We continually hear plenty of bad news about Alzheimer’s disease. It’s the illness people seem to fear the most as they grow older, presently afflicting at least 5.5 million Americans, almost all age 65 and above. The Alzheimer’s Association warns that, barring some medical breakthrough, the number of adults with Alzheimer’s will likely soar to 16 million by the year 2050. This debilitating killer, which takes the lives of more people every year than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, is placing a terrible strain on families across the nation, not to mention the rising cost of caring for afflicted men and women. Alzheimer’s disease in just about every way represents a serious health care crisis.
So with all that as a gloomy backdrop, it’s great to be able to read and pass along some good news in the form of two very recent articles we discovered, each describing how several recent studies are demonstrating a link between the progression of dementia and the foods that we eat. It seems to be increasingly clear that by eating healthy foods today we can greatly improve the odds of maintaining and even improving our cognitive abilities tomorrow.
The first article is this one that was just published in the British website of the Telegraph. It begins with an encouraging preliminary report about a study in Europe involving a nutritional drink called “Souvenaid” that was developed specifically to help combat cognitive decline. It’s essentially “a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients which have been shown to boost brain function,” writes the Telegraph, and in this clinical trial it appears to do just that, helping manage the illness. (Souvenaid is not presently available in the US but further trials are ongoing, and we expect we’ll be hearing more about this topic in the months to come.) But to us the real news in the Telegraph piece isn’t about any “wonder drink” – it’s about the ordinary dietary choices we can make every day, at just about every meal, choices that can, researchers say, keep our minds healthier as we age. Again, some of these findings are preliminary, but signs are encouraging.
For example, one study from the University of Kansas Medical Center found that simply drinking three glasses of milk each day can help prevent damage to brain cells, potentially reducing the risk of dementia and also of Parkinson’s disease. Clinicians found that higher milk consumption is apparently linked to increased levels of a naturally-occurring antioxidant called glutathione which appears to prevent cell damage in the brain. And while you’re drinking your milk, just like Mom always told you to do, here’s another area where she was right: eat your broccoli. Broccoli is loaded with helpful brain-strengthening nutrients including choline, vitamin K, and folic acid. The Telegraph reports that studies have shown “people who eat large amounts of broccoli perform better on memory tests.” Who knew?
A few more brain-saving dietary tips from the Telegraph: eat more blueberries (and other purple fruits), more fish, and more curry. Purple fruits (and also green tea) protect the body from harmful iron compounds that doctors believe are one of the root causes of damage to the body associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Most seafood has long been known to possess a wide range of health benefits generally linked to omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish including salmon, mackerel, sardines and albacore. And finally, curry dishes that contain turmeric should be part of a mind-health diet, because turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which is believed to control the spread of plaque in the brain associated with dementia. In lab studies, the compounds in turmeric helped prevent brain plaques in younger mice and reduce plaque size in older animals – an encouraging reason to enjoy this tasty spice.
What about the second article we mentioned above? This one comes from the website Newsmax, and it brings a similar message: “Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet Can Cut Your Risk In Half.” “Eating the right foods can slash your risk of developing debilitating Alzheimer’s disease by half,” the article asserts, referring to scientists and researchers “who tout brain-healthy food plans as powerful weapons in your arsenal to battle dementia.” So what are these miracle foods? The great news is, eating for a healthier brain doesn’t have to be complicated, exotic or expensive, and it’s not only good for your mind but for your body as well. For example, nutritionists in Chicago combined two proven heart-healthy diets into one plan called the MIND Diet (we’d tell you what “MIND” stands for but it’s pretty complicated sounding) that was shown in multiple studies to reduce Alzheimer’s effects by more than 50 percent. The MIND Diet combines the basics of Mediterranean eating with a diet designed to help control blood pressure. If you build a diet around green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and an occasional glass of wine, the chances of your becoming an Alzheimer’s sufferer, this research suggests, appear to be significantly reduced.
So knowing how to eat can help you stay mentally and physically healthy for years, even decades longer. In similar way, knowing how to plan for retirement can keep you on a healthy and fruitful track toward a rich and rewarding retirement, so you can protect your assets as you age, avoid becoming a burden to those you love, and escape the sad fate of being institutionalized against your wishes. With the power of an AgingOptions LifePlan, you can age on your own terms, with your finances, legal affairs, housing choices, medical protection and family communication all working together seamlessly. To find out more about this breakthrough in retirement planning, join us soon at a free AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar. Invest just a few hours and you’ll come away with a brand new perspective on your own future!
You can click here for dates, times, locations and online registration – or call our office during the week so we can answer your questions. A healthy and joy-filled retirement is within your grasp, with an AgingOptions LifePlan.
(originally reported at www.telegraph.co.uk and www.newsmax.com)