Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | alzheimer | dementia | food

Brain Food: 10 Dietary Staples That Help Fight Alzheimer's

Brain Food: 10 Dietary Staples That Help Fight Alzheimer's
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By    |   Wednesday, 17 January 2018 01:29 PM

More than 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and that figure is predicted to skyrocket to 16 million by the year 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

While there’s no cure for the disease, and few treatments that do more than merely delay its progression, several healthy habits – including a healthy diet that includes dementia-fighting compounds – can help combat Alzheimer's. And it’s never too early to start fighting the battle against cognitive decline.

“Researchers say that changes in our minds can begin 20 to 30 years before the disease manifests, and that the choices we make now can have a deep impact on brain health,” notes Rebecca Katz, author of “The Healthy Mind Cookbook.”

“The empowering news is that lifestyle habits – nutrition, exercise, sleep, stimulating cognitive activity, community and stress relief especially – are keys to health that we have in our hands.”

And it all starts with what you put in your mouth. Katz suggests cutting out refined foods, simple carbs, and any added sugars, and eating colorful whole foods instead.

“People who have shifted their way of eating have experienced some success in delaying disease or improving quality of life,” Katz tells Newsmax Health.

Here are some of Katz’s top picks for protecting your brain against the ravages of Alzheimer’s:

Legumes: The foods in this category – beans, lentils and peas – are packed with folate and other B vitamins that have been linked with sharper mental focus, less fatigue, and better memory. A large study in China found that older people who consumed legumes more often were less likely than others to suffer from cognitive decline.

Salmon: Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked in several studies with stronger cognitive performance, both in middle age and older years. Wild Alaska salmon is best, and it also contains other brain-healthy nutrients, including vitamin D, selenium, carotenoids, niacin and choline.

Blueberries: The flavonoids in these sweet treats help delay cognitive decline in older people. And antioxidants, especially one called anthocyanin, may improve memory and help neurons survive by optimizing metabolism and enhancing nerve communication. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that blueberries may not only help to prevent Alzheimer’s but also reverse cognitive decline.

Kale: One of the healthiest foods around, kale has 45 different varieties of antioxidant flavonoids. It also delivers astounding amounts of vitamin K as well as vitamin A, both of which enhance brain function. Furthermore, kale is loaded with minerals, including iron, which is a co-factor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and vital for brain function.

Cauliflower: This cruciferous vegetable is a great source of the antioxidant vitamin C, which is good for the overall health of your brain. It’s also high in memory-boosting vitamin K. Researchers at the University of Rochester found that a chemical in cruciferous veggies activates proteins that degrade tau tangles, a hallmark feature of Alzheimer’s.

Beets: “Beets are a brain food of the first order,” declares Katz. One of the primary reasons is that they are high in nitrites, which increase blood flow in parts of the brain. Beets also have a lot of brain-healthy folate and betalins, a type of carotenoid that may help boost cognitive capabilities.

Walnuts: Ironically, walnuts resemble miniature brains with two hemispheres and convoluted folds. Scientists say compounds in the tree nuts help develop more than three dozen neurotransmitters, and that they also have the power to break down amyloid plaque, another hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Katz suggest leaving the skins on because that’s where the powerful phenol antioxidants are most concentrated.

Olive oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is chock-full of “good fats,” especially monounsaturated oleic acid. Studies show that olive oil consumption is associated with a stronger memory and higher scores on verbal fluency tests. Those “good fats” have been linked to improved memory and better overall brain functioning.

Green tea: A study of Japanese seniors found that those who drank more green tea had fewer cognitive impairments. In another study, subjects who drank green tea had better mental focus and memory, and MRI scans revealed heightened activity in an area of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The tea has also been linked with helping the brain create new neurons. Says Katz: “The antioxidants in green tea can really give your brain a lift.”

Turmeric: The substance that gives turmeric its vibrant yellow-orange color, curcumin, has been shown to boost cognitive functioning in animal studies, especially in older subjects. It’s also been shown to protect against cardiovascular problems, which can help to keep our brains sharp. Since it’s hard to eat enough turmeric to make a difference, experts recommend curcumin in supplement form.

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There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and few treatments that do more than merely delay its progression. But a healthy diet that includes dementia-fighting compounds can help combat dementia.
alzheimer, dementia, food
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 01:29 PM
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