For a long time, nutrition scientists have known that overall dietary patterns can reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. But it is only recently with the rise of the aging population that their attention has turned to Alzheimer’s – one of the most destructive diseases a person can get.
Alzheimer’s is believed to be caused by the slow accumulation of a specific type of plaque in the brain. What is interesting about this plaque is how it resembles the plaques that build up in people’s arteries. There’s evidence to suggest that a similar process is underway in the brain tissue of those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s as there is in those who get heart disease. Certain dietary patterns foster the formation of plaques which then go on to affect the functioning of the brain, causing progressively worsening symptoms that eventually lead to death.
When it comes to heart disease, we know the dietary culprits: meat, processed meats, cheese, butter, and eggs. These are the primary drivers of the disease, thanks to their high saturated fat content and pro-inflammatory effect on artery walls. Other drivers include processed foods and sugary food, though to a much lesser degree. In Alzheimer’s it’s a similar story: high levels of cholesterol in the blood appear to fuel the development of the disease, leading some to wonder whether the condition is the “heart disease of the brain.” More research is needed to confirm this, but as it stands it appears diet plays a significant role in the development of the disease.
How big an effect does diet play? Well if you look at data from Japan, you find that the rate of Alzheimer’s has more than doubled in the last fifty years. In that time, consumption of animal foods went up by more than 500 percent, leading some to wonder whether animal food consumption was a primary driver of the condition. Practically every within-country study conducted to date, whether in Poland, the US, Ireland or Taiwan, come up with similar findings: meats, high-fat dairy, and sweets appear to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, and whole plant food consumption seems to reduce the risk.
If you use home care services in Sydney, then the good news is that there are dozens of healthful foods that you can choose to lower your risk of the disease effectively. If you use home care, you can use home care services to provide you with the foods that help to fight Alzheimer’s and prevent the condition from taking over your life, or that of a loved one.
Let’s take a look at some of the foods that fight Alzheimer’s best.
Raw Leafy Greens
Raw leafy greens are perhaps the healthiest food on the planet. Leafy greens contain more nutrients per calorie as a group than practically any other food. But can they help to fight Alzheimer’s?
Many people in home care in Australia have this neurodegenerative disease, and they need strategies to fight it. Leafy greens may offer a solution. Green vegetables, like kale, rocket, and beet greens are high in a compound called nitrate. Nitrates are beneficial because when we chew on them, they react with the bacteria in our mouths and turn into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator. People using home care services can, therefore, use leafy greens to help their arteries open up and become more elastic.
As we discussed earlier, this could help the brain. The more that arteries can open up and stretch out, the better will be the blood supply to the brain, and the healthier people in elderly home care will be. When blood vessels function as they should, there will be no opportunity for damaging plaques to build up and lead to the onset of disease.
Why might whole grains be so beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s in Australian home care? The main reason has to do with the beneficial effect that whole grains have on the microbiome.
When you eat whole grains, especially “intact” whole grains – like a whole grain of brown rice or a whole wheat berry – then you provide raw materials that your gut bacteria can use to grow. When nutrition scientists investigate the poop of people who eat a lot of intact grains, they find that the bacteria use the grains as a habitat, filling their interior with colonies.
What does this have to do with people in home care in Sydney with Alzheimer’s? Well, it turns out that when gut bacteria feed on whole grains, they start churning out beneficial compounds, like butyrate, that are then absorbed into the body. Butyrate then travels up to the brain and has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the chances of the body creating dangerous plaques in the first place.
There are other mechanisms through which whole grains may have a beneficial impact on Alzheimer’s. In fact, many country-level studies show that when populations increase their intake of whole grains, rates of Alzheimer’s fall.
Should people using in-home care in Sydney eat beans to combat Alzheimer’s? The answer is a firm “yes.”
Legumes, which includes beans, chickpeas, and lentils, are perhaps the most underrated food on the planet. Nutrition scientists know that legumes offer powerful health-promoting effects to people receiving in-home care support in Sydney, but these benefits are not widely known.
One of the main benefits of legumes appears to be their remarkable ability to control blood sugar. High levels of sugar in the blood can damage neurons and lead to degenerative brain conditions, like Alzheimer’s, but beans are superfoods when it comes to reducing the blood sugar spike that comes after a meal.
Scientists think the reason for this is that beans contain a large amount of fiber and resistant starch. Resistant starch is a kind of carbohydrate that the body struggles to digest. Most resistant starch makes it down to the colon where it’s gobbled up by specialist gut bacteria (who then churn out beneficial compounds). When eaten with other foods, beans have a remarkable ability to lower the overall blood sugar impact of the meal, which is why people should try to eat them as often as possible.
