In three of my books, “What To Eat When: A Strategic Plan to Improve Your Life,” “The What To Eat When Cookboook” and “The Great Age Reboot,” I highlight 16 choices that have been shown in studies to help you keep your brain young. These books are meant to motivate you and help you prepare to be many years younger.
Now six of the 16 choices you can make to keep your brain young are part of eating the “When Way,” a healthful version of time restricted eating or intermittent fasting – that version described by science that decreases your risk of the major chronic diseases of arterial and immune aging such as heart disease, stroke, most forms of dementia and most forms of cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Eating food only in a 10-hour period when the sun is up or supposed to be, induces ketone formation in your liver. Those ketones (inside cells and in the absence of too high a sugar level inside the cell) decrease free radical formation, turn on the recycling of imperfect cells and proteins (so they create no more damage) and suppress cholesterol synthesis, obesity, inflammation and hypertension.
The process changes from off-to-on or on-to-off several key genes, including mTOR that decreases growth of tumors and obesity. Refeeding with When Way foods when the sun rises again increases some key protein producing genes including those producing BDNF. Those genes thus harvest old cells, decreasing inflammation and aging, and grow new brain cells.
So what are your choices? In “What to Eat When,” the “When Way” guidelines are:
• Fast each night with at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Want more benefits? Extend that to 14 hours and then to 18 hours.
• This creates a daily pattern of intermittent fasting that causes your body to burn up most circulating glucose and to stabilize insulin levels. Then your body burns stored fat.
• Your body is naturally more insulin-resistant at night, so you want to avoid all simple carbs after midday and opt for fiber-rich vegetables and protein.
• Breakfast and/or lunch should contain lean and plant-based protein (whole grains, legumes, salmon) and fats (healthy fats in salmon or the use of EVOO with grains and veggies). Dinner should be plant-heavy (salad and other green, leafy veggies) and calorie-light (about 400 calories, if you need 2,000 a day to maintain a healthy weight.)
So six of the 10 commandments of the When Way that help you prepare your brain for the “Great-Age Reboot are”:
• Eat when sun is out. Research shows that your body will perform best and be healthier when you don’t eat after dark. Your body is made to consume food while the sun is shining – and to not consume food for long stretches of time while it’s dark. That aligns with the healthy choice of having at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast.
• More early, less later. Stack your meals so that ¾ of what you eat comes before 2 p.m., the rest between then and sundown. The same amount of calories early or later in the day produces two very different results. Front load your food intake so you get 80% of your calories before 1 or 2 p.m. and you can lose weight. Eat more than 20% of your calories in the evening and you’ll have trouble losing weight and may even pack it on.
• Balance your nutrients. Don’t get hung up on exact ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
• You can eat well in any situation.
• Mistakes shouldn’t derail you. Don’t worry if you eat a big dinner or mess up the “When Way” for one or two days, just pick things back up tomorrow.
• Love what you eat. Experiment with spices, flavors and new ways of preparing healthy foods. A whole new world of eating and a whole new body to go with it awaits.
Dr. Michael Roizen writes about wellness for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.