It always comes down to food, doesn’t it? And why is that? Why, when we read about the best ways to stay healthy, does it always seem to circle back to what we take from the plate to our mouths? I believe it boils down to this: Food is medicine. Want to lower your risk of heart disease? Then think about what you’re going to have for dinner tonight. Same for diabetes, cancer, depression, acne, PMS and just about any other condition you and I can think of.
What we eat, how much we eat, even when we eat, affects our health and wellbeing. And it affects the health and wellbeing of our children, too, which is an awesome responsibility. So it was with great joy that I read last week that childhood obesity appears to be declining. Perhaps it’s really happening; perhaps we really are changing our food habits and doing right by our kids. Recently released federal data shows a decrease in obesity rates for low-income preschool children between 2008 and 2011. Finally, it looks like our efforts to improve our children’s diets and exercise habits might be working.
It is critical to capitalize on this trend. Our kids deserve nothing less. And it’s not just obesity that has me worried for our nation’s children; it’s for the growing risk of dementia looming down the road. Who wants to grow old only to forget it all? I sure don't!
Yet again, it comes down to food. Yup, those blueberries and salmon and walnuts matter. Good food is good for your body. And good food is good for your mind.
Researchers Heaheen Lakhan, M.D., and Annette Kirchgessner, Ph.D., take it one step further. In their August 2013 article in Nutrition Journal, "The emerging role of dietary fructose in obesity and cognitive decline*," they review effects of obesity on cognitive performance, as well as the impact of high fructose intake (a form of sugar) in promoting memory loss. Then, they point to a potential solution for this predicament: They also review the potential emerging evidence that omega-3s have in aiding memory, possibly counteracting the damage of a high-fructose diet.
What I really like about their research is that it puts the power squarely back with you and me: We can choose to have a soda today (loaded with high fructose), or not. We can choose to have salmon today (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), or not. We can stop and think before giving our children a sugary popsicle when frozen blueberries can do the trick instead. Through these choices, we can impact not only our waistlines, but also our memory, along with the quality of life we and our kids will enjoy today, tomorrow and well into the future.
*Lakhan and Kirchgessner. The Emerging Role of Dietary Fructose in Obesity and Cognitive Decline. Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:114.
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