Protect your brain from Alzheimers and dementia

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Britains largest ever health survey involving 22,000 people conducted by Patrick Holford, leading Nutritionist and psychiatrist found the following in 2001:

76 % people report they are tired
58% suffer from mood swings
52% feel apathetic and unmotivated
50% suffer form anxiety
47% have difficulty and sleeping
43% have poor memories and difficulty in concentration.
42% suffer from depression.

This is not what we were created to be and become. God has given us life and wants that life to be blessed so we can also be a blessing!
Life style choices that we make each day including diet and physical exercise appear to have a profound effect on the long term health of our brains and possibly influence the risk of developing dementia, alzheimers as well as old age cognitive decline. Your mind and body are not separate. Your body is made to react to the brain’s response, how it thinks, feels, and what it focus’s on. This happens across a network of interconnecting brain cells, the activity of which depends on an optimal supply of nutrients and the level of need of nutrients depends on levels of stress which adversely affects brain cell networking, a bit like putting a match to a cord leading to a time bomb!!

There are particular life style habits that specifically influence the risk of developing Alzheimers, dementia and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that destroys memory, communication ability and the ability to carry out daily activities. Dementia is caused by Alzheimers disease. All types are progressive and the structure and chemistry of the brain becomes increasingly damaged over time. The person’s ability to remember, understand, communicate and reason gradually declines.

Many population studies have reported the positive association between antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and E as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids on cognitive performance but in June earlier this year, a study was published that showed certain risk factors that preceded Alzheimer’s and dementia were also associated with subjective memory impairment.

Depression, less exercise, smoking, and hypertension were significantly associated with subjective memory impairment across all ages from 18 years of age to 99yrs old. Having just one risk factor significantly increased the odds of having memory impairment. The frequency of memory impairment increased with age as well as the number of risk factors.

By following a few simple dietary guidelines we can increase our potential for mental health, happiness, alertness and clarity and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, disease and cognitive decline.

We recommend a Mediterranean diet. This way of eating has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, neuro-degenerative disease and overall longer survival!!

So use these following guidelines to protect your brain:

• Eat a high consumption of vegetables and fruit -but only 3 of fruit and the rest vegetables. Remember, 5 a day is minimum and 11 a day fights cancer. Use the palm of your hand as a measurement of one portion.

• Daily consumption of vegetables was associated with decrease risk- as these are especially high in vitamin C and E.

• Eat meat and poultry only twice a week.

• High saturated fat is associated with increased risk of dementia so keep your animal fats low, using lean meats and watching your intake of cakes, biscuits and other processed foods containing saturated fats.

• Keep sugar as minimal as possible, especially with saturated fats as they cause stress to the brain cells and cause irreparable damage.

• Eat up to 5 eggs a week.

• Use dairy moderately, eaten mainly as cheese and low fat yoghurt eg 2 portions a day including your milk.

• A small consumption of wine at meal times protects your brain, says the research, however one glass of red wine is enough! 1 glass of wine a day, especially with a meal, seemed to show lower cognitive decline than those who do not drink at all

• Eat more fish. Sardines, mackerel, pilchards, salmon all contain protective omega 3 fatty acids that protect your brain cells from damage and help communication. Weekly consumption of fish was associated with decrease risk so try mixing it into rice or having it on toast at least 3 times a week. If you don’t like fish, you could try some flax seed oil or take some cod liver oil.

As a nutritionist I have focussed on improving your diet, but there are other factors also to consider which I will mention briefly.

• Move more, especially out in the fresh air. Physical activity appears to protect against cognitive decline as well as reduce depression. A study showed that people who exercised three times a week had more than a 40% risk reduction for developing Alzheimer’s.

• If you smoke, try to give it up!

• Relax-keep your blood pressure down. Pray! Learn to sit in God’s presence and ask Him for the peace He, and only He, can give to us.
New habits need to be implemented slowly but regularly and after 11 times they become habits. Remember you are special to God and He cares for you, so do what you can to care for your brain.

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