Food for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Nutrition for the Brain – Food for Thought
We have long advocated that certain foods can improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia causing diseases. Face it, eating is enjoyable, and generally improves quality of life for everyone. I am quoting Captain Obvious here. But there are foods that are thought to actually improve brain health – food for Alzheimer’s. One of the most promising is coconut oil. Turmeric is also getting a lot of attention, not only as an anti inflammatory agent, but for its ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier and deliver nutrients directly to the brain. It may be that a cure for dementia may eventually be found in our food. So we thought we should share some of our favorite recipes for Alzheimer’s.
This is a relatively new page, and as of this writing we don’t have a lot of recipes in our list. It will grow, expecially with your help. What favorite recipes do you have that contain dementia fighting ingredients? (See below for a list of potentially dementia-fighting foods) Please share them with us and our readers. Post in the comments section below, and we’ll get them listed here, along with your name. Please include a credit (author, book, website, etc.) if that applies. Or if you have an idea how one of out recipes might be improved, don’t hesitate to let us know.
Turmeric—A Healing Food
Turmeric has been called a super food and a super spice. As a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory it often outperforms drugs like ibuprofen. It can also lower cholesterol and protect the cardiovascular system. There is even evidence that it can protect against cancer. And it does this without the side effects that are well-documented with anti-inflammatory and pain relief drugs. Recent research reveals that Alzheimer’s may result from brain inflammation, which makes turmeric a credible candidate for study in our fight against the disease.
Share Your Brain Healthy Recipes in the Comments section below, or Contact Us.
Guidelines for creating recipes for Alzheimer’s
First and important, always consult with your medical professional before making radical changes to you diet.
We have a few suggestions and recommendations before getting to the recipes. Use organic and fresh ingredients whenever possible. If nothing else, organic food is less likely to contain the chemical pesticides and preservatives that are common on “traditionally grown” foods. Science is finding significant associations between Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders, and exposure to pesticides. And fresh, ripe, locally grown foods are more likely to contain increased levels of protective antioxidants and micro-nutrients¹.
Limit your use of processed sugars that can cause rapid elevations of blood sugar.¹ Particularly stay away from prepared foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners (aspartame in particular), artificial colors, MSG (and hydrolyzed vegetable protein), and any other artificial ingredient. Many, if not all of the substances named in this paragraph are suspected of causing damage to brain cells and contributing to dementia.
More good news! Diet has long been thought to fight dementia. There is clinical evidence³, for example, that the traditional Mediterranean Diet really does, in fact, protect the brain. The study cited below, Mediterranean Diet and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, is only one of many investigations that credit this particular diet with Alzheimer’s protection.
Food for Alzheimer’s—Ingredients to Include
Foods that have clinical and/or anecdotal support as dementia fighters, or are otherwise potential dementia fighters.
- Coconut oil—be sure it is organic and unprocessed.
- Olive oil—always use virgin olive oil and get organic when possible
* A note here—always buy the highest quality foods that you can and organic whenever possible. These will be more costly but much higher in the nutrients that you are looking for. Organic and naturally grown foods contain fewer pesticides, etc. that only make the problem worse.
- Omega-3 oils, found in certain fish, walnuts, flax seed, chia seed
- Certain spices and herbs
- and spice mixes like curry and garam masala
- Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially deep green and orange colored
- Seafood—especially cold water species that are high in omega-3 oils, like wild salmon and mackerel
- Whole grains, like barley, rye, buckwheat
- Legumes, like lentils and chickpeas
- Get this! Moderate consumption of alcohol, especially red wine, may have some protective value. But excessive use may contribute to neurological disorders; so don’t!
Ingredients to Avoid
Some foods and food additives may contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementia and should be avoided or used minimally.
- Aluminum – not that you are likely to stir aluminum into a pot of soup, but some processed foods contain trace amounts. Most commercially available baking powder, for example, contains aluminum. Find an aluminum free brand, like Rumford. Many pancake and waffle products, baking mixes, muffins, etc. contain aluminum. I also suggest that you avoid using aluminum cooking and baking products.
- Whenever possible, avoid foods that contain environmental chemicals; i.e., eat organic.
- Trans fats which are hydrogenated oils. I have heard it said that hydrogenated oils are the biggest travesty ever perpetrated on food and diet.
Other Important Dietary Considerations
- There exists an ongoing controversy about the benefits of coconut oil. One of the most thoughtful accounts I have read about this was written by Dr. Stephanie Seneff4, who concluded that coconut oil and cholesterol is not only healthy, but can offer protection against AD; and that our preoccupation with low fat everything might actually contribute to the current Alzheimer’s epidemic. Her essay is certainly worth reading, and the citation below on this page contains a link. Also, read more about coconut oil on our blog, then make up your own mind.
- I have read doctors who generally recommend Canola oil. I recommend against it. For one thing, it is highly processed. Furthermore, I read recently that canola oil can actually contribute to memory loss. Like most things in nutritional science, this study is far from conclusive, but I, for one, will instead use olive oil and other oils we know to be healthy.
These recommendations are dietary in nature. To see a more general discussion about avoiding Alzheimer’s, see Can We Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Food for Alzheimer’s and Brain Health
Recipes and Preparations
Food for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Jill Stein MD, Ted Schettler MD MPH, Ben Rohrer, Maria Valenti; Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, With a Closer Look at Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Diseases. Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and Science and Environmental Health Network.
- Dandan Yan, Yunjian Zhang, Liegang Liu, and Hong Yana; Pesticide exposure and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 32222.
Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, Yaakov Stern, PhD, Ming-Xin Tang, PhD, Richard Mayeux, MD, and Jose A. Luchsinger, MD; Mediterranean Diet and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. Ann Neurol. 2006 Jun; 59(6): 912–921. doi: 10.1002/ana.20854
- Stephanie Seneff; A Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins May Cause Alzheimer’s” The Clue to Why Low Fat Diet and Statins may Cause Alzheimer’s. An essay published online December 15, 2009.
Related Research: Food for Alzheimer’s
The general conclusion of Jill Stein, et. al, in Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging¹ is that, yes, our environment certainly plays a role in our susceptibility to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and that these factors are modifiable. Nutrition is but one of the determinants.
A review² of existing clinical literature concluded that:
The present meta-analysis suggested a positive association between pesticide exposure and AD, confirming the hypothesis that pesticide exposure is a risk factor for AD. Further high-quality cohort and case-control studies are required to validate a causal relationship.
When something as good as Mediterranean cuisine proves to be good for you—well, what could be better than that? The study³ cited at the left is only one of many that conclude, “higher adherence to the (Mediterranean Diet) is associated with a reduction in risk for AD and slower cognitive decline.”
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WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
- “Needless to say, her need for sedatives has stopped.” Carla