Only in Italy, the Alzheimer’s disease affects over 1, 2 million people. Data destined to grow due to the increase and aging of the population, so much so that it is estimated that in 2030 they will be 1.6 million.
Loss of memory, difficulty in understanding what you are talking about, difficulty in performing daily tasks, changes of humor are the most common symptoms which, as the disease progresses, can lead to disability and loss of one’s own independence. Although there is currently no cure, a healthy lifestyle which includes a healthy and balanced diet, physical activity, low alcohol and no smoking can have a preventive role. In particular – reads the information brochure Dietary Guidelines for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (Ed. Agire Ora) edited by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine PCRM and translated by Dr. Luciana Baroni, a neurologist and nutritionist – evidence suggests that dietary habits and exercise can reduce risk by about half or more.
What to bring to the table
The experts have drawn up a series of Food Guidelines that should not be missing on the table. Between these:
- Vegetables, legumes of all kinds (beans, peas, lentils), fruit e Whole grains they must represent the basic foods of the diet. Diets that abound in these foods – which contain very little or no amounts of saturated fat and trans fat and are instead rich in vitamins such as folate and vitamin B6 – are associated not only with a reduced risk of developing overweight and type 2 diabetes mellitus, but they also appear to reduce the risk of developing cognitive problems, experts from the Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine say.
- 30 grams per day of dried fruit or oil seeds (a small handful) also provide a healthful source of vitamin E, associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. A small handful of seeds or nuts contains about 5 mg of the substance, which is also found in mango, papaya, avocado, some tomatoes and peppers, spinach, and some brands of fortified breakfast cereals.
- Green light then to vitamin B12 (2.4 mcg per day for adults), contained mainly in foods of animal origin. But whoever follows one plant-based diet he has nothing to fear. “No specific studies have been carried out on the correlation between vegetarian, or in any case plant-based, diet and dementia”, declares the dott.ssa Anna Sarni of the scientific committee of the Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition SSNV. “There is an old study, carried out on Californian Adventists, which shows a double risk of dementia in users of meat. In general, the literature argues for a favorable effect of plant-based diets on cognitive health, therefore also on the prevention of cognitive decline“. However, it is important for vegetarians and vegans to take a vitamin B12 supplement. This vitamin, with the B6 and folic acid, work as a team to reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to impaired cognitive function. Healthy and natural sources of folic acid are represented by green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage and spinach. Other sources include beans, peas, citrus fruits, and melons. Vitamin B6, on the other hand, is found in green vegetables, beans, whole grains, bananas, dried fruit and potatoes sweets.
What to avoid
Conversely, scholars suggest the reduction, in the daily diet, of a series of nutrients.
They first recommend minimizing the intake of saturated and trans fats. I saturated fats they are mainly contained in dairy product, in meats, and in some oils (coconut and palm). THE trans fats they are found in many industrial sweet products and fried foods and are also listed on the nutrition label as “partially hydrogenated fats”. The mechanism by which some fats can act on the brain remains a topic of research, the pamphlet reads. But studies suggest that foods that contain high amounts of fat and / or levels increase cholesterol in the blood caused by these may contribute to the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, a typical finding of Alzheimer’s dementia. These same foods can also increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, risk factors confirmed for Alzheimer’s dementia.
Attention also to hidden metals. Ferro e copper both are necessary for a healthy body, but some studies have linked excessive intakes of these metals with cognitive problems. The Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine then warns from aluminum, although its role in Alzheimer’s dementia remains controversial.
Finally, it is important to practice at least 120 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week. The Association Between Midlife Cardiores- piratory Fitness Levels and Later-Life Dementia: A Cohort Study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that adults who exercise in their 40s have lower chances to become demented after age 65 in comparison to their sedentary peers. Another similar research conducted in New York and published in Jama found that adults who engage in physical activity and follow one sana diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia by up to 60%. One more reason to practice healthy daily physical activity on a regular basis.