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Preliminary research is showing a connection between folate, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 intake and Alzheimer’s disease. It appears that people with Alzheimer’s disease have higher levels of homocysteine (a body chemical that causes arteries to clog) in their blood. Although homocysteine levels naturally increase with age, high levels are also due to a diet low in folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6. Until more is uncovered about this chemical’s effect on the brain, eat a diet high in the B-vitamins. For vitamin B-12, reach for lean meats, fish, chicken, milk and cheese. For vitamin B-6 and folate, include more dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, broccoli, oranges, orange juice, lima beans, asparagus, whole grains, and fortified grain products.
The brain can be damaged by free radicals in the body and their oxidation effect. So eating a diet high in antioxidants (vitamin E and vitamin C) can help lower the risk of these harmful effects and protect the brain. Dietary sources of vitamin E include whole grains, nuts, seeds, milk, egg yolks, wheat germ, and vegetable oils. Vitamin C sources include citrus fruits, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries, potatoes, and peppers.
7. A Boost with Blueberries
Blueberries contain compounds that can improve short-term memory, navigational skills, balance and coordination. Current research indicates that blueberries can boost weakened neuron signals. Blueberries contain this powerful punch whether fresh, frozen or dried. Enjoy them by the handful, add them to your cereal, muffins, and pancakes, or whip up a blueberry-yogurt smoothie.
8. Stop Smoking
Smokers are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as non-smokers. Smoking decreases blood flow to the brain, starving it of oxygen and nutrients. The best defense is to stop smoking, but beta-carotene and flavonoids found in foods may help to offset the effects of smoking to some degree. If you continue to smoke, add more colorful fruits and veggies to your diet. Eat more kale, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cranberries, green and black tea, and legumes.
9. Healthy Heart
High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease and diabetes may also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Once again, anytime blood vessels are damaged, the blood supply to the brain can be affected. It is important to know your numbers. Monitor your blood pressure reading, lipid profile tests, and blood glucose tests. See your physician regularly. Make appropriate dietary, lifestyle, and medication changes that are necessary to keep your body at peak performance.