Alzheimer's - Is The Cure In What You Eat?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

In the future it may be possible to prevent Alzheimer's merely by changing our diet. More and more studies suggest that we can reduce our risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia or cognitive problems by eating the right kinds of foods. Whether you want to boost your memory or improve your alertness, it's important you feed your brain the right cocktail of ingredients.

Brain Foods
What foods help stimulate memory and cognitive ability? Let's start by talking about what foods may not help your brain. Foods high in saturated fats, processed foods and foods high in cholesterol are not necessarily the best choices when it comes to feeding our brain.

Many forms of dementia and mental disease including Alzheimer's result as we age. This is because our body is constantly fighting free radical damage and time. Clearly if we eat foods that fight aging and free radical damage, we stand to boost our brain's ability to carry out normal roles for a longer period of time. Here are the top suggestions for using food to combat mental aging.
  • Eat a healthy diet that combines foods from all the food groups. This is literally a 'no brainer.' The quality of food you eat directly impacts your cognitive ability. Over time, a diet high in fat will make our brains sluggish, tired and run down.

  • Never skip breakfast. Breakfast is literally a time where we 'break the fast' from a long night of sleeping. Our brain's need fuel to function efficiently. When you skip breakfast you deprive your brain of essential nutrients it needs to carry out the days activities.

  • Incorporate essential fatty acids in your diet. Essential fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids help nourish our brains. They are important even when we are in our mothers' womb. You can include essential fatty acids in your diet by eating plenty of fatty fish, ground flax seed, and even broccoli.

  • Eat a lower fat diet. Most diets lower in fat contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help combat free radical damage and may lower our risk for developing Alzheimer's and other cognitive problems.

  • Eat a cup of blueberries a day. Some studies suggest that eating a cup of blueberries every day may help slow down mental aging. This is the result of the many antioxidants in blueberries, including vitamin C.

  • Eat an apple every day. A study conducted at Cornell University suggests the quercetin in apples, a powerful antioxidant, can help prevent brain cells from converting to free radicals. It may also help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's.
There are even some studies that have linked blueberries with our brain cells ability to communicate. It may simply be the powerful phytochemicals present in blueberries and other dark berries like boysenberries, cranberries and raspberries. It is possible that phytochemicals may help the brain produce new neurons, an ability that often slows or stops as we age.

Can Juice Help Combat Alzheimer's And Aging?br> Many people prefer drinking fruit juice to eating whole fruits. While whole fruits are better for you, some studies have linked frequent fruit and vegetable juice consumption with a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease. In fact, one study suggests that drinking one glass of juice three or more times a week may cut your risk of Alzheimer's by more than 70%!

Juices, whether vegetable or fruit based, carry many of the same benefits as eating whole foods. Polyphenols in juices are just as effective at combating oxidation in the brain as those found in whole fruits. That said, whole fruits and vegetables may fill you up more, and may contain more fiber, particularly if you leave the skin on. Your best bet? Eat a diet that incorporates some juices and some whole fruits and vegetables so you maximize the benefits of the nutrients in these foods.

Herbs And Brain Functionbr> Certain herbs may also help improve cognitive ability as we age. One example is sage. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapy reports that sage may be helpful for treating Alzheimer's disease. Apparently sage affects an enzyme in the body that can help reduce the effects of the disease.

Ginkgo Biloba is another herb touted as a mental health supplement. For centuries medicinal healers have used this herb to improve memory and cognitive ability. It has been used in Europe for decades to treat a variety of problems including Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately there are also studies suggesting that ginkgo may have no effect on memory or cognition.

As with any herbal remedy, there are supporters and critics. It is important if you plan to try an herbal remedy to help improve memory and cognitive ability you consult with your doctor. Herbs, while sold over the counter, act just like drugs in many cases. If you are taking medication the herbs may interfere with their safety and efficacy. That said, if you get the green light from your doctor, there is probably no harm in combining some herbs with a well rounded, healthy diet to help combat the effects of aging on the brain!