Feed your brain well to combat Alzheimer's disease
Published Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:25AM EST
Diet has long been used in the prevention of high cholesterol, heart disease and other diseases. Now dementia specialist Dr. Marwan Sabbagh is applying that same strategy in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
In the new book, “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook: Recipes to Boost Brain Health,” the geriatric neurologist has created a dietary plan designed to empower readers to think and cook in a way that can reduce Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss.
That plan, from the Director of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute in Arizona, is built around the daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, spices and protein, most notably pomegranates, leafy greens, cinnamon and turmeric, as well as fish and chicken. These picks are featured in more than 100 brain-boosting recipes in the book created with the aid of celebrity chef Beau MacMillan.
“This is a really important topic, especially with all the latest scientific breakthroughs,” Marwan told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.
“What we understand with Alzheimer’s is that by the time you become forgetful, you’ve had changes occurring in your brain for 25 years, before your first day of forgetfulness.” said Marwan.“We’re trying to intervene before that happen.”
Alzheimer’s disease currently affects half a million Canadians, and is considered to be a health crisis of enormous importance for the 21st century.
Though there is no known cure, Marwan hopes that the science behind “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook” can be used with confidence as a frontline tool to combat the disease.
Fuel your brain with fish
Among his recommendations, Sabbagh suggests eating fish three times a week to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 40 to 60 per cent.
Topping that list are fatty fish selections such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and halibut. These picks have a high content of Omega 3 DHA, a fatty acid that has a beneficial effect upon neurons in the brain.
Stock up on veggies and fruits
Vegetables such as kale, spinach, mushrooms, butternut squash and beets, as well as blueberries, plums and other berries also get top marks from Sabbagh for their brain-boosting abilities.
These staples in Sabbagh’s book have been found to have a high ORAC score -- short for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. That score is used by scientists to measure the antioxidant potential in foods.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is always preferable. However, if consumers dig into a bag of kale chips now and then they should not feel guilty according to Sabbagh.
“Eating kale chips is better than eating no kale at all,” said Sabbagh.
Spice it up
Adding just one teaspoon of the cinnamon, turmeric and cloves to the daily Western diet is another way to battle Alzheimer’s, according to Sabbagh.
“These spices have a very high ORAC score,” said Sabbagh.
“Rosemary, thyme and parsley also have really significant antioxidant potential,” he added.
Drink the right juice
Juices derived from pomegranate, acai, blueberries and concord grapes are all high an antioxidants and are included in “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook.” They are high in sugar, so Sabbagh does advise some restraint when using these items. However, alternating between one serving of each juice throughout the week will benefit the brain without the sugar overload.
Drink green tea
Drinking green tea is another important component in "The Alzheimer's Prevention Cookbook."
“Green tea has a chemical in it called ECGC, which is a really potent antioxidant,” said Sabbagh.
According to a new study done by Japanese researchers, drinking two cups of tea per day can help protect the brain from disease.