Nutrition and Alzheimer's
Saturated fats, trans fats, and excess metals are the biggest threats to brain health.
Saturated fats are found in all animal products and increase the production of plaques within the brain. The Chicago Health and Aging Study reported in the Archives of Neurology that individuals with the most saturated fat in their diets had more than three times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease when compared to those who generally avoided these fats. Trans fats, another fatty substance, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease more than fivefold and the production of the beta-amyloid protein that collects in plaques at on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Excess metals in the body, such as iron and copper build up on the brain and promotes the production of damaging free radicals, which may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. These metals impair cognition and stick to the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s patients often show buildup of aluminum in the brain. Avoid uncoated aluminum cookware and read labels when purchasing baking powder, antacids, and processed foods.
There are many ways to help strengthen your brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E, found in nuts and seeds, helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseed all contain rich amounts of vitamin E in even a small serving. Antioxidants fight harmful free radicals help improve learning and recall. Foods with beautiful pigments such as grapes and blueberries indicate high amounts of powerful. Sweet potatoes get their lovely hue from another powerful antioxidant called beta-carotene. Eating green leafy vegetables, beans, and legumes daily provide adequate folate and B6, two important brain-protecting vitamins. Another B vitamin, B12, is difficult for people to absorb through foods, although a B12 supplement ensures you are getting the trio of brain-protecting power: folate, B6, and B12.
Physical exercise improves longevity, heart health, and brain health. Studies show aerobic exercise can reduces brain atrophy and improves memory and other cognitive functions.
A special supplement in Neurobiology of Aging details seven dietary and lifestyle guidelines to boost brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Disease International predicts Alzheimer’s rates will triple worldwide by 2050. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts long-term care costs start at $41,000 per year.
Other preventive measures, such as getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night and participating in 30 to 40 minutes of mental activity most days of the week, such as completing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, or learning a new language, can only help boost brain health.
We spend trillions of dollars each year on failed drug trials...Let’s take a portion of these funds and invest in educational programs to help people learn about foods that are now clinically proven to be more effective in fighting this global epidemic.
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., Physicians Committee Director of Nutrition Education