On April 24, 2013 I went to John Carrol University in University Heights, Ohio to hear a lecture on the subject of Alzheimers by Dr. Neal Barnard. This was going to be my second time hearing Dr. Barnard in person, and to tell you the truth, I considered blowing it off.
I thought about how busy I was that night, I was leaving on a road trip the next morning and I hadn’t even started packing yet! Plant-based eating–don’t I know this already? Could I really learn anything new? I was pretty skeptical, but since my friend Felice wanted to go, that was reason enough to make the effort.
And boy, was I wrong.
- Watch that saturated fat and also those trans fats. The more you eat of them, the higher your risk of Alzheimer’s. We all know where saturated and trans fats are hiding–animal products and processed foods. Why does bad fat hurt the brain? It increases the deposits of plaque in the brain, just like it does in your arteries causing heart disease. That plaque (beta amyloid plaque) shouldn’t be there–either in the brain or the heart. BTW, don’t think you are doing yourself any favors eating fish. Seventy percent (yes, 70%) of the fat in fish is NOT Omega 3 (the good fat), it’s either the bad fat or it’s totally unnecessary. Just get your Omega 3 from plant based sources like Flaxmeal or Chia seed and you won’t get the really bad fat with the good stuff.
- Watch the iron and the copper, those minerals show up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s. Too much red meat, copper leaching out from copper pipes, or the overuse of cast iron pans. A little iron is good, but too much is just bad.
- Watch the aluminum, it destroys the brain. Where does it come from? Aluminum in drinking water, aluminum pots and pans, Iodized salt, baking powder (not the aluminum free kind) and antiperspirants (not deodorants). I don’t know about you, but I am switching to parchment paper for all of my baking and roasting needs.
Now what about the good news? Can we protect ourselves from developing Alzheimer’s? It turns out our actions and behaviors can go a long way in preventing Alzheimer’s.
- Consume Vitamin E, and lots of it, because it knock out free radicals. Foods like broccoli, spinach, mango, avocado, walnuts and seeds. Eat read food, don’t think that taking a Vitamin E pill has the same benefits. Why? Because there are several biologically active forms of Vitamin E and those forms are present in a variety of real food. Pills provide one form.
- Consume Vitamin b6 in foods like bananas and beans.
- Take a B12 supplement.
- Consume Folate in things like greens and asparagus. Studies show that increased consumption of Vitamin B6, B12 and Folate improve memory and slow down atrophy.
- Eat foods that are deep blue, red and purple. Things like grapes, blueberries and blackberries with help with learning, recall and brain function.
- Consume Lycopene from foods like tomatoes, watermelon, carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Exercise. It reverses brain shrinkage and improves memory. Focus on your pulse, not the distance you go or the time you spend doing it. You just need to get your heart pumping! Just forty minutes three times per week is enough to reverse brain loss.
- Sleep. Sleep deprivation ruins our memory. Make sure you are getting enough.
- Stimulate your brain, particularly the language center of your brain. Check out lumosity.com for adult brain games that prevent memory loss.
- Watch those prescription meds! Lots of medications are known to effect memory, such as anxiety medications, antihistamines, antidepressants, sleep aids, cholesterol lowering drugs and acid blockers. There is some evidence that Nootropics supplements may help prevent the negative effects of these medications on the brain, so could be a good idea to research them if you depend on these prescriptions.
- Move to a plant based diet if you haven’t already. Do a three week test drive. You will be shocked at how much your taste buds change in a short time. If you don’t know where to start, just start by checking out the plant based possibilities. Make a list of foods that you want to try and start eating those foods.
- About slip-ups on the “diet,” he made an important comment, “This is not morality, it’s plain old biology.” I took that to mean forgive yourself your slips and just move on immediately!
- More important than even our own health is the future for our children. This is really about our kids.
Having three young kids of my own, I really own this last idea. It’s up to each and every one of us to fix this for future generations, and it starts with us educating ourselves, making way better choices and turning this ship around.
Is memory loss a concern for you? Do you worry about Alzheimer’s for yourself or any of your loved ones? Did Dr. Barnard’s suggestions make any impact on you? To leave a comment/view the comments, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).