How nutrition can help prevent and treat dementia

Dementia, as with numerous other diseases, can be linked to inflammation and increased oxidative damage. There can be many associated causes of neurodegeneration and dementia, a few of which include cardiovascular disease, chronic drug/alcohol/nutritional abuse, drug side-effects, as well as environmental toxins. Diet can play an extremely important part in reducing inflammation and thus reducing risk for disease. In order to make wise decisions at your local grocery store here are some helpful hints.

General Nutrition

  • Reduce Sugar – by reducing the intake of refined sugars, and reducing the blood sugar-load, oxidative stress will be decreased. In effect, this will reduce overall inflammation and disease, and increase health. Reducing sugar intake is not just for lessening the likelihood of diabetes and obesity, but also many other major illnesses including heart disease, and nervous system damage. The intake of refined sugars can be reduced dramatically by reducing the intake of pre-packaged, processed foods.
  • Eat Organic – by eating organic foods the toxic load in the body will be reduced. This is an especially useful tip when visiting your local produce stand. Furthermore, eating “clean” sources of protein through eating organic meats and eggs; those produced and grown without growth hormones, pesticides or other artificial products, will reduce the amount of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and unhealthy hormones in the body. This alone will help to provide a basis for better health.
  • Drink enough water! – clean water is the purest form of detoxification available. Enjoy and appreciate the clean water that is available to us.
  • Choose “Good” Fats – choosing good sources of fat, such as avocados, fish oils, olive oil, or walnut oil, rather than trans-fatty foods that are found in many fast foods and “junk” foods, will help your brain!

Curcumin

Cooking with turmeric spice is a fantastic way to get curcumin into your diet. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Curcumin has very potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. By including curcumin in your diet the following harmful effects can be reduced: inflammation, oxidative damage, cognitive deficits and amyloid accumulation. Amyloid accumulation is particularly noted in Alzheimer’s Disease where the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain impair brain function. Curcumin is a helpful agent in preventing and treating both Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

Resveratrol

Including resveratrol in your diet is a great idea for those at risk for dementia, as well as raising general health and well-being. Resveratrol can be found in delicious foods that can easily be incorporated into daily diet such as, grapes, blueberries, and pomegranates. Like curcumin, resveratrol reduces inflammatory pathways, oxidative stress, and elevates liver detoxification enzymes.

CoQ10

CoQ10 is a wonderfully-useful supplement in reducing the progression of neurological diseases. It is a necessity for energy-production in the cell via the mitochondria (the cellular “energy factories”). Studies have shown that supplementing with CoQ10 slowed the decline of brain and nerve function significantly, especially in cases where mitochondrial function is impaired and oxidative stress and damage are present.

Written by: Dr. Matthew Greenwood, ND

References:

Dr. Karina Wickland (2009). Nutrition III, Brain Nutrition Notes. BINM.
Marz, Russell B. (1998). Medical Nutrition from Marz. Quiet Lion Press.

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