My mom’s mother died of Alzheimer’s disease. As a kid, I loved spending time with her. She was the perfect—and perfectly doting—grandmother. She’d want to take me to toy stores, but, geeky me, I just wanted to go to the library. When we’d get back to the house, my arms filled with borrowed books, she’d let me sit way back on her big couch and read and draw pictures. Then she’d bring me blueberry muffins she made with a big mechanical mixer that took up half the kitchen counter.
Later in life, my grandma started to lose her mind. By then, I was in medical school, but my newfound knowledge was useless. She had turned. My previously sweet and stately grandmother now threw things at people. She cursed. Her caretaker showed me the teeth marks on her arm where my once kind, loving grandma had bitten her.
That’s the horror of brain disease. Unlike a problem with your foot or your back or even another vital organ, brain disease can attack your self. Alzheimer’s disease, which kills nearly 85,000 Americans each year, is one of the most physically and emotionally burdensome diseases, for both sufferers and caregivers. Unlike stroke, which can kill instantly and without any warning, Alzheimer’s involves a slower, more subtle decline over months or years. Instead of cholesterol-filled plaques in your arteries, plaques made of a substance called amyloid develop in the brain tissue itself, associated with the loss of memory and, eventually, loss of life.
Despite the billions of dollars spent on research, there is still neither a cure nor an effective treatment for the disease, which invariably progresses to death. In short, Alzheimer’s is reaching a state of crisis— emotionally, economically, and even scientifically.
The good news, as a senior scientist at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research entitled a review article, is that “Alzheimer’s Disease Is Incurable but Preventable.” Diet and lifestyle changes could potentially prevent millions of cases a year. How? There is an emerging consensus that “what is good for our hearts is also good for our heads,” because clogging of the arteries inside of the brain with atherosclerotic plaque is thought to play a pivotal role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It is not surprising, then, that the dietary centerpiece of the 2014 “Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease,” published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, was: “Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.”
We generally think of atherosclerosis as a condition of the heart, but a substantial body of evidence strongly associates atherosclerotic arteries with Alzheimer’s disease. Autopsies have shown repeatedly that Alzheimer’s patients tend to have significantly more atherosclerotic plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries within the brain, and the clogging of the arteries inside, and leading to, the brain with cholesterol-filled plaque can drastically reduce the amount of blood—and therefore oxygen—your brain receives. In light of such findings, some experts have even suggested that Alzheimer’s be reclassified as a vascular disorder.
A study of three hundred Alzheimer’s patients found that treating vascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, may even slow the progression of the disease but not stop it. That’s why prevention is the key, and it’s never too early to start eating healthier. Dietary decisions you make now may directly influence your health much later in life, including the health of your brain.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Popular Videos for Alzheimer’s Disease
All Videos for Alzheimer’s Disease
Book Trailer for How Not to Age
Preorder my new book How Not to Age, out this December!
Does Coffee Inhibit Iron Absorption? What Are the Effects of Having Too Much Iron?
Coffee and common herbal teas impair iron absorption, which may help explain some of their benefits.
The Role of Endotoxins in Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Why can a single meal high in saturated fat impair cognition?
The Harms Associated with Eating More Southern-Style Food
Diet appears to mediate the majority of the racial health gap.
Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and Cognitive Decline
AGEs may be one explanation for why those who consume meat may have up to three times the risk of developing dementia compared with vegetarians.
The Best Diet for Healthy Aging
Swapping just 1 percent of plant protein in place of animal protein was associated with signiﬁcantly less age-related deﬁcit accumulation.
Pesticides (DDT) and Alzheimer’s Disease
How can we avoid the breakdown product of pesticides that may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as much as if you carried APOE e4, the so-called Alzheimer’s gene?
Can Vegan Fecal Transplants Lower TMAO Levels?
If the microbiome of those eating plant-based diets protects against the toxic effects of TMAO, what about swapping gut flora?
Are Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger Healthy?
What happens when you compare the trans fats, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels in plant-based versus animal-based burgers?
The Effects of Obesity on Dementia, Brain Function, and Fertility
Weight loss can decrease dementia risk and improve mental performance and infertility.
Benefits of Grapes for Brain Health
Grape juice and whole grapes are put to the test for brain function, including cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s.
Does a Ketogenic Diet Help Diabetes or Make It Worse?
Keto diets put to the test for diabetes reversal.
Do the Health Benefits of Coffee Apply to Everyone?
