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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Wyatt and Dawn

Practically unknown a century ago, Alzheimer’s disease is now the #6 killer in the U.S. Cardiovascular disease may contribute to clogged cerebral arteries, cutting down blood flow to the brain and contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary components that may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction include pork consumption, hormones in dairy, blue-green algae supplements, spirulina, copper, glycotoxins, the neurotoxin known as BMAA (found mostly in seafood), aluminum, and excess iron.

Those who eat meat such as chicken, pork, and beef, as well as seafood, may have triple the risk of being diagnosed with dementia, compared to long-time vegetarians. This may be in part because high fat, high protein foods exposed to high heat can form glycotoxins, the consumption of which may predict cognitive decline over time.

There are certain plant foods that may have the potential to prevent or slow cognitive decline. This includes saffron, coffee, ginger, apple juice, beans, vitamins D and B-12, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.

Turmeric may be used to help prevent and even treat Alzheimer’s disease. A case series reported improvements in the lives of several Alzheimer’s patients after starting a teaspoon of turmeric a day. Plant-based diets, in general, may help slow markers of cellular aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, coconut oil has not been shown to have an effect on Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise has been shown to reverse mild cognitive decline. In one study, those suffering mild cognitive impairment were directed to exercise 30 minutes a day for six months; a control group was told to simply stretch for half an hour every day. Not only did those who exercised not decline further, as the control group did, but their cognition at the end of six months was better than when they started.

 

Image Credit: Trifonenko / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.

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