Nuts Vegetables and Fish Cut Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

While a single study shouldn’t have you making big changes in your life, when the same findings come from multiple studies, it’s probably time to pay attention.

Such is the case with some new research, just presented at the American Neurological Association (ANA) annual meeting, that echoes the news about the benefits of eating healthy and protection against disease, in this case memory robbing early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In this case, eating healthy is defined as a diet full of nuts, vegetables and fish, including cruciferous and leafy green veggies, as well as ample amounts of fish, nuts and tomatoes, with little red meat and high fat dairy. In other words, not anything like our typical Western diet.

For the work, 1,691 subjects over 65 with no signs of dementia at the start of the research filled out detailed questionnaires that asked about the foods they ate over the past year. The team then studied the foods mentioned in the lab to see which were rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, both linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study participants were then broken into three groups based on how well they stuck to this type of diet over the past year. In the four years that followed, 211 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – results showed that those in the top third in terms of compliance to a healthy way of eating were 38% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those in the least compliant group.

The results were adjusted for factors that could explain the link between diet and brain health – age, smoking, body mass index, caloric intake and amount of physical activity (also linked to Alzheimer’s).

Based on the amounts of nutrients in the foods, “we discovered an Alzheimer’s-disease-protective dietary pattern that was characterized by a high consumption of nuts, fish, salad dressing, poultry, tomatoes, cruciferous, dark, and green leafy vegetables and fruits, and low in high-fat dairy, red meat, organ meat, and butter,” explains researcher Nikolaos Scameas, an associate professor of neurology at New York’s Columbia University. Since foods aren’t eaten in isolation, studying a pattern of eating appeared to offer more benefit.

Earlier this year, research appearing in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by the same Columbia University Medical Center team presented results from a study began in 2006 that involved a group of elderly New Yorkers, finding those who ate most like the Mediterranean diet had about a 40% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those who didn’t eat this way.

It’s important to understand that the Mediterranean diet isn’t so much a “diet” as a way of eating that will be a part of your life from this point on. This plan is…

– Very low in red meat and poultry
– Uses olive oil as the main fat source
– Very high in fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables and cereals
– Lots of fish
– Allows low to moderate intake of wine

More and more research is showing that what you put into your body is a key part of staying healthy. Today the best experts can tell you is that eating well and being active on a regular basis, are natural, effective strategies you can use to fight the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.