Alzheimer’s and Nutrition –
What You Deserve to Know
There have been many studies recently linking Alzheimer’s disease 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 that a proper diet 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
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
Furthermore, it is important to avoid a diet high in trans-fat and saturated fat, since these fats produce free radicals in your body. High quantities of free radicals have been known to damage and even kill brain cells.
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.
I also recommend that everyone should take a high potency multiple vitamin containing vitamin C and folic acid.
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.
Vitamins C and E are both an excellent source of 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%.
Diets that are low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber will also help prevent Alzheimer’s by reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause an increase in the production of free radicals in your body.
High fat and cholesterol diets impair learning and memory performance. Plus, diets high in fat and cholesterol have been shown to triple your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
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
Ginkgo biloba extract is an excellent antioxidant and works well to improve cognitive performance.
The following supplements have also proven very effective in improving cognitive functioning and memory: alpha GFC (alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine), N-acetyl-L-carnitine, lipoic acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and 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.
The mission of the non-profit Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation is to help you prevent the development of Alzheimer’s. Paying careful attention to your diet is one important way you can drastically reduce your risk for this debilitating disease.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
President and Medical Director