Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by damaged neurons in the brain that are responsible for thinking, learning, and cognitive function, which eventually enable a person to proceed with their daily functions such as walking, talking, and swallowing. Dementia is the most common cause of Alzheimer’s disease and impairs a person’s memory, language, daily activities, and thinking skills.

There are many risk factors for Alzheimer’s but in 2019 WHO (the World Health Organization) recommended physical activity, management of hypertension, cardiac disease, and diabetes, quitting smoking, and a healthy diet to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. It is estimated that 5.8 million Americans age 65 years and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s dementia (as of 2020) and 67,000 being in our state of Oklahoma. It is estimated that by the year of 2025, Oklahoma numbers will increase by 13.4% to 76,000. Evidence suggest that a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole gains, fish, chicken, nuts, and legumes and that is low in saturated fats, red meat, and sugar is associated with reduced dementia risk (Hardman, Kennedy, Macpherson, Scholey, & Pipingas, 2016). A 2015 study suggested that a MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH diet) may slow cognition decline by the equivalent of 7.5 years and is beneficial for anyone regardless of age. The MIND diet recommends the intake of the following “brain” foods:

  • Choosing green and leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli that contain vitamin K, folate, lutein, and beta carotene most days of the week to help promote healthy cell growth and reduce inflammation

  • Consuming 5 servings of unsalted nuts per week which are a great source of Vitamin E and contain heart healthy plant-based fats

  • Choosing fruits especially berries that are high in flavonoids and antioxidants can improve memory

  • Consuming a variety of beans from black beans, to kidney beans, and lentils and including them in soups, stews, and dips

  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa contain an excellent source of fiber and will help regulate blood glucose. Aim for 3 or more servings of whole grains a day

  • Omega-3 fatty acids that support healthy brain function can be found in fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines and should be consumed at least once a week. Unsaturated fats that are found in fatty fish may lower blood levels of beta-amyloid which is the protein that is linked to damaging the brain of people with Alzheimer’s (Foods linked to better brainpower, n.d.)

  • Choosing poultry such as chicken and turkey which are high in protein and lower in fat than red meat

  • Olive and avocado oils are high in Vitamin E and can help lower cholesterol. Add them in cooking or simply drizzle over a salad or leafy greens

  • And lastly, enjoy a glass of red wine that contains flavonoids and have anti-inflammatory properties but please make sure you are not drinking in excess (Cabotaje, 20202).