Alzheimer’s Disease and Diet

Alzheimer’s Disease and Diet

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain with no known cure. This disease not only takes a toll on the patient but on the entire family as they watch their loved one slowly lose their memory along with the ability to care for themselves. While there may not be a cure for this devastating disease, a new study shows that diet may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and brain health and could offer a ray of hope for prevention and treatment of this common degenerative brain disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Diet: A New Study

According to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, eating foods rich in polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids could stimulate new stem cells in the brain. These cells could go on to form functioning nerve cells in people with Alzheimer’s disease and aging brains.

The researchers found that mice that were fed a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols experienced the formation of new nerve cells in two areas of the brain that are usually affected by Alzheimer’s disease – the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus. It was once thought that the number of stem cells in the brain was pre-determined in the adult brain and couldn’t be increased, but it’s now known that certain areas of the brain can form new stem cells which are precursors to fully functioning nerve cells.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Diet: The Role of Polyphenols

This study adds further support for the role diet plays in Alzheimer’s disease and brain health. Previous studies have shown that the polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables, tea, and dark chocolate help to protect brain cells against oxidative damage which can lead to their destruction. Animal studies also show that a diet rich in omega-3, a particular type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, can delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Food: Omega-3’s

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Another polyunsaturated fatty acid, alpha-linolenic-acid, is converted to the omega-3’s – although this may not be the most efficient way to get it. Good sources of alpha-linolenic-acid are ground flaxseed, purslane, chia seeds, and walnuts. These are good sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids for people who only eat a vegetarian diet.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Diet: The Bottom Line

The good news is a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols could play a role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and aging of the brain. Research in humans is needed to confirm this, but adding more polyunsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols to your diet is not only good for brain health, but could also reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. So, look for fresh fruits and vegetables, green tea, and walnuts when you go to the grocery store and leave the processed foods behind.

Could eating a healthier diet regenerate new brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease sufferers? A new study suggests that it could. Get the full story.

Dr. Kristie

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