Chronic disease has become increasingly more prevalent worldwide, which is a concern for the aging population. Specifically, 5.8 million Americans have been diagnosed with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease in which progressive damage to cells and the nervous system ultimately affects cognition, memory, mobility, coordination, strength, and sensation. AD is the most common form of dementia and is the most common neurodegenerative disease known.
Nutrition and Alzheimer’s
A large part of the AD risk factor is dependent on inheritable risk factors and genetics; however, nutrition and lifestyle factors can significantly impact the prevention and progression of Alzheimer’s disease in those with and without increased risk factors. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and there is no known medication to stop the progression, nutrition and lifestyle modifications are variables that can be controlled by the individual to improve positive outcomes of AD.
Blood tests assessing for specific Alzheimer’s genes like APOE4 can provide risk factor analysis for individuals; however, lifestyle modifications are recommended regardless of the genetic analysis for all individuals, especially those with a family history. According to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans from health.gov, the average American diet has progressively become too high in saturated (bad) fats, sodium (salt), refined carbohydrates (sugar), and calories. Though excess calories are harmful and can lead to obesity, excess saturated fats and sugar in the diet also negatively impact our immune system and nervous system. The effects of the bad fats and sugar in our diet significantly increase the risk factors and progression of AD.
Research has shown that reducing the “bad” fats such as red meat, full-fat dairy such as cheese and milk, coconut oils, processed oils, and fried foods is a primary goal in AD meal plans. The diet should be focused on polyunsaturated fats, which are healthy, “good” fats. The “bad” fats also increase LDL (bad cholesterol) values in our blood, in addition to causing high blood pressure and weight gain. The “good” fats promote HDL (good cholesterol), heart health, and bowel health. Research shows that specific minerals are important in maintaining a healthy status of the nervous system.
The MIND Diet
The MIND Diet is a meal plan that has been recommended for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and to advance more positive outcomes for the progressive disease. This diet promotes low saturated fats, lean proteins, and high-antioxidant foods. Here is a list of the food groups with specific recommendations:
- Leafy, Green, Vegetables (Kale, Spinach, Cooked Greens, Salads)
- Non-Starchy Vegetables (Vegetables, with the exception of Peas, Potatoes, and Corn)
- Berries (Fruit is naturally high in sugar, but berries themselves provide proper antioxidants with less sugar content)
- Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Trout, Tuna for higher Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
- Lean Poultry (Chicken Breast, Lean Ground Turkey)
- Nuts (Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Blanched Almonds)
- Olive Oil (Extra-Virgin)
- Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Quinoa, Oatmeal)
- Beans (Lentils, Soybeans)
- Herbs and Spices (Curcumin, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Thyme, Parsley, Sage)
Individuals can get many important vitamins and minerals from their diet if they are consistent with the right balance of the recommended food groups. With certain gastrointestinal disorders or autoimmune diseases, however, some individuals may not absorb nutrients efficiently through the intestines and would need additional supplementation. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be evaluated through laboratory tests. Vitamin D3, B vitamins, and vitamin A are three specific vitamins that are important to maintaining adequate levels for AD prevention and prognosis. The amount of vitamin supplementation is specific to the individual, as it depends on their level and vitamins can reach toxic levels if not monitored properly.
Take action to make changes to your lifestyle now, not only to lower the risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease but many other autoimmune diseases and chronic diseases as well.
Berman Health and Wellness is a Functional Medicine Center that helps individuals reach their goal weight and optimize their gut health, while avoiding needless medications and achieving the highest quality of life imaginable. Our goal is to evaluate the metabolism, gut health, and bloodwork to optimize each aspect of the client.
Call 239.431.0232 or visit: www.bermanpt.com/wellness to learn more.