Alzheimer’s disease was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed brain tissue changes in a woman back in 1906. The patient exhibited what we now recognize as the classic Alzheimer’s symptoms of memory loss, out-of-character behavior, and difficulties with language.
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects one in ten Americans over the age of 65. It’s a neurodegenerative disease that gradually affects your brain, memory, and ability to make reasoned decisions.
For many patients and caregivers, Alzheimer’s is a hard reality because there’s no cure and it’s not fully understood.
Experts believe that Alzheimer’s develops when protein deposits form in the brain, developing into plaques that prevent normal communication between the cells there.
The affected cells die and the brain shrinks as a result. Over time you become less able to think clearly; your behavior patterns change; and in extreme cases, sufferers forget how to eat, drink, or speak.
What Are the Risk Factors For Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s can strike randomly, but there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing this horrible disease.
Risk factors for all types of dementia include old age, a head injury, very high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking, depression, and dietary deficiencies.
People with Down syndrome or a family history of Alzheimer’s are more likely to be affected, too, but a large number of risk factors are due to lifestyle choices.
Smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, a poor diet that leads to obesity or type 2 diabetes, and dietary deficiencies, for example, all increase your risk.
With that in mind, it makes sense to take steps right now to decrease the likelihood of dementia.
Exercising regularly and eating sensibly to maintain a healthy weight plus avoiding cigarettes or alcohol can make a big difference to your cognitive health in both the short and the long term.
There are also specific foods that can boost brain health and fend off Alzheimer’s. If you don’t consume these types of food and drink yet, it’s time to start—especially if you’re in a high-risk group.
Top 10 Foods That Fight Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Great for your skin and your brain, omega-3 is one of the best ways to fend off brain-related diseases.
Omega-3 makes up a huge amount of your brain’s fat—a whopping 97%. Boosting this healthy brain fat slows down cognitive decline, reduces inflammation, and boosts memory.
You can find omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish like salmon and mackerel, and it’s best to eat it several times a week. In addition, oily fish help boost your vitamin D intake, which may also help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
2. Green Leafy Veg
Green leafy veggies are great for every aspect of your health, and few of us eat enough of them.
Green veggies like broccoli, kale, and cabbage boost iron levels and bring vitamins to the table, including A, C, and K. Vitamin K is especially important in the fight against Alzheimer’s, as a deficiency has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are brain food in tiny form. They’re packed with fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Walnuts, in particular, have lots of fatty acids, and nuts like almonds and hazelnuts are packed with vitamin E, which is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
Peanuts are not actually nuts, but they, too, contain dementia-fighting enzymes such as niacin. Niacin deficiency is linked to cognitive decline, and it regulates cholesterol. Choose unsalted peanuts, as too much salt is bad for your health.
Berries—like blueberries and strawberries—are super-berries containing antioxidants plus vitamins C and K to protect your brain against cognitive decline.
Berries are great for your digestive health, and they’re easy to eat. Pop some on your cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal and snack on them throughout the day.
Beans are great for gut health because they’re loaded with fiber, but eating a portion three times a week has also been shown to slow down cognitive decline.
It’s easy to add more beans to your diet. Throw a handful into your casserole or soup—and who doesn’t like baked beans on toast?
Cocoa is able to prevent proteins from damaging the brain by boosting the blood barrier with an antioxidant called resveratrol.
Resveratrol is also anti-inflammatory and improves blood circulation, but before you reach for the chocolate, remember it’s full of fat and sugar, which won’t protect your brain one bit.
Try a healthy mocha coffee without syrup and sugar or a very dark chocolate bar with high cocoa content instead.
Coconut oil boosts ketone production, which is a fuel used by the brain and body for energy.
Energy is usually taken from glucose, but Alzheimer’s interferes with your brain’s ability to use glucose. Coconut oil’s fatty acids and ketones mean the brain has an alternative fuel source that improves brain function.
8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is an excellent replacement for animal fats and feeds your brain with oleocanthal, a strong anti-inflammatory that boosts production of protein and enzymes that fight brain plaque.
9. Red Wine
Red wine lovers, clink glasses right now!
Red wine is made from red grapes and berries and contains antioxidants as a result.
Experts think red wine helps halt Alzheimer’s because the resveratrol, which produces the red color, activates sirtuin and enzymes that fight Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Some studies have shown that treatment with resveratrol slowed down and even stopped Alzheimer’s progression.
10. Whole Grains
You may have spotted “whole grains” on your cereal box or bread wrapper, and that’s a good sign.
Whole grains are good for you because they include the bran and outer germ of grains, which are stripped away in processed white cereals.
The outer layers are full of fiber and antioxidants that boost brain power and keep your bowels healthy enough to eliminate toxins efficiently.
Eat Well to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
While it’s not possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in every case, you give yourself a fighting chance with a healthy lifestyle that contains all the right omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for good brain health.
Overhauling your diet might just save you and your family from the difficulties that dementia brings.