While there is no diet specifically catered for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, eating a nutritious and healthy diet poses several benefits. Below are some of the evidence-based recommendations for the diet of these individuals.
- Have a gluten-free and casein-free diet: Studies have shown that gluten has a negative impact on the blood-brain barrier which is the portion of the head that keeps toxins out of the brain. In addition, gluten has the ability to make the stomach and intestine more permeable allowing the entrance of proteins in the bloodstream where they don’t belong. This then leads to a chain of reactions including inflammation and autoimmunity which has a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Foods that are free of gluten and casein are wheat and non-fat pasteurized dairy products.
- Increase intake of healthy fats such as Omega3: For the brain’s optimal function, consumption of healthy fats from organic butter, virgin olive oil, olives, coconut oil, nuts, macadamia, salmon and avocado are beneficial. Consumption of fish which are high in omega 3 fats helps in the prevention of cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease
- Improve magnesium level in the brain: A preliminary research strongly suggests the improvement of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease with increased brain levels of magnesium. Although a lot of forms of magnesium doesn’t enter the blood-brain barrier, magnesium threonate is able to penetrate this barrier and holds great potential in future treatments.
- Have a folate-rich diet: Initial research has shown a link between low folate concentrations and Alzheimer’s disease. Although, future clinical trials needs to be done to justify this association, the fact that the folate has an important role in maintaining a healthy brain should not be denied. The best sources of folate are vegetables.
- Increase consumption of B6 and B12 vitamins: In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers observed that high intake of B6 and B12, slowed the atrophy of the brain’s gray matter affected by the disease
- Increase intake of fruits: Antioxidants specifically polyphenols is found in fruits such as berries. These have anti-inflammatory properties and is capable of making the brain function better. A study in Tufts University found out that berries has the ability to reverse the brain’s slowed down ability to process information.
- Consume foods rich in flavonoids: Flavonoids are commonly found in dark chocolate and research has shown that it can slow the progression of dementia. In an Italian study, the researchers observed that subjects who consumed high amounts of flavonoids in the form of cocoa performed better on cognitive tests compared to those who drank cocoa in lower amounts.