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    Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and the Effects of Nutrition, LTC Brenda D. White, MS, RD, LDN.

    Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

    Photo By Kim Farcot | November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month; a time to take a moment and...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center

    I remember like it was yesterday as a kid going to my grandparent’s home in the country for a visit. My grandmother would always make me these wonderful flaky biscuits, red hot links, and delicious buttery grits on her wood-burning stove. When the meal was ready, she would yell and I paraphrase, “Where you at child? Come on in here and eat Brendly.” My grandmother was the only person who added an “ly” to my name. I didn’t mind in the least because I loved her, and she relished seeing me eat the whole pan of biscuits by myself and I was happy to oblige.

    Those days spent in my grandmother’s company were the best but became fewer as time went on. My grandfather suddenly passed way, and my Aunt Bessie came to live with her. Initially, I thought my aunt was there so my grandmother would not be alone. However, it became clearer as I continued to visit my grandmother why my aunt was there. I remember when my grandmother started forgetting, walking away from the house, fighting anyone who had the misfortune to get in her path, and continually picking at her right cheek. The name she had just for me was quickly forgotten. My mother and aunt called my grandmother’s condition, “Oldtimers’ Disease.”

    November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month; a time to take a moment and reevaluate your daily habits. Do they consist of exercise and a healthy, wholesome intake of nutritious foods? Do your habits matter? – YES, extensive research indicates our daily dietary intake as well as exercise regimen may be key factors to decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease cognitive decline.

    To date, it is still considered a disease of the elderly, as only 5 to 8% of the population is diagnosed as early onset yearly. The medical terminology for this disease is Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a neurological disease characterized by a gradual deterioration in cognitive abilities. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but there are medications which may slow the progression and manage the symptoms depending upon the state/stage of the disease. Of significance, there has been research on the effects of nutrition and various types of diets on the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. The Mediterranean Diet, the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND), and the Western Diet have been extensively evaluated.

    The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, fish, breads, cereals, monounsaturated oils (olive oil/canola oil, etc.), legumes, nuts, beans, seeds with moderate amounts of dairy and poultry, limited or curbed amounts of red and processed meats, etc. These are foods with high amounts of antioxidants and phytochemicals – natural disease fighters. The concept, in the simplest of terms. is that consumption of foods associated with the Mediterranean diet may decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby helping to protect brain cells and cognitive function.

    The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean Diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet. It consists primarily of whole grains, lots of berries and green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, monounsaturated fats (olive oil), moderate poultry intake, and limited or curbed intake of red meats. The concept is the same for the MIND diet in that it may decrease oxidative stress and inflammation thereby helping to protect brain cells and cognitive function.

    Both the Mediterranean and MIND diets have neuroprotective factors. They have a high content of potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, moderate protein, etc., with a reduced amount of sodium, saturated fat, and simple sugars.

    The Western diet consist of those wonderful biscuits, red hot links, and the buttery grits my grandmother made me as a kid. The diet has an excessive amount of saturated fats, simple sugars, cholesterol, sodium, etc., but is woefully lacking in whole-grains, fruits and vegetables, and mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, those wonderful essential fatty acids - 3, 6, and 9. There is also a progressive decrease as the body ages in the gut’s absorption of vitamins and minerals - those natural disease fighters found in the Mediterranean and MIND diets.

    Consider making long-term dietary changes such as the Mediterranean or MIND diet and consider the Western diet dietary foods as occasional treats.

    1. WHO. Global Health Observatory (GHO) data: top 10 causes of death. (2017) [last accessed 3 Nov 2023].
    2. Albrahim, T. (2020). The potential role of nutritional components in improving brain function among patients with Alzheimer’s disease: a meta-analysis of RCT studies. Neurosciences. 25, 4–17.
    3. Solch, RJ, Aigbogun JO, Voyiadjis AG, Talkington GM, Darensbourg RM, Connell, S, Pickett, KM, Perez, SR. (2022). Mediterranean diet adherence, gut microbiota, and Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease risk: A systematic review. Journal of the Neurological Sciences., 1-15.
    4. Marchand NE, Jensen MK. (2018). The role of dietary and lifestyle factors in maintaining cognitive health. Am J Lifestyle Med;12 (4):268–85.
    5. Lou IX, Ali K, Chen Q. (2023). Effect of nutrition in alzheimer’s disease: A systematic review. Front. Neurosci. 17:1147177.
    6. Van den Brink A, Brouwer-Brolsma E, Berendsen A, van de Rest, O. (2019). The Mediterranean, dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH, and Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay (MIND) diets are associated with less cognitive decline and a lower risk of alzheimer’s disease – A Review. ASN. 1-26:1040.



    Date Taken: 11.20.2023
    Date Posted: 11.20.2023 14:37
    Story ID: 458232

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