Nutritional Prevention in Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a very complicated disorder and it is not completely understood yet. There have been very few studies in relation to dietary intake and nutritional prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Some recent researchers have been geared towards finding out what preventions would best combat Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive depression in general.

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Some people recommend a specific diet, while others suggest to raise or lower just a few specific nutrients. There is varying opinions as to what the best method for prevention is, but the general consensus was to eat a healthy diet and stay active throughout the aging process. Some researchers have attempted to get more specific and determine which nutrients are important for Alzheimer’s prevention. There are some different organizations and groups with interest in helping prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. BrightFocus is a foundation that currently funds research for Alzheimer’s prevention.

A long with funding a researcher, Alzheimer’s Prevention: Nutrition & lifestyle (2016) also discusses some strategies that could be taken immediately, and potentially decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The people at BrightFocus say that cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity can all contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s. They believe that someone should maintain active, both mentally and physically, as well as eat an appropriate diet to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The only Dietary advice given is to eat healthy fats like Omega-3’s, and generally have a low-glycemic diet (Alzheimer’s Prevention: Nutrition & lifestyle, 2016). The website does not list any evidence for their claims, but it is presented in a simple manor for the average person to understand. There are other organizations and people who want to spread the information about Alzheimer’s disease and possible prevention strategies. Another website discusses similar ideas for prevention of Alzheimer’s; (About dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, n.d) gets into more detail about the healthful food options and the reasons for making the dietary changes. They suggest a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin E and a few others for the antioxidant behaviors.

The most important dietary influence to Alzheimer’s disease in the harmful protein compound homocysteine (About dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, n.d). They then discuss a couple studies that associate low levels of homocysteine with high levels of the vitamins B12, B6, and folate. Lowering levels of the protein homocysteine can reduce or slow cognitive decline, and can be lowered with B12, B6 and folate supplements (About dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, n.d). Some other people recommend specific diets in order to highlight the good nutrients and limit the harmful ones. Murad from Mayoclinic.org (2018) has a few suggestions for the average person. She recommends a type of Mediterranean diet called the MIND diet; this diet is meant to highlight the beneficial nutrients while limiting the harmful ones. The diet is higher in green veggies, with minimal red meat, and fish frequently as with other healthy fats like oils and nuts. This diet emphasizes on reducing risks for other health problems like cardiovascular disease and hypertension, which can be risks for cognitive decline.

While the diet cannot reverse anything that has already been done, it is seen with reducing the cognitive decline or delaying it (Murad, 2018). On the other hand, the actual researchers suggest that Omega-3 fatty acids, found mostly in fish, is an invaluable source for Alzheimer’s prevention. The intake of Omega-3 fats was inversely associated with the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (Morris, Evans, & Bienias, 2003). Morris et al. (2003) claims that one or more fish meal per week can reduce Alzheimer’s risk by over half. The people who consumed more Omega-3’s a 70% reduction of risks, as compared to the people who hardly consumed the Omega-3’s. In general, Morris et al. (2003) claims that Omega-3’s and fish consumption is associated with lowering the risks of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline. According to this study, DHA was the main Omega-3 having the strongest effects on Alzheimer prevention (Morris et al., 2003). Other researchers have been interested in the association of omega-3 fats, eating fish, and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. Another study by Devore et al (2009) has findings of no benefit in increasing Omega-3 intake or fish consumption. Their study shows that someone still has the same amount of risk for getting Alzheimer’s with high fish consumption or not.

At the same time, other studies have found associations between the fish, omega-3 fats, and Alzheimer’s risk. Fish consumption is associated with less cognitive decline in 5-years (Gelder, Tijhuis, Kalmijn, & Kromhout, 2007). This still coincides with the study from Devore et al (2009), because they found some benefits to fish consumption, but for only about 8 years. Fish consumption is a major source of the fatty acids, and protects in limiting cognitive decline in older men (Gelder et al., 2007). Fish consumption was consistent throughout each of the articles or studies; the only difference is the length of time for the protection against cognitive decline. The MIND diet suggested by Murad (2016) highlights the key nutrients from the other studies performed. This is helpful for the average person, because it gives them ideas of the foods they should eat. In general, the information geared for the consumers was similar to the information found from the studies. Each of the websites recommended consuming fish regularly, while watching other risk factors such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension. In Morris et al., (2003) and Gelder et al., (2007) fish consumption was associated decreased risk for Alzheimer’s; furthermore, Devore et al., (2009) goes the furthest out in timespan for the study.

Devore et al., (2009) found that the benefits only last about 8 years before cognitive abilities are about the same as people who consume less fish. Overall, the studies seem to support the evidence that was presented in the websites. The studies and the website all shared similar information, with the websites being in a much simpler format for the average adult concerned with their cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s prevention still is not completely clear, but researchers are starting to learn more about it in the recent years. Some websites and blogs relay the information, at the same time they try to push their specific products or diets. The websites suggested their solutions as the answer to the question, while the studies still require more data to completely prove the association. There is some evidence for this nutritional prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not as sure as the websites are claiming it to be.

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