(NaturalNews) Can dietary practices impact memory and affect Alzheimer's risk? A recent study published in Archives of Neurology found that a healthy diet may lower levels of brain chemicals linked to Alzheimer's disease, while an unhealthy diet may raise them: Mail Online reports. Furthermore, a healthy diet may also reduce the risk of developing memory problems that can lead to this disease.
The unhealthy diet found to be detrimental to brain function consisted of high saturated fat and high glycemic foods. Sources of saturated fat are foods such as red meat, butter and cheese, while high glycemic sources include foods such as biscuits, white bread, cake, white rice, table sugar and soft drinks.
Conversely, the healthy diet found to benefit brain function involved low saturated fat and low glycemic foods. These food sources include fruit, vegetables with the exception of potatoes, and whole grains such as steel cut oats and brown rice.
In the investigation, scientists assigned one of the two diets to 49 adults in their mid 60s, some with healthy brain function and others with mild cognitive impairment. The goal was to assess the effect of diet on biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease in the brain. Biomarkers are chemicals that indicate the presence of this disorder. After four weeks, the level of these tale-tell signs of Alzheimer's was measured.
The biomarkers in the healthy participants were found higher in the high fat, high glycemic group, but lower in the low fat, low glycemic group. This effect was not seen, however, in participants of the study with mild cognitive impairment. Another interesting result was that the low fat, low glycemic group performed better on memory tests than they did at the beginning of the study.
Authors of the study summarized the implications of these findings. They explained that for adults without cognitive impairment, the healthy diet moved Alzheimer's biomarkers in a direction that may be seen in a pre-symptomatic level of this disease. Investigators stated that those with Alzheimer's risk factors, such as obesity, could try to prevent the disease by following a low fat, wholegrain diet. They concluded that the beneficial effects of long-term dietary intervention for Alzheimer's may hold promise.
Another indication of the research is that positive dietary changes may not be as beneficial in later stages of cognitive dysfunction. Since Alzheimer's changes in the brain begin many years prior to the manifestation of the symptoms, now is the time to begin healthy diet practices.
In addition to the general guideline of a low saturated fat, low glycemic diet, there are some more specific recommendations of foods that studies have shown to be valuable for brain function. Polyphenols are compounds scientists believe have brain protective properties through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions: Globe and Mail notes. Some sources include berries, cherries, walnuts and seeds. While vegetables in general are associated with slower cognitive deterioration, leafy green vegetables seem to offer the greatest benefit.
Some research indicates that fish eaters have a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive deterioration. Oily fish varieties, such as salmon, herring and trout are a good source of an omega-3 fatty acid that helps impart flexibility to the lining of the brain cells, enabling memory transmissions to pass more easily. This nutrient is also beneficial for inflammation in the brain.
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