, according to a study conducted by New York Times author Dan Buettner. The Blue Zones include:
Meanwhile, the foods that comprise the Blue Zone diet contribute the following to ensure optimum brain health:
Honeybrains’ directors took inspiration from studies on Middle Eastern honey consumption and its relation to lower dementia risk. It serves avocado toast, hummus, and Cobb salads, which is the same as what posh restaurants like Chop’t, Fresh&Co, and Prets offer. Only healthier.
“Everything on the menu has a point. We want it to be food you want to eat, that fits into people’s lives, but that each item has at least one benefit for your brain,” Dr. Alon Seifan, a Miami, Florida-based doctor who did his residency at Columbia University in New York, said.
Honeybrains’ salads, which are prepared in the morning and packaged in the downstairs cooler are comprised of green leafy vegetables and grains like quinoa; which have substantial amounts of protein plus high amounts of fiber; minerals such as phosphorus, selenium, and zinc; and vitamin E.
Its oatmeal mix has cinnamon in it, which is rich in antioxidants that are good at detoxing the brain’s systems.
Honeybrains’ menu is curated by chef and University of Pennsylvania Health System nutritionist Amy von Sydow Green, who specializes on the impact of inflammation, particularly diabetes in the body. She helps patients plan their daily meals to control their blood sugar and insulin levels.
Dementia ails over five million people all over the world. The number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050. More and more, research points to the effect that the changes in your diet – whether you are 18 or 48 – have in lowering your risk of dementia. (Related: Healthy diet at midlife lowers risk of dementia by 90%)
The brain uses 25 percent of the body’s energy and depends on the proper functioning of the circulatory system and the optimum distribution of oxygen and blood throughout the body to stay keen and focused. A deficiency in exercise, poor stress management, lack of sleep, and negative habits such as smoking and drug-taking can significantly affect the flow of blood and oxygen.
Poor diet – which is rampant in the United States because Americans like to indulge in the so-called “Western diet”, which is high in saturated fats, red meat, and sugar, and which can cause obesity, brain diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure – is the easiest of these factors to remedy.
Eating more colorful food is said to impact the aging process, preventing diseases such as cancer and helping to address inflammation. In fact, a 16-year study shows that anthocyanins, which can be found in colorful foods, can delay brain ageing by two and a half years. It also showed that people who consumed more anthocyanins did better on cognitive tests.
This is why Honeybrains included pink pickled radish, carrots, and salads filled with green grapes in their menu.
Up until now, nutritionists are divided as to how healthful red meats and sweets are.
For Dr. Rudy Tanzi, who is a pioneering neurology professor at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital and who cut back on his intake of red meat 20 years ago, red meat can only contribute to the shortening of life, not the lengthening of it.
“Steak?! How is steak good for your brain?” Tanzi said, and also noted that honey, which is the cornerstone of every Honeybrains meal, is not that healthy in itself, exclaiming, “It’s still sugar – sugar is sugar, and sugar is bad for your brain.”
However, Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, is of a different opinion. “This is a new area of science, and it’s complicated. There’s no one magic piece of food that someone can eat and prevent Alzheimer’s, but incremental changes absolutely can have a positive effect.”
“I’m a strong believer that, yes, what you eat can influence brain health. But I think if everything is done in moderation, that’s fine. Many people say ‘don’t eat bread’ or ‘don’t eat meat’. Yes, studies have shown that red meat and bread are not brain healthy, and I try to limit my intake of meat. At the same time, everyone needs to make their own individual dietary decisions. When my patients decide to go vegan, I think it’s brave. If they want to, that’s great. If they don’t, there are other ways to stay brain healthy,” Dr. Isaacson said.