Alzheimer’s disease is an insidious illness; often developing without indication and leaving patients and families alike with a heavy burden. The latest statistics reveal that around five million Americans currently live with the disease. This number is estimated to peak at 16 million by 2050. The Alzheimer’s Association calculates that someone in the United States develops the condition every 66 seconds. Think about that for a minute. The time it took for you to read this entire paragraph was long enough for someone you may know to develop Alzheimer’s.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are treatment plans to better manage it. These programs are normally expensive and tedious. A better option, health experts say, is to engage in proactive and preventive plans. This involves eating better. Thankfully, there are five nutrients that can be taken regularly to reduce the risk of developing this debilitating illness.
Omega-3 fatty acids – Numerous studies have observed the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and the onset of Alzheimer’s. A systematic review published just this year concluded that an ample intake of omega-3 can reduce the risk of developing the disease and can even alleviate a few symptoms in milder forms of Alzheimer’s. However, omega-3 fatty acids were shown to be ineffective in managing severe cases of the illness. Omega-3 can be easily found in such foods as flaxseeds, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and other fatty fish.
Flavanoids – These antioxidants protect neurons, slowing down any possible degeneration, and consequently preventing mental disturbances such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Studies have suggested that flavanoids influence cognition and learning in both human and animal models. Berries are a good source of flavanoids, particularly those that are darker in color.
Vitamins C & E – Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by damage from free radicals. Foods that are rich in vitamins C & E can help reduce mental deterioration and decline. A study conducted by the Rush University Medical Center suggested that people who followed a diet high in vitamins C & E were half as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Almonds, spinach and sunflower seeds are great sources of vitamin E, whereas red peppers, oranges, and brussel sprouts offer excellent amounts of vitamin C.
Curry powder or turmeric – Some people may not find the taste or color appealing, but turmeric has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory properties which can be useful for Alzheimer’s prevention. Studies have proven that turmeric benefits both the physical and mental state. Those who eat curry on a regular basis generally have better brain performance than those who do not consume the spice.
Folate – B-vitamins are generally known to aid in mental health. Folate, in particular, is highly recommended as a natural means to alleviate certain symptoms associated with cognitive decline. Pregnant woman are also suggested to increase their folate intake to prevent neurological defects in their children. Foods rich in folate include beets, lentils, spinach, and chickpeas.
Diet is not the only aspect to consider. In order to fully prevent the onset of the disease, wellness experts recommend other lifestyle changes such as proper exercise and adequate sleep.
Some things you may not know about Alzheimer’s
- Women are twice as likely to develop the disorder. This is according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers do not understand why this may be so, but have noted that brain shrinkage tends to be more severe among women.
- Alzheimer’s disease is associated with heart disease. Scientists have found that having one condition increases the risk of developing the other. It is hypothesized that heart disease narrows blood vessels in the brain which increases the risk of dementia, and ultimately Alzheimer’s.
- The National Institute on Aging says that those who are less educated are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
- The medical cost of Alzheimer’s treatment can reach more than $1 trillion in the U.S. alone by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.