Prevent Alzheimer’s disease with a healthy diet
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and the incidence is on the rise globally. Can this be prevented? While researches are studying possibilities of delaying or even preventing Alzheimer’s with a new vaccine, let us look to alternative possibilities like lifestyle changes and naturally occurring dietary components that may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Although as of now there is no proof that a specific something can prevent Alzheimer’s, good eating habits and physical exercise that are mandatory for preventing an array of illnesses may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease too.
Heart health: It is strongly suggested by researchers that the risk factors for heart diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol also risk the incidence of Alzheimer’s. People who have cardiac illness are at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s. If so, what behaviours are good for the heart may be good for the brains too!
A Mediterranean type diet: The emphasis here is on fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes, olive oil, unrefined grains and avoid sugars, refined grains and red meat. The diet is cardio protective and may also protect the brain cells. Researchers at Columbia University studying close to 2000 people averaging 76 years found that those whose eating pattern were closer to Mediterranean diet seemed at the lowest risk for AD. The components of such a diet that may prevent Alzheimer’s are omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants Vitamins C, E, A and folic acid.
Indian diet scenario: If it is monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, turmeric, B and C vitamins that protect against Alzheimer’s then perhaps shunning a modern eating style of sugars and red meats and returning to our age old eating habits of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, various legumes and oilseeds, fish, herbs and all the spices and condiments we use more than any other cuisine on earth is worth taking note of, especially given the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s in India.
Foods that are mooted to prevent Alzheimer’s disease are
Turmeric – use it as much as possible in cooking
Green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits – Indian foods that are rich in Vitamin C, A and folate are in plenty and easily available like guavas, oranges, moosambis, gooseberry, papaya, lemons, melons, mangoes, carrots, pumpkin. A couple of gooseberries (amlas) alone give the desired Vitamin C for the day. Indians traditionally eat a variety of leafy vegetables and herbs, ranging from from basil to amaranth, in every State and at any given season. Eat a cup of greens daily.
Legumes, nuts and seeds – Eat an ounce of nuts or seeds daily to give you the required omega 3 fatty acids. If you are a meat-eater, then opt for fatty fish rather than red meat.
Exercise: Being physically active even as one climbs up the age ladder helps enhance or maintain cognitive functioning and delays neurodegenerative diseases. Given its proven track of keeping at bay cardiac related illnesses, exercise gives the added advantage of delaying age related illnesses.
Parvathy R Krishnan
The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/
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