If diet can affect our chances of getting diabetes and heart disease, what about Alzheimer’s disease? Medical studies indicate that we may lower our risk of Alzheimer’s disease simply by getting better nutrition. During the course of this dementia, half of the brain cells may die off. Certain foods can be protective and help us keep our brain cells alive. Alzheimer’s may start years before diagnosis, so it is never too early to use risk-reduction methods.
How can we protect our brains?
A diet high in antioxidant fruits, beans, nuts and vegetables can protect our brain cells. In the “Nurses’ Health Study,” researchers found that dementia was delayed an average of two years with just a cup of berries daily. Nearly 93 percent Americans lack vitamin E in their diet. Just a handful of walnuts and sunflower seeds daily can supply enough vitamin E to keep brain cells alive. Enzymes that protect our brain cells from destruction depend on four minerals: copper, zinc, manganese and selenium. Since we may not eat these minerals every day, supplements are available to supply them. Vitamin C found in fruits and vegetables is necessary to protect our brain cells. Many Americans do not even get the daily minimum 75 milligrams of vitamin C. In our current Hawaii Dementia Prevention Trial, patients receive 800 milligrams of the ascorbated form of vitamin C every day.
Getting blood to the brain
Our brains need good blood circulation to keep memory sharp. Arteries in the brain can become clogged up like heart arteries. Tiny pieces of plaque may break off and block blood supply to a section of the brain, causing mini-strokes, and leading to eventual memory problems. Limiting intake of saturated fat can keep our brain arteries clean and reduce high cholesterol associated with formation of Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain. Animal fat is the chief dietary source of saturated fats. In our clinical trial on nutrition and dementia, patients get very small amounts of cheese, beef, pork and butter. By contrast, fish are low in saturated fat.
What to do?
Diet is a powerful tool in building good health. Please consider eating more whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with some nuts, beans and whole grains. For one-on-one nutritional counseling, memory evaluations or to participate in dementia clinical trials, please contact Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Center.
Healthy food choices …
decrease the risk and progression of dementia.
Protecting your brain cells with diet can be
easy, cheap and delicious:
• A cup of berries daily
• A cup of cooked green vegetables daily
• A handful of nuts or seeds daily
• Less animal fats from cheese and meat
• Brain and body food supplements:
– Folate and vitamin B12 –
– Zinc, copper, manganese and selenium –
– Ascorbated vitamin C –
– Vitamin E –
(as gamma and alpha tocopherol)
Hawaii Center for Healthy Aging & Memory
Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience Center —
Honolulu & Windward
808-261-4476 | www.HawaiiNeuroscience.com