It’s more than just forgetting where they put their keys.
It’s the sixth leading cause of death among US adults– most of whom are at least 65 years old. Difficulty completing tasks, handling money, decreased judgment, and shifts in mood or behavior are all indicators that Alzheimer’s is progressing.
Of all of the ailments and progressive diseases that impact those in their advanced age, Alzheimer’s might be the most frightening. Many are turning towards science-based nutritional recommendations to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
What’s in an Alzheimer’s diet? How does the food one consumes affect the health of their brain? Read on to find out.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain. It is the most common form of dementia for adults 60 and older.
Alzheimer’s interferes with the function of brain cells. As the damage continues, brain cells ultimately die, resulting in irreversible memory loss and motor function as the cells are no longer able to communicate with each other.
Alzheimer’s most commonly appears after age 60. Though there is often a slow onset of symptoms, key indicators of this disease include:
- Memory loss that may present as forgetting events, needing reminders for routine tasks, and repeating thoughts
- Struggling to solve problems or perform tasks one has been doing for years
- Difficulty cooking, driving, shopping, paying bills
- The trouble with balance, spatial awareness, driving, judging distance
While many of these symptoms are manageable, this disease is currently irreversible. Working to slow down the rate at which the symptoms present themselves is crucial to maintaining the quality of life for most Alzheimer’s patients.
5 Foods to Include in An Alzheimer’s Diet
Food is medicine. Ensuring your loved one is consuming the right nutrients to fuel their body and manage the acceleration of age is achieved best through an “Alzheimer’s diet.” Here is our list of the foods most proven to combat the development of Alzheimer’s:
Flavonoids are plant compounds that promote antioxidant and anti-neuroinflammatory effects. Berries– specifically blueberries — contain high amounts of flavonoids, thus protecting against Alzheimer’s disease when incorporated into meals.
Berries may also contribute to improved cerebrovascular blood flow, which is important for optimal cognitive function.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables
Studies have shown that regular, consistent consumption of leafy greens may be one of ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and significantly reduce cases of brain atrophy. This is due to their high bioavailable nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene that slow cognitive decline.
Leafy greens are great in smoothies, wraps, sauces, and eggs. They certainly don’t need to be consumed on their own to be beneficial!
Good news for breakfast eaters– the consumption of eggs may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. It appears that the high levels of choline and phosphatidylcholine impacted cognitive performance tests.
Choline is a crucial nutrient used in the body to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for memory creation, mood, metabolic functions, muscle and nervous system control, and other cognitive functions.
Salmon may boost blood flow to certain areas of the brain. This is due to rich levels of omega-3, which is most bioavailable in foods like coldwater fish.
Increased blood flow staves off the effects of memory loss. It can also quell the brain tissue inflammation that tends to run rampant in Alzheimer’s patience.
Tea drinkers may have a better shot at slowing cognitive decline.
This is because any tea brewed from tea leaves (check the source of teabags) provides a heavy concentration of EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which binds to Alzheimer’s-causing proteins.
Scientists recommend drinking loose-leaf black, green, or oolong tea when seeking these benefits.
5 Supplements That May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
While supplements should never become the primary method of your loved one’s health efforts, they may fill in the gaps that their food choices aren’t satisfying. Here is our list of the most-researched supplements suggested to combat the development of Alzheimer’s:
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid that supports the creation of cellular pathways.
DHA is most effective when taken as a preventative measure– not a treatment for dementia that has progressed. It’s available in convenient supplemental form and easily taken before bed.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is often associated with memory loss. Scientists have studied whether its supplemental effects extend to dementia prevention, as there may be a link between brain atrophy and low B12 levels.
Though clinical results are still undetermined, it is approved as a beneficial supplement for most adults.
3. Vitamin D
A recent study determined that those with extremely low vitamin D levels in the body were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with healthy levels. As we get older, our ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases– thus leaving older adults at risk for a deficiency.
Most vitamin D is produced after exposure to the sun; however, it can also be found in fatty fish and fish-liver oils.
4. Vitamin C
When taken with vitamin E, vitamin C has been linked to reducing rates of dementia in older adults. This supplement combination should not be taken alone– its benefits are linked to overall wellness and additional supplementation.
Please note that excessive dosing of vitamin E can increase the risks of other health conditions. Please refer to your doctor before supplementing.
Curcumin, a component of the popular spice turmeric, often provides significant improvements in memory and focus when consumed daily.
While there is still much research to be done on this supplement, small doses have been determined to be safe and significantly reduce inflammation.
Protect Your Loved Ones
Watching Alzheimer’s progress is an experience no loved one wants to see. Since family members are often the primary caregivers for an older adult, dementia is a harrowing experience shared by both patient and caregiver.
While there is still so much we don’t know about Alzheimer’s; you can work with your loved one to establish an Alzheimer’s diet and lifestyle that combats aging diseases like dementia. For more lifestyle guidance and tips on caring for an aging parent, check out our blog.