Genetic differences in caffeine metabolism may explain the Jekyll and Hyde effects of coffee.
Oxidized Cholesterol 27HC May Explain 3 Breast Cancer Mysteries
Oxidized cholesterol (concentrated in products containing eggs, processed meat, and parmesan cheese) has cancer-fueling estrogenic effects on human breast cancer.
Do Lutein Supplements Help with Brain Function?
Avocados, greens, and lutein and zeaxanthin supplements are put to the test for improving cognitive function.
Brain-Healthy Foods to Fight Aging
What is the best source of lutein, the primary carotenoid antioxidant in the brain?
Best Brain Foods: Greens and Beets Put to the Test
Cocoa and nitrite-rich vegetables, such as green leafies and beets, are put to the test for cognitive function.
Best Brain Foods: Berries and Nuts Put to the Test
Randomized controlled studies put nuts, berries, and grape juice to the test for cognitive function.
Are Acid-Blocking Drugs Safe?
Do the benefits outweigh the risks for acid-blocker drugs (proton pump inhibitors like Nexium/Prilosec/Prevacid)? What about baking soda?
How to Reduce Cholesterol Oxidation
Chicken, fish, and egg powder in processed foods present greater risk from cholesterol oxidation byproducts, but there are things you can do to reduce exposure.
Oxidized Cholesterol as a Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease
Oxidized cholesterol can be a hundred times more toxic than regular cholesterol, raising additional concerns about foods such as ghee, canned tuna, processed meat, and parmesan cheese.
The Risks of Shark Cartilage Supplements
Why are millions of dollars spent on shark cartilage supplements?
How to Prevent Alzheimer’s with Diet
What evidence is there that our meat-sweet diets play a cause-and-effect role in dementia?
Saffron vs. Memantine (Namenda) for Alzheimer’s
The spice saffron is pitted head-to-head against the leading drug for severe Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Turmeric for Arsenic Exposure
What happened when turmeric curcumin was put to the test to see if it could reverse DNA damage caused by arsenic exposure?
Best Aromatherapy Herb for Alzheimer’s
Lemon balm may beat out drugs for controlling the symptoms of severe dementia.
Higher Blood Pressure May Lead to Brain Shrinkage
Having hypertension in midlife (ages 40 through 60) is associated with elevated risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia later in life—even more so than having the so-called Alzheimer’s gene.
Parkinson’s Disease and the Uric Acid Sweet Spot
The link between Parkinson’s and dairy may not be explained just by the pesticides and lactose.
Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function?
Learn why I recommend 250mg a day of a pollutant-free source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Could Lactose Explain the Milk and Parkinson’s Disease Link?
Neurotoxin contamination of the dairy supply doesn’t explain why the association between Parkinson’s and skim milk consumption is as strong as the disease’s association with whole milk.
HOW NOT TO DIE: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, & Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
In this “best-of” compilation of his last four year-in-review presentations, Dr. Greger explains what we can do about the #1 cause of death and disability: our diet.
Berries vs. Pesticides in Parkinson’s Disease
Berries counteract the neurotoxic effects of pesticides in vitro, potentially explaining why berry consumption is associated with lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Is Fish “Brain Food” for Older Adults?
Why has fish consumption been associated with cognitive impairment and loss of executive function?
Alzheimer’s Disease, Copper, and Saturated Fat
If copper is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, what about healthy, whole plant food sources such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains?
The Alzheimer’s Gene: Controlling ApoE
Diet may explain the Nigerian Paradox, where they have among the highest rates of the Alzheimer’s susceptibility gene, ApoE4, but among the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cholesterol and Alzheimer’s Disease
High-tech advances, such as PET scanning, offer new insight into the role cholesterol plays in both the amyloid cascade and vascular models of the development of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Oxygenating Blood with Nitrate-Rich Vegetables
Vegetables such as beets and arugula can improve athletic performance by improving oxygen delivery and utilization. But, what about for those who really need it—such as those with emphysema, high blood pressure, and peripheral artery disease?
Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain
Lack of adequate blood flow to the brain due to clogging of cerebral arteries may play a pivotal role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Alzheimer’s May Start Decades Before Diagnosis
Neurodegenerative brain changes begin by middle age, underscoring the need for lifelong preventive brain maintenance.
Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
Dr. Greger has scoured the world’s scholarly literature on clinical nutrition and developed this new presentation based on the latest in cutting edge research exploring the role diet may play in preventing, arresting, and even reversing some of our most feared causes of death and disability.