Go for the Green to Fight Alzheimer's Disease
Perhaps this upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day, I’ll be thinking about drinking the green! Nope, not green beer. I think I’ll start indulging in green tea, spinach and seaweed.
A new study out of the University of Michigan has found that this type of tea has a specific molecule that prevents the misfolding of metal-associated amyloids in the brain. Large amounts of these proteins are associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as other conditions that attack the brain. This molecule, which is called (—)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), not only prevented the formation of these plaques, but also broke down existing aggregate structures in proteins that contained copper, iron and zinc.
This interdisciplinary research team included chemists, biochemists and biophysicists. The research team is focusing on its next step, which involves reworking the EGCG molecule and then testing its ability to stop to slow plaque formation in the brains of fruit flies.
The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation recommends that superfoods for the brain be eaten regularly. These include green foods such as the aforementioned seaweed and spinach. The foundation also recommends a specific diet to help you avoid Alzheimer’s disease. This diet consists of:
- 20 percent good fats, such as virgin olive oil, avocado and flax seed oil
- 40 percent lean proteins, such as fish, chicken, turkey and soy.
- 40 percent complex carbohydrates, such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fresh fruit.
Green is also a common color in the Mediterranean diet thanks to its emphasis on fresh produce. And this diet is important in preventing cardiovascular disease, which often is linked to dementia. Just listen to Dr. Edward Rosick, a board-certified physician in preventive and holistic medicine and an assistant professor of medicine at Michigan State University, who writes, “As scientists delve further into the twin pathologies of cardiovascular disease and dementia, they are increasingly convinced that afflictions of the heart and brain share common triggers and biochemical characteristics, including inflammation, oxidative stress, and hypoxia, an oxygen deficit caused by impaired blood flow.”
And as I mentioned in a sharepost for HealthCentral’s Diet and Exercise site (as did Carol Bradley Bursack in an Alzheimer’s sharepost, a large study out of Spain legitimized the heart benefits of this type of diet. The study’s findings were so significant that the researchers decided to end it early.
In this study which involved 7,500 adults between the ages of 55 and 80, researchers compared a Mediterranean diet with a low-fat diet. However, because the participants assigned to eat the strict low-fat diet had difficulty adhering to it, their diet ended up being the typical diet that most of us usually eat.
So what did the Mediterranean diet look like? Well, it actually pretty much mirrored the diet recommended by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. The participants who ate this type of diet were asked to eat:
- Fruit at least three times daily.
- Vegetables at least twice daily.
- Fish at least three times a week.
- Beans, peas and lentils at least three times a week.
- Eat white meat instead of red meat.
- No commercially made cookies, cakes and pastries.
- Limited amounts of daily products and processed meats.
- A glass of wine daily with meals if they wanted an alcoholic beverage.
The participants who ate this type of diet also were assigned by group to daily eat either four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil or a combined ounce of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Because the researchers found that the two groups who were assigned to eat a Mediterranean diet had similar results, anyone who wants to consume this sort of diet should consider these good additions.
Hopefully, this sharepost will make you really think about your diet and how you can make the necessary changes that can help you avoid dementia.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation. (nd). The 4 Pillars of Alzheimer’s Prevention.
Rosick, E. R. (2007). The deadly link between heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Life Extension.
University of Michigan. (2013). Green tea extract interferes with the formation of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.