Alzheimer’s disease is the fastest growing health threat in the United States, according to a new landmark report from researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle. The numbers are staggering. A 2013 study in the journal Neurology found that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will jump from 4.7 million to 13.8 million by 2050. The associated health care costs will skyrocket.
The disease is incurable. But research is at a critical turning point and shows that diet and exercise can play crucial roles in reducing the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Fighting Debilitating Memory Loss: The latest scientific findings show that diet and lifestyle changes can create a barrier against cognitive decline. Researchers from the Chicago Health and Aging Project analyzed the diets of thousands of people over years. The findings are groundbreaking: Saturated “bad” fatundefinedfound in milk, cheese, and meatundefinedis strongly linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, increasing risk more than threefold. Trans fats increase risk fivefold. Avoiding these fats can cut risk dramatically.
Foods rich in vitamin E, such as broccoli, walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds, also reduced dementia risk by as much as 70 percent. Other studies show that foods overly rich in iron or copper can promote cognitive loss, while folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 may help protect the memory.
This brain-healthy diet is almost identical to the diet that helps prevent stroke, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic diseases: a low-fat diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Combining this with physical and mental exercise, and avoiding harmful toxins such as aluminum in supplements or cookware, can maximize protection for the brain.
Reprinted from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Good Medicine, Spring 2013, Vol. XXII, No. 2. pcrm.org | nealbarnard.org
Earthsave Canada presents Dr. Neal Barnard at UBC Robson Square Friday April 12, 2013 as part of our Plant-Powered Speakers Series.