Food That Could Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a type of dementia common in people over the age of 65, although early-onset AD is also seen in younger people. Even though the cause is unknown, there are many theories as to what factors contribute to its onset. Cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes have been associated with the onset of AD, so a healthy diet that minimizes these risks is thought to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study published in the Archives of Neurology showed that diet has a great impact on the pathological markers of AD. The study participants who ate food high in saturated fats and high-glycemic, simple carbohydrates had higher spinal fluid levels of beta-amyloid, a fibrous protein that affects the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, than those who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. In addition, those who already showed signs of AD were more sensitive to the high-fat diet; it raised their blood cholesterol levels almost twice as much as that of healthy people. The low-fat diet improved the visual memory of both those with and without AD.
Another study showed that older women who eat the most cruciferous and green, leafy vegetables are several years younger in mental abilities than women who do not eat vegetables. Many other studies and clinical trials are being done to try to find the cause and cure for this devastating disease, but, until more scientific data become available, a healthy diet seems to be a sensible way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The standard American diet is typically full of highly processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods. Simple carbohydrates that cause extreme sugar highs and lows make up a large part of this diet. More and more research is showing that our health suffers from such foods. If we can reduce risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease by eating a healthy diet, we can also reduce risk factors for many other diseases.
The majority of a healthy diet should be fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, the darker in color the fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it has. Dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are powerhouses. A good way to incorporate adequate fruits and vegetables into the diet is by juicing or by making smoothies. Five or more servings of vegetables can easily be consumed this way.
Whole grains and cereals are also a part of a healthy diet. They are complex carbohydrates that do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar but break down into glucose more slowly and provide vitamins and minerals. Good sources of these carbohydrates are oatmeal, bran and brown rice. Simple carbohydrates and sugars are devoid of nutritional value.
The aforementioned study showed that saturated fat is harmful to health and especially for people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, consumption of fried food and red meat should be minimal, if at all. Cold-water fish that contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids can be eaten several times a week. Beans are also a good source of protein and make a good meat substitute.
Changing one’s diet takes time and effort, but if we are interested in preventing disease, especially Alzheimer’s, it is well worth it. The research results are highly suggestive that diet does influence the onset and course of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nisha represents a site called www.mhaauchlochan.org.uk. She enjoys writing about health and fitness and has had a few years’ experience working in the health sector. Feel free to visit our site for more information on retirement living.