Prevention

Alzheimer's and Nutrition - What You Deserve to Know

Dharma S Khalsa, MD Health Guide April 29, 2009
  • There have been many studies recently linking Alzheimer's and nutrition. More and more, the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that proper nutrition is essential to maintaining a healthy brain:  it plays a major role in cognition, memory, and various neurological disorders - including Alzheimer's disease.

    I am a strong proponent of the link between Alzheimer's and nutrition. I have found that a proper diet is one of the main keys to Alzheimer's prevention and should consist of the following:

     

    1. 20% "good" fat, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and flax seed oil;


    2. 40% lean protein, such as fish, chicken, turkey, and soy; (Omega-3 fatty acids, found primarily in fish, have been shown to drastically decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. In fact, simply eating one fish meal per week can result in a 60% reduction in your risk of developing Alzheimer's.)

     

    3. 40% complex carbohydrates, such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits;

     

    4. "Super foods" for the brain, such as blueberries, spinach, and seaweed.

     

    It is also important to avoid:

    • 1. A diet high in trans-fat and saturated fat, since these fats produce free radicals in your body.
    • 2. High quantities of free radicals have been known to damage and even kill brain cells.


    Get Your Antioxidants

    A diet rich in antioxidants is also important. It has been found to drastically lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.  Antioxidants eliminate free radicals from your body. Your body naturally produces free radicals as a by-product of normal cell functioning. However, when produced in large quantities, free radicals can cause such debilitating diseases as cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's.

    How to find antioxidants?

    • Vitamin E is fat soluble and can be found in vegetable and nut oils, spinach, and whole grain products.
    • Vitamin C is water soluble, and can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, and red peppers.

    These vitamins more effectively help prevent Alzheimer's when obtained from actual foods instead of from supplements. Research shows that when taken together, vitamins C and E can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease by 20%.

    • A diet rich in niacin will help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's. However, research indicates that it is more beneficial to receive niacin from foods than from supplements. Niacin-rich foods include lean meat, fish, poultry, peanuts, omega-E-enriched eggs, whole grain products, beans and peas, avocados, dates, figs, and prunes.

    Supplements to Know About

    The following supplements have also proven very effective in improving cognitive functioning and memory:

    • Ginkgo biloba extract (also an antioxidant)
    • Alpha GFC (alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine)
    • N-acetyl-L-carnitine
    • Lipoic acid
    • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
    • Phosphatidylserine.


    Medical researchers are still hard at work trying to determine the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease. But one thing has already been determined with certainty:  there is a strong link between Alzheimer's and nutrition.