UCR Hosts Free Public Forum Focusing on Medicinal Powers of Common Foods
Want some food for thought?
How about coconut oil?
Coconut oil is effective in treating certain types of dementia and has been used to promote weight loss, according to Dr. Michael Lara, a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in using nutritional strategies to treat common psychiatric problems.
Lara will discuss how nutrients in our food are among the most powerful medicines known to impact our overall health and brain function during a free public forum from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the UCR Extension Center, 1200 University Ave., Riverside. Parking is free.
“Food for Thought: How Nutrients Affect the Brain” is part of the Windows on the World 2013 lecture/debate series hosted by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and sponsored by UCR Extension. The forums, featuring timely, thought-provoking and provocative topics, are designed to increase public awareness of the Osher program, which offers mentally stimulating, college-level courses for adults, 50 and older.
Lara, who attended Harvard, Stanford and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will share evidence-based strategies to enhance mood, memory, focus, and overall well being. He first got interested in nutrition’s impact on the brain after completing his formal training in psychiatry and psychopharmacology at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
“When I got out into the real world, I noticed that the medications I was using to treat my patient weren’t having the best effect,” Lara said. “When I sat down and tried to figure out why, many times diet was the missing link.”
He started researching the effects of diet on mental health and discovered a wealth of information including the ketogenic diet, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate regimen that has been used for treating seizures in children for decades and is listed as a medical intervention for mood disorders like bipolar disorder.
“The reason we don’t hear about it is that nobody can make money off a ketogenic diet,” Lara said.
The same goes for Axona, a medium chain triglyceride, that has a positive effect on memory and thinking skills in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Lara said the same nutrients found in Axona can be found in coconut oil.
“When you administer it to someone with depressed brain function, you find that their brain begins to improve,” Lara said.
The reason lies in the fact that brains typically rely on glucose as their primary source of energy. When you administer a medium chain triglyceride, the brain learns to derive energy from fat rather than sugar. As a result, you have better brain metabolism because the brain has another source of energy to draw upon.
“The data are so compelling that the Food and Drug Administration gave it a special designation as a medical food product,” Lara said.
Studies have also shown that patients with dementia, who take Axona, actually lose weight. Lara said it’s the same principle except instead of the brain, it’s the muscle tissue that loses its reliance on glucose and starts burning fat for energy.
To reserve your seat, call (951) 827-4105 or go to www.extension.ucr.edu and click on the FREE PUBLIC FORUM link.