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Preventing Dementia is Possible by Making Healthy Food Choices

The evening primrose flower (O. biennis) produ...

The evening primrose flower (O. biennis) produces an oil containing a high content of ?-linolenic acid, a type of n?6 fatty acid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t we all get frustrated when we misplace our keys, walk into a room only to feel uncertain why we went there, or meet someone in the store and can’t recall their name even though we have known them for years.  We worry that we are succumbing to the brain fog and memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and then find ourselves uncertain what to do to prevent any acceleration of such symptoms.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have in common a progressive deterioration of mental processes, memory loss – especially short term memory, and the eventual loss of self care abilities. Sophisticated brain scan equipment such as MRI, CT scan, and PET scans have been able to show several areas in the brain where plaque deposits have settled around neurons causing the release of toxic substances that eventually kill the neuronal cells.  These substances create what is termed double helical fibrils that create a mass of tangles and distort or destroy the synaptic junctions necessary for nerve transmission outward to the body from the brain.

Often there is a genetic component.  Research has discovered a specific gene marker (ApoE4) potentiating the later onset of dementia disorders.  However, research has also determined that such a genetic code not always activates.  Dietary and environmental factors may be the cause for activation of these gene markers and the good news is that a person has much control over their diet, environment, and lifestyle choices.  One can turn on or turn off such genes by the choices they make.

In the brain two types of amino acids activate or excite the brain into action, glutamate and aspartate.  This is a normal reaction to move nerve impulses along.  However, too much of these acids can lead nerve impulses and signals to become overly excited to the point of exhausting the cells and causing cell death.  Mostly this happens through continual ingestion of ingredients in food that provides an overabundance of these two acids, namely MSG (monosodium glutamate) and aspartame (aspartate).  These two ingredients are flavor enhancers and exist in many food products, especially in Nutrasweet artificial sweetener and in the form of hydrolyzed vegetable protein.  Reading labels will uncover these toxic ingredients than create serious harm in brain health.

Dietary choices need to include ingesting good fats – saturated fats from coconut or palm oils (essential for strength in brain and all cell structures), Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils such as flaxseed oil, hemp oil, and extra virgin olive oils and found in deep cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel (important for providing flexibility in cell membranes), avoidance of trans fats from highly processed foods, food products, and hydrogenated oils and fats, increasing whole foods in the forms of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of dark leafy greens, seeds, and nuts.  These provide vital nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory raw materials supporting cell activities and especially brain health.

While the argument about aluminum is still under scientific scrutiny, aluminum levels are high in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  It may be prudent to avoid using aluminum containing antacids, deodorants, pots and pans, wrapping foods or cooking foods in aluminum foil, and any foods including aluminum on their labels.

Krystle Shapiro is owner of Touchstone Massage Therapies, has completed her studies in holistic nutrition, and is the founding member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council.  Please visit sandpointwellnesscouncil.com for articles by all council members.  She can be reached at 208/290-6760.

 

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