Alzheimer’s: The word conjures up scary thoughts of slowly losing your memory as you become a shell of your former self. Experts project that diagnoses of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the primary cause, will triple worldwide by 2050. But scientists tell us that preventative measures can go a long way in protecting the brain from memory loss diseases, and they are as simple as doing things like making changes in your diet.
Here are 10 super foods that work to boost brain power and, in turn, lessen your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. No one food has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but healthy eating habits appear to be one of the top factors in lowering your risk for developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
1. Wild Salmon, Tuna, Sardines (Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week because it contains vital omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats help the body function properly and may slow cognitive decline by 10 percent, studies show.
“The main concept is that a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids creates BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), a protein between nerve cells that helps increase the strength between connections,” said Michael Gonzalez-Wallace, author of “Super Body Super Brain.” Trout, mackerel, and herring are also good choices, and taking a fish oil vitamin can also help your body obtain this much-needed nutrient.
2. Spinach, Collard and Turnip Greens, Asparagus (Folic Acid)
Dark leafy greens and woody asparagus stalks are both very high in folic acid – also known as vitamin B9 – as well as many other nutrients. Folic acid improves cognitive function and high levels of it decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to one three year clinical trial. Eat your greens raw for the most benefit.
3. Eggs (Choline)
Eggs get a bad rap and it seems that every other year the scientific community changes its opinion on whether eggs should be incorporated into the diet or not. However, what is known conclusively about eggs is that they are a good source of choline, a B vitamin that helps improve memory. Unless your doctor advises against it, eat eggs in moderation to keep your brain in good health.
4. Olive Oil, Avocados, Nuts and Seeds (Unsaturated Fats)
These foods, common in the Mediterranean diet, support your heart and in turn, your brain, by increasing good cholesterol levels when eaten in moderation. In addition, a component in olive oil called oleocanthal is believed to deter a toxic protein from binding to nerves in the brain – a first step in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. “We conclude that higher adherence to the MeDi [Mediterranean Diet] is associated with a reduction in risk for AD [Alzheimer's Disease],” said one study published in the Annals of Neurology.
5. Berries (Anthocyanin)
Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and other berries contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. One study following 16,000 women provided evidence that increasing the amount of berries in your diet could slow cognitive decline by up to 2.5 years.
6. Turmeric (Curcumin)
Scientists do not yet know whether curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric and therefore curry powder, can ward off Alzheimer’s disease. But studies have shown its effectiveness in decreasing inflammation in the brain and inhibiting damaging compounds in nerve cells, which contribute to the disease. Research linking Alzheimer’s and curcumin are promising, and India’s low prevalence of Alzheimer’s may partly be a result of high consumption of curcumin.
7. Clams, Oysters, Mussels (Vitamin B12)
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause symptoms such as memory loss, and adults with low vitamin B12 levels quadruple their risk for Alzheimer’s, according to the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging. One serving of clams provides 1648 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B12.
8. Fruit and Vegetable Juices (Flavonoids)
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is a good prescription for anyone. But sometimes, drinking your fruits and veggies can be as beneficial for your brain’s health, because they contain a high concentration of polyphenols, flavonoids being one of them. Pouring a glass of juice every other day may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a Vanderbilt study.
9. Red Wine (Resveratrol)
It’s a secret the French and Italians have known for centuries: Moderate amounts of wine can be beneficial for health. One study supported drinking three 4-ounce glasses of wine daily to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but most scientists put the cap at one glass of red wine per day. The resveratrol in wine decreases dangerous plaque build-up in the brain.
10. AVOID Trans Fats (Hydrogenated oils)
This food is one you should avoid to help prevent Alzheimer’s, but it shows up so regularly in Alzheimer’s disease studies that avoiding it may be a part of the puzzle of how the brain deteriorates. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, other names for trans fats, are in fried foods, fast food, margarine, store bought salad dressings, and packaged goods. Trans fats are the number one food to avoid to help protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
January 28th, 2013