With brain diseases like Alzheimer’s becoming a growing concern, most of us want to make dietary and lifestyle choices that will protect our brains from this serious disease.
While there are many ways to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, here are some of my favorites:
These beautiful fruits deserve a place in your daily diet. That’s because they rate high on the US Department of Agriculture’s ORAC scale. ORAC is a rating of how well antioxidants are absorbed where they can protect the body and brain against harmful free radicals. The brain is especially vulnerable to free radicals, which are linked to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Add pomegranate arils to salads, rice dishes, quinoa dishes or enjoy pomegranate juice diluted with water 1:1.
SKIP THE FABRIC SOFTENER
I’m betting you weren’t planning to see fabric softener mentioned in an article about Alzheimer’s Disease, but our obsession with soft clothes comes at the high cost of our mental functions. That’s because most commercial fabric softeners have never been tested for safety, and, worse than that, contain substances that are linked to brain damage and may leave our brain vulnerable to diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. For example, the chemical benzyl acetate found in almost all fabric softeners is a known mutagen that damages our genetic material, which may leave our brain vulnerable to diseases including brain diseases.
Enjoy a half-cup of blueberries daily to reap the brain-protecting benefits of this tiny berry. While it may be small, it is a powerful brain healer thanks to their ability to protect both the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from free radicals—a claim that few foods can make. Blueberries are also highly anti-inflammatories and increase heat shock proteins that are used by your body to address sudden internal temperature increases and other stresses. Heat shock proteins tend to decrease with age but blueberries help restore the compounds, making your brain less vulnerable.
COENZYME Q10 (COQ10)
This nutrient assists thousands of enzymes in the body to ensure our many biochemical functions work properly. This is true of our brain functions which depend on this nutrient. For healthy brain function and to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, I typically recommend 100 milligrams daily. Research by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), links supplementation with this nutrient to memory improvement and protecting the brain against brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Since CoQ10 levels diminish as we age, particularly over the age of 40, it is helpful to boost them through supplementation. CoQ10, particularly taken as a lozenge, absorbs quickly to replenish our brain’s supplies.
Research shows that the compound curcumin, found in the curry spice turmeric, not only protects the brain against memory loss, it may even help to protect it against Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is the plant nutrient that gives turmeric its golden-yellow hue. It turns out this vibrant compound also holds tremendous promise against serious brain disease by preventing the formation of beta amyloid plaques, which are involved in Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s patients with severe symptoms, including dementia, irritability, agitation, anxiety and apathy, have shown excellent therapeutic results when taking curcumin, according to a study published in the Japanese medical journal Ayu. When participants took 764 mg of turmeric with a standardized amount of 100 mg/day of curcumin for one year of treatment, they had noticeable memory improvements. You can benefit from this spice’s brain-protecting properties by eating curries that contain the spice turmeric, adding turmeric to other foods like soups, stews, curries and smoothies, and supplementing with curcumin. Supplement with 400 mg of curcumin to help prevent against Alzheimer’s disease.
REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE
It may be tempting to eat all the cookies, pie and cakes you want but your brain won’t appreciate it. That’s because a high sugar diet reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic facto (BDNF). Without sufficient BDNF, your brain can’t form new memories, nor can you learn new things or remember much. Low levels of BDNF have been linked to diabetes, prediabetes, depression and dementia. By taming your sugar intake, you’ll help make BDNF your new BFF.
MENTAL EXERCISES AND LEARNING
Lifelong learning and participating in mental exercise helps to keep connections in the brain active. Like a muscle in the body, it’s imperative to use the brain to keep it functioning properly. You can take classes at your local high school or college, start doing crosswords or Sudoku, or pick up a book to learn a new skill. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll reap the rewards of better brain health.
PURPLE GRAPES OR GRAPE JUICE
Purple grapes contain a powerful brain-protecting compound known as resveratrol, which has been shown in study after study to help prevent brain damage and brain diseases. Enjoy a handful of red or purple grapes or a small glass of purple grape juice daily to reap the brain-protecting ability of this fruit. Choose organic as much as possible because grapes are a heavily-sprayed crop.
Not only do walnuts look remarkably like a tiny brain, research in The Journal of Nutritionshows that these nuts may help to protect the brain against free radicals that cause brain damage. Choose raw, unsalted and refrigerated nuts since the delicate Omega 3 fatty acids found in walnuts go rancid quickly.
Black, green and white tea all have significant amounts of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds known as catechins. Drinking at least one to three cups of tea daily helps to protect your brain from brain-damaging free radicals.
Research in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that ginger works on multiple levels to help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and holds promise as a natural treatment for the disease. Add fresh ginger root to curries, soups, stews or other dishes on a daily basis to help reap the brain health rewards of this potent herb. You can also make a decoction from the herb which involves bringing 1 quart of water with 2 inches of freshly-chopped gingerroot to a boil and then turning down the heat and allowing to simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and drink, sweetened with a small amount of stevia if desired, 3 cups daily.
It may be hard to imagine that the health benefits of getting more probiotics go beyond the gut, but they do. Scientists are aware of something called a gut-brain axis in which improved gut health results in improved brain health. Research even shows that the brain benefits of ingesting more probiotics are sufficient to warrant including probiotics in the treatment plans of those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.