Friday, June 3, 2016

New Research Shows Positive Role of Omega 3 and Medium-chain Triglycerides (MCTs) For On Brain Health

Professor Shirasawa  from the Department of Ageing Control Medicine, Juntendo University with newly launched "Food For The Braina health and recipe book to promote brain health in reducing effects of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease.


New research from a Japanese anti-ageing expert indicates that Omega 3 and Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) consumption is key to promote brain health, playing a role in delaying the onset and severity of degenerative diseases such as dementia.

In 2015, there were 2.8 million senior citizens (aged 60 and above) or 9 per cent out of 31 million Malaysia’s population. By the year 2050, it is expected that Malaysia will have 40.7 million citizens with 23.5% of the population being senior citizen. Without ample planning, the burden on health care services and families caring for up to four or more senior citizens will be heavy.

Currently, 1.4 out 10 Malaysian adults aged 60 and above suffer from dementia. The incidence of dementia rises to 22.7% among those 75 years and above.

Dementia is not a specific disease. However, it is a broad term to describe a wide range of symptoms related with a decline in memory or thinking skills that it is serious enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.
 Ms Yuliana Zhang, ­Nutritionist and Workplace Health Consultant, MyKenzen, Professor Shirasawa  from the Department of Ageing Control Medicine, Juntendo University and Ms. Daniela Shiga from Juntendo University at the media briefing on Positive Role of Omega 3 and Medium-chain Triglycerides (MCTs)  For On Brain Health
Professor Takuji Shirasawa from the Department of Ageing Control Medicine, Juntendo University, shared these findings on anti-ageing, and implementing anti-ageing research findings into the Malaysian diet at the Nutrition Society of Malaysia’s 31st Annual Scientific Conference on June 1, 2016.

Among all nutrients studied by scientists for past two decades, Omega 3 and Medium-chain triglycerides are among the most promising to prevent, delay or mitigate age-related diseases, especially dementia.
With a growing ageing population and longer life expectancy, Professor Shirasawa recommends that nutrition is not only to prevent or mitigate non-communicable diseases. Instead, nutrition should also improve the quality of life of the senior citizens and limit the burden of age-related diseases.

"Nursing is the main cost for families who need to look after seniors with dementia. For example, the nursing cost for Alzheimer care in 2030 in the United States of America will be higher than Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015," said Professor Shirasawa.


Professor Shirasawa is one of Japan’s top specialist in preventive medicine for ageing and has written over 260 books becoming among the most popular published doctor in Japan.


In view of Malaysia’s rapidly ageing population, he has written a health book with nutritionally tested localised recipes specifically to address the need for more Omega 3 and MCT in the diet.


Food For The Brain, will be available through Popular Bookstores, nationwide in August 2016. Recipes have been developed with local tastes in mind, and the nutritional content has been vetted by nutritionists at MyKenzen.


“Our studies have shown that nutrition strategies incorporating Omega 3 and Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) elicit improvements in promoting brain health that lead to extended happy and healthy years. Food For The Brain is developed to provide more information on the required quantity of Omega 3 and MCT intake through local dishes,” said Professor Shirasawa.

In his recent research, Professor Shirasawa concludes that to build a healthier ageing nation, we should revisit the current food pyramid with more emphasize on Omega 3 and MCTs consumption.
The Inaccurate Food Pyramid

The food pyramid which was introduced in the 80’s is the biggest misconception. The pyramid promoted an excess intake of carbohydrates and heavily used refined carbohydrates. As a result, all types of fats have been demonized for many years and push the food industry to substitute fats with sugars.

“The food pyramid has created a culture of unhealthily high carbohydrate intake and a world addiction to sugar. The negative consequences of the application of the food pyramid on public health is incalculable,” explained Professor Shirasawa.

“The introduction of the food pyramid has reduced the percentage of fats among US citizens from 43% to 33%. Ironically, in the 60s, only 1 in 100 Americans had type 2 diabetes, now it is 1 in 10 people. Meanwhile, 1 in 7 Americans were obese in the 60s and now, it is 1 in 3 people. These figures imply that the Food Pyramid was inefficient, and that no-fat and low-fat diets are damaging,” added Professor Shirasawa.
In 2009, researchers concluded that high-fat diets outperformed low-fat diets when it comes to weight loss, as well as when it comes to lowering heart diseases risks, diabetes, inflammation and hypertension.

“For the general population who decrease the ratio of carbs, cut out sugars, eat more fruits and vegetables as well as increase the ratio of fats, within the limit of their daily calorie needs, are healthier and tend to manage their weight better,” said Professor Shirasawa.

Omega 3
Omega 3 is a type of fat found in cell membranes. It is made in our bodies, but in a very slow pace, so we mostly obtain Omega 3 from our diet. Oily fish, for example mackerel, tuna, and salmon, have especially high levels of Omega 3.

“It has been largely demonstrated that Omega 3 is protective on heart and the cardio-vascular system. As such, Omega 3 plays a key role in the prevention, delay and mitigation of age-related disease,” Professor Shirasawa said.


Professor Shirasawa recommended that 250 to 500 mg of Omega 3 DHA-EPA intake per day to promote brain health. The best source of Omega 3 can be found in fatty fish such as sardines, tuna and salmon.

“Besides Omega 3, a clear anti-ageing best practice is to use proper oils and fats in the local general population diet. The first step is to reduce significantly Omega 6 (commonly found in cooking oils and fried foods). The second step is to use local oils and fats with anti-ageing properties,” said Professor Shirasawa.


Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) 

MCTs refer to the way the carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure. MCTs is a natural source of dietary fat and are abundant in coconut oil. Coconut oil contains 55 percent MCTs while 45 percent of MCTs can be found in coconut milk fats.

“When our brain is not able to store energy, it requires a constant stream of blood glucose. In this situation, the liver is able to break down stored body fat to produce ketones. Ketones can readily cross the blood-brain barrier to provide instant energy to the brain. The MCT in coconut oil is able to raise blood levels of ketones,” said Professor Shirasawa.

Professor Shirasawa recommended general intake of 60ml of coconut oil or coconut milk daily. For Alzheimer and dementia patients, 120ml daily may help in improving the condition.

“It is time for us to take more proactive steps to promote a healthier brain in our golden years. We may think that we are still young when we are in 30’s and 40’s, however, the call for action is now. Healthier and happier golden years can be achieved by adopting dietary change and staying active” he said in closing.

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