Nutrients Of Particular Interest In Plant
Similar health dangers can stem from iron deficiency, another commonly assumed risk for plant-based dieters and other risk groups such as young women. A meta-analysis on 24 studies proposes that although serum ferritin levels were lower in vegetarians on average, it is recommended to sustain an optimal ferritin level , calling for well-monitored supplementation strategies. Iron deficiency is not only dependent on iron intake as such but also on complimentary dietary factors influencing its bioavailability . The picture remains complex: on the one hand iron deficiency may lead to detrimental health effects, such as impairments in early brain development and cognitive functions in adults and in children carried by iron-deficient mothers and a possible role for iron overload in the brain on cognitive impairment on the other hand. One study showed that attention, memory and learning were impaired in iron-deficient compared to iron-sufficient women, which could be restored after a 4-month oral iron supplementation . Iron deficiency-related impairments could be attributed to anemia as an underlying cause, possibly leading to fatigue, or an undersupply of blood to the brain or alterations in neurobiological and neuronal systems provoking impaired cognitive functioning.
Vegetarian And Vegan Diets For Brain Health
Last week, we reviewed the evidence on how well the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets promote brain health. Now we investigate the benefits of diets that leave something out, such as meat or milk. How does eliminating animal-based products from your diet affect your brain health?
The vegan diet is a stricter form of the vegetarian diet. It excludes all meat and animal-derived products . Most vegan diet studiesreport weight loss and improved blood lipid profiles. No current studies have investigated whether the vegan diet may promote cognition or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the similarities of the vegan diet to the vegetarian diet, the evidence discussed above would likely apply to vegan diets. Additional information can be found at Dietitians of Canada.
Few studies have examined the vegetarian and vegan diets for brain health, but that should not be taken as an indication they will not promote cognitive vitality. These diets have much in common with the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets, including high intakes of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. They do, however, eliminate food groups that contain important nutrients such as B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids. If these foods are avoided, it is important to find vegetarian and vegan options to consume the vitamins and nutrients that might be missing.
Get the latest brain health news:
The 5 Aspects Of A Healthy Lifestyle That Form The Heart Of Our Unique Neuro Plan:
- Nutrition: A whole-food, plant-based diet low in sugar, salt, and processed foods.
- Exercise: An active lifestyle that incorporates movement every hour not just a stop at the gym after an otherwise sedentary day.
- Unwind: Stress management in the form of meditation, yoga, mindful breathing exercises, time spent in nature, and the support of strong communities.
- Restore: Seven to eight hours of regular, detoxifying sleep through intensive sleep hygiene, treatment for sleep disorders, and management of medications and foods that adversely affect sleep.
- Optimize: Multimodal activities that challenge and engage many of the brains capacities, as well as meaningful social interaction.
While it may be easier to blame a devastating disease like Alzheimers on a single gene, this false belief is killing millions. The truth is much harder to acceptthat we are bringing Alzheimers disease into our households through the choices we make every day. But the truth is also liberating because it puts control back in our hands.
As the co-directors of the Brain Health and Alzheimers Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, weve guided thousands of people through the highly personalized process of lifestyle change.
We now have hundreds of these remarkable stories.
Excerpted from The Alzheimers Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age. Get the whole book here.
You May Like: Purple Ribbon Alzheimer’s
What Is The Plant
What exactly does the LIFE diet include and what does it exclude?
- Eating at least five ounces by weight of raw or cooked dark green leafy vegetables every day .
- Drinking one 32-ounce daily green LIFE smoothie.
- Limiting intake of whole grains, starchy vegetables, oils and animal protein, particularly dairy and red meat.
Dark green leafy vegetables are important sources of beta carotene, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are thought to relieve migraine headaches. The case study provides significant evidence to support this, as blood tests revealed that the patient’s beta-carotene levels more than tripled after he started the plant-based diet.
Omega 3 And Oily Fish
Omega 3s essential fatty acids have an important part to play in the structure of our brain cells, helping to maintain the health and functioning of our brain. Research undertaken as part of the Older People And n-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid study supported the view that eating oily fish is associated with better cognitive function in later life, but recommended further work to clarify the impact of these essential omega 3 oils on the brain .
We need omega 3 oils from food as they cannot be made efficiently by the body. Oily fish is a rich source of omega 3s essential vitamins and minerals and it is recommended that we have at least one portion of oily fish a week. Guidelines vary though according to the individual see the Food Standards Agency website, www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/fss/fats/ for further information. Omega 3 oils may also be found in vegetarian sources such as linseeds, rapeseed oil, walnuts and soya beans.
The European Commission-funded LipiDiDiet project is researching the impact of omega 3 and other key nutrients on the risk of developing Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia. Results should be available in 2015. For more information go to www.lipididiet.eu
You May Like: Does Bob Knight Have Dementia
What Do We Know About Diet And Prevention Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Can eating a specific food or following a particular diet help prevent or delay dementia caused by Alzheimers disease? Many studies suggest that what we eat affects the aging brains ability to think and remember. These findings have led to research on general eating patterns and whether they might make a difference.
The Mediterranean diet, the related MIND diet , and other healthy eating patterns have been associated with cognitive benefits in studies, though the evidence is not as strong as it is for other interventions like physical activity, blood pressure and cognitive training. Currently, researchers are more rigorously testing these diets to see if they can prevent or delay Alzheimers disease or age-related cognitive decline.
The Connection Between The Digestive System And The Brain
Researchers are learning how the biochemical processes of food intake and digestion interact with changes in the brain. They are finding that the gut microbiome the community of viruses, bacteria and other microbes in the digestive system may influence the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease.
Studies in mice and humans show that the composition of the gut microbiome in Alzheimers and mild cognitive impairment is different from that in cognitively normal beings.
Changes in the gut microbiome as people age have been linked to disruptions in the immune system, persistent inflammation and chronic diseases, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring how these changes are related to each other and to brain changes related to Alzheimers, including neurodegeneration and the accumulation of toxic proteins beta-amyloid and tau.
Identifying the good and bad gut microbes associated with Alzheimers could help scientists learn more about the biology of the disease and develop a new way to predict and potentially treat it.
Recommended Reading: Shampoos That Cause Alzheimer’s
Diet And Dementia Risk
Changes in the brain can occur years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear. These early brain changes suggest a possible window of opportunity to prevent or delay dementia symptoms. Scientists are looking at many possible ways to do this, including drugs, lifestyle changes and combinations of these interventions. Unlike other risk factors for Alzheimers that we cant change, such as age and genetics, people can control lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise and cognitive training.
How could what we eat affect our brains? Its possible that eating a certain diet affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation, that underlie Alzheimers. Or perhaps diet works indirectly by affecting other Alzheimers risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. A new avenue of research focuses on the relationship between gut microbes tiny organisms in the digestive system and aging-related processes that lead to Alzheimers.
How Does The Mind Diet Differ From Other Diet Plans
Although the MIND diet doesnt specifically involve exercise, regular physical activity may also help prevent cognitive decline because movement increases blood flow to the brain and helps supply brain cells with nutrients. In fact, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent, according to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation. Therefore, exercise in conjunction with the MIND diet could provide further protection against memory loss.
You May Like: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s
What Foods Are Linked To Dementia
New research finds that its not only what you eat, but also how you combine certain foods that can increase your risk of developing Alzheimers and other forms of dementia in later life. The foods most strongly associated with this risk were sugary snacks, alcohol, processed meats, and starches like potatoes.
Which Diseases Does A Plant
Following a plant-based diet means you do not eat any animal products like meat, eggs, or dairy. It also means you do eat plenty of whole foods, like vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. This diet has been shown to reduce the risk of some diseases and even reverse the effects of others.
Many experts agree that there are several ways that following this type of diet can be good for your health:
Reduces risk of developing diabetes
Studies show that vegans, another name for people who do not eat meat, eggs, or dairy products, have a much lower risk of developing diabetes. A study of 60,000 people showed that about 2.9% of vegans have diabetes compared with 7.6% of people who are not vegan.
Another study followed participants for 17 years. It showed that vegetarians, people who do not eat meat but may eat dairy and eggs, have less than half of the risk of developing diabetes compared to people who are not vegetarians.
Even if you already have diabetes, a plant-based diet may help. Research shows that following a low-fat plant-based diet could help you to reduce your dependence on medication for diabetes. It also shows that following this type of diet could be better for your blood sugar levels than the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
Reduces risk factors for heart disease
Studies show that a plant-based diet can reverse the effects of several risk factors for heart disease significantly.
Reduces cancer risks
Read Also: Does Diet Coke Cause Alzheimer’s
Fish Helps You Think And Keeps Your Thinking Strong
What did the researchers find? Fish was the single most important dietary factor in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment. Vegetables were second best, and all other foods showed smaller, insignificant effects. Moreover, of all the foods evaluated, only fish was associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. Eating fish lowered the risk of both cognitive impairment and cognitive decline.
Meats Impact On The Mind
One study of more than 18,000 people found links between a diet high in fried foods and processed meat and low scores in learning and memory. Other research, which studied more than 5,000 people, found that a diet rich in red meat, processed meat, and fried food was associated with a faster decline in reasoning.
Dr. Greger pinpoints the Western diet typically rich in animal products like meat, dairy, and egg as a point of concern for dementia.
he prevalence of Alzheimers has shot up over the past few decades, which is thought to be in part due to the shift from a traditional rice-and-vegetable-based diet to one featuring triple the dairy intake and six times the amount of meat, Dr. Greger wrote.
He highlights that in the U.S., those following a meat-free diet can cut their risk of developing dementia in half. And the longer meat is avoided, the lower the risk may fall, he said. For example, compared with those who eat meat more than four times a week, the dementia risk of people who have consumed vegetarian diets for 30 years or more is three times lower, Dr. Greger wrote.
Don’t Miss: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
Reverse Aging With A Plant
In a recent study, Dr. Dean Ornish discovered that a whole-foods, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet had increased telomerase activity that is associated with slowing down the aging of our cells. Telomerase is an enzyme that rebuilds the telomeres at the end of our cell’s DNA. Scientists believe that if we can slow down the loss of our DNA’s telomeres, we can slow down the aging process, allowing us to live longer. Are there foods that speed up and/or slow down the loss of our DNA’s telomeres?
The promising results of the study were published in THE LANCET Oncology in November of 2008 and included the interpretation:
Comprehensive lifestyle changes significantly increase telomerase activity and consequently telomere maintenance capacity in human immune-system cells.
This is very promising news because each of us has 46 strands of DNA in each of our cells coiled into chromosomes with a ‘cap’ at the end of the DNA strand which are called telomere. And as we age these telomere are shortened. When they expire, we expire. Hence, we would all like to slow that process or even reverse it. The study indicates that the answer is to adopt a whole food plant based diet. This study was funded by the US Department of Defense and shows that in just three months of a whole food plant based diet, Telomerase activity can be significantly increased.
Folic Acid Vitamin B6 And B12
Deficiencies in folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can cause an amino acid in our body, called homocysteine, to rise. Higher than normal levels are considered to be a risk factor for a number of disease states including cardiovascular disease and dementia, and are thought to contribute to poor cognition.
However, there are no guidelines to consuming supplements of B6, B12, or folic acid individually merely to reduce the risk of dementia . Again the advice is to ensure that foods rich in B6, B12, and folate are present in the diet.
You May Like: What Color Ribbon Is Alzheimer’s
Is There A Cure For Alzheimers
Alzheimers is one of the few diseases, scientists and doctors are still struggling to find a cure for. We dont have a cure for Alzheimers, nor is there a surefire way to stop or even slow its progress. However, most Alzheimers patients rely on medications and food that help with the symptoms.
Medications can temporarily improve memory in some patients. Then there are different treatments for patients to help them with their reasoning and social skills. Dietary supplements are also used as an alternative therapy.
A plant-based diet may not be able to cure the disease, but certain foods have positive effects on memory and other symptoms. For instance, regular intake of nuts like almonds and walnuts can help jog their memory.
Just because its incurable does not mean you cannot do anything against it. By eating a healthy diet and following other important treatments, patients can improve their quality of life and reduce their dependence on others. Its also important to mention that emotional support can also help, even though the patient might not even be able to understand it.
Recommended Reading: How To Help Someone With Dementia Who Is In Denial
Results Based On Interventional Studies On Metabolism Microbiota And Brain Function
Overall, the vast majority of studies included in this systematic review reported a short-term beneficial effect of plant-based dietary interventions on weight status, glucose, insulin and/or plasma lipids and inflammatory markers, whereas studies investigating whether plant-based diets affect microbial or neurological/psychiatric disease status and other brain functions were scarce and rather inconclusive .
More specifically, 19 out of 32 studies dealing with T2DM and/or obese subjects and seven out of 32 dealing with healthy subjects observed a more pronounced weight loss and metabolic improvements, such as lowering of glycated hemoglobin a long-term marker for glucose levelsdecreased serum levels of low-density and high-density lipoproteins and total cholesterol , after a plant-based diet compared to an omnivore diet. This is largely in line with recent meta-analyses indicating beneficial metabolic changes after a plant-based diet,,.
Intriguingly, these results,,,,, cohesively suggest that although caloric intake was similar across groups, participants who had followed a vegan diet showed higher weight loss and improved metabolic status.
Among observational studies, a recent large cross-sectional study showed a higher occurrence of depressive symptoms for vegetarian dieters compared to nonvegetarians. Conversely, another observational study with a sample of about 80% women found a beneficial association between a vegan diet and mood disturbance.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility