Meals and Mental Health: What You Need to Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s
Looking for ways to protect your mental health as you age?
Poor diet contributes to one in every five deaths globally. Food consumption largely influences health conditions, including those affecting your brain - like Alzheimer's.
When it comes to protecting yourself from Alzheimer’s, many people consume the wrong food, hoping to gain good health but this doesn’t happen.
Alzheimer's is one of the health conditions that develop due to poor diet and nutrition. Studies show that you can protect yourself from the disease by watching what you eat.
Let's first demystify Alzheimer's then take a look at how nutrition comes in to play.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that exhibits depression, irritability, forgetfulness, and confusion. It accounts for 60 to 80% of dementia cases in the United States. Unfortunately, many people wrongfully assume that failing memory is part of the “normal” aging process.
The truth is that Alzheimer’s is neither a normal part of aging nor a condition of old age. Aging is just one of the risk factors for acquiring it. This is more reason why people to be educated about the connection between diet and Alzheimer’s.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Signs of Alzheimer's include a progressive decline in behavioural and cognitive function which eventually interferes with a person’s ability to engage in routine activities. For the condition to qualify as Alzheimer's, patients may experience the following signs:
The patient can have a reduced ability to process and remember new information. This can lead to repetitive conversations and questions. The patient also regularly misplaces personal belongings and often gets lost - even when on a familiar route.
Their reasoning is impaired, especially when it comes to complex tasking. Patients find it hard to understand safety risks. They are also unable to manage their finances since they have poor decision-making abilities. Impaired Visual Ability
They have impaired visual-spatial abilities that aren't related to eyesight problems. For example, they are unable to recognize familiar objects or faces. Patients also can't use simple tools, and they lose simple life skills abilities.
Impairment in reading, writing, and speaking is also common. Alzheimer's patients exhibit difficulties in thinking of common words while talking. They also have errors in spelling, speech, and writing.
There are changes in behaviour and personality like loss of empathy, and out-of-character mood changes. Other changes include apathy, agitation, loss of social interest and motivation.
The more severe the symptoms, the more severe the condition is in the patient.
Diet and Alzheimer’s
What’s the relationship between diet and Alzheimer’s? As earlier mentioned, the foods you consume expose you to certain health conditions. Alzheimer's is a factor of brain cell death, which can be prevented by watching what you eat.
Lack of B vitamins, for example, can lead to brain damage. Its absorption becomes worse with time. Other nutritional solutions for the decline of Alzheimer’s risk include antioxidants like Vitamin E.
Omega 3 and acetylcholine are a crucial part of proper brain function. Here's how some vital components in your diet work.
B Vitamins and Homocysteine
In looking at the relationship between diet and Alzheimer’s, brain foods with vitamins are crucial. The risk of developing the condition is strongly linked to high levels of homocysteine. It’s a toxic amino acid whose concentration can be tested through a blood test.
The element destroys the medial temporal lobe, which rapidly degenerates into Alzheimer’s disease. The intake of inexpensive vitamins can easily lower its level in the body.
On the other hand, low levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid in the body are strongly associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s. The body needs B vitamins to convert the toxic homocysteine into useful chemicals.
Omega 3 Fats and Antioxidants
Omega 3 fats are mostly available from cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and herring. Eating fish at least weekly has the potential of reducing the risk of getting Alzheimer’s.
Inflammations in the body result in increased production of oxidants. Consequently, the body requires large amounts of antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene.
Other sources of antioxidants are glutathione, cysteine, anthocyanin, and lipoic acid. All these are elements present in fruits and vegetables. Eating at least six portions every day can help beat Alzheimer's.
Oily fish and seeds should also form an essential part of your diet.
Acetylcholine and Memory Enhancers
Once damage occurs to the brain cells, memory loss follows. The proper understanding of how the process occurs is the best starting point for commencing treatment. Memory loss doesn't happen in one but several brain cells.
The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is responsible for triggering a memory. It's then stored by the alteration of the RNA molecule within the brain cells. The limbic system then decides if the memory is worth keeping.
In patients with Alzheimer's, the brain loses its ability to file memories, leading to the inability to create new ones. The condition also leads to a significant reduction in acetylcholine because of brain cell damage. A memory might be intact, but without sufficient acetylcholine, connecting it to other parts is impossible.
For example, a person might remember a face but not the name.
Foods to Limit
In considering diet and Alzheimer’s, one aspect should include foods that you can avoid to decrease the risk of the condition. These include:
• Red meat
• Butter and margarine
• Pastries and sweets
• Fried foods and fast food
• White refined sugar
• Artificial sweeteners
Most of these foods are delicious, but they add no substantial value to your brain. Although you don’t necessarily need to eliminate them from your diet, strive to limit their intake whenever possible.
Your diet and nutritional status is an essential factor in mental health. Studies on diet and Alzheimer's show a correlation between food and memory loss. There's also a need for people to drop the assumption that dementia is unavoidable with age.
Instead, embracing healthy eating habits and nutrition values will go a long way to curb the onset of the disease. Food components like amino acids, fatty acids, memory enhancers and omega 3 should be part of your diet on a regular basis.
Increase the intake of B vitamins in their entirety. Their purpose is to reduce the effects of homocysteine, which is a toxic amino acid. Strive to learn more about diets that will reduce the risk of mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s.
If you have any questions about memory foods and diet, be sure to contact us or set up an appointment for an individualized nutritional consultation today.
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