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Diet May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Research suggests that the same diet recommended for heart
disease may act as a "brain-healthy" diet to prevent Alzheimer's...

detail from Arcimboldo painting of Summer
"Fruit-and-vegetable man" by Renaissance
artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo illustrates
modern recommendations for a
brain-healthy diet.

Eating a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables and olive oil and includes little red meat, is associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease,

The Mediterranean diet consists of high amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and fish, mild to moderate amounts of alcohol and low amounts of red meat and dairy products. This diet has been associated with a lower risk for several diseases and risk factors, including cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, problems with processing glucose that may lead to diabetes and coronary heart disease.

According to an article in 2006 which appeared in the Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Nikolaos Scarmeas, M.D., and colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, studied whether the Mediterranean diet could also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease in a group of 1,984 adults with an average age of 76.3.

The participants in the study, 194 of whom already had Alzheimer’s disease and 1,790 of whom did not, were given complete physical and neurological examinations and a series of tests of brain function.

Their diet over the previous year was analyzed and scored based on how closely it adhered to the principles of the Mediterranean diet—scores ranged from zero to nine, with higher scores indicating eating patterns that aligned closely with the Mediterranean diet. The researchers obtained information about vascular disease diagnoses from the exams, participants’ or relatives’ reports and medical records.

Eating a diet that closely followed the Mediterranean model was associated with a significantly lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

For each additional unit on the diet score, risk for Alzheimer’s disease decreased by 19 to 24 percent.

After the researchers considered other factors that could influence Alzheimer’s disease risk, including age and body mass index, those who were in the top one-third of the diet scores had 68 percent lower odds of having Alzheimer’s disease than those in the bottom one-third, and those in the middle-one third had 53 percent lower odds.

Today, other nutritional supplements that have been shown to help include the herbal supplement gingko biloba, the moss extract Huperzine A (for centuries used in traditional Chinese medicine); as well as Omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in oily fish such as tuna and salmon, and in supplemental pill form.

Of course, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, red grapes, and eating other foods high in antioxidants is another great way to prevent a variety of illnesses, including Alzheimer's.

In addition, folic acid supplements and foods high in Vitamin B-12 like shellfish, beef liver, and dairy foods are also suggested as part of a "brain-healthy" diet.

More about preventing Alzheimer's disease through diet around the Web:

Alzheimer's and Dementia Prevention: How to Reduce Your Risk and Protect Your Brain

9 Brain Foods that Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

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