Dementia is set to affect 152 million people by 2050, says the World Alzheimer’s Report. Don’t be part of that statistic. Try to reduce your risk of dementia by following 10 recommendations from Nutritional Therapist Natalie Lamb.
Inside the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers state approximately 20 percent of people without dementia show significant signs of beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain.
It is the build-up of these proteins – beta-amyloid – in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease (a form of dementia).
Beta-amyloids clump together in the brain to form plaques that block chemical messages, slowing down levels of cognition.
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Nutritional Therapist Natalie Lamb recommends her top 10 lifestyle tweaks to reduce your risk of dementia.
Low sugar intake
“High levels of blood sugar have been reported to enhance the production of beta-amyloid in the brain,” says Natalie.
She continues: “As blood sugar levels increase, so too do insulin levels necessary to help our cells utilise the glucose for energy.
“Interestingly, an enzyme in the brain called insulin-degrading enzyme, breaks down both insulin and beta-amyloid in the brain.”
Bearing this in mind, Natalie describes how increased levels of insulin, the “insulin-degrading enzyme” prioritises clearing away insulin instead of beta-amyloid.
She suggests to eat protein with each meal to help satisfy hunger and to curb any cravings for sweets.
Additionally, Natalie encourages people to swap foods high in sugar or refined white carbohydrates (such as bread) for wholegrains.
During fasting, Natalie says that “insulin-degrading enzymes will be able to focus on breaking down amyloid proteins”.
She adds: “Additional potential benefits of intermittent fasting – being suggested in early research – include enhancing brain function, improving insulin sensitivity, and reducing oxidative stress and damage.
“It’s also suggested that intermittent fasting reduces apoptosis (cell death) and increasing neurogenesis (newly generated brain cells), therefore increasing the brain’s capacity for self-repair and optimal function.”
Natalie recommends trying the 5:2 diet. This is where two days of fasting are followed by five days if eating normally.
Describing “the brains uptake of ketones, the brain’s main physiological alternative fuel to glucose”, Natalie suggests “published clinical trials have demonstrated that increasing ketone availability to the brain via moderate nutritional ketosis had a modest beneficial effect on mild cognitive decline”.
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This can be achieved by indulging in a “high-fat ketogenic diet or consuming supplements of medium-chain triglycerides”.
A polyphenol-rich diet
Polyphenols are plant-based nutrients. Natalie says they “are well known for exhibiting strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties”.
The brain is especially vulnerable to oxidative stress, with dementia linked to high levels of oxidative stress and, so, antioxidants help protect brain cells from oxidative stress.
To enjoy a polyphenol-rich diet, consume nuts, citrus, berries, leafy vegetables, cereals and olive oil.
Natalie also recommended following a Mediterranean diet – this will be full of fruits, vegetables, oily fish, nuts and legumes.
She also suggested to exercise regularly, get plenty of restful sleep, to keep a healthy weight and limit exposure to aluminium.
On a final note, Natalie promotes a balanced gut bacteria to reduce your risk of dementia.
She says: “I recommend Bio-Kult Mind, which contains live bacteria, bioavailable flavonoids, grape and wild blueberry extracts, and zinc.”
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