Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s is not just scary, it’s petrifying.  In fact, “Alzheimer’s is the second most feared disease,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Its latest report “Generation Alzheimer’s: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers” sheds light on a crisis that is no longer emerging – it’s here. According to the Alzheimer’s Association report, “Starting this year, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65. As these baby boomers age, one of out of eight of them will develop Alzheimer’s – a devastating, costly, heartbreaking disease. Increasingly for these baby boomers, it will no longer be their grandparents and parents who have Alzheimer’s – it will be them.”

What Can You Do Today?

A study published in the journal Archives of Neurology suggests that there may be dietary changes that can help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study, conducted at Columbia University in New York, followed the diets of more than 2,000 adults over age 65 over a period of years; during the study, 253 developed Alzheimer’s.

During the study, participants provided information about their diets and were assessed for the development of Alzheimer’s every 1 1/2 years. After nearly four years, researchers identified a dietary pattern strongly associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The brain protective diet was noted to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and folate, and relatively lower in saturated fat and vitamin B12. Participants who adhered most closely to this dietary pattern had a 38 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those who adhered least closely to this dietary pattern. The use of alcohol or dietary supplements did not affect risk levels in this study.

Why May the Brain Protective Diet Work?

The study’s authors note that each nutrient likely aids in Alzheimer’s prevention in different ways. For example, vitamin E offers its strong antioxidant effect for the prevention of the disease, while omega-3 fatty acids may be related to dementia and cognitive function through an anti-inflammatory effect.

To Try the “Brain Protective” Diet

Part of the diet means a lower intake of high-fat dairy, butter, red meat and organ meat. But great foods to add to your diet include:

  • Beets
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Tomatoes
  • Poultry
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower)
  • Fruits
  • Leafy green vegetables

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the causes are still largely unknown, we can all benefit from adding these brain-friendly foods into our diets.