The brain thrives on a fat-rich low-carbohydrate diet. When we cut carbohydrates, we mobilize the fatty acids from the foods that we eat and from our own fat and we create ketones that our body can burn. It turns out that our brain loves the specific ketone β-hydroxybutyrate. In fact, according to George F. Cahill Jr. and Richard Veech, β-hydroxybutyrate, the principal “ketone”, is not just a fuel, but a “superfuel”, more efficiently producing ATP energy than glucose or fatty acid and without is humans would not have evolved such a large brain.
So, what should we eat? And what should we recommend to our patients? While diet and lifestyle recommendations have gained significant traction across a wide spectrum of health related issues, the acceptance of the application of these principles in the area of brain health remains negligible. Standard of care directs attention to the treatment of symptoms of neurological disease processes. There is great opportunity to intervene preemptively with lifestyle modification to forestall or even prevent various neurodegenerative conditions using a Functional Medicine model.
To learn more about brain health and disease, listen to the 2013 Integrative Healthcare Symposium Presentation Recording: The Functional Medicine Fundamentals of Brain Health & Disease