The Brain and Nutrition – preventing Alzheimer’s Diease

brianMany of us know already about Alzheimer’s Disease and its effects on the brain.  While we may think of it abstractly as a part of growing older, when it begins to threaten our own cognitive functions it becomes much more serious.

According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation Alzheimer’s is a “progressive, neurodegenerative disease” and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. For those 65 and older that rank bumps up to fifth. When this disease progresses it is impossible for those suffering to remain independent and the burden of care typically will fall on family and friends.

For the majority of adults, myself included, even the thought of losing independence and becoming a burden to those that you care for is unimaginable. If you haven’t gotten to the point that Alzheimer’s or other dementia are becoming a direct threat on your lifestyle, you’re probably saying “Nope. That won’t happen to me or my loved ones. We have superior brains that won’t succumb to cognitive decline.” Okay, well maybe you’re not saying that but your probably not considering the consequences of put off easy lifestyle changes to prevent cognitive decline.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

Facing Reality of the Brain’s timeline

1 out of 9 Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer’s. At 85 this increasing to about 1 out of 3. I know we all want to believe we are going to live forever and die young but reality is we will in fact continue to age barring something tragic. Consequently, the older we get the more likely it is that we will have to deal with this disease.

If those statistics aren’t enough to get you thinking about prevention tactics, how about this – Alzheimer’s in not an entirely hereditary disease. Meaning that while your family might not have a history of the disease, you can still be at risk. The majority of cases of this disease are Sporadic. This means they don’t know the direct cause and there is no obvious sign of inheritance. Now as research of this disease continues we may be able to isolate the cause but as of now, we don’t know.

What do we know about this disease? We know that many of the risk factors that lead to cognitive decline can be effectively managed. The top three lifestyle changes to focus on according the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation are as flows:

  1. Decreasing stress levels
  2. Improve nutritional status and avoid diabetes
  3. Optimize cardiovascular function.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

Lets start by focusing on just one area – Nutrition

Nutrition is something that always seems out of reach to me in our modern processed society. In fact, many are growing up never even learning how to cook a meal other than box mac and cheese. Now, its all well and good for us to say things like “Improve your nutrition!” and “Get healthy!” but when it comes down to it, we need more than that. So, below I have four recipes from the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. They are all nutritious and are a start to help protect your brain and life.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

I challenge you to pick at least one and incorporate it in your diet. Is it a little extra work to make one of these recipes as opposed to take out? Yes. Are some of you going to have to teach yourself a new skill? Maybe. But can you do it? Absolutely, even if you need a little help from friends. In the end, you’ll be able to create a positive change that could last the rest of your life.

Recipes for your Brain

Spring Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 med. heads yellow endive
  • 1 med. apple, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup watercress leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp. walnut oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Carefully remove all the leaves of the endive without breaking them. Wash and dry endive, apple, and watercress. Arrange endive leaves at bottom of each individual plate in a circle, apple slices in the middle, and watercress over the endive. Sprinkle walnuts and blue cheese on top. Place dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree. Pour over salad and serve.

Servings: Makes 2 servings

Health Benefits:

Green leafy vegetables provide antioxidants and vitamins, and the oil provides healthy fats.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

Energizing Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice (canned is okay)
  • 1 scoop of non-GMO soy or whey protein powder

Directions:

Wash and dry blueberries. Place them in the blender together with the other ingredients Liquefy and drink as your first meal of the day. This smoothie gives you powerful nutrition and only contains 300 calories.

Servings: Makes 1 serving

Health Benefits:

Protein Powder will give you stamina to face the day; the pineapple juice is excellent as a digestion aid, diuretic and fat burner; and the blueberries are a specific brain tonic.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

Baked Lime Chicken with Peach Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • Grill Seasoning
  • Lime Juice
  • Red Onion
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

Directions:

Bake Chicken with grill seasonings and a splash of lime juice. Mix chopped peaches , tomatoes, cilantro, avocado and red onion with lime juice and pour on top of chicken.

Servings: Makes 4 servings

Health Benefits:

Chicken, avocado, and peaches are anti-inflammatory foods.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

Sweet Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 2, 1 lb fresh salmon fillets
  • 1/2 gallon pure water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 re pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 onion, sliced as rings
  • 2 med. cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 slices of lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp blank pepper
  • 2 tsp flaxseed oil or extra virgin oil oil

Directions:

Rinse salmon with cold water. In the meantime, bring water to a boil. Layer food in a large strainer. the first layer is made of half the carrots, red pepper, parsley, onion garlic and lemon. The second layer is made of the salmon fillets. The third layer is the remaining half of vegetables. Place strainer above boiling water. Cover and let steam until salmon is cooked, approx. 10 minutes or until salmon is cooked throughout. Arrange top layer of vegetables on one plate,  and place one fillet in the center: prepare the second plate in the same way. Sprinkle flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and serve.

Servings: Makes 2 servings

Health Benefits:

Salmon is an important source of omega 3 fats, healthy nutrients for the body and the brain. It provides optimal energy and nutrients that restore proper chemical balance. The vegetables provide antioxidants and vitamins. In this recipe, there is very little fat, which helps keep optimal health.

(Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, 2017)

All statistics and referenced information on Alzheimer’s disease is base on information found at Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation.

References

Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. (2017, March 23). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://alzheimersprevention.org/

 

One Response to “The Brain and Nutrition – preventing Alzheimer’s Diease”

  1. Mike Good

    Nice article with some good tips and recipe suggestions. I would like to add that, in my opinion, since we know so little about the disease, we should also try to avoid toxins/pesticides when purchasing our ingredients. Be an informed consumer and buy only products which are safe.

    Reply

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