Today is World Alzheimer’s Day. Here’s a lowdown on how to eat right to prevent the onset of the disease
On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), here are a few tips on managing diet to keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay.
1. Bad fats: Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in full fat dairy products, meats and certain oils (coconut and palm oils).
Trans fats are found in bakery items and fried foods and are listed on labels as ‘partially hydrogenated oils.’ Studies have shown that those who consumed the most saturated fat (around 25 grams each day) were two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Nutrient-Rich Foods: Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should be the primary staples of the diet. These have little or no saturated fat or trans fats and are rich in vitamins, such as folate and vitamin B6, that play protective roles for brain health. Dietary patterns that emphasize these foods are associated with low risk for developing weight problems and type 2 diabetes. They also appear to reduce risk for cognitive problems. Studies of Mediterranean-style diets and vegetable-rich diets have shown that reduced risk of cognitive problems, compared to other dietary patterns.
3. Nuts: One ounce of nuts or seeds (one small handful) daily provides a healthful source of vitamin E.This Vitamin is an antioxidant found in many foods, particularly nuts and seeds, and is associated with reduced Alzheimer’s risk.
4. Three B-vitamins: Folate, B6, and B12 are essential for cognitive function. These vitamins work together to reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cognitive impairment. Healthful sources of folate include leafy greens. Other sources include beans, peas, citrus fruits, and cantaloupe. Vitamin B6 is found in green vegetables in addition to beans, whole grains, bananas, nuts, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin B12 can be taken in supplement form or consumed from fortified foods, meats and dairy products.
5. Exercise: Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week. In addition to following a healthful diet, it is advisable to get at least 120 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise, such as running, brisk walking, or step-aerobics, reduces brain atrophy and improves memory and other cognitive functions.
The writer is a registered dietician
Keywords: World Alzheimer’s Day