By Dr Joe
Can you eat your way out of Alzheimer’s disease? Turns out, we can. In a preventative way, that is.
What you will be receiving in exchange for your time spent on this page is a nice overview of Alzheimer disease prevention diet and some other Alzheimer preventative strategies that you can employ starting today.
The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is on the increase especially in the Western world. Alzheimer’s disease is probably more prevalent now because we are living longer.
By the time we hit age 85, the number affected be in the region of 1 in 2 in that age group, if current predictions come true. It is thought that by 2050, 13.8 million Americans will be affected. Those are some scary stats.
With the American College of Neurology making dire predictions like that, it behoves on us to do something. Fast.
At the moment, conventional medicine is struggling to provide any real treatment that is effective in individuals affected with Alzheimer’s disease.
The only thing on offer from current treatments is management of symptoms. Nothing curative. Even the symptomatic management results are modest at best.
There’s hardly anyone who’s family is affected by Alzheimer’s disease who will tell you they got their loved one back to the way he/she was before the disease struck.
Quality of life is always compromised…as things stand today.
It is a very sad situation to watch your parent who once had a very sound mind deteriorate before your very eyes and there doesn’t seem to be a lot you can do about it.
It is safe to say, current pharmaceutical offerings are failing and failing fast.
With that in mind, wouldn’t it be a good idea to start thinking about preventative measures for those of us who are still relatively young and unaffected?
It turns out that recent research seems to suggest that we can actually do that through a series of steps involving non-pharmaceutical approach. Yes, let’s leave out Big Pharma out of this one.
We shall be taking responsibility ourselves through what we eat and what we do.
Whilst the chaps at Big Pharma are still working hard to find a cure through research and development, we will be doing our bit to avoid those medications in our old age.
Just by eating our way out of the problem. Sounds reasonable?
Yes, let’s work on modifiable factors. Factors we have control over. Enabling factors that will help us avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
With that in mind, let’s remind ourselves about the risk factors that potentially could make us become victims of Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease will include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol levels
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol consumption
- Consumption of excess metals – aluminium, copper, iron
So, what’s the Alzheimer’s disease prevention diet?
The Alzheimer’s disease prevention diet is about doing the small things right.
Eating the right foods that protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease. And avoiding or at the very least reduce your consumption of the foods that increase your risk of developing the disease.
The fat dilemma
Before you roll your eyes about the implication of cholesterol in the origin of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to note that this is backed by science.
It is not just the total cholesterol floating around your body but the distribution of the cholesterol within the neurons is what makes the difference.
The Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) Study further implicates dietary fat as a causative agent for Alzheimer’s disease.
Not just fats in general but the consumption of saturated fats and trans-fats (hydrogenated fats) is known to elevate your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 3 folds.
These fats seem to be involved in the formation of beta amyloid proteins in the brain. Everyone with Alzheimer’s disease has these beta amyloid proteins.
Conversely, in that study, it would appear that the consumption of unsaturated fats and unhydrogenated fat is protective.
In particular, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is particularly protective.
The point here is you don’t have to run away from fats in general. You only have to eat the right fats. Eat lots of them at that. Because that study says a high intake of unsaturated fats and unhydrogenated fats helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, a more recent study published in Neurology journal, it was demonstrated that eating a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Study participants were aged between 30 – 60 years and were followed up for 3 years with MRI Scan imaging.
The idea was to see how adherence to the Mediterranean diet influenced development of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. Needless to say, the study participants were Alzheimer’s disease-free at the start of the study.
The participants were classified as having either low adherence to the Mediterranean diet or high adherence to the diet.
This recent study showed that lower Mediterranean diet adherence was associated with progressive Alzheimer’s disease biomarker abnormalities in these middle-aged adults.
In effect a Mediterranean-style diet was actually protective of Alzheimer’s disease and is one of the things you can do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
Eat a Plant-based diet
I know carnivores would be screaming, what the… expletives, at their computer screens or smart phones whilst reading this.
Well, there is no need to scream at your device, because as you just saw from that recent study, the Mediterranean-style diet does lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
What constitutes a Mediterranean diet?
It’s fruits, legumes, and vegetables plus healthy plant-derived fats.
When I say Legumes, people always ask what I mean.
