Keeping It Simple: An Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet

If ever there was a good excuse to eat unhealthy food, the Super Bowl would be it.  There were chicken wings, chili, cornbread muffins, and chips at my house.  Then my little Super Bowl party of two, (my husband and I), treated ourselves to a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra around half-time.  Note: eating ice cream while watching Beyonce shake her post-baby, fit body takes some pleasure out of the ice cream eating.

Our game fare could have been better, but I’m not beating myself up too badly because healthy and whole food is the normal diet around my house these days, and we’re eating more fruits and veggies than ever in the form of a drink, thanks to our new Vitamix.

There’s being a lot written about nutrition for brain health lately, and I’ll admit it can be a tad complicated and overwhelming.  That’s why I like this recent blog post on Maria Shriver’s website who is an Alzheimer’s champion by the way.  The post is written by neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, one of the authors of “The Alzheimer’s Diet,” and what I like about it is he keeps it simple.  I like simple.  I’m guessing you do too, so I wanted to share.

Here’s what the good doctor says are three general recommendations for a healthy brain diet:

Maximize:

  • High-quality lean protein. The importance of protein for brain function cannot be overemphasized. Examples of recommended protein sources include fish high in DHA (e.g., wild salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, and albacore tuna); poultry (skinless white-meat chicken and turkey); lean meats (beef) that are hormone free; egg whites; and low- or no-fat dairy products.
  • Vegetables (especially dark-green leafy vegetables) and berries (especially strawberries and blueberries). Note that these healthy choices do contain low-glycemic (good) carbohydrates that should be tracked, as limiting one’s overall glycemic load has been found to be essential for long-term brain health. A good website for checking the glycemic load of specific foods is at http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm. The relationship between glycemic load and reduced memory function is complex and beyond the scope of this article.

Moderate:

  • Monounsaturated fats (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil, peanuts, avocadoes) and polyunsaturated fats (e.g., nuts and seeds).
  • Complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains, quinoa).

Minimize:

  • Simple (high-glycemic) carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup in general).
  • Saturated fats (eliminate all trans fats).
  • Fried foods and dried foods (potato chips, corn chips, crackers, and dried fruits with sugar).
  • Cakes and muffins.
  • Bacon and hot dogs.

Dr. Isaacson goes on to say, “other great brain foods include seeds and nuts (flaxseeds, walnuts, and pecans), legumes (small red beans, pinto beans, and black beans), unsweetened red or purple grape juice, curry and turmeric root, black or green tea, unsweetened dark cocoa powder, and dark-skinned fruits.”

As I mentioned in “Read Ingredients. Avoid Crap.”, ignore the food pyramid and try to keep it healthy, wholesome, and pure.  An easy way to do this is by eating foods with ONE ingredient like fish, chicken, spinach, kale, strawberries, almonds, etc.  And of course purchasing your food in the most organic and chemical free form possible.

It’s okay to eat unhealthy on occasion, we’re all human.  The important thing is to forgive yourself, and get right back on the health wagon.  Now what do I do with those Super Bowl leftovers?

Share

Share to Google Buzz
Share to Google Plus
Share to LiveJournal

Comments

  1. sandy farrell says:

    My Mom was diagnosed with alzheimers 10 yrs ago. We took care of her at home for as long as we could. When she fell a fwe times at home we realized it was too dangerous to keep her at home any longer. The nursing home we found has been a benifit to her. The diet she is on is whole grains ,fruits and veggies. No because of your artical I realize how true it is. Mom is going to be 85 in March. Doing as well as can be expected. My own diet has changed dramaticaly. I go to the gym three days a week, eat right and get pleanty of rest. I wish my Mom knew these things earlier in lift. Thank You

    • Joanne Leonardis says:

      Hi Sandy, I’m so glad you took the time to write. It sounds like you found a healthy place for your mom. You know that is so not the norm — most institutional places serve unhealthy food because that’s just what’s easiest and cheapest to make. My mom is in a house and they serve the Standard American Diet or SAD like many normal families eat. I grew up on that and then raised my kids on that — hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes — before I woke up and completely changed my diet a few years ago. So not ideal for mom, but there is an effort to be healthy and serve salads, fruits, and veggies. I too started going to the gym recently. I don’t think I have a choice — but guess what? I’m really beginning to enjoy it! Stay well and healthy Sandy. Thanks for sharing. : ) Joanne

      • Karen says:

        I am a vegetarian and worry about my diet as related to Alzheimers disease. Have any good literature to read on that? My mom has dementia and unfortuanltely where she is the food isn’t so great. We bring her things but it’s hard when she doens’t want to eat right 🙁 because she is use to the bad food she grew up with.

        • Joanne Leonardis says:

          Hi Karen, There’s a lot of information available about an “Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet,” and it usually includes lean proteins like chicken and fish. Generally speaking, you want your diet breakdown to look something like this: 20% quality fats like coconut oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, avocado, nuts&seeds. About 40% lean proteins that normally come from meat, but vegetarians can get from soy products, some grains, beans, and dairy. Do you eat dairy? Then the rest of your diet should be from complex carbs like leafy greens, vegetables, and fruit. (Minimal fruit though because it’s high in sugar.) The most important thing is to stay away from processed foods and hidden sugars to avoid inflammation. It simple whole foods and keep eat clean!

          That “minimize” list up there? Yeah, you want to eat that stuff about once a month — if at all.

          I’m sorry about your mom. Yeah, the food in those places is generally not too good. Do you know who serves some of the unhealthiest food around? Hospitals!

Talk To Me