Can Lower Body Mass Index Be an Early Sign for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Marc Gordon, MD

Obesity, a disease in itself, is a well known cause of other diseases. Midlife obesity, in particular, has been linked with an increased risk of late-life dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Interestingly, patients who have dementia due to Alzheimer's disease are actually more likely to be underweight.

The cause of this association has been unclear. It has been speculated that loss of body mass may be the result of dementia. This makes sense because dementia sufferers may simply be forgetting to eat. Or the inherent decrease in physical activity associated with dementia leads to loss of muscle mass. There is also the possibility that anti-Alzheimer’s medications has adverse effects on appetite.

However, according to a recent study published in Neurology, the authors were able to demonstrate a correlation between lower body mass index (BMI) and the presence of biomarkers suggestive of Alzheimer’s disease pathology on brain imaging and in cerebrospinal fluid. These patients had normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  Lower BMI in these subjects cannot be explained as a consequence of dementia since they do not have the disease. This leads researchers to suggest that there may be systemic changes in appetite or metabolism as an early manifestation of the disease process.  


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5 Ways Migraine Sufferers Can Keep Their Holidays Jolly

Noah Rosen, MD

From dealing with the endless lines while gift-shopping to burning the candle at both ends trying to attend all of the holiday parties, this time of year can be anything but jolly for migraine sufferers.

During the holiday season, we tend to sleep less, eat more and exercise less frequently – a bad combination that can trigger attacks in migraine sufferers. The good news is, you can prevent severe episodes of migraine by following this advice:
● Don’t skip meals. Empty stomachs can trigger headaches, so keep a regular and healthy eating schedule.

● Avoid common food triggers for migraine. Avoid things like ripe cheese, processed meat that include nitrates and chocolate.

● Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Stick to a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same time, even on the weekends. Lack of sleep can bring on migraines.

● Drink in moderation—if at all. Alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water and avoid red wine, since it contains an amino acid, which is a common migraine trigger.

● Shop early or online. The worst scenario for a migraine sufferer is to go shopping during peak time when the stores are hectic and hot. Try shopping earlier in the day to avoid the crowds and longer lines. Or better yet, shop online from the convenience of your own home.

Don’t forget about yourself.  With all of the holiday stress and busier than usual schedules, don’t forget to take time out for yourself and do whatever makes you happy--even if that means alone time or buying something for yourself.

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Watch Out for Hidden Calories

Nancy Copperman, RD

Of the top five major sources of calories for adults, only two foods are good sources of protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They are chicken and yeast breads. The rest of the foods--grain-based desserts (for example: cookies, cakes, pies, muffins) and sweetened sodas, energy drinks and alcoholic beverages--are not a significant source of nutrition, but they are a significant source of calories. So try to cut down on portion sizes and frequency of these foods and instead to replace them with fruit, water, flavored seltzers and decaffeinated iced tea flavored with sliced lemons, lines, oranges and mint.

Top 5 Sourcees of Calories

Improve the quality of chicken dishes and yeast breads (for example, bagels, croissants, fruit breads) by considering the following:

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Think “MyPlate” for Healthy Eating

Nancy Copperman, RD

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced a new graphic, MyPlate, to help Americans follow the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines are issued and updated every 5 years by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. They provide advice for Americans ages 2 and older about consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active to attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

MyPlate replaces the familiar Food Pyramid that many of us have seen on food packaging and posters. MyPlate is a picture of a plate divided into protein, fruit, vegetables and grains portions accompanied by a serving of dairy. Every time we serve our food onto a plate at mealtime for ourselves and families, we can try to recreate the MyPlate foods and portion sizes.

MyPlate emphasizes:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Compare sodium in food like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose food with lower sodium content.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
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