Can Diet Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?

Experts are studying how diet may affect the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Learn the latest research into this memory-robbing disease.

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Little in life is as scary as the idea of forgetting our loved ones, our histories, and ourselves. Yet that is exactly what is happening to the more than 5 million people in North America suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Mild forgetfulness in the early years of the disease slowly expands to include serious problems with memory, language, and abstract reasoning until eventually this brain disorder robs its victims of the ability to function.

Despite extensive research, both cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease remain elusive. Experts theorize that a complicated combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors result in cognitive decline, though they are still working on exactly how it happens and what can be done to prevent it.

One logical area of exploration is diet. While there have been no definitive breakthroughs yet, there are certain foods that are being carefully studied for their specific relationship to Alzheimer’s.

Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and B Vitamins

“A few studies found a correlation between high dietary fish with omega-3 fatty acid intake and a decrease in developing Alzheimer’s,” says Tara Harwood, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “However, more studies must be conducted before any conclusions can be drawn.”

High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood, have been associated with the risk of dementia. One avenue being examined is whether increasing intake of folate and vitamins B6 and B12, which break down homocysteine, can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. “Neither vitamin B6 or B12 supplementation has been proven effective,” says Harwood, “but data from one study found a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s for individuals with the highest folate intake.”

Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: Antioxidants

Another possible theory in the development of Alzheimer’s disease involves free radicals destroying the integrity of the body’s cells. These unstable molecules have the potential to cause cell aging and damage, which could be one piece of the Alzheimer’s puzzle.

“You can reduce your exposure to free radicals by limiting contact with the sun, environmental pollutants, and cigarette smoke,” says Harwood. “However, free radicals are a byproduct of metabolism, which occurs every minute of the day. Because it’s impossible to completely eliminate free radicals, [eating foods with] antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and flavonoids, can help.”

Foods high in antioxidants include berries, dark green and orange vegetables, nuts, and beans. Specifically, studies have shown rats and mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease had improved mental function after being fed blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries. Green tea is also high in antioxidants, and although it hasn’t been proven specifically to prevent Alzheimer’s, it has been shown that drinking five cups a day can reduce one’s risk of heart disease.

Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Mediterranean Diet

A few recent studies conducted by researchers from the neurology department at Columbia University Medical Center in New York have looked at the possible preventive effects of the typical diet eaten by people in countries around the Mediterranean sea, such as Greece. The “Mediterranean diet” is primarily made up of fruits, vegetables, and beans, fish, olive oil, a moderate amount of wine, some dairy foods, and small amounts of meat and chicken. Though more study is needed, results point to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and lower mortality rate among those who contracted the disease.

Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: Next Steps

While there is no definitive answer to the Alzheimer’s mystery, there are certainly clues to follow. “No changes in diet, dietary supplements, food additives, vitamins, nor alternative herbal medicines have ever been demonstrated to affect the risk for Alzheimer’s disease or the course of the disease in a well-designed clinical trial experiment,” says Randolph Schiffer, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Cleveland. “With that said, most of us in the Alzheimer’s research field believe that people should adopt and continue healthy lifestyles, including diets low in saturated fats and high in antioxidants and B vitamins.”

Until more research is available, it makes sense to combine a good diet with physical and mental activity and social interaction. This approach just might help keep Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other illnesses, at bay.

Fonte: Everyday Health

Benefícios do óleo de coco.

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O óleo de coco é constituído por quase 90% de gorduras saturada, e por isso é um dos melhores, senão o melhor, óleo a ser usado para cozinhar. Sua saturação significa que a estrutura molecular é saturada de hidrogênios, enquanto a das gorduras insaturadas não. E o que significa é que as gorduras saturadas são mais estáveis e difíceis de oxidarem do que as monoinsaturadas e polinsaturadas. A oxidação é um dos processos que gera radicais livres, que se não combatidos por anti-oxidantes geram reações em cadeias que envelhecem e destroem internamente, contribuindo e  inflamações e doenças. É importante saber que todas as gorduras são sensíveis a calor, oxigênio e luz,  e quanto maior a saturação, maior a estabilidade e menor a suscetibilidade a esses fatores oxidativos. E é nesse sentido que o Óleo de Coco se destaca se comparado às gorduras polinsaturadas (óleos de soja, milho e girasol, por exemplo). Por esses fatores, um mito péssimo para a saúde é achar que óleos vegetais são mais saudáveis. Por serem em sua maioria, gorduras polinsaturadas, deviam ficar muito longe do calor, oxigênio e luz. A gordura saturada do Óleo de Coco é constituída de aproximadamente 65% de Ácidos Graxos de  Cadeia Média. Estes são moléculas menores do que as da grande maioria dos óleos vegetais que consumimos, por isso, são facilmente digeridas e absorvidas pelo nosso organismo e fornecem energia rápida e eficiente para nosso corpo sem a necessidade de enzimas pancreáticas. Infelizmente, poucos alimentos possuem essa substância, mas uma forma excelente de obtê-la é através do óleo de coco. Enquanto os ácidos graxos de cadeia longa – grande parte das outras gorduras vegetais – depois de digeridos serão distribuídos pelo corpo e reabastecerão também tecidos de gordura, os do óleo de coco após serem digeridas vão direto para o fígado, para serem transformadas em energia e em condições normais não são estocadas em forma de gordura: viram energia rapidamente. Além disso, o óleo de Coco tem menos calorias do que outras gorduras o que significa que mesmo quando armazenadas, são queimadas mais rapidamente. A mesma quantidade de gordura é por volta de 1\3 menos calórica do que outras gorduras.


Fonte: The Coconut Oil Miracle, de Bruce Fife
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21333271