The benefits of a well-balanced, nutritious diet are limitless - improved cardiovascular health, increased energy, better mobility and weight loss or maintenance are just a few of the perks to your overall health. However, you might be surprised to learn that a diet rich in essential nutrients coupled with plenty of water can improve your memory, concentration and reaction time, as well as lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Is There an Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet?
There is no evidence that a specific diet can prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. There are, however, healthy eating habits you can adopt that can positively impact your cardiovascular health, blood pressure, brain health and overall wellbeing, which can slow cognitive decline.
Here are some guidelines to help you achieve a healthy diet:
- Eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables of different colors provide distinct nutrients and vitamins, offering a wide range of health benefits, from delaying cellular aging to protecting you against heart and lung disease.
- Eat at least one serving of seafood each week. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish destroys beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, the presence of which is a telltale sign in Alzheimer’s patients. Omega-3 fatty acids are also correlated with higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline as you age.
- Adopt a brain-friendly diet. The MIND diet, which stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets. The diet focuses on plant-based foods, while limiting red meat, saturated fat, salt, sugar, fast/fried foods and sweets. Research has shown adopting this diet can slow cognitive decline, improve your verbal memory and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53%.
- Limit your salt intake. High salt consumption can create a deficiency of nitric oxide, which is critical for optimal vascular health and preventing the buildup of Alzheimer’s-associated tau protein in the brain.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Women should have no more than one drink per day and men two drinks per day. Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time can lead to brain damage. Heavy drinkers are also more likely to have a reduced volume of the brain’s white matter, which helps transmit signals between different regions of the brain.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water each day. You can also increase your liquid intake with popsicles, ice cream, hot chocolate, broth-based soups, applesauce, gelatin, fruit and vegetables.
Can Vitamins and Supplements Prevent Alzheimer’s?
There are no vitamins or supplements that are proven to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline. Be aware of vitamins and supplements from the internet or drugstores that claim they can improve cognitive function—their safety and effectiveness are unproven and unknown. However, in some cases, a deficiency of B12 or folate can cause memory problems. A supplement can help if you have a deficiency, however, we recommend talking with your doctor before adding any supplements or vitamins to your diet.
Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Making small healthy changes over time and adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes staying active, getting enough sleep and maintaining emotional wellness will help increase your cognitive function and may lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.