With over 5 million people diagnosed with dementia in the US and no medication to cure it, prevention is key. Here are a few tips to help prevent and reverse cognitive decline!
Need a pick me up during the day? Try a cup of green tea and get the added benefit of providing your brain with some great anti-oxidants! Just 1 cup of green tea per day showed a 38% decreased risk of cognitive decline. Sensitive to the caffeine? 80% of the caffeine comes out in the first cup. Therefore, brew a cup, dump it out and re-brew the leaves. You actually get more anti-oxidant effects when the leaves are re-brewed and squeezing in some lemon helps with absorption. Make sure to get a good quality green tea where the leaves look green (because it’s not called brown tea).
Turmeric is a spice found in curry and some mustards. It is used in various cuisines because it aids in digestion. It also contains curcumin, which is a great anti-oxidant and aids in memory, brain function & protects against Alzheimer’s! Aim for 300 mg or 1 tsp of turmeric-containing mustard per day.
Coconut oil contains approximately 60% medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolized in the brain to ketones, an alternative source of energy to glucose. Ketone bodies may help to restore and renew neurons, even after damage has occurred. Patients with severe Alzheimer’s disease who take coconut oil have reported significant improvement in their symptoms, including being able to recognize family members, resume activities of daily living and overall improved quality of life. Dr. Mary Newport gave a great TEDx talk about the benefits of coconut oil. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvh3JhsrQ0w. Research studies are now underway on the effects of ketones and Alzheimer’s Disease. For prevention, you can include 1-2 tablespoons daily in your diet.
Omega 3’s are commonly found in fish, walnuts, chia & flax seeds. They are vital for our nervous system because 60% of our brain is made up of fat. Because cell membranes are also made of fat, we need good fats to allow nutrients to enter the cell! Omega 3’s increase blood supply to the brain, decrease inflammation and improve signal transmission between neurons. Over half of the American population is deficient in Omega 3’s. Fish oil is a great source of Omega 3’s. Make sure it is a professional grade and does not have a strong fishy smell, which indicates rancidity.
Diet has a tremendous impact on the brain, especially one high in carbohydrates and deficient in nutrient-dense foods. In fact, some researchers have called Alzheimer’s Disease “Diabetes Type III”. Just as elevated levels of glucose cause damage to heart, kidneys and other organs, it also has a negative impact on the brain. Weight is a common indicator of an impaired response to insulin, or “insulin resistance”, leading to elevated levels of glucose. People who are overweight (BMI >25) are 2x more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, their brains are 8 years older than average and have 4% less brain tissue. Those who are obese (BMI >30) are 3x more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, their brains are 16 years older than average and have 8% less brain tissue. Calculate your BMI here. In severe cases of Alzheimer’s, ketogenic diets have been helpful in reversing symptoms. For prevention, removing refined carbohydrates and processed food from your diet is key. Patients often report improved concentration and memory upon making dietary changes indicating the impact diet has on the brain.
If you or a loved one are experiencing changes in memory or cognitive function, schedule an appointment to discuss your options for preventing or treating dementia at 480-361-5188.