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Can Nutrition help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

One of the most widespread neurodegenerative diseases that causes dementia and is a public health concern worldwide is Alzheimer (1). In 2050, it is estimated that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) will affect 106.8 million people around the world which will also cause a significant impact to socioeconomic burden (1). Although large amounts of funding are given to medical researches trying to find the cure to AD, many people wonder if they can help prevent the risk of AD with food and nutrition.

Indeed, nutrition is one of the modifiable risk factors against the risk of AD. Other variables in people’s life also play an important role to AD: education, physical activity, smoking, stress, type 2 diabetes including other lifestyles habits (2). Other non-modifiable risk factors against AD are age, genetics including ethnicity (2,3). Although the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom indicates that women tend to be more affected by AD than men, the cause still remains unclear (3).

Since nutrition has an important influence on the risk of AD, people may wonder if their diet can help prevent this condition. Firstly, antioxidants such as polyphenols present in coffee, tea, dark chocolate, including red wine help prevent against the risk of AD (1). Other antioxidants include vitamin A and beta-carotene, followed by vitamin C combined with vitamin E. Most of these vitamins are found in fruits and vegetables including nuts and seeds. Next, folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B6 and B12 play an important role to help prevent the risk of AD. These vitamins are also found in some fruits and vegetables including soy, lentils, nuts, grain products and meat. However, it is recommended to consume meat and foods low in saturated fat since this is believed to worsen cognitive functions (1). In brief, people living with AD tend to have higher risk of hyperhomocysteinemia which is, indeed, caused by inadequate vitamin B6, B9 and B12 food intake and also associated with cardiovascular diseases (4). Monounsaturated (olive and avocado oil) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (i.e. Omega 3, which are found in nuts and seeds and fatty fishes) also seem to have a positive impact on cognitive function. Finally, women with inadequate vitamin D intake tend to score less in cognitive function tests compared to women with adequate vitamin D intake (1). Dairy products enriched with vitamin D may also help prevent the risk of AD. On the other hand, other nutrients such as iron, copper and carbohydrates should be consumed more carefully to help prevent against the risk of AD.

To conclude, many biological and environmental factors have an important impact on AD. To help reduce the risk of this neurodegenerative disease burden, it is important to acknowledge each one’s lifestyle including eating habits for better quality of life. Let your brain enjoy food in a moderate and balanced way! -SNC-

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705810/ 
  2. http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/Home/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease/Risk-factors
  3. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20010/risk_factors_and_prevention/116/risk_factors_you_can_t_change
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4326479/

 

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Making the holidays more joyful with food

At the end of the year, many people will spend the holidays either with family or friends. Moreover, big families may have a variety of dishes available for everyone. Hence, some will enjoy most of the food offered at the table, whereas others may lose control when it comes to portion control.

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge that you do not necessarily have to be strict when it comes to healthy eating during the holidays. More precisely, most people will gather together to have a great time. As mentioned previously, some people may become even more obsessed with food at this particular time of the year.

Next, the definition of ‘food obsession’ can be very paradoxical. Some may be obsessed over food by counting calories over calories because of the fear of gaining weight. On the other hand, others may lose control by consuming larger food portions which can increase their body weight and their health condition could worsen if they have existing health issues. Food obsession can turn into an eating disorder or disordered eating if the habits continue day after day. This may have a negative impact on your overall health.

In conclusion, you can spend some quality times with family and friends during the holidays by enjoying food joyfully. If you feel that food obsession may take over your quality time at this special time of the year, do not hesitate to contact your SNC dietitian for appropriate coping mechanisms for healthy eating and better lifestyle. Enjoy your food with pleasure!

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