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Can Food Prevent Dementia?

My aunt who was a wonderful loving, kind woman who had dementia the last seven years of her life. It was sad to see how it affected her life. The first I became aware of it was when a neighbor called me (I lived an hour away) and told me my aunt had answered her front door wearing only her underwear. This was not normal behavior for a 87 year old woman. I immediately took steps for her to have a full time care giver so she could remain in her own home.

Dementia is defined as the loss of intellectual faculties, including memory, which interrupts social and occupational functioning. It may be caused by vascular problems, which curtail blood flow to the brain or it could be caused from brain trauma or injury. The injury could have occurred several years prior to the loss of memory.

According to Optimal Health University which is published by; "Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the best know type of dementia; it involves the disruption of normal brain cell function. Two hallmarks of AD are abnormal amounts of protein plaques and tangles within the brain. These usually affect brain regions responsible for learning and memory first."

"The good news is that a large amount of research shows that certain dietary factors can determine whether the brain stays healthy in old age-or not," according to J Nutri Health Aging 2006;10:386.

The doctor's at Integrated Wellness in Bountiful, Utah teach their patients that the Mediterranean diet is linked with a vast array of health advantages, including warding off dementia. This diet has an optimal ratio of lean protein (particularly from fish), legumes, fruits, vegetables and monounsaturated fat, mostly in the form of olive oil.

Researchers studying this diet found a reduced risk of AD. The diet also slowed the progression of the disease in people who had already been diagnosed with AD.

As people grow older for some their food choices often become limited. This can negatively skew nutritional intake. One study by the Am Diet Association suggests widening the variety of foods available to older adults in order to prevent health complications of all types.

The study also found that eating foods that are easily converted to energy, along with protein, increases the ingestion of vitamins D, B2, B6 and a host of other important B vitamins. B vitamin is associated with cognitive function. Foods rich in the B vitamin are salmon, beef, eggs, peanuts, broccoli, asparagus, red peppers, spinach and romaine lettuce.

Another interesting study done as part of the landmark Physician's Health Study, researchers at Harvard University examined different aspects of health for 4,000 people over a period of about 18 years.

The study showed that people 65 and older who had taken beta-carotene for the entire length of the 18 year study scored significantly higher in tests for general cognition and verbal memory than those who received the placebo.

A new French study looked at more than 8,000 older people and found that those who ate fish weekly reduced their risk of AD by as much as 35 percent. The study also found that the risk of developing dementia is raised by 50 percent if you don't eat fish or take fish oil. 1 gram of a fish oil supplement is associated with a 50 percent reduction in dementia.

Due to water pollution, many fish contain high levels of toxins and heavy metals, such as mercury and PCB's which affect brain health. It is recommended to avoid swordfish, tilefish, shark, snapper and king mackerel as these all are known to have high levels of mercury. Larger, longer-lived species are most susceptible to contamination.

Other studies suggest eating garlic for cognitive health, specifically aged garlic extract as this actually stopped deterioration in the brain's hippocampus, which plays a key role in memory function. Also apples that are rich in antioxidants and can prevent decline in cognitive performance related to aging and dietary deficiencies.

There has been a lot of research done that shows certain dietary factors can determine whether the brain stays healthy in old age or not. I have only touched on some of the studies that have been done relating to what we eat and how this is related to dementia.

Marilyn is a creative organizer who helps women, seniors and their families create space and end clutter in their homes and offices by setting up custom made systems. Marilyn invites you to visit her website where you can find solutions to your organizing needs. She offers free tips in her blogs, articles and videos for your home and office organizing solutions.

Marilyn is a creative organizer who has been organizing for over 20 years. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is working towards becoming a Certified Professional Organizer. Professionally she has been organizing homes and offices for two years. She holds a bachelors degree in Social Work. She has reared five daughters and currently lives in Utah.

Go to her website where you can find free organizing tips and interesting blogs and helpful articles on organizing.

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