Close
Welcome back!
My Account | Log Out

Eating nuts can make you a real brainiac


To read this article and more, subscribe now

Looks like you've already reached your free article limit for the month. To continue reading, without interruption, subscribe and get unlimited digital access.

The 2004 movie “Brainiac” is about the discovery of the ultimate feel-good drug, dubbed “Nirvana.” Unfortunately, it ends up turning those who take it into brain-devouring monsters. Talk about changing brainwaves.

A new study shows that going [for] nuts also changes your brainwaves, but for the better. Seems nuts and peanuts (really a legume) strengthen brainwave frequencies that are associated with cognition, empathy, healing, learning, memory, recall and other important brain functions.

The study published in the FASEB Journal found that pistachios got the biggest response from your brain’s gamma waves — and that builds cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep. Peanuts triggered the greatest delta-wave response; it’s associated with healthy immunity, healing and deep sleep. Plus, all nuts are packed with flavonoids, potent polyphenols that are anti-inflammatory and help fight off cancers and heart disease. And, say the researchers, nuts’ flavonoids support growth of new neurons and improve blood flow in the brain. Walnuts deliver the most.

In another new study, researchers followed more than 200,000 people for an average of 32 years and found that eating more nuts was tied to a lower risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Walnuts came out on top again: Eating them two to three times a week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of heart problems (Dr. Oz soaks them in water; Dr. Mike toasts them). Peanuts and other-than-walnuts tree nuts also ranked high on the heart-protection list.

Just think about it; all that heart health, and brains too!

Helping obese
teens lose weight

What came first — the chicken or the egg? That’s been buggin’ folks for millennia. In fact, Aristotle, in the 4th century B.C., wrote, “There could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there would have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs.” Only with evolution did we learn that the chicken came from some not-quite-a-chicken predecessor, all the way back to the first living cell.

Seems there’s a faulty appetite regulator in the brains of obese teens. The question is: Did the broken regulator cause the excess weight, or is it a result of it? As with the chicken and the egg, which came first? Well, we don’t know, but realizing there’s a broken food regulator provides a new understanding of the challenges obese teens face in achieving a healthy weight.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America makes it clear that the 20.5 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. who are obese have measurable changes in the appetite-, impulse- and reward-regulating centers of their brain. (Obesity affects the brain’s amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, bilateral hypothalamus and more!) Helping teens attain a healthy weight means dealing with all of that.

How to do it: It takes a team to help them reset their brains: an exercise physiologist/coach; a nutritionist; a yoga or meditation instructor, plus cognitive behavioral therapy. That can provide the tools needed to establish impulse control and help a teen recognize when enough food is enough.

Double trouble:
The unexpected result
of sleeve gastrectomy

College Times says that the top three movies to watch when you’re tipsy are “Superbad,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” We say, if you find yourself binge-watching them (they are, after all, aggressively incoherent, even if amusing), well, then, there’s a pretty good chance you’re already one drink over the line.

But that doesn’t mean you’ve lowered your standards or lost the remote. It might be that after a sleeve gastrectomy for weight loss, your tolerance of alcohol plummeted.

A new study reveals that after sleeve gastrectomy, women can become legally intoxicated if they consume half the number of drinks it takes for women who haven’t had the surgery to register as drunk. Two drinks have the effect of four or five! And this comes along with research showing similar results for women who’ve had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. (This reduced alcohol tolerance probably holds for men too, because the body’s enzymes that process alcohol would be greatly reduced in anyone who’s had these operations.)

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimates that more than half of the 193,000 bariatric procedures in the U.S. annually are sleeve gastrectomies; 80 percent of those patients are women. That’s a five-fold increase in the number of these operations from 2010 to 2015.

So, male or female, if you’ve had weight-loss surgery, ask your doc about changes in digestion of food and alcohol that it causes. Respect the constraints that this operation places on your daily habits, and you’ll reap its amazing benefits.

Cinnamon for flavor,
not weight loss

Sprudge.com, a website devoted to all things coffee, has determined the Most Annoying Coffee Order Ever: a triple shot (one shot decaf, two shots regular), one pump white chocolate, two pumps peppermint and a half pump of hazelnut mochaccino, with an itemized receipt.

We say: “Whoa there! Where’s the sprinkle of cinnamon?”

Whatever your high-fat, sugar-bomb coffee order may be, there’s a good chance you’ll top it off with something you think is virtuous — cinnamon! That spice is touted for its multiple health benefits. Research indicates that it’s anti-microbial; lowers blood glucose, blood pressure and lousy LDL cholesterol; works as an polyphenol that binds free radicals; and is a digestive aid, brain protector and more. And according to recent headlines, it’s also a weight-loss aid.

Not so fast! In the study they’re referring to, scientists placed fat cells in a lab dish and added one flavoring component of cinnamon, called cinnamaldehyde. Zap! It increased the cells’ expression of genes and enzymes that help burn fat. But that does NOT mean ingesting cinnamon or supplements will cause weight loss.

There’s true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum (CZ) and Chinese cinnamon (CC); the later is widely used in the ground spice. But levels of blood-thinning coumarin are high in CC. And coumarin is listed in the Food and Drug Administration’s “Substances Generally Prohibited From Direct Addition or Use as Human Food.”

So grate your CZ sticks, but don’t take OTC coumarin or cinnamon supplements! And opt for a well-flavored, long-range plan to lose weight. That’ll add spice to your life.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.