Can We End Alzheimer’s?

 by Dr. Neal Barnard

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. |

Earthsave Canada presents Dr. Neal Barnard at UBC Robson Square Friday April 12, 2013 as part of our Plant-Powered Speakers Series.

Power Foods For The Brain

Brain-Protecting Foods

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Blueberries and grapes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Beans and chickpeas
  • Vitamin B12

Brain Threats

  • Saturated fats, found in meats, dairy products &  eggs
  • Trans fats, found in doughnuts & snack pastries
  • Excess iron and copper
  • Aluminum

B12: For individuals following a diet free of all animal products, vitamin B12 is a must, but needs can easily be met by consuming a variety of plant-based foods. Fortified foods like breakfast cereals, soymilk, meat substitutes, and nutritional yeast (such as Red Star), often contain a reliable source.  Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts Label or the ingredient list to ensure you are receiving the active form of vitamin B12, called cobalamin or cyanocobalamin. Most common multivitamins also contain B12. All people over the age of 50 should supplement with B12 because the body’s ability to extract B12 from food sources declines with age.

Dr. Barnard’s latest book presents recent and compelling research on nutrition’s surprising effects on the brain. He lays out a three-step plan to protect the mind and strengthen the memory by putting power foods to work. The book also includes 75 power-food recipes, sample mental stimulation exercises, guides to choosing aluminum-free foods and medicines, and a guide to physical exercise.