is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder
characterized by a gradual decline in memory
and behavioral problems.
It is the most common form of dementia i.e. a disease characterized by memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language. Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the US
affecting 5.3 million Americans and 12 million people worldwide.
People with Alzheimer’s develop beta-amyloid plaque
i.e. clusters of protein that inhibit communication between nerve cells and tangles
i.e. dead or dying nerve cells, which stop nutrient supply between the nerve cells. The initial symptoms include depression, irritability, confusion and forgetfulness
. As Alzheimer's progresses, problems with memory loss, communication, reasoning and orientation
become more severe. Genes may play a significant role in the development of dementia
Neal Barnard quoted “By staying active and moving plant-based foods to the center of our plates, we have a fair shot at rewriting the risk of Alzheimer’s.”
Diet and Alzheimer’s
The risk for Alzheimer’s is greater in people who consume a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fats and low in fiber, vegetables and fruits. This results in the formation of beta-amyloid plaques.
A brain-healthy diet combined with physical and mental activity
, proper stress management
and social interaction
reduces progression of Alzheimer’s. According to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene and flavonoids
are powerful anti-oxidants, which combat free radicals responsible for brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s.Citrus fruits
contain significant amounts of Vitamin C whereas nuts, oilseeds and cereals
boost Vitamin E intake. Eating yellow, red and orange
-colored fruits and vegetables
helps meet beta-carotene intake. Onions, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples and sweet potato
are dietary sources of flavonoids.
A study published in the journal Neurology
revealed that people eating foods rich in folate and Vitamin B12
reduce their risk of Alzheimer's. Homocysteine is a neurotoxin, which damages the temporal lobe. Leafy vegetables, oranges, nuts and legumes
are sources of folate whereas chicken, fish, dairy products
contribute towards Vitamin B 12 intake.
Sufficient Vitamin D
is imperative for proper functioning of the immune system and for combating inflammation
associated with Alzheimer's. Exposure to early morning sun
is the best source of Vitamin D. Eggs, fish and dairy products
are dietary sources of Vitamin D.
Intake of omega-3 fats
prevents cell damage caused by Alzheimer's. Omega-3 fats control calcium flow in and out of the brain. Excess calcium build-up inside brain cells contributes to the production of the beta-amyloid protein, which results in Alzheimer’s. Walnuts, flaxseeds,
oily fish like salmon and mackerel
are dietary sources for Omega -3 fats.Curcumin
, a compound found in turmeric
counteracts symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It binds amyloid proteins and prevents them from grouping together to form plaque. Additionally, turmeric reduces the inflammation of neural tissue.
Eating a diet containing fiber and lower amount of saturated fats
is recommended for people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Whole grain cereals and pulses, fruits and vegetables
are good sources of fiber.
A study in the journal JAMA Neurology established that people who ate a diet high in saturated fats like meat, egg yolk and full fat-dairy products and high glycaemic index foods such as sweets, chocolates, ice-creams and cakes have increased levels of beta-amyloid protein
in their Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF).
According to a study conducted at Stanford University, stress contributes towards progression of Alzheimer’s. During stress, the body produces cortisol, which damages brain cells and disrupts functioning of neurotransmitters. Therefore it is important to live a stress-free life, to ease the symptoms of the disease. Other measures that can help during Alzheimer’s are regular physical exercise
, 7 hours of sleep
and engaging in some form of mental activity such as crossword puzzles, newspaper reading or learning a new language can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.