(NaturalHealth365) Normal aging – something we all undergo – causes cognitive impairments that can ultimately progress to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. In fact, by the time the average American reaches the age of 85, his or her risk of developing the condition stands at a disturbing 45 percent.
Emerging research shows that unhealthy diets and nutrient deficiencies are major contributors to Alzheimer’s disease – in fact, many experts believe that the damage caused by improper diet could exceed the unhealthy effects of tobacco.
Great news: Proper diet can prevent and even reverse dementia
Fact: You can greatly reduce the risk of dementia – and, naturally, prevent the disease from developing in the first place. Encouragingly, even modest improvements in diet can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 35 percent.
In a study conducted by UCLA and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, 9 out of 10 subjects with dementia experienced significant reversals of their memory loss – a result that has never been accomplished by a drug. According to one researcher, the sheer power of the brain-protective food used in the study granted the subjects the cognitive benefit of being 11 years younger.
Rich in polyphenols, a MIND diet can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half
The MIND diet, a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, is the most brain-healthy diet of all that have been studied. In research conducted by the Rush Institute, the MIND diet – distinguished by a high intake of berries, leafy green vegetables, monounsaturated fats and fish, and by a low intake of simple sugars and saturated fats – was the most effective at preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers found that subjects who had high levels of participation in the MIND diet slashed their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a dramatic 52 percent – as compared to those who were less compliant.
In short, consuming the following 13 brain-healthy superfoods and supplements can help you cut your risk of developing any form of dementia – including Alzheimer’s disease – while keeping your mind sharp and focused.
Feast on fish
Fish, particularly cold-water species, has high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which reduce inflammation and promote efficient electrical signaling between brain cells. Eating healthy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with larger brain volume and better function.
Go green and leafy
Researchers believe that the high levels of vitamin K in green leafy vegetables such as arugula and kale is a major factor in preserving brain health. In addition, green leafy vegetables are rich in folate and beta-carotene, both of which have been linked with slower cognitive decline. They are also high in magnesium, which can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Don’t forget the other vegetables
A wide variety of other vegetables contains beneficial nutrients that can improve cognitive function. For instance, Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K, while butternut squash and carrots are rich in flavonoids and beta-carotene. And cauliflower contains choline, which improves memory, reasoning and logic.
Boost your brain function with berries
Packed with powerful antioxidants such as resveratrol and quercetin, berries’ sky-high levels of flavonoids help to increase the number of connections between brain neurons – while helping to disrupt the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries – and especially blueberries – have been shown to improve cognitive performance and protect against senile structural brain changes. If the cost of fresh blueberries is problematic, organic blueberry powder is a wonderful (potent) option.
Get a little nutty about your health
Nuts and seeds – including almonds, pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds – are high in healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as in vitamin E, which prevents oxidative damage. Some studies have shown that vitamin E can delay the progression of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Love those lentils and other delicious beans
Beans, particularly lentils, black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans, are rich in fiber and also in the B-complex vitamin folate. Researchers have found that of out of 1,000 seniors, those in the highest quartile of folate consumption had the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Limit LDL with oatmeal
Organic oatmeal and the consumption of whole grains have been scientifically linked to a healthy heart and increase blood supply to the brain. Their soluble fiber helps to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce its absorption in the bloodstream, reducing fatty deposits in the blood vessels – which can lead to brain damage over time.
Opt for olive oil
A key feature of the brain-healthy Mediterranean diet, olive oil actively combats age-related cognitive decline by protecting against inflammation and oxidative stress. Click here to discover our top 5 picks for quality olive oil.
Plus: 5 key micronutrients and supplements
Daily use of the proper micronutrients and supplements can help preserve brain health and cognitive function. Naturally, we encourage you to discuss supplementation with your healthcare provider – in order to design a plan that best fits your needs.
Methylcobalamin, a naturally-occurring type of vitamin B-12, protects brain cells and helps to neutralize levels of harmful homocysteine in the bloodstream.
Vitamin D, a powerful antioxidant, reduces inflammation in the brain and enhances nerve conduction.
Melatonin, known as the “sleep hormone,” guards against oxidative stress in the brain and protects against cognitive decline.
And, coenzyme Q10 reduces amyloid plaque in the brain, helping to prevent – and even reverse – Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, fish oil can help ensure healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids – particularly if you can’t or won’t eat fish.
Beware of the “watch list”
The following food groups can imperil cognitive function if eaten in excess. This doesn’t mean, however, that you must eliminate them from your diet; simply limit them to maintain optimal cognitive health.
Red meats should be limited to under four small servings a week, and strictly be from grass-fed animals to avoid exposure to chemicals and synthetic hormone. Grass-fed butter intake should be kept to less than one tablespoon a day, while cheese should be limited to under one serving a week.
And, of course, try to avoid fried or “fast” foods – which only diminish your ability to maintain a healthy brain.
Editor’s note: The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit offers a unique opportunity to discover the best ways to prevent and reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Click here to order today.
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