Well, for avoidance of doubt, legumes refer to beans, peas and lentils. Some of the loveliest, most nutritious foods on the planet.
If the results from that study are anything to go by, then it is clear that animal products don’t do much to stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
You can eat as much animal products as you like, so long as you understand the risks.
Okay, on a practical note, I am not saying you have to go Vegan. Nope.
What you can do is reduce your consumption of animal products inclusive of dairy.
You don’t have to cut them out altogether. Just reduce your consumption of them. You are more likely to find joy with that than a total ban. Makes sense?
Eat more plants!
Do Physical and Mental Exercise
This goes without saying. I am not the first to mention this. You would have heard it elsewhere and everywhere. Exercise is good for you.
I know this piece was supposed to be about Alzheimer’s disease diet which means the focus should be about diet.
But it will be remiss of me of not to talk about exercise, if we are talking about Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
Exercise has many ramifications. You get immediate benefits from getting yourself cardiovascularly fit, fat burn and muscle toning. But you also get long term benefits.
Long term benefits of exercise include Alzheimer’s disease prevention. It is recommended that you get about 150 minutes of exercise a week as a means to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
And it doesn’t matter whether, it is cardio exercise or resistance training. Any exercise will do.
Here’s a summary of what you can do to prevent or avoid Alzheimer’s disease:
1. Keep your intake of saturated fats low, really low.
2. Eat more unsaturated fats. You can get these from nuts, seeds, avocados and oils sympathetically extracted from these.
3. Avoid trans-fats foods. These foods will include commercially available fried foods and pastries. Something to mention though. If you see on the food label “partially hydrogenated oils”, that should qualify as trans-fat. Avoid.
4. Reduce your consumption of dairy
5. Eat more plants – fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains
6. Reduce your meat consumption, in particular red meat
7. Meet your daily requirements for Vitamin E. I am not suggesting taking Vitamin E supplement. That has been found to be disappointing. Get your vitamin E from your food – nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, whole grains. You need to eat about 15 mg of Vitamin E daily.
8. Avoid Vitamin supplements with Iron and Copper. You should be looking to get your iron and copper from your food. If you are iron deficient, do not self-treat. The instructions to take iron should come from your doctor, not you or anyone else. Excess iron is just as bad as lack of it.
9. Reduce exposure to aluminium. I know it’s all around us, aluminium. There’s some link between aluminium and Alzheimer’s disease, so it will be prudent at this point to reduce your exposure to it. Choose your cooking pots carefully. Be careful with products like baking powder, and over-the-counter antacids. Some of them contain aluminium. Avoid.
10. Take your vitamin B12 daily, if you are a vegan. Your recommended daily dose should be 2.4 micrograms.
11. Get as much sleep as possible each night. Shift workers may find it difficult to adhere to this but you should look to get as much sleep as possible when you are off duty. 7 – 8 hours’ sleep a night is what you should be aiming for.
Sleep is important for forming new memories. If you liken sleep to an email account and liken new memories to the ‘Inbox’, lack of sleep will mean new memories will bounce back just like an email will bounce if the address in incorrect. Instead of having new memories received or stored, they will bounce if you are sleep-deprived.
Also, sleep period is the time the brain detoxes itself. Getting rid of the damage of wakefulness, recharging itself and getting rid of that toxic protein, beta amyloid. Lack of sleep means you deprive your brain of that wash-out of beta amyloid. Read more about sleep benefits from this book “Why We Sleep” at Amazon UK here.
12. Exercise your brain and your physical body. As I stated previously, 150 minutes of physical exercise a week is ideal and exercise for your brain works just as well.
Brain exercises will include activities like crosswords, puzzles, play scrabble, solve riddles and twists. Anything that exercises your brain even reading newspapers and online articles like this will help you exercise your brain and stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
13. Quit smoking cigarettes. Look for smoking cessation programs around where you live. You are probably going to find more success with that method than trying to go it alone. Of course, if you can do it yourself, go ahead and do it.
Those are your tips for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Take them on board and start using these tips starting today.
Don’t rely on Big Pharma to rescue you in later years. There’s no guarantee they will. Why wait when you can take Alzheimer preventing steps yourself.
Suggested further reading:
The #1 Food that HARMS your BRAIN (Avoid)