The Seven Steps of the
Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet
Everyone wants to boost their brain power, retard brain age, avoid dementia and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, as well as all the chronic diseases of our modern times. These days we have instant news, instant money, instant communication, instant information, and instant gratification, and we’re stressed out like never before. Stress, no longer an abstract concept, is a physiological condition that can affect all of our bodily systems and contribute to heart disease, many forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other prevalent diseases of our time.
What you eat can either help prevent disease or help cause it. The standard American diet, with its emphasis on refined grains, big portions, and unhealthy fats, exacerbates the effects of stress and pushes the body’s nutritional limits. Using food as peaceful medicine can help to bring balance back to your body and fend off illness. The steps described below are not part of an extreme diet or rigid food pyramid, which, based on my 25 years of experience as a physician, are neither effective nor necessary for most people. They are a set of basic, flexible principles which will put you on a continuum, moving toward a plant-based diet that’s low in calories and high in nutrient-dense, organic foods. This program is a foundation for you to build on as you strive for the best possible health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss.
1) Detoxify Your Body
The human gastrointestinal system is like an elastic pipe; this pipe can trap waste, and toxins may be absorbed as a result, creating a foundation for illness. Periodic fasting – two or three times a year – is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It cleanses your digestive tract, detoxifies and revitalizes your body, and lifts your spirit – and it’s a great way to start the transition into the complete program.
2) Beware of “Alarm Foods”
Certain foods and substances – such as sugar, pasta, red meat, deep-fried snacks, caffeine, and alcohol – tend to cause an “alarm reaction,” a signal of artificial stimulation and inflammation, in your body. Eating alarm foods regularly, particularly when you’re stressed, can put your body in a state of perpetual arousal. Chronic stress creates free radicals, which can cause gene mutations that may lead to cancer, as well as the cellular inflammation that can contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, memory loss, arthritis, anemia, fibromyalgia, asthma, and allergies.
3) Seek Out Omega 3s and Increase Your Intake of Fruits and Vegetables
Clearly, the type of fats you consume has a powerful effect on your health. While many alarm foods contain saturated fat, which causes inflammation, food containing omega-3 fatty acids or good fats has been shown to inhibit inflammation. So start incorporating omega-3-rich flaxseed oil, olive oil, salmon, and tuna into your diet, and keep snacks such as almonds and pumpkin seeds on hand. Vegetables and fruits are the antithesis of alarm foods: They are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and they distribute antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to all your cells. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only a third of US adults consume two or more fruits per day, and only a quarter eat three or more veggies per day. As you can tell, as a population we are still a long way away from using food as medicine.
4) Go Organic and Steer Clear of GMOs
Pesticides may be contributing factors in a long list of diseases-including Parkinson’s, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and several forms of cancer-and they may be hazardous to the developing immune and nervous systems of small children. Some research shows that from a nutritional standpoint, organically grown food is higher in many minerals than conventional food. Less is known about the health effects of GMOs – no long-term studies of genetically engineered (GE) foods have been conducted on humans. The new organic-food laws should make buying organic less of a guessing game. And while it’s difficult to completely avoid GMOs – nearly 70 percent of produce, on U.S. grocery-store shelves contain some GMO ingredients – it’s critical to look for “GMO free” labels in health-food stores and on package labeling.
5) Discover Juicing
Many fruits and vegetables, when juiced using a juice extractor, become a concentrated form of nutritional energy. Unlike processed, packaged juices, fresh juices are alive, with enzymes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and all the phytonutrients you need to send a positive healing message to your body and brain. Juicing should not be used instead of eating your fruits and veggies, though. It can be a very nice complement to a healthy diet, but your body still needs the fiber from the produce, because it aids digestion and regulates blood sugar levels.
6) Clean Up Your (Protein) Act
This approach allows for plenty of protein while limiting your intake of fat. I have seen countless patients on low protein diets complain of low energy, fatigue, depression, and poor memory; these symptoms improve or disappear when their protein intake is increased. For people who exercise frequently, I recommend a diet containing about 40 percent protein (which is essential for building and maintaining muscle strength), 15-20 percent good fats, and 35-40 percent complex carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables).
7) Shop Consciously and Eat Mindfully
Healing with food should begin even before the food arrives at the table. It’s important to be mindful when selecting food; if you are frenetic when shopping, you will tend to make the wrong choices. Take a moment to clear your mind with a few deep breaths before entering the supermarket. This will help you buy healthy food and avoid responding to subliminal advertising messages. Mealtimes themselves can be an oasis of comfort and healing – or quite the opposite. With a little conscious effort, you can create a divine space in which to enjoy your food.
Follow all 7 of these guidelines and you will give a huge boost to your brain power! To find out more and stay in touch, click here.
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
President and Medical Director
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