Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia in people over 65 years. Its incidence is translated into more than 26 million people worldwide.
Around 47,5 million people suffer from some kind of dementia and 7,7 million of new cases are recorded every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the accumulation, in the brain of patients, of abnormal protein deposits compounds by plates of beta-amyloid and neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein. A recent study published by the Mayo Clinic in the United States shows that tau protein is the real cause of the loss and memory decline in Alzheimer’s patients. The disease presents an immediate loss of memory and other mental abilities as dying nerve cells (neurons) and different areas of the brain atrophy. Difficulty performing activities of daily life as well as to plan and solve problems, disorientation of time or place, decreased or lack of judgment, loss of initiative and mood swings are some of the warning signs.
According to the Spanish Society of Neurology, the acquisition of certain healthy lifestyle habits (avoiding excess red meat, saturated fats, butter and fats derived from milk) can reduce up to 40 percent of Alzheimer’s cases and even delay its onset.
1. High levels of homocysteine in our body are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Certain B vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12) help controlling the levels of this amino-acid in blood. Therefore, the consumption of eggs is highly desirable: they are an excellent source of protein and provide significant amounts of choline, iron, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins.
2. Soy products are also rich in choline and provide protein, carbohydrates, calcium, fiber and folic acid.
3. People with Alzheimer’s have abnormally low amounts of choline acetyltransferase, an enzyme needed to make acetylcholine (chemical substance critical to learning and memory brain). Therefore, the bread made with whole grains is a great ally in the battle against the disease, thanks to its high content of lecithin, choline, carbohydrate, vitamin E, B vitamins and many minerals that help preventing the onset of this kind of dementia.
4. What is good for heart, also is good for our brain. The brain is rich in docosahexaenoic acid, ie, a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid Omega-3 fat abundant in fish like salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines. Low amounts of these fats in our body are related to cases of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is highly recommended the consumption, at least three times a week, of this type of fish.
5. Other interesting sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables, corn, beans, lentils, asparagus, peas, nuts, and fortified breads and cereals.
6. Include in your diet also lean meats, poultry, white and blue fish, for its richness in vitamin B12.
7. For an adequate intake of vitamin B6, consume whole grains, avocados, potatoes, bananas and nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts).
8. The liver, brewer’s yeast and wheat germ are also good sources of lecithin and choline.
9. Consume fruits and vegetables, especially those of intense color, due to their excellent antioxidant power: dried plums, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets, eggplant, red pepper,…
10. Is it really important to stay physically active (walking, running, dancing,…) and exercise our brains as possible: sudoku, crossword puzzles, play chess, learn new languages, participate in group activities, playing a musical instrument and, above all, read as much as you can!!!