Believe it or not, in some countries, heart disease is no longer the leading cause of death. At least in England and Wales, it has been replaced by dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). In fact, every three minutes, someone in Britain is diagnosed with it. Furthermore, over half of dementia deaths were among women (41,283 women as compared to 20,403 men).
If you are one of those who are haunted by the fear that Alzheimer’s may hit you or a family member, maybe it’s time to look into some steps you can take to beat dementia. Wouldn’t you like to find out how to significantly reduce the risk of dementia and possibly even reverse the early symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion?
Ask a Neurologist
There are simple steps you can take right now –little changes in lifestyle that don’t involve drugs. And, as you may have already guessed, the major focus is on food. Two neurologists discovered in studies that switching to a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of dementia by 28%.
The Deadliest Thing You Can Put in Your Mouth
We put it in our coffee and tea, we sprinkle it on our cereal, we eat in baked goods, desserts, and treats. In addition, since a lot of our food is processed, we don’t even know how much sugar we’re eating. But, sugar is the single most destructive compound for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The burst of energy that sugar provides is causing us brain damage. However, cutting back on it can have an immediate impact on the health of your brain. So, that’s good news.
The Important Five to Beat Dementia
There are at least five lifestyle factors that can affect your brain health. These are:
- Deep sleep
- Stress management
- Brain Training
Focus on Food
Your brain uses up 25% of your body’s energy and so is greatly affected by what you eat. Poor nutrition damages your brain. The Western diet of salty, sugary, fatty processed food is putting us at risk for a plethora of problems, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which means we’re also at risk for dementia. But, not to worry, the right changes in your diet can turn this ship around.
What to Avoid Eating
- Packaged Food: Cookies, chips, cheezies, ready meals and white bread are high in salt, sugar and saturated fats that clog the brain’s arteries, damaging brain tissue.
- Processed Meat: Cut down on bacon, sausages, pepperoni, salami and chorizo which are full of preservatives, salt and saturated fats that promote inflammation and damage blood vessels in the brain.
- Red Meat: Though they may cause less inflammation than processed meat, beef and game are high in inflammatory saturated fats.
- Chicken: Chicken contains three times more fat than protein.
- Butter and margarine: Try to cut down on these culprits that contain saturated and trans fats because they clog the arteries and shrink your brain.
- Fried foods: High in trans fats.
- Cheese, Cream, Milk: High in saturated fat.
- Pastries, Ice-cream, Sweets: If possible, cut all sweets out of your diet or at least cut down.
- Sugary Drinks: The main source of caffeine and sugar in the Western diet which causes neuronal damage and inflammation.
- Excessive Alcohol: Try to stick to the equivalent of two glasses of wine per week at most.
What to Pig-Out On:
These fatty acids are essential for optimal brain health. Fish is brain food. But, farmed fish or large species can contain traces of mercury –toxic to the brain. For that reason, you could try smaller, less contaminated sea food like anchovies, salmon, sardines, seaweed, etc. Additionally, Omega 3’s are found in chia and hemp seeds, walnuts, green leafy veggies like Brussels sprouts, kale, and spinach.
Avocados: Avocados are loaded with the kind of healthy fats your brain loves.
Beans: Full of antioxidants, nutrients, protein, iron, and minerals, eating beans can increase longevity and reduce the risk of stroke and dementia. In addition, beans regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
Blueberries and Strawberries: Research reveal that the antioxidant properties berries deliver can help to delay cognitive decline by two-and-a-half years.
Broccoli: Large studies show that eating cruciferous vegetables — which are rich in antioxidants and can reverse damage caused by normal ageing — slows age-related memory decline.
Coffee: Coffee contains powerful antioxidants and its caffeine stimulates the production of a neuro-protective agents in the brain.
Complex Carbohydrates: An excellent source of energy, loaded with fiber, protein and B vitamins. Whole grains like oats, barley, wheat, quinoa, and brown rice, feed the friendly bacteria in the gut.
Dark Chocolate: Pure chocolate (unprocessed cocoa or cacao nibs) is an excellent source of nutrients shown to relax arteries. This allows oxygen and nutrients to reach the brain.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: An excellent source of fatty acids and nutrients.
Linseeds: Besides being rich in Omega-3’s, linseeds contain lignans. These protect your blood vessels from inflammation damage.
Herbal Tea: Hibiscus, mint, and lemon balm are some teas that are anti-inflammatory.
Herbs: Some herbs contain ten times more antioxidants than berries and nuts. For example: basil, coriander, thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano, mint and parsley.
Leafy green vegetables: Vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants. We should try to eat as many vegetables and fruit of all kinds as we can at every meal.
Mushrooms: Reduce inflammation in the brain blood vessels. They also are an excellent source of vitamin B12, linked to lowering the risk of dementia.
Nuts: Nuts are a premium source of unsaturated fats and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Quinoa: Contains protein, fiber, vitamin E, zinc, phosphorus and selenium, building blocks for brain cells and their supporting structures.
Seeds: High in vitamin E and minerals.
Spices: High in antioxidants, especially real cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, saffron, nutmeg and tarragon.
Sweet Potatoes: Help to regulate blood sugar and anti-inflammation properties.
Turmeric: Turmeric can actually reduce the beta-amyloid plaque build-up in the brain.
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