Alzheimer’s and dementia diet: The 5 foods to eat to protect against dementia
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Dementia causes three times more female deaths than breast cancer, and it’s also the third biggest killer for men. Dementia is an umbrella term that includes up to 100 different diseases but Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, causing 50 to 75 percent of dementia cases. What you eat can play a role in how likely you are to develop dementia, it’s been claimed, so it’s important to eat in accordance as early as you can. Express.co.uk chatted to nutritionist and award-winning author Dr Marilyn Glenville to find out the five things you should be eating to protect against dementia.
Reduce sugar intake
Try and eliminate added sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet as much as possible.
Dr Glenville said: “This includes white bread and white rice as they are turned to sugar (glucose) quickly in your body and your pancreas must produce more insulin to deal with them.
“You should also try to eat little and often, leaving no longer than three hours without eating.
“Your daily meal plan could include breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner.”
Eat a balanced breakfast
You should try to make sure you have breakfast every day, don’t skip it!
Also, try and eat a breakfast that incorporates a mixture of protein and carbohydrates, otherwise, you are more likely to reach for a coffee and a cake at 11am because your blood sugar will have plummeted.
Dr Glenville pointed out: “This may also make you feel moody, irritable, tense and not able to concentrate.
“Always eat breakfast and make it a mixture of protein and carbohydrate – avoiding sugar-laden breakfast cereals.”
Have protein with every meal
Another tip to balance your blood sugar is to include protein with every meal, as it slows down the blood sugar rise from the carbohydrates.
Dr Glenville warned: “So, whenever you eat an oatcake or brown rice, try to include some fish or eggs, or a vegetable protein such as quinoa, legumes (in the form of, say, chickpea hummus), nuts (nut butter, such as almond butter, are good) or seeds.
“The body takes longer to process proteins than other foods, so adding protein effectively slows down the absorption of the carbohydrate.”
Be wary of alcohol
You should also be conscious of how much alcohol you are consuming as it influences your blood sugar.
If you are going to drink alcohol, don’t go overboard and try looking for drinks with lower sugar content.
Dr Glenville said: “Spirits do not contain sugar, but their mixers usually do.
“White wine is more sugary than red, but on the other hand, a white-wine spritzer (made with sparkling mineral water) will be better for you than a full glass of red wine.”
Get in your nutrients
Certain nutrients can also be helpful in keeping your brain healthy and can be thought of as being supplementary to your diet.
Dr Glenville pointed out: “Supplements of Omega-3 fish oils are particularly helpful as DHA, one of the major Omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, seems to have the most protective effect against Alzheimer’s.
“The DHA in Omega-3 fatty acids helps to prevent the plaque forming in the brain which is present in Alzheimer’s, and they help improve cerebral blood flow and reduce inflammation, making them important in the fight against not only Alzheimer’s but also vascular dementia.”
Other nutrients that can be helpful include an amino acid called acetyl-L-carnitine, as it increases the brain receptors that would normally deteriorate with age so helpful for memory loss and dementia.
Dr Glenville said: “People with Alzheimer’s have been found to have a shortage of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and it is critical for memory and brain function.
“Choline is a starting block for acetylcholine and is contained in high amounts in egg yolks and is also found in soya and nuts. So, these are good foods for boosting memory and brain function.
“Acetyl-L-carnitine works with coenzyme Q10 and alpha-lipoic acid to maintain the function of the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells, they provide the energy for your cells to function and survive.”
In one study, people taking vitamins, B6, B12 and folic acid (vitamin B6 20mg, vitamin B12 500mcg, folic acid 800mcg) had 90 percent less brain shrinkage compared to those using a placebo.
Dr Glenville said: “I use a supplement by NHP called Advanced Brain and Memory Support in my clinics.
“The research suggests that there is a 20- to 30-year interval between first development of amyloid plaque and onset of dementia.
“So, no matter what age you are, it is never too late to change your diet to help protect your brain health.”
To hear more about how nutrition can help improve memory and concentration and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Dr Marilyn Glenville will be hosting an exclusive live webinar and Q & A on Tuesday 7th September at 7pm, taking you through her ‘7 Step Brain Protection Plan’. For more information and tickets, visit here.
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