Keeping Alzheimer's at Bay, the Diet-Way!

Keeping Alzheimer's at Bay, the Diet-Way!

Farheen Syed profile Authored by Farheen Syed on 31 Dec 2014 - 11:53.

Forgetting the minutest details in day-to-day life, as simple as names of people, numbers or the location of certain objects kept can be very frustrating. Imagine a health condition, which may set in with what seems like a little forgetfulness, to a life wrecking disease, destroying a person's ability to talk, coordinate, understand and become vulnerable to dramatic mood swings – Alzheimer’s.

India has more than 40 lac people who suffer from bad memory. While we sit back hoping that we should not be one of them, scientific studies have revealed that the right kind of diet intake can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 40 percent. This alarming statisticsis more than a  reason to make diet and lifestyle modifications and lead a healthy, hearty life.

Experts working on this disease theorize that Alzheimer’s disease is an interplay of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Although the cause and cure of the disease remains elusive, we can adopt the dietary recommendations suggested for they have a specific link with regards to Alzheimer’s disease.

The food list below apparently does a lot of good for the body, especially to keep Alzheimer’s far from the reckoning:

1.       The B-complex foods: A compound called homocysteine is associated with increased risk of dementia (memory loss). Studies shows that intake of foods rich in certain B complex vitamins like folate, Vitamin B 6, Vitamin B 12 can lower the levels of this compound. Foods that are richest in these vitamins include green vegetables, orange juice, beans, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, pistachios, fish, chicken, dried prunes, banana, lentils, avocado, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, liver, kidney, heart, milk, eggs, and beef.

2.       Turmeric (Haldi): Indians have a much lower ratio of instances of Alzheimer’s disease, compared to the western world. Experts relate this to the liberal consumption of turmeric powder in our curries, which contains a compound called curcumin. This compound possess strong anti-inflammatory properties and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s through multiple mechanisms. A dash of turmeric to your dishes can nourish your brains with the benefits of turmeric.

3.       Omega again: No list of healthy foods is complete without the mention of omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds, especially the type known as DHA are found in fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, herring etc.

4.       Coffee: A recent study has shown simply 3-5 cups of coffee a day can slash the risk of Alzheimer’s disease significantly. The compound polyphenol and caffeine in it provide this protective effect.

5.       Berries: These luscious fruits are the richest source of a compound called flavonoid which is a strong antioxidant. These compounds eat up the cells that are blamed for memory loss. Have a bowl of berries for a snack or make delicious smoothies for breakfast.  This is just another reason to enjoy the delicious fruit each day.

6.       Nuts and Seeds: What an omega 3 rich oily fish does to a non-vegetarian is what it does for a vegan. The brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids present in flaxseeds, walnuts, pecans and almonds have been extensively studied with regard to delaying Alzheimer’s disease and proved successful. Moreover, vitamin E present in nuts has also been linked with reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Snacking on nuts will not only keep your hunger pangs away but also nourish your brain.

For improved cognition, a brain needs to be nourished and fueled with healthy fats, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and adequate vitamins and minerals. All these foods can be seen in a Mediterranean diet which is rich in fresh salads, nuts, lean meat and olive oil.

Several researches have pointed to this diet to ward off the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Our increased dependence on processed foods that are rich in unhealthy fats and sugar has made us more vulnerable to the toxins produced in the body by consumption of such foods. These toxins over time, may lead to inflammation, which in turn may result in impaired cognitive function. And hence it is important to limit the consumption of processed foods and include fresh foods in our diet.

Healthy eating practices also keeps obesity at bay, which has recently been listed amongst the triggers of impaired cognitive function. A long term study has shown that those adults who were obese in their middle age had twice the likelihood of developing dementia in later life, than those with ideal body weight.

Since the exact cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease is not known yet, we must be open to lifestyle interventions and dietary modifications that serve as a mantra for a healthier brain.

Check out the recipe for a robust brain:

  • Exercise regularly. Let it be a 40min brisk walk thrice weekly.
  • The gems of Mediterranean diet; fruits, vegetable, beans, whole grains and nuts should be staples in your diet.
  • Avoid packaged processed foods.
  • Ensure a quality sleep of atleast 8hrs a day.
  • Include some brain-stimulating games and activities in your routine.
  • Avoid saturated fats in diet.
  • Avoid smoking.

Eat healthy, stay sharp and physical active for a healthy you!

 

References:

  • What is Alzheimer’s? (2013). Alzheimer’s Association, fromhttp://www.alz.org/alzheimersdiseasewhatisalzheimers.asp
  • Adiposity indicators and dementia over 32 years in Sweden. (2009). Neurology, fromFood, Eating and Alzheimer’s. (2013).
  • Whitmer, R. A., Gustafson, D. R., Barrett-Connor, E., Haan, M. N., Gunderson, E. P., &Yaffe, K. (2008). Central Obesity And Increased Risk Of Dementia More Than Three Decades Later. Neurology, 71(14), 1057-1064.

 

 

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.