People using home care in Sydney who eat beans can benefit further from something called the “second meal effect.” The second meal effect is the observation that if you eat legumes for lunch, they carry on protecting your body at dinner time. Beans are so remarkable at lowering blood sugar that scientists have observed that if a person eats them for lunch and then has a bean-free meal for dinner, their blood sugar spike after their dinner will be lower than it would have been had they not eaten any legumes for lunch.
Berries are widely regarded by nutrition scientists to be the healthiest fruits you can eat, thanks to the fact that they are packed with beneficial phytonutrients.
People with Alzheimer’s using Australian home care services could potentially slow the progression of the disease by eating more berries, especially blueberries.
Berries are high in a beneficial phytonutrient called anthocyanidins. These anthocyanidins are the pigments that give berries their distinctive colors. In general, the darker the berry, the more of these compounds are present. Berries use anthocyanidins to protect themselves from the sun’s rays, helping to keep the sugars inside intact. But humans can appropriate this plant defense mechanism for their own ends.
When people eat berries, their brains benefit. Phytonutrients in the berries, like anthocyanidins, cross the blood-brain barrier and help to exert an anti-inflammatory effect on the surrounding brain tissue. When scientists tested people who ate berries daily, they found that their brains aged more slowly and that they looked like those of much younger people. People in Australia home care, therefore, could benefit dramatically from consuming these small fruits.
Nuts And Seeds
Should those using a home care agency eat nuts and seeds to fight Alzheimer’s? What about the fat content?
Nuts and seeds may be high in fat, but the evidence suggests that, unlike animal products, they are beneficial to health and could help to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Nuts are different from fatty cuts of meat because the fat they contain is of a different sort and comes packaged up with a bunch of beneficial phytonutrients which appear to offset the effect. Almonds, for instance, seem to improve the health of the endothelium – the lining of the artery walls.
Nuts and seeds, therefore, could be great food for helping people in-home care to boost their brain power and keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Some nuts and seeds, like flax and walnuts, are high in omega-3, an anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid that the brain uses to form new cells. Eating more of these anti-inflammatory foods could improve overall brain health and reduce instances of neurodegenerative disease in the elderly.
Broccoli And Kale
Broccoli and kale are superstars of the nutrition world. They’re both members of the brassica family of vegetables, sometimes referred to as cruciferous vegetables. Brassicas, like kale, collards, chard, beet greens, rocket, watercress, and cauliflower contain a unique combination of nutrients which sets them apart from other green veggies, like spinach.
Perhaps the most crucial effect that they have on the body is their ability to upregulate detoxifying enzymes in the liver. When you chew on raw broccoli or kale, you release something called sulforaphane. Our livers use this chemical to detox the body of all sorts of things, including heavy metals. As you are probably already aware, heavy metals in things like fish and industrially-reared meats, can accumulate in the brain and cause issues, including Alzheimer’s. Brassica vegetables may, therefore, reduce the incidence of these diseases by helping the liver clear toxins from the bloodstream.
Overall Diet And Alzheimer’s
Even though specific foods can have a beneficial effect on people in home care with Alzheimer’s, the most critical factor is the overall quality of the diet. It isn’t so much about specific foods that prevent or treat the disease, but what people eat on a day-to-day basis.
For instance, you could eat all of the foods in this list, but if a person only does so in small amounts, or the rest of their diet is made up of processed sausages and ice cream, then you’re unlikely to see any beneficial effects.
The reason the incidence of Alzheimer’s was so much lower in the past in certain countries was that they didn’t have access to many of the harmful foods now associated with the disease. They were only able to eat the food that the land provided, and usually, that was whole plant staples with meat on special occasions. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, for instance, 80 percent of calories came from sweet potatoes, with the rest made up of beans, greens, and some fruit.
Reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s involves committing to dietary change. But the transition doesn’t have to be painful. Once you know what you’re doing, it’s rather easy. Take breakfast, for instance. Instead of sugary cereal, choose whole grain muesli or oat porridge. For dinner, instead of shepherd’s pie with lots of beef mince, swap it out for lentils, and serve it with a side of cruciferous veggies. Lunch is easy too: whole grain pittas and hummus (made with chickpeas), with veggie dippers.
When it comes to fighting Alzheimer’s, small changes can make a big difference. Cutting down on processed foods, animal products, and sugary junk and replacing it with high-nutrient-density alternatives could potentially fight the disease, prevent it from developing, and lead to improvements in the condition of people already suffering. With such a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s, it’s worth making easy dietary changes. Most of the time, you can make one-for-one substitutions and never even notice you’re eating much more healthily.
We’ve focused on the elderly in this article, but you can start fighting Alzheimer’s at any age. It’s never too young to start consuming more protective foods, especially since the onset of degenerative diseases appears to be getting earlier and earlier.