Alzheimer’s Plant Based Diet

Foods For Cognitive Health

Alzheimer and plant based diets – Dr. Neal Barnard

Over time, researchers pinpointed several foods and nutrients that seem to have a particularly protective effect on our cognitive health:

  • Vitamin E from foods, rather than supplements. Healthy food sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
  • B-group vitamins from whole grains, pulses, green leafy vegetables, and nutritional yeast. Add a reliable source of vitamin B12, such as a supplement providing 50 µg daily or a higher dose twice a week.
  • Omega-3 fats from ground flaxseed, chia or hemp seeds , walnuts, rapeseed oil, or algae-derived supplements.
  • Green leafy vegetables an excellent source of B-group vitamins, vitamin E, antioxidants, and other beneficial phytochemicals. In one study, people who consumed one or two servings of these vegetables daily experienced a slower cognitive decline equivalent to being 11 years younger compared with those who rarely or never consumed green leafy vegetables!
  • Berries fruit with a very high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are a group of natural compounds found only in plants and research indicates they have a neuroprotective effect. Studies have discovered that people who regularly consume berries have a significantly lower risk of dementia.
  • Plant sources of protein pulses , nuts, seeds, and whole grains are not just healthy sources of protein, they are low in saturated fat and high in fiber exactly what you need to lower your risk of cognitive decline!

What Is Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers Disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, MD, who described a case of memory loss in 1906. It is the most common cause of dementia and develops as a progressive disease. While it may begin with mild memory loss, it progresses to involve thought, memory, language, and mood. Worldwide, nearly 50 million people have AD and it is a top cause of disability in the elderly.

In the United States, AD has been diagnosed in over 6 million persons, most elderly, and costs nearly $300 billion annually for medical care. It is the only top-ten leading cause of death that has no proven therapy to reverse it. Women make up two-thirds of those that get AD.

Special Diets: Western Mediterranean And Ketogenic

The Western diet is well established to cause pro-inflammatory changes in the intestinal microbiome . Specifically, in humans, consumption of a Western diet is associated with high abundance of pro-inflammatory microbiota , an increase in the Firmicute:Bacteroidete ratio , and bacterial overgrowth . Additionally, the Western diet also is associated with reduced relative abundance of putative beneficial bacteria that include Bfidobacterium and Eubacterium in children . In combination, these changes result in a pro-inflammatory microenvironment and indeed consumption of a Western diet is associated with high levels of systemic inflammation compared to healthy dietary patterns .

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What Do We Know About Individual Foods

Many foods blueberries, leafy greens, and curcumin , to name a few have been studied for their potential cognitive benefit. These foods were thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or other properties that might help protect the brain. So far, there is no evidence that eating or avoiding a specific food can prevent Alzheimers disease or age-related cognitive decline.

But scientists continue to look for clues. One study, based on older adults reports of their eating habits, found that eating a daily serving of leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale was associated with slower age-related cognitive decline, perhaps due to the neuroprotective effects of certain nutrients. Research has also shown that eating a diet that includes regular fish consumption is associated with higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline with age. Another recent study, in mice, found that consuming a lot of salt increased levels of the protein tau, found in the brains of people with Alzheimers, and caused cognitive impairment.

Results Based On Interventional Studies On Metabolism Microbiota And Brain Function

Can You Fight Alzheimer By A Plant

Overall, the vast majority of studies included in this systematic review reported a short-term beneficial effect of plant-based dietary interventions on weight status, glucose, insulin and/or plasma lipids and inflammatory markers, whereas studies investigating whether plant-based diets affect microbial or neurological/psychiatric disease status and other brain functions were scarce and rather inconclusive .

More specifically, 19 out of 32 studies dealing with T2DM and/or obese subjects and seven out of 32 dealing with healthy subjects observed a more pronounced weight loss and metabolic improvements, such as lowering of glycated hemoglobin a long-term marker for glucose levelsdecreased serum levels of low-density and high-density lipoproteins and total cholesterol , after a plant-based diet compared to an omnivore diet. This is largely in line with recent meta-analyses indicating beneficial metabolic changes after a plant-based diet.

Intriguingly, these results cohesively suggest that although caloric intake was similar across groups, participants who had followed a vegan diet showed higher weight loss and improved metabolic status.

As a limitation, all of the reviewed intervention studies were carried out in moderate sample sizes and over a period of less than 2 years, disregarding that long-term success of dietary interventions stabilizes after 25 years only. Future studies with larger sample sizes and tight control of dietary intake need to confirm these results.

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Eating For Better Brain Health

If you want to improve your brain health and lower your risk of Alzheimers, the message is clear: Eat mostly or all plants, starting now.

By cutting the animal foods from your diet, youll eliminate the brain-damaging saturated fat and cholesterol these foods are high in. Not to mention that plants give your brain all the healthy nutrients and phytochemicals it needs. A whole-food, plant-based diet provides the necessary macro and micronutrients for your brain to grow, thrive and connect, says Dr. Ayesha Sherzai, neurologist, and co-director of the Alzheimers Prevention Program at Loma Linda, and co-author of The Alzheimers Solution.

Of course, youll be best protected if you eliminate all animal foods from your diet. Even when people eliminate some animal foods but keep others in their diet, whether eggs, dairy, fish, chicken or meat, the saturated fat and cholesterol in those foods are more than enough to have noticeable effects on their cholesterol levels, body weight and other physical measures that affect brain health, Dr. Barnard says.

Yet thats not to say that even small changes can’t make a difference. In one of Dr. Sherzais studies, every incremental step, such as eating a salad instead of a deli sandwich for lunch or adding a couple of servings of fruits to your daily menu, made a monumental difference in study subjects risk of stroke, which also applies to the risk of developing Alzheimers as well.

Other Dietary Components: Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can be either beneficial or harmful for brain health including age-associated cognitive decline and AD which could be due to types of alcohol consumed and pattern of alcohol use. Additionally, red wine contains polyphenols, which have already been discussed, and generally induce beneficial changes to the microbiota. Indeed, consumption of red wine is reported to increase the relative abundance of putative good bacteria . However, problematic drinking is consistently reported to be detrimental for brain health and not surprisingly these patterns of alcohol consumption are associated with detrimental changes in the intestinal microbiome . Alcohol consumption in rodents induces a decrease in the abundance of bacteria thought to be beneficial and an increase in putative pro-inflammatory bacteria . Furthermore, alcohol administration to rats induces intestinal bacterial overgrowth characterized by an enrichment of pro-inflammatory Gram-negative bacteria .

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Up To 33% Lower Risk Of Cognitive Decline

In 20142016, 2,443 of the participants had cognitive impairment.

The researchers found that people who had strongly adhered to the five dietary patterns outlined above during midlife were less likely to develop cognitive impairment later on.

Specifically, those whose diets the researchers deemed most similar to those five dietary patterns were 1833% less likely to develop cognitive impairment than those with the least similar diets .

Prof. Puay comments on the significance of the findings in the larger scheme of existing research. She says, Previous studies have shown mixed results when it comes to diet and the risk of cognitive impairment, with few studies conducted in Asian populations.

Our study suggests that maintaining a dietary pattern is important for the prevention of onset and delay of cognitive impairment.

Prof. Koh Woon Puay

Such a pattern, she adds, is not about the restriction of a single food item but the composition of an overall pattern that recommends cutting back on red meats, especially if they are processed, and including lots of plant-based foods and fish.

Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers

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Dementia itself is not a disease, but rather an umbrella term for the processes of losing the ability to think, remember, analyze and generally make decisions. These processes are devastating for those affected and are categorically not a normal part of aging, as they are often mistaken to be.

Alzheimers is just one disease that fits in the dementia category and its by far the most common, accounting for around 60-70 percent of cases.

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Not Eating Right Can Up Your Risk Of Developing Cognitive Problems Including Dementia And Alzheimer’s Here’s How Eating A Plant

Written by Arushi Bidhuri | Updated : December 13, 2021 4:16 PM IST

A nutritious diet is one of the controllable risk factors in the fight against dementia, which usually begins with a decline in cognitive abilities. According to statistics, there are around 5 million people living with dementia in India, with approximately millions of new cases diagnosed each year. According to WHO, by 2050, there will be 14 million people suffering from dementia, and the figure will only rise.

Dementia is a general term for a loss of capacity to recall, think, or make judgments that interfere with daily tasks. The most frequent form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is not a normal aspect of ageing, even though it usually affects older people. But studies have shown that changing your diet can help manage the outcome for the elderly.

Dietary Patterns: Western Diet

The Western diet is characterized by consumption of large quantities of saturated/trans-fats, refined carbohydrates, and limited intake of fiber. The Western diet consists of red meat, pre-packaged foods, butter, candy and sweets, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, refined grains, potatoes, corn and high-sugar drinks, and low intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, and seeds. Therefore, the discussions of the various macronutrients already described are also relevant for the discussion of the Western diet.

Consumption of the Western diet is a risk factor for many diseases including AD . Western type diets containing large quantities of saturated and trans-fats , refined carbohydrates, and limited intake of fiber are associated with cognitive dysfunction in both animal models and humans . In a retrospective study, consumption of a Western-type diet from childhood through middle age was able to predict cognitive dysfunction in people of advanced age . These results demonstrate the detrimental effects of early-life dietary pattern on cognition later in life. Furthermore, a recent population-based, cross-sectional study among 70-year old dementia-free adults found that a higher adherence to a Western dietary pattern is associated with increased pathological total tau levels and a pre-clinical AD biomarker profile . Thus, long-term consumption of the Western diet appears to promote detrimental age-related cognitive changes in humans.

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Mind Diet Combines Mediterranean And Dash Diet Components

When a group of researchers wanted to create a diet specifically to help improve brain function and prevent dementia, they combined foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets that had been shown to benefit brain health. The diet they came up with is called the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay .

