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The link between Alzheimer’s and nutrition: knowledge and prevention advice

The link between Alzheimer’s and nutrition: knowledge and prevention advice
Written by aquitodovale

Senile dementia, whose most widespread form is Alzheimer’s, currently affects about 50 million people worldwide, of which 1 million and 250 thousand in Italy. The disease takes its name from Alois Alzheimer, a German neurologist who for the first time in 1907 described its symptoms and neuropathological aspects. Since modern medicine has not yet been able to identify a cure that can block the action of beta-amyloid protein, responsible for the destruction of nerve cells, it seems that the only possible weapon against Alzheimer’s is prevention. As with any other disease that affects body and mind, prevention involves nutrition and lifestyle.

Prevention: good news against Alzheimer’s

Think of a very significant fact that emerges from scientific research: one in 4 cases of Alzheimer’s – or 25% of cases – can be prevented by eating better, moving more, and keeping blood pressure and blood sugar levels under control. These are extraordinary data and knowledge that we don’t think about too often, unfortunately. Even in the early stages of the disease, subjecting patients to more correct lifestyles and making them walk, already contains the memory disorder and slows the progression of the disease.

The good news comes from a study done by researchers from Columbia University, New York, and published on Neurology. The study included 1,219 New Yorkers over the age of 65 with no Alzheimer’s problems, who were followed up for some time with nutrition and medical tests. What was done in this study? A link with the protein was sought circulating beta-amyloid, for ten nutritional components: saturated fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, beta-carotene. After 18 months of monitoring they underwent a blood sample which measured the level of the beta-amyloid protein. Researchers have found that the more an individual consumes foods containing glycos Omega 3the lower the levels of beta-amyloid protein are in the blood.

Useful food for prevention

The best diet for these patients remains the Mediterranean-type diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes and extra virgin olive oil. It is important to allow frequent consumption of foods that contain antioxidants such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, fish, dried fruit, aromatic herbs such as parsley, basil, rosemary, spices. Among the substances that seem to have positive effects we find the C vitaminthe Vitamin E And B12i polyphenols (contained not only in vegetables but also in tea, grapes, chocolate), lo zinc and the selenium.

[Alcuni degli alimenti che aiutano nella prevenzione dell’Alzheimer]

Along with nutrition, this disease can be prevented by maintaining an active lifestyle and regularly playing sports and physical activity, especially if you are doing sedentary work.

From egg yolk an ally against Alzheimer’s

Our grandmothers knew that eggs are a complete food rich in nutrients essential for the growth of young children and the development of the brain, and it was no coincidence that they gave one a day to growing children. In China it was even said that to make intelligent babies, pregnant women had to eat up to 10 eggs a day. Why were eggs once so revered and prized?

Modern science has revealed the reasons, starting from the fact that within this food there is an essential nutrient called choline, which is crucial for the brain. In fact, the more choline we consume, the more memory neurons we form. Choline, in egg yolk, is contained within another absolutely basic substance for brain health, called lecithin. The term “lecithin” (from the Greek λεκιθος, lekithos) means “egg yolk” and was first introduced in 1850 in the magazine Journal de Pharmacie et de Chimie by the French chemist and pharmacist Maurice Gobley, who isolated lecithin in 1846 from egg yolk and later from other biological tissues. Lecithin primarily exists as a component of plant and animal cells. The cells are surrounded by an outer membrane, called the cell membrane, made up of phospholipids such as lecithins. A healthy cell membrane is characterized by a composition rich in lecithins and omega-3 fats. Unfortunately, if the diet is not healthy or if you consume mainly industrial foods, the cell membranes are made up of other fats which are however harmful and stiffen and slow down the functions of the cell, such as trans fats or an excess of saturated fats. In food, natural sources with a high content of lecithin are, in addition to the egg yolk which is the richest source (7-10%), i soy beansthe wheat germthe butterL’soybean oilthe peanuts.

Lifestyle and movement

Finally, a precious help in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases affecting the brain comes, as is known, precisely from a healthy lifestyle on the whole and active, that is, based on the daily movement and physical activity, even sporty and repeated several times a week if possible. Indeed many studies testify that movement and physical work help stimulate the creation of new neuron cells in the brain (stem cells), to eliminate toxic deposit substances that accumulate here and to repair all the cells damaged by free radicals more frequently.

[di Gianpaolo Usai]



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