Alzheimer’s Disease

The study of Alzheimer’s Disease is a relatively new area of research, but also a very interesting one. There is increased attention to what to do to decrease risk and a lot of data is suggesting that exercise and diet play a role. To summarize the findings, here are the basics:

  • A Mediterranean style diet – those rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, red wine, fish and low in red meat, high fat dairy and saturated fats – have been shown to decrease risk of dementia.
  • Darker colored fruits and veggies have higher levels of antioxidants to protect the brain from inflammation. Some examples include: eggplants, beets, spinach, kale, red grapes and berries.
  • Folate, vitamin C and vitamin E are also helpful in maintaing brain health. Oranges, broccoli, leafy greens and nuts are great sources.
  • In particular, omega – 3 fatty acids found in cold-water fatty fish (salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring, trout, tuna) has been correlated with a decreased risk in Alzheimer’s. Non fish sources of omega – 3 fatty acids include milled flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts and tofu. A supplement can be taken if food sources don’t contribute enough.
  • Nutrients found in food are more effective than taking a supplement.
  • Alcohol has been shown to be beneficial as well. One large study found that light to moderate drinkers had a 42% lower risk than non-drinkers.
  • Due to its plant based chemicals, tea has been correlated with a reduced risk. The same benefit is not seen with caffeine or coffee consumption.
  • Because it raises certain chemicals in the brain, moderate to vigorous exercise can be very effective.
  • The sooner the better. Now is the time to start eating right and exercising in order to decrease your risk. As with anything, prevention is always easier than treatment.
    Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD