There are over 5.4 million people with Alzheimer’s in the U.S., and the numbers are growing every day. Whether you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or are looking to protect yourself, we’ve compiled a list of the latest diet and exercise information to help.
First, recent research proved exercise may help people with age-related cognitive impairments. After six months of light aerobic exercise study participants performed better on executive function tests that tested cognitive skills and recall. Not only did exercise help both men and women in the study age-related cognitive, it also lowered their stress levels. Another study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that older adults who walked regularly suffered from less brain degradation. For the adults that walked regularly the areas of the brain that are usually associated with age-related shrinkage didn’t shrink.
Good Fats: Omega 3,6 and DHA
A number of epidemiological studies have found that higher consumption of Docosaehexanoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fat found in fatty fish, is associated with reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The jury is out on whether or not fish oil is the magic bullet for developing Alzheimer’s disease, but people with Alzheimer’s should increase these memory-boosting foods:
- 1 tbsp. flaxseed oil
- 3 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds
- Salmon, albacore tuna, whitefish
- 2 oz. walnuts
- Eat fish twice a week
- Supplement with fish oil with DHA and EPA
Drinking 16 oz. of beet juice daily may help. There is a theory that Alzheimer’s and dementia may be the result of decreased blood flow to the brain. Nitrates, which are in beets, may help blood circulation, which could ward of the disease. Approximately 80 percent of dietary nitrates are derived from vegetable consumption.
Good sources of nitrates include:
- Collard greens
- Root vegetables (potatoes, turnips, parsnips)
Add Vitamin B
Our brains shrink as we age – especially as we get to be over 70 years old. However, it appears that taking a vitamin B supplement that contains folic acid and B12 may be good for our brains as we age. According to a small British study, a daily dose of certain B vitamins may be able to reduce the rate of brain atrophy by up to 53 percent.
Good sources B12 include:
- Low-fat dairy products
Good sources of B6:
- Peanut butter
- Tomato juice
Try the “Brain Protective” Diet
There is research that shows a “brain protective” diet may help. The participants in the study who followed this had an 38 percent lowered risk of developing Alzheimer’s. “The brain protective diet was noted to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and folate, and relatively lower in saturated fat and vitamin B12.” Part of the diet means a lower intake of high-fat dairy, butter, red meat and organ meat.
- Olive oil
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower)
- Leafy green vegetables
While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the causes are still largely unknown, we can all benefit from adding these brain-friendly foods into our diets.