The Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet

The key principles of an Alzheimer’s prevention diet are:

  • Eat essential fats and phospholipids
  • Eat slow-release carbohydrates, and avoid refined ones
  • Eat vitamin, mineral and antioxidant rich foods
  • Eat enough protein
  • Avoid harmful fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar and excess caffeine and alcohol.

In practical terms this means:

Essential fats and phospholipids

  • Eat an egg a day, or six eggs a week – preferably free-range, organic and high in omega-3s. Boil, scramble or poach them, but avoid frying.
  • Eat a tablespoon of seeds and nuts every day – the best seeds are flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame. (As for nuts go for what you like – Brazils, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews . . . ) You get more goodness out of them by grinding them first. They’re delicious sprinkled on cereal, soups and salads.
  • Eat cold water, oily carnivorous fish – have a serving of herring, mackerel, salmon or sardines two or three times a week (limit tuna, unless identified as low in mercury, to three times a month).
  • Used cold-pressed seed oils – choose an oil blend such as Essential Balance or Udo’s Choice for salad dressings and other cold uses, such as drizzling on vegetables instead of butter.

Eat slow-release carbohydrates

  • Eat whole foods – whole grains, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables – and avoid white, refined and over-processed foods.
  • Snack on fresh fruit, preferably apples, pears and/or berries.
  • Eat four servings a day or whole grains and/or pulses. Try rice, rye, oats, corn, quinoa or wholewheat, boiled or in a breads and pasta; and lentils, beans or chickpeas.
  • Dilute fruit juices and only eat dried fruit infrequently in small quantities, preferably soaked or with a small handful of nuts or seeds.

Eat antioxidant and vitamin-rich foods

  • Eat half your diet raw or lightly steamed.
  • Eat three or more servings a day of fresh fruit, including one of berries.
  • Eat four servings a day of dark green, leafy and root vegetables such as tender stem broccoli, broccoli, kale, spinach, watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beans or pepper.
  • Have a serving a day of beans, lentils, nuts or seeds – all high in folic acid.

Eat enough protein

  • Have three servings of protein-rich foods a day, if you are a man, and two if you are a woman.
  • Choose good vegetable protein sources, including beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu or tempeh (soya) and ‘seed’ vegetables such as peas, broad beans and corn.
  • If eating animal protein, choose lean meat or preferably fish, organic whenever possible.

Avoid harmful fats

  • Minimise your intake of fried or processed food and saturated fat from meat and dairy products.
  • Minimise your consumption of deep-fried foods. Poach, steam or steam-fry food instead.

Avoid sugar, reduce caffeine and drink alcohol in moderation

  • Avoid adding sugar to dishes, and avoid foods and drinks with added sugar. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum, sweetening cereal or desserts with fruit.
  • Avoid or considerably reduce your consumption of caffeinated drinks. Don’t have more than one caffeinated drink a day.
  • Drink alcoholic drinks infrequently, ideally wine or beer, if your homocysteine score is above 9. Otherwise, have no more than four alcoholic drinks a week.

If you’re wondering how to start making the necessary changes in your shopping, cooking and eating habits, and want help making delicious meals using the principles I outline, read my Optimum Nutrition Cookbook