According to a study published in September 2015 in Alzheimers & Dementia, this newly developed diet lowered the risk of Alzheimers disease by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

Researchers also found that the MIND diet was strongly associated with slower cognitive decline and had greater estimated effects than either the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet.

A review study published in November 2019 in Advances in Nutrition that examined 56 research articles found that higher adherence to the Mediterranean, DASH, or MIND diets is associated with less cognitive decline and a lower risk of Alzheimers disease, with the strongest associations being observed for the MIND diet.

The Role Of Antioxidants

Pin on Alzheimers in the family

One theory behind the brain boost from plant-based eating is that a diet high in fruits and veggies, particularly those that are dark green or brightly colored, is higher in antioxidants than a typical omnivore diet. These antioxidants are constantly on patrol and not only fight inflammation that can lead to injury of the brain tissues, but they also identify and remove free radicals before they can cause problems. We couldn’t recommend smoothies more as a delicious way to consume more antioxidant-rich foods on a daily basis. Our newly repackaged, environmentally friendly protein powders can be a delicious, ingredient-simple foundation for what may be the healthiest meal of the day!

What this means: Antioxidant-rich foods help your brain function optimally.

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Effects On Cognition And Behavior Linking Diet And Cognition Via The Microbiomegutbrain Axis

While the number of interventional studies focusing on cognitive and mental health outcomes after adopting plant-based diets overall is very limited , one underlying mechanism of how plant-based diets may affect mood could involve signaling pathways on the microbiomegutbrain axis. A recent 4-week intervention RCT showed that probiotic administration compared to placebo and no intervention modulated brain activity during emotional decision-making and emotional recognition tasks. In chronic depression it has been proposed that immunoglobulin A and M antibodies are synthesized by the host in response to gut commensals and are linked to depressive symptoms. Whether the identified gram-negative bacteria might also play a role in plant-based diets remains to be explored. A meta-analysis on five studies concluded that probiotics may mediate an alleviating effect on depression symptomatichowever, sample sizes remained rather small and no long-term effects were tested .

A recent study could show that microbial composition influences cerebral amyloidogenesis in a mouse model for Alzheimers disease. Health status of the donor mouse seemingly mattered: fecal transplants from transgenic mice had a larger impact on amyloid beta proliferation in the brain compared to wild-type feces. Translational interpretations to humans should be done with caution if at allyet the results remain elucidative for showing a link between the gut microbiome and brain metabolism.

The 2 Foods That Combat Alzheimers Disease

While there is no cure for Alzheimers disease, a dynamic husband and wife team on the cutting edge of brain science, Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai, are combatting the disease with a comprehensive approach that includes prevention and treatment. Through their work as directors of the Alzheimers Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center and their previous roles as directors of the Brain Health and Alzheimers Prevention Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, they are committed to finding cures for diseases that are currently deemed incurable and decoding the steps to achieve long-term brain health.

Blue Zones Founder Dan Buettner sat down with Drs. Sherzai to discuss the number one lifestyle change to make for better brain health, the best foods for longevity, and how to address Alzheimers prevention at a population health level.

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Whats New In The Fight Against Alzheimers

Research into new Alzheimers treatments has been slow in the last 15 years, although new treatments and innovations are appearing. Treatment, whilst absolutely key, is only half the battle. Dementia is absolutely not a normal part of aging, so future focus should surely be on prevention methods, rather than treatment.

The bottom line then, is that positive lifestyle choices are still the most influential factor in Alzheimers prevention.

Alzheimers Disease Causes And Risk Factors

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Theres a general consensus in the science community that the causes behind Alzheimers disease are genetic, environmental, and to some extent, lifestyle-based as well.

What exactly causes the disease inside the bran is still not fully clear. However, we do know that the problem arises with neurons that results in some toxic events inside the brain. These neurons get damaged. A protein in the brain apparently fails, causing all this mayhem.

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Dietary Patterns: Ketogenic Diet

Another popular dietary intervention that may confer neuroprotection is the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet characterized by consumption of foods high in fat and protein but low in carbohydrates which induces a state of ketosis.

Consumption of a ketogenic diet in a mouse model of AD reduces total amyloid levels , administration of ketone precursors protects from development of cognitive impairment and reduces levels of amyloid and tau pathologies in a transgenic AD mouse model , and administration of ketones improves cognitive function in wild-type mice . To date, only a few studies have examined the impact of the ketogenic diet on AD-relevant outcomes in humans but the studies that have been conducted support the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet. A ketone-generating diet improved verbal performance in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and a recent randomized crossover trial demonstrated the ketogenic diet improves daily function and quality of life, two critical factors for people with dementia . There are numerous recently completed and ongoing trials that include ketogenic or ketone-generating diets which will shed additional light on the impact of this dietary pattern on cognitive function and other relevant parameters for AD.

The benefits of a Ketogenic diet or ketogenic type diets may be the consequence of increased consumption of PUFA, like omega-3 fatty acids.

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