It’s long been known that diet has a huge impact on our physical health: eating junk can raise our bad cholesterol, lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and generally make us feel sluggish and gross.
But did you know that our diet and nutrition also has been linked to our brain and neurological health? Not only can eating “bad” foods lead to an increased risk of certain neurological disorders, but eating certain “good” foods can actually lower your risk of (and even prevent you from!) developing these disorders.
One such disease is Alzheimer’s. Obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, heart disease, and diabetes all increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
If you want to prevent Alzheimer’s in yourself and your loved ones, one of the best things you can do is eat healthily, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly.
Let’s look at the nutrition part of Alzheimer’s prevention. We’re going to go over 8 foods to prevent Alzheimer’s, so keep reading to learn more.
You’re not going to go out and eat a full stick of cinnamon or eat it by the spoonful, but you don’t have to do that in order to get the amazing benefits of this spice. Recent studies show that certain compounds within cinnamon can help prevent the build-up of proteins and plaque that can lead to the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Another compound within cinnamon can also prevent incorrect protein folding/formation, which is a key step in the degeneration of brain cells with Alzheimer’s disease.
Try incorporation a bit of cinnamon into your diet every day. This could be a sprinkle on top of your Sunday morning pancakes, a pinch in your morning coffee, added to smoothies, etc.
Turmeric is another spice that has benefits similar to cinnamon. Turmeric contains a compound called “curcumin” that acts as a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that this compound can reduce inflammation and fight against oxidative stress in your body, both of which are key causes of Alzheimer’s and the progression of the disease.
This spice has a strong odor to it, so it’s a bit harder to incorporate into your diet compared to sweet and spicy cinnamon. Try it our in a healthy veggie curry dish or even in the form of a trendy turmeric “shot.”
All types of berries are amazing sources of powerful antioxidants that can help protect your brain and even improve cognition.
Whether you eat some raw blueberries and blackberries as a snack, throw them in a smoothie, or add them to a salad, these little fruits are going to give you the antioxidants your brain and body needs to ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
4. Leafy Green Veggies
Leafy green vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods in the world. They contain high concentrations of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help us feel healthy.
Specifically, they’re a great source of B vitamins, folate, and iron, all of which have been linked to a reduced risk of developing both Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Try eating as many of the following as often as possible:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
You might quickly get bored of salad, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. Steamed greens and green smoothies are great options. You can also top off pizza, pasta dishes, and curry with loads of greens to get a lot in without really noticing!
While you should avoid large amounts of caffeine since this can increase cellular and physical stress, studies show that small amounts of coffee can improve cognitive function, improve memory, and lower your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
Coffee leads us right to our next food to prevent Alzheimer’s: beans. Beans, like leafy green vegetables, contain high concentrations of folate and iron. This will give you those same benefits we talked about earlier: improved cognition and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
Beans also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which we’ll go into more detail about in the next section.
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods like beans, salmon, flax seeds, nuts, and chia seeds. People who incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their diet have a significantly lower risk of developing the lesions/aggregates in the brain that lead to disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Improve overall brain health
- Fight anxiety and depression (both risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s)
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Reduce inflammation
- Fight against age-related memory/cognition decline
All of those things can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s as well as speed up the progression of the disease. Adding omega-3s to your diet with any one of the foods that contain them is a great way to prevent the disease as well as lower any risk factors you may have.
8. Whole Grains
Last on our list is whole grains. Like with omega-3s, this can come from a number of sources:
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain cereals
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pasta
It’s recommended that you get at least 3 servings of whole grains every day. This could be a slice of whole grain toast at breakfast, a quinoa bowl for lunch, and a side of brown rice at dinner.
Whole grains have been shown to reduce your risk of cognitive impairment and can help prevent a cognitive decline seen with Alzheimer’s patients.
Foods to Prevent Alzheimer’s: Final Thoughts
Each of these foods has a wide range of benefits that can help prevent Alzheimer’s. But, just because these are foods to prevent Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that eating these things is the only thing you should be doing.
You should also be exercising your body and your mind through working out, going for walks, mind puzzles, critical thinking, reading, etc. Educate yourself on things that can increase your risk of developing this disease and do what you can to lower that risk.