Modern research has found a number of different risk factors that may play a role in general memory loss and Alzheimer's, and most of them are directly related to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Processed food diet. Mounting research suggests our modern diet is playing a significant role in the skyrocketing prevalence of Alzheimer's. Processed foods tend to be nearly devoid of healthy fat, necessary for healthy brain function, while being excessively high in sugar. This combination appears to be at the very heart of the problem. Fortunately, the solution is quite simple:
- Eat REAL food, and avoid processed food like the plague. Insulin resistance and diabetes are involved, as well. According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, anything that promotes insulin resistance will ultimately also raise your risk of Alzheimer's.
- Lack of exercise. Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. John J. Ratey, a psychiatrist who wrote the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, says there is overwhelming evidence that exercise produces large cognitive gains and helps fight dementia.
He claims you can easily "push back cognitive decline by anywhere from 10 to 15 years" by incorporating an exercise regimen three to four times a week – even if you begin during middle age and exercise at a moderate rate.
- Sleep disturbances (such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or chronically insufficient amounts of sleep).
Diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia, while high-fat diets are associated with a 44 percent reduced risk. This combination of very little sugar and carbs, along with higher amounts of healthy fat, is essential not only to address Alzheimer's, but diabetes and heart disease as well, since all of these conditions are rooted in insulin and leptin resistance.
Understanding this can make your life a whole lot easier. You don't need to memorize the dos and don'ts for each and every disease you seek to avoid; all you need to do is shift over to a mindset that is focused on optimizing health. Disease prevention then becomes a beneficial "side effect."
In summary, the following four dietary instructions are key for maintaining brain health and staving off Alzheimer's:
- Eat REAL FOOD, ideally organic. Avoid processed foods of all kinds, as they contain a number of ingredients harmful to your brain, including refined sugar, processed fructose, grains (particularly gluten), genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, and pesticides like glyphosate (an herbicide thought to be worse than DDT, and DDT has already been linked to the development of Alzheimer's).
Ideally, you'll want to keep your added sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you already have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders. Opting for organic produce will help you avoid synthetic pesticides and herbicides, many of which are associated with neurological dysfunction.
Be sure to choose organic grass-fed meats and animal products, as animals raised in confined animal operations (CAFOs) are routinely fed GE grains contaminated with pesticides, along with a variety of drugs. Some researchers have even suggested Alzheimer's may be a slow-acting form of mad cow disease, acquired by eating contaminated meats; and mad cow disease originated in the CAFO system, which forces herbivores to eat animal parts.
Research has also shown that vegetables in particular are beneficial for slowing down age-related cognitive decline. Nutritional intervention with vegetables may even play an important role in reversing such conditions, courtesy of the antioxidants they contain.
- Replace refined carbohydrates with healthy fats. Your brain does not need carbs and sugars; healthy fats such as saturated animal fats and animal-based omega-3 are FAR more critical for optimal brain function. Healthy fats to add to your diet include:
Avocados, butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil (coconut oil actually shows promise as an effective Alzheimer's treatment in and of itself), unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts, such as pecans and macadamia, which are low in protein and high in healthy fats, grass-fed meats or pasture-raised poultry.
- Avoid all trans fats or hydrogenated fats that have been modified in such a way to extend their longevity on the grocery store shelf. This includes margarine, vegetable oils, and various butter-like spreads.
- Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream where they sensitize your immune system and promote inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer's.
- Optimize your gut flora by avoiding processed foods (sugar, GE ingredients, pesticides, and various food additives all discourage healthy bacteria in your gut), antibiotics and antibacterial products, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and by regularly eating traditionally fermented and cultured foods, along with a high quality probiotic if needed.
Source: The Alzheimer's Diet Book and Dr. Mercola.