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Can eating better prevent Alzheimers disease?

Can eating better prevent Alzheimer’s disease ?

Can eating better prevent Alzheimer’s disease ?

If eating better can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, would you be tempted to give up red meat, fatty foods and carbonated drinks?

According to the MIND diet, eating nutritious healthy food, that is more of green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans and consuming very little or no red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and fried food can actually help you reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

EAT BETTER TO PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S

One research study states that people who followed the MIND diet decreased their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 54%. Interestingly enough, researchers found that even adults who only partially followed this diet plan were able to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by nearly 35%.

The MIND diet (Mediterranean DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay)is the brainchild of scientists and researchers at the Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, IL.

This plan draws upon aspects of both the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is traditionally low in saturated fat but high in monounsaturated fat and those who follow this diet consume a lot of fiber in their food.

Experts predict that the number of Americans who will have Alzheimer’s disease will reach 13.8 million by 2050 from the current 4.7 million. There are quite a lot of treatments and research being carried out on Alzheimer’s but results seem elusive to moderate at best. In most cases medical treatments have ranged from ineffective to very modest. But more and more experts agree that certain foods in particular seem to have a beneficial role to play in as far as prevention of the disease goes.

All kinds of so-called bad fats like trans fat and saturated fats found in most animal food products seem to cause production of plaques in our brains. In particular, trans fats seem to escalate the production of a protein called beta-amyloid that collects in plaques seen in most Alzheimer’s patients.

 

NUTRITION & ALZHEIMER’S

Ongoing research is vital to carry out further studies and clinical trials in order to gather more vigorous data to confirm these promising trends in how a sound nutrition can help reduce our risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

While both the MIND diet and the modified Canadian version of the MIND diet show promising results, they do differ in their recommendations, usually in dosage and portions of the different food groups.

For instance, the MIND diet allows two servings of vegetables daily whereas the Canadian version suggests five. The MIND diet suggests that eating fish once a week is enough while the Canadian version proposes that  three times a week is better.

The MIND diet places more importance on eating whole grains daily but the Canadian version doesn’t have a particular suggestion regarding this. The Canadian diet calls for a more generous serving of fruits daily whereas the MIND diet is all about favoring berries as it deems berries alone can lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.

 

POWER NUTRIENTS - VITAMIN E, B12 & OMEGA-3

According to Carol Greenwood, a professor at University of Toronto and an advocate of the Canadian diet, just eating the right foods by itself is not enough to promote the growth of neurons (neurogenesis) or help in growth of neural connections (synaptogenesis). Alzheimer’s patients typically suffer from insufficient connectivity and poor neuron growth. But Greenwood explains that pathways that connect the neurons are definitely adversely affected due to poor nutrition and a person’s nutritional levels.

To elaborate, poor eating habits and eating non-nutritional food can lead to chronic diseases like hypertension, coronary related diseases and diabetes which hinder an individual’s cognitive capacities, which in turn can help set the circumstance to usher in Alzheimer’s disease. The opposite is also true. A nutritious eating habit can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases which in turn means reduced risk from brain related diseases like Alzheimer’s as cognitive capacities are not adversely affected.

Martha Clare Morris, one of the brains behind the MIND diet and a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University explains that while research about nutrition, aging and preventability of brain related diseases is still at an early stage, certain nutrients have already shown that they are constructive and favorable to cognitive function.

Vitamin E is one such super vitamin, that is usually present in high quantities in whole grains, cereals, leafy vegetables, seeds, oils, nuts and is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin E has been known to lower the risk of cognitive degeneration and promote a reduced production of beta-amyloid proteins, which is a known symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain being the powerhouse that it needs to be, produces an incredible amount of energy which in turn means a lot of free radicals are rushing around and when uncontrolled can be detrimental to the brain. Vitamin E in a way catches these free radicals from becoming a threat to cognitive function.

Vitamin B12 is another great example of a vitamin whose healthy presence in organisms generally indicates reduced risk from Alzheimer’s disease.  Vitamin B is found in beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables, grains but also in animal fats like cheese and in meat, eggs and fish.

When we age stomach acids absorb less of the vitamin B12 that is present in the above mentioned food. It is a good idea to check one’s B12 levels and eat accordingly and or take supplements as deficiency in B12 has been connected to reduced cognitive function leading to heightened risk from dementia and other brain related diseases.

Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in transmission of neural activity and messages. Brains typically have a higher concentration of Omega-3s than other organs and cells so maintaining a sufficient level of this becomes all the more essential to help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Most vegetables, beans, berries, whole grains and nuts have proven to be the most beneficial for the brain. Eating moderate amounts of poultry, fish and olive oil and about one glass of wine a day has also proved to be healthy for the brain. It is best to avoid or severely restrict the consumption of cheese, fried food, fatty food, sweets, red meat and butter.

Eating healthy need not be complicated. Maintaining a nutritious well-balanced diet that focuses on vegetables and whole grains and fruits and keeping away from manufactured food and processed animal food in particular can go a long way in preventing all diseases in general and not just Alzheimer’s disease.

 


Updated: May 18, 2017

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