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Brain-Healthy Foods: The Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet

Protect yourself from degenerative disease with these delicious, brain-healthy foods.

| March/April 2014

  • Breakfast in Bed
    Research has found that your diet might help your brain work better and ultimately stave off Alzheimer's.
    Photo by Veer

  • Breakfast in Bed

Alzheimer’s disease ranks among the greatest health-care crises of the 21st century, and the numbers become more dire with every passing year. In the first six years of this century, while deaths from stroke, prostate cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and HIV fell, Alzheimer’s deaths increased by a shocking 66 percent. About one in every 10 Americans over the age of 65 now suffers from Alzheimer’s, and every year an estimated 100,000 people die of the disease.

Recipes for Brain Health

Breakfast Fried Rice with Scrambled Eggs Recipe
Curried Quinoa Recipe with Green Onions and Basil
Ahi Tuna Recipe on Rye with Spinach Pesto Yogurt

But the news isn’t all grim. There are easy, concrete steps every one of us can take to avoid adding to the ranks of Alzheimer’s sufferers and becoming another statistic. Even taking risk factors into account, we can fight to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s altogether—and one of the most effective ways of doing this is by eating brain-healthy foods. That’s right. Eating better might help your brain work better and ultimately stave off Alzheimer’s.

Sound too good to be true? Several recent, large population-based studies have provided strong evidence linking a higher dietary intake of specific foods—those rich in the B-complex vitamins (especially B6, B12 and folate), antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and unsaturated fatty acids—to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Common foods, many of which you likely already have in your kitchen, can be your frontline weapons in the battle against dementia and cognitive decline.

Brain-Healthy Foods

The Mediterranean diet—which gets its name from the dietary habits of people in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Spain—is built around foods that contain beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that work hard for our hearts and brains: fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, red wine (in moderation), and perhaps most central of all, olive oil.

Numerous studies have shown that this plant- and fish-based diet can protect against a number of major health conditions and diseases. While researchers have historically focused mostly on the Mediterranean diet’s impact on heart health, recent studies have shown that eating this way can protect our brains, as well. People who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have lower rates of obesity and diabetes, both of which can be linked to cognitive decline. Another example: Antioxidants protect us from Alzheimer’s, and red wine, the Mediterranean beverage of choice, contains high levels of the antioxidant resveratrol. Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach that are popular in Mediterranean countries contain high levels of B vitamins, which are crucial for maintaining brain health.

3/3/2015 9:24:20 AM

I recently read that Alzheimer's could be considered Diabetes Type 3. It has a similar slow onset and often not a lot can be done once the signs show up. Also, it's most common in people whose diets are carb based similar to other types of Diabetes.

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