Taking Steps That Prevent Neurodegenerative Disease
By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com
Don’t Wait Until Brain Function Deteriorates Before Taking Action!
One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to adopt a nutritarian diet centered around antioxidant–rich leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Eat A Plant-Based Diet.
Overall consumption of fruits, vegetables, and their juices is associated with decreased risk of Alzheimer’s (AD).59,64 Nuts are associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s (PD).25 Most recently, grape juice, berries (especially blueberries), and walnuts have been singled out for their prevention of cognitive decline, and their improvement of memory in those with mild cognitive impairment. These foods are believed to have beneficial effects on the brain via their antioxidant effects.59Walnuts also provide ALA, which can be elongated to DHA in the body to maintain the DHA content of the brain. Leafy greens provide vitamin K, which acts as a cofactor in energy production in the mitochondria. 26
High calorie intake also is correlated to PD risk,25 so a diet high in nutrients and low in overall calories will have benefits in addition to those of specific foods. Of course, countless beneficial phytochemicals also will be provided by a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Avoid Unhealthful Fats.
Limit your consumption of animal products, saturated fats, and trans fats. Animal, saturated, and trans-fats are associated with increased risk of both PD and AD. In addition to problems associated with the high amounts of iron and copper found in red meat, pesticide accumulation in animal fats also is of concern.
DHA intake is inversely associated with AD risk, and DHA levels in the brains of AD patients are low.18,39 DHA deficiency, as discussed elsewhere in this newsletter, is strongly correlated to PD and AD risk. Maintaining DHA levels in the brain is an important measure for preventing neurodegeneration in later life.
Vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis are prevalent in patients with PD.60 Whether vitamin D deficiency plays a causative role in PD initiation or progression has not yet been studied, but vitamin D has a protective effect on bone health (along with many other benefits).There is preliminary evidence that vitamin D deficiency is associated with risk of dementia, including AD.61
Stay Physically Active.
Exercise has favorable effects on the brain at all stages of life. In children and young adults, exercise improves subsequent learning ability, and in adults over age 60, physical fitness is associated with better memory, cognitive functioning, and reaction time.62 High levels of physical activity are associated with a significant risk reduction for both AD (28 percent) and PD (18 percent).63
Take steps today to ensure that your later years are truly golden!
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