BrainHealth & ClinicSpeak: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

How is your Brain Health going? #BrainHealth #ClinicSpeak #MSBlog

“We are now well into the second week of the New Year; how is the focus on  your brain health going? I managed quite well in week 1. I had 4 consecutive alcohol-free days, but didn’t achieve the Chief Medical Officers’ new guidelines of 14 units, or less, of alcohol in the week week (see below). I managed to reduce my intake of processed carbohydrates and calories in general and I did 5 aerobic exercise sessions of greater than 30 minutes. My push to improve my sleep failed; I had set-out to get at least 6 hours sleep per night in the week and 7-8 hours per night on the weekend; I estimated that I averaged ~5 hours per night in the week. I will focus on sleep this week.”

“The aim of our Brain Health challenge is being able to look our patients in the eye and say if we can do it so can you.”

“Regarding diet and intermittent ketosis; we are still researching the issue and will come back to you on this. However, I can say at present that there is no evidence on ketosis and its impact on MS. The suggestion that it may be neuroprotective is pure speculation at present and remains a reasonable hypothesis. Until we have properly controlled studies going onto a ketogenic diet to manage your MS is not recommended.”

On regular drinking New weekly guideline [this applies for people who drink regularly or frequently i.e. most weeks]. The Chief Medical Officers’ guideline for both men and women is that:

  1. You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. 
  2. If you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions, you increase your risks of death from long term illnesses and from accidents and injuries.
  3. The risk of developing a range of illnesses (including, for example, cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis. 
  4. If you wish to cut down the amount you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

18 thoughts on “BrainHealth & ClinicSpeak: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?”

  1. Thanks for asking us Prof G. I stopped drinking alcohol quite a while ago, don't really miss it. I'm not well enough to go out drinking anyway. I'm trying to improve my sleep and naturally increase my melatonin at night. Going to bed early, taking B vitamins much earlier in the day, black out curtains. Switching off screens a few hours before bed – that one is hard to do as I have a habit of waking up in the night and then I go on the web for around half an hour then go back to bed.

  2. Prof G are you trying to lose weight as well? In addition to cutting-out processed carbs are you doing anything else? What about supplements, are you taking any? Thanks.

    1. Re: "Prof G are you trying to lose weight as well?"Not as a primary aim; I trying to become healthy and look after my brain. Losing weight will help; in particular my hip.

    2. Re: "What about supplements, are you taking any?"Just one supplement, vD3 5,000U per day. I do take medications as well; an oral fibre preparation for my diverticular disease (metamucil) and I am on a trial of glucosamine/chondroitin for my hip. I am hoping to to try and cut down on the need for taking ibuprofen before I run. Finally, if I can't get my cholesterol down with diet I may have to join the other millions on a statin.

    3. Hi ProfG, my husband has diverticular disease as well. We increased our fiber intake and I believe that has helped me with my MS!

    4. For Prof GRe "if I can't get my cholesterol down with diet I may have to join the other millions on a statin."Sadly, if you are going to try and get your cholesterol down using current conventional dietary advice you are likely to be unsuccessful. Despite millions of people going down the reduce your sat-fat consumption road which is the mainstay of so much current dietary advice, we are still seeing vast blow-outs in obesity and cardio-vascular problems even in people who are religiously following such advice. Most of the vegetable oils people use are highly processed just to get them to remain liquid and not go rancid in the bottle (virgin olive oil is the only one to use). As for margarine, supposedly better for you than butter – well that is a chemical soup, again processed to the nth degree just to get it to look and taste like butter (which it doesn't). Have you looked closely at the ingredients list on your Metamucil – another cocktail of chemicals – try using psyllium husks instead (a bit of a nuisance to take, but at least they are chemical free and completely unprocessed).No – I'm not some ageing hippy vegan flower-child in cheesecloth with dirty bare feet – but when I was diagnosed with MS and started finding stuff on the internet about diet and MS I found lots of interesting information that led me down many pathways to try and see if the claims for the various alternative dietary approaches to MS had scientific backing other than just the claims on the "program" websites. Some of it appears to be valid but I found the inevitable cherry picking to support the various claims made by the alternative approaches. However, I did learn a lot which has made me re-think and re-evaluate a lot of the current conventional dietary "wisdom" which I had always accepted as sound, but not so any more. I'm not "doing" any of the alternative approaches for MS, but have taken from them that which is supported by other independent research, which would upset the alternative approach purists, who believe it must be 100% or not all. What's the basis of it – as unprocessed and as fresh as possible – quite simple really.

  3. Another things is the MouseDoctor doing the same as you? If he is I suggest you have a competition and raise money; it can be used to fund the Crowdacure project or the cladribine trial.

    1. No MouseDoctor is not. Maybe talk some sense. Crowdacure is seeking to raise £10,000 to answer a questionIf you wanted to do a phase III study against active comparator for relapsing MS the cost is many many millions. However, if you have many milions I wouuld be happy to give it a go.If you want to donate please donate to crowdacure end of story

  4. Would you please post a link or remind me please where is the original post about the Brain Health challenge, ie the one where you suggest challenging healthcare professionals to take on the challenge? Thanks, I'd appreciate it… ProfG I have found using an activity monitor which shows how good/bad my sleeping is has helped me improve on this aspect – mainly understanding the implications of being a night owl! And realising that I am in denial about how much time work takes up and therefore how little time there is outside work…

  5. ProfG I am pleased to hear you are running ☺ thoroughly recommend it although my running days are sadly far behind me 😔. My money says glucosamine /chondroitin works it has certainly helped my husband's knee and half of our athletics club take it. Wish it would work on my spinal cord 😞

  6. I cannot even begin to comprehend what is difficult about going teetotal, why not drinking involves effort for anyone. This often makes me feel like I come from a different planet. When I dabbled in it, in my student days, it just sent me to sleep. The day after an "experimental evening" with alcohol, I always felt like I had been poisoned – not far off the truth. I just glaze over when people start talking about "drink-free days" etc. I just think – don't drink. Just stop it. "Und damit basta!"

    1. Sterntaucher I with you on this one. I get a hangover/ feel not 100% the next day after just one pint of lager. I guess the less you drink the more you are sensitive to it. Age is another factor, I used to drink two or three pints in an hour or two when I was in my 20's, still have a bit of a hangover the next day. No way I could do that now I'm in my 40's.

    2. The enzyme that is responsible for metabolizing alcohol is alcohol dehydrogenase. It is inducible, meaning that if you are accustomed to consuming alcohol this enzyme is readily available to breakdown alcohol if you do not regularly imbibe (a teatotler?) then you will get drunk quicker e.g. most women and Asians have lower levels of this enzyme.

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