Brain Food For The Prevention of Alzheimer's

Updated: May 30



According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 6.5 million Americans older than 65 years old are currently living with Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, eventually making it difficult to carry out simple tasks. Certain medication has shown promising mild benefits in delaying the progression of the disease, however, more research is showing that what you eat can play a role in preventing and slowing the progression of brain degradation.


ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE PROGRESSION

With Alzheimer’s disease progression, neurons are injured and begin to die; neural networks break down; and the brain begins to shrink. There are two abnormal structures called plaques and tangles that are thought to be linked to these neurological occurrences. Plaques are abnormal clusters of protein that grow between nerve cells and tangles are twisted fragments of protein that grow inside cells. While there are several factors that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, let’s take a look at the modifiable dietary risk factors and the protective mechanisms a plant-based diet could have against brain degradation.

FOOD YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT LIKE


Alcohol


You may have heard that a small amount of alcohol can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet. However, recent research is suggesting that too much alcohol can have negative effects on the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The science behind it suggests that alcohol alters gene expression in microglial cells. Microglial cells are the cleansers of the brain and are meant to keep the “bad stuff” from forming, such as plaques and tangles. If you like to enjoy an occasional glass of wine or beer, the amount of alcohol needed to trigger the negative effects seems to exceed the recommendations of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Consuming no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men may be okay. However, many neurological experts agree that no alcohol at all is optimal to support brain health.

Animal Products

The composition of fat in the diet has been shown to have a major association to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. More specifically, a diet higher in saturated fat (mostly found in animal products) and lower in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (found in plant-based foods) can result in high cholesterol. While the mechanisms are unclear, since cholesterol doesn't enter the brain, research shows a link between high cholesterol and the risks of certain types of dementia, like Alzheimer's disease. Ideally, total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL. To learn how to lower cholesterol naturally through plant-based foods visit, Top Ten Plant-Based Foods to Lower Cholesterol.