Common symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease include confusion, poor concentration, reduced awareness of spatial orientation, uncharacteristic mood swings, short term memory problems and forgetting words. Always consult with your GP or medical practitioner if there is any possibility of this condition.
There is much research being done on the effects of diet and lifestyle on brain function and ageing. The following factors may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Eat a diet rich in omega 3 fats (1,2) from such foods as oily fish, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, borage seeds, walnuts and avocadoes.
- Eat a nutrient rich diet:Iodine, manganese, copper, zinc, lecithin, B vitamins and vitamins C and E have all been shown to be protective to brain function (2).
- Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet(3) – these are high in antioxidants needed to protect the brain from free radical damage.
- Avoid using aluminum cooking utensils(5) – there is evidence to suggest that there is an association between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. Use stainless steel, glass or ceramic pots for food where possible. Avoid deodorants or antiperspirants with aluminum too.
- Spices such as ginger and cayenne peppermay improve blood circulation to the brain.
- Herbs such as Gingko biloba may be helpful(6); this may be due to Gingko’s positive effect on circulation to the brain and its neuroprotective antioxidants (7).
- Take daily exercise – anything that gets the heart rate going will increase blood supply to the brain.
- Exercise your brain cells – reading, learning new skills, doing crosswords, playing chess, learning a new language, and socializing can all help to keep the brain active.
- If you are overweight, shed some of the weight – being overweight, diabetic or insulin resistant can all put you at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (8).
For more information and support on Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alzinfo.org and www.alzheimers.org.ukwhere you will also be able to find support groups in the UK. Always consult with your GP or medical doctor.
1. Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 2: macronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging, 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5): 386-99
2. Kalmijn S, van Boxtel MP, Ocke M et al. Dietary intake of fatty acids and fish in relation to cognitive performance at middle age. Neurology 2004 Jan 27;62(2):275-80
3. Bourre JM, The role of nutritional factors on the structure and function of the brain: an update on dietary requirements, 2004 Sep;160(8-9):767-92
4. Barberger-Gateau P. Raffaitin C. Letenneur L, et al. Dietary patterns and risk of dementia: the three-city cohort study. Neurology. 2007 Nov 13;69(20):1921-30
5. Prolo P, Chiappelli F, Grasso E et al. Aluminium blunts the proliferative response and increases apoptosis of cultured human cells: putative relationship to alzheimer’s disease. Bioinformation. 2007 Jun 4;2(1):24-7
6. Bornhoft G, Maxion-Bergemann S, Matthiessen PF. External validity of clinical trials for treatment of dementia with gingko biloba extracts. Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2008 Mar 11 (Epub ahead of print)
7. Ahlemeyer B, Krieglstein J. Neuroprotective effects of Gingko biloba extract. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Sep;60(9):1779-92
8. Luchsinger JA. Adiposity, hyperinsulinemia, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease; an epidemiological perspective. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Mar 4 (Epub ahead of print).
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