Including Flavonoids In Your Diet Can Help Reduce The Risk Of Alzheimer’s
The effects of diet on health are frequently in the news. Recent research has focused on whether a healthy diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. This article from Pegasus caregivers in Newhall and elsewhere explains how what you eat affects your brain.
Medical science hasn’t yet determined the exact cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. However, researchers have isolated several factors that increase your risk of developing it. Causes that are beyond your control include:
- Abnormalities in the brain – these include protein clumps, tangled vessels, or damaged brain tissue.
- Age – dementia isn’t always part of aging, but growing older increases your risk.
- Gender – women are at higher risk than men of developing Alzheimer’s because of gender. More women than men have dementia also because women outlive men, and age increases their risk.
- Genetics – two specific genes cause Alzheimer’s, particularly in younger individuals.
- Family history – individuals are at higher risk if other family members have Alzheimer’s. The more members with the disease, the higher the risk. Genetics may be a factor, but there may also be other causes.
- Head injuries – repeated injuries, especially with loss of consciousness, increase an individual’s risk.
If you or a loved one experience a decline in cognitive ability or memory, consult with a healthcare provider. Although dementia isn’t curable, early treatment can be beneficial.
Brain-Healthy Lifestyle Choices Reduce Your Risk
There are, fortunately, risk factors that are under your control. These are “brain-healthy” lifestyle choices that include:
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep
- Keeping yourself mentally active
- Managing stress
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Quitting smoking
You are probably familiar with these as recommendations for maintaining overall good mental and physical health.
Health issues in the rest of your body affect your brain. Physical conditions such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, or obesity can lead to deterioration of nerves in the brain. Nerve damage is a dementia risk factor.
Diet Is The Foundation Of Good Health
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food to energy, rebuilds tissues, and eliminates waste. The process can generate harmful products known as free radicals, which your body must eliminate.
When metabolism is slowed or excessive free radicals accumulate, your body undergoes oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can eventually damage your brain cells. Foods that lead to oxidative stress include:
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
- Refined carbohydrates (pasta, pastry, cereals)
- Soft drinks
Minimizing your consumption of these and similar foods reduces oxidative stress. Avoiding them also reduces your risk of the diseases noted earlier that impair your brain function.
Research has shown the benefits of several diet plans. The Mediterranean diet focuses on beans, fruits, olive oil, nuts, seafood, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. If red meat is consumed, it should be lean, and dairy products are limited.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet encompasses many of the same recommendations as the Mediterranean diet. However, the emphasis in DASH is on reducing sodium. It’s less restrictive concerning red meat, poultry, and low-fat dairy products.
Researchers have combined the Mediterranean and DASH diets into the MIND, or Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, diet. They picked the foods from each diet that were most effective in preventing dementia. Preliminary studies indicate that the MIND diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 53 percent.
The MIND diet emphasizes vegetables, especially the leafy green ones. It excludes fruit except for berries. It limits red meat, saturated fat, dairy products, fried foods, and sweets. MIND does allow a daily glass of wine.
Flavonoids Are Beneficial Nutrients
Flavonoids are nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. They are also a part of chocolate, tea, and coffee, all of which are made from plants. Recent studies have shown that diets high in flavonoids reduce the risk of dementia.
One study indicated that flavonoids also slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. It’s been known for some time that flavonoid-rich diets are beneficial for heart health. Improved heart health also reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Foods that are particularly rich in one or more types of flavonoids include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits
- Herbs and spices, such as parsley, oregano, rosemary, ginger, and pepper
- Onions and garlic
Experts recommend consuming flavonoids in their natural form. They report that taking them as supplements can have side effects such as nausea.
Your ability to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables may be hampered at certain times. The current COVID-19 pandemic is an example. With proper storage, some of the more hardy products, such as apples, retain most of their nutrition.
You can opt for frozen or low-sodium canned products as well as unsweetened juices. Even though processing destroys some of the nutrition, these are better than skipping fruits or vegetables. Add herbs and spices for an extra boost.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Newhall and our other locations include dietitians who can assist with choosing a brain-healthy diet. We are dedicated to the well-being of you and your loved ones in the safety of your home.