Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s

The good news about Alzheimer’s is that while there is no real evidence that you can bring back brain cells (neurons) there is lots you can do right now to make sure you don’t get the accelerated brain shrinkage that leads gradually from memory decline to Alzheimer’s. Given that brain shrinkage starts, for many, in their 40’s these prevention steps should be actioned now, not just later in life.

1. Check your memory

The first and most important step, is to check your memory with the free on-line Cognitive Function Test at www.foodforthebrain.org, act accordingly and do this every year from the age of 50 since this will give you an accurate measure of your memory, and a yardstick against which to measure the benefits of these prevention steps.

2. Eat fish

Eat fish three to four times a week, with at least two servings of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herrings, kippers, sardines or tuna). Eating more nuts and seeds, preferably, raw.

Eating one serving of oily fish a week is associated with halving the risk of Alzheimer’s1. Supplements of one kind of fish omega 3 fish oil, called DHA, has been shown to enhance memory in adults 2 who don’t eat fish, and to prevent memory loss in those in the early stages of memory decline3. But it’s not just oily fish. The more fish you eat the better your memory test performance. Fish is also an excellent source of vitamins B12 4, D and choline, all essential for the brain. Chia and flax seeds have the most omega 3. As well as eating these foods I’d recommend you aim to supplement about 250mg of DHA a day. If your supplement contains DPA this converts readily to DHA so add to the DHA level and aim for a total of 250mg.

The studies above used around 1,000mg a day, which is what I’d recommend if you don’t score well on the Cognitive Function Test. This would mean adding a 1,000mg fish oil capsule to your daily supplements, as well as eating oily fish at least three times a week.

3. Up your fruit and veg

Eat at least six servings of brightly coloured vegetables and berries a day. Half a plate of vegetables counts as two servings. A glass of good quality red wine counts as one. The more fruit and vegetables you eat the lower is your risk of cognitive decline 5 with vegetables being particularly protective.6 The best kinds of vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, mushrooms and the best fruits are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries7.

Flavonoids and polyphenols, found not only in fruit and vegetables, but also in tea, red wine and dark chocolate, are associated with preserving memory.8 The most protective effect is found eating six servings (500g) a day of fruit and vegetables.6 Supplementing both vitamin C (1g) and vitamin E combined is associated with halving the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.9

4. Minimise sugar – Eat a Low GL Diet

Follow a low GL diet, with slow-releasing ‘whole’ carbohydrates. Minimise sugar, sugary drinks and juices.

Keeping you blood sugar levels down, which also means you make less insulin, preserves your memory10. That means avoiding sugar as much as possible and eating slow-releasing ‘whole’ carbohydrate foods such as wholegrain bread or pasta and oat cakes. Eating white bread is associated with a poorer cognitive test performance, whereas high fibre bread is associated with better performance. Eating carbohydrate foods with protein

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