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This week we’re being advised to avoid cucumber if we want to protect ourselves from dementia. Sounds silly? Read on and make up your own mind

A health warning from Hollywood actress Gwyneth is not one that most of us would take seriously. So when a doctor on the actress’s health and lifestyle website Goop warned this week that cucumber might cause dementia, he received rather a lot of ridicule.

However, it seems that the doctor in question may have had a point. Cucumber contains a protein called lectin which Dr Steven Gundy, a respected heart surgeon and cardiologist, has studied in great detail and has found a link between memory loss and lectins.

Dr Gundy’s research has led him to believe that a diet high in lectins leads to inflammation of the gut, which in turn is linked to heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s and arthritis. And cucumber isn’t the only problem, he also advises swapping brown rice for white and going easy on tomatoes and peppers, aubergine and whole grains and potatoes.

This advice is not as strange as it first sounds. Imbalances in the gut are increasingly being linked to a range of conditions. Last year, scientists in California found the first ever link between the gut and Parkinsons. Nor is Dr Gundy the only expert to share this view. In fact, the idea of avoiding food with lectins is apparently fairly common amongst experts in the know…So must we now give up these otherwise ‘healthy foods if we want to avoid dementia? Not necessarily. Nutritionists say that cooking or simply soaking them first will help get rid of the lectins.

Anyone for boiled cucumber?

Take a chocolate pill

Whilst you’re cutting down on cucumber, you might fancy taking a chocolate pill. Yes. Honestly. A new pill made entirely out of chocolate will apparently keep your brain healthy and reduce your chances of developing dementia. The pill called BloodFlow+ contains flavanols extracted from cocoa that lower cholesterol and improve blood, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as dementia.  But don’t get too excited because it doesn’t taste like chocolate and won’t satisfy your sweet tooth. In fact, if you’d rather eat chocolate than take a pill, there’s bad news. You’d need to eat 400g of dark chocolate a day to get any benefits – and that’s more than 2400 calories!