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Prevent or Delay Alzheimer's Disease

 


Argh! Where are my glasses? I put them down . . . to do what?
And when?

As the daughter of an Alzheimer's patient, this inability to
keep up with everyday items, like my glasses and car keys,
drives me absolutely nuts! Absent-mindedness has always plagued
me. Now, it keeps me anxious and guessing. Is this an early sign
of Alzheimer's disease? Could I end up like my father, crippled
with this disease? I decided to stop worrying about it and act!

I searched the latest literature to see what techniques (no
prescriptions, thank you!) could prevent or delay the onset of
Alzheimer's disease. Here are some of the things I found.

Diet Counts!

Vitamin E

Diets rich in vitamin E and essential oils may help prevent
Alzheimer's disease. A study recently reported in the Archives
of Neurology (2002) found that participants, aged 65-102, who
ate fish at least once each week showed 36% less decline in
cognitive functioning over the study's three+ years. Similar
results have been found in the Rotterdam Study, a study tracking
over 9000 participants. Those researchers found that
participants who ate fish most often were only one-third as
likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease as those who ate fish
least often. These studies provide compelling reasons to add at
least one meal of fish to your diet every week.

What other foods should you include? Olive oil is an especially
valuable source of vitamin E and other anti-oxidants. I prefer
the extra virgin variety of olive oil for its milder taste. With
a squeeze of fresh lime juice, olive oil makes a very pleasant
salad dressing. And I've discovered that the more I use it, the
more I like it.

B Vitamins

B vitamins, particularly folic acid and vitamin B-12, help
prevent Alzheimer's as well as a host of other diseases such as
heart disease and stroke. A study from the National Institute on
Aging found that mice fed a diet rich in folic acid were able to
repair damage to the DNA of nerve cells in the hippocampus (an
area needed for memory and learning). Foods rich in B vitamins
whole grains, yeast, meat, low-fat dairy products, lentils and
leafy greens.

Can't I just take a pill?

B vitamins may not be readily absorbable from pills. Certainly,
the supplement pills are better than nothing, but for good
absorption by the body, vitamin B shots may be preferable.
Vitamin E and fish oil capsules are readily absorbed, so they
should help. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist for
correct dosages.

Substituting Soy for Dairy products

Soy may have protective properties and is a good source of B
vitamins. I've known for years that ice cream gives me a
stomach-ache. The problem is that I'm an ice cream junkie, a
dairy products junkie, for that matter. I never met an aged
cheddar cheese I didn't like. So I was very surprised to find
that I actually prefer soy-based milk and ice creams to their
dairy counterparts. I haven't tried soy-based cheeses yet. If
you have, or if you've tried other soy substitutes, let me know
what you think.

A caution: genetically-altered soy beans are often used in
soy-based products. Without labeling, such as that Western
European countries require on all genetically-altered foods, it
is difficult to be certain that genetically-altered beans have
been excluded from the products you're eating. I get mine at the
health-food store for a little added protection. Although I
cannot tell if the product contains some genetically-altered
soy, the fact that it is organically grown assures me it is free
of pesticide residues.

What about NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)?

One of the prevailing theories is that inflammation causes or
encourages Alzheimer's disease. This theory led to the
suggestion that a daily regimen of NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and similar
products) might prevent the disease. However, researchers at
Georgetown University Medical Center (8th International
Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders, July
25, 2002) found no significant benefits from NSAIDS compared to
a placebo.

What to Avoid

Smoking

A brand-new study, also reported in Stockholm (July 23, 2002)
during the 8th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease
and Related Disorders, found that, among people who do not have
the gene that predisposes people to Alzheimer's disease, smoking
is significantly related to the occurrence of Alzheimer's
disease. Yet another reason to stop smoking now!

Mercury

Even small amounts of mercury may create the neurofibrillar
tangles (abnormal TAU proteins) that occur in Alzheimer's and
related diseases according to research conducted at the
University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. So I'll avoid
silver/mercury tooth fillings. My mercury-filled thermometer now
resides in the garbage can. The newer digital thermometers are
easier, quicker, and safer to use.

Other Benefits of a Nutritious Diet

A nutritious diet, combined with a healthy lifestyle may prevent
or ameliorate many diseases related to aging. With a US growing
population now over 65+ (17 million+ according to the latest US
census), seniors with serious medical problems may soon require
more care than we can as a nation provide. We must do all we can
to eliminate the problems associated with aging. Then the golden
years may be truly golden.

 

 

 

About the author:
Phyllis Staff, Ph.D. - Phyllis Staff is an experimental
psychologist and the CEO of The Best Is Yet.Net, an internet
company that helps seniors and caregivers find trustworthy
residential care. She is the author of How to Find Great Senior
Housing: A Roadmap for Elders and Those Who Love Them. She is
also the daughter of a victim of Alzheimer's disease. A reader
calls it "Awesome -- a real find!"


 

 

 

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