(NaturalNews) With an aging population and no cure on the horizon for memory and life-robbing Alzheimer's disease (AD), it's hard not to fear this 6th leading cause of death in the US -- especially if you know this nightmarish form of dementia runs in your family and you could be at increased risk for AD. What's more, mention Alzheimer's to mainstream doctors and they are usually quick to point out there's no cure, no prevention, and the only treatments are expensive drugs that work for a while, if at all, to diminish symptoms. Fortunately, that's not the whole truth.
As NaturalNews has reported previously, researchers are uncovering specific natural strategies that appear to prevent and treat the disease Big Pharma has failed so miserably in curing(http://www.naturalnews.com/027954_nutrients_...). Now there's another promising development, a study in elderly people shows specific nutrients may prevent Alzheimer's.
According to new research just published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, those who eat foods rich in several vitamins and in omega 3 fatty acids are far less likely to have the brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer's disease than people whose diets are not high in those nutrients.
What's more, people who eat foods loaded with omega 3 fatty acids (found in cold water fish like salmon and certain plant sources, including walnuts) and in vitamins C, D, E and the vitamin B (from fruits and vegetables) also have sharper cognitive abilities. The bottom line is that seniors who consume plenty of B,C and E vitamins as well as omega 3s score far better on mental thinking tests than people with diets low in those nutrients.
So what happens to people who eat the typical American diet of nutritionally deficit junk and fast foods? They may literally be killing their brains and bringing on Alzheimer's disease. The new study showed that people with diets high in trans fats -- which are found in packaged, fast, fried and frozen food, and margarine spreads -- were more likely to have shrinking brain tissue that's linked to AD. They also scored lower on thinking skills and memory tests than people with diets low in trans fats.
First study to link nutrients in blood to brain shrinkage and dementia
In all, the research involved 104 people with an average age of 87 who had few risk factors for memory and thinking problems. Lab tests were performed to measure levels of various nutrients present in the blood of each research subject. All of the study participants also took cognitive tests to measure their memory and thinking skills and 42 had MRI scans to measure their brain volume. Vitamin B 12 and especially vitamin D were found to be the nutrients most lacking in the research subjects. In fact, a whopping 25 percent of all the research subjects had a deficit in vitamin D.
The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Portland VA Medical Center, was the very first to look for nutrients in the blood to investigate how diet effects memory, thinking skills and brain volume.
Earlier studies have focused on only one or a few nutrients at a time and have used questionnaires to assess people's diets. But questionnaires are known to be somewhat unreliable; they rely on people's memory of what they've eaten and they also don't measure how well nutrients are absorbed by the body, which can be problematic in elders.
In a statement to the media, study author Gene Bowman, ND, MPH, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said that the nutrient biomarkers in the blood accounted for a significant amount of the variation in both brain volume, thinking and memory scores. "These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet," Dr. Bowman stated.
In other hopeful news about Alzheimer's, the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) is currently studying herbal preparations made from the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree. In preliminary reports, IQWiG scientists have found the natural treatments appear to improve symptoms of the disease, including the ability of some AD patients to regain the ability to perform daily tasks.