Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease (AD). More than 5 million Americans suffer its effects, and that number is expected to triple by 2050. These tragic statistics affect not only the victims of Alzheimer’s disease, but their loved ones as well. Over 15 million family members and friends are providing free care for people suffering from the disease, adding up to over 18 billion unpaid hours annually.
By 2050, these hours could value over $1 trillion of healthcare. It is not only a health issue but an economic one as well. There is a common assumption that loss of memory and brain function are inevitable parts of the aging process, and as Americans live longer, these ailments will become more prevalent.
Studies suggest, however, that poor diet plays a major role in accelerated brain deficiencies and increases the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease.A simple change in food choices can reduce the chance of getting this heartbreaking disease by up to 40 percent. Here are five food ingredients that help reduce the odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
1. DHA Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is a fatty acid (omega 3) vital to brain health.
It protects the brain and its functions, and studies have suggested that adequate DHA intake could reduce memory loss and the onset of AD.
Foods with DHA include: • Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and white tuna
- Olive oil
2. Vitamins C and E
These antioxidants clean the brain of impurities. Observational research suggests that a diet high in vitamins C and E may reduce AD risk by as much as 25 percent. Among the foods rich in vitamin C are:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes)
- Red peppers
Guava Foods rich in vitamin E include:
- Sweet potato
- Sunflower seeds
- Butternut squash
- Olive oil
Among the toughest polyphenols, flavonoids are antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Studies have concluded that daily intake may lead to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Bright-colored fruits and vegetables are rich in flavonoids.
- Brussels sprouts
- Kidney and lima beans
Turmeric is a root high in the anti-inflammatory molecule curcumin. A lipophilic, curcumin acts to dissolve fats, and it has antioxidant properties that improve cognitive ability in AD patients. Turmeric is an ingredient in curry powder, a staple in the Indian diet.
Studies show that people who eat much curry have better brain performance, which might explain why India has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.
5. Folate/folic acid
A Columbia University study showed that people with high levels of folate in their diet had lower cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A similar study at the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging Page 3 of 3 drew similar conclusions with elderly volunteers.
Folate/folic acid can be found in:
- Beans (pinto, lima, black, navy, and kidney)
- Whole grain
Including the ingredients mentioned above in your meals can be crucial for brain health. It is equally important, however, to avoid foods that are linked to increasing Alzheimer’s disease development. Unfortunately, these foods are common to the American diet.
Processed cheeses cause built-up proteins associated with AD. Popular products that are available in local grocery stores include American cheese, cheese sticks, and those packaged for convenience (such as Cheez Whiz or Laughing Cow).
Bacon, smoked meats, deli meats, and sausage all have high levels of nitrosamines, which are toxic to the brain. Nitrosamines are chemicals used in preservatives to provide further shelf life. They are also found in certain pesticides.
White foods, which will spike insulin levels and send toxins to the brain, include pasta, processed sugar, white rice, and white bread. Numerous tests suggest an intake of the various healthy foods described, and avoidance of unhealthy alternatives can stave off cognitive degeneration and the onset of Alzheimer’s. For a healthy brain, it is best to be well-informed and make wise dietary choices.