It is often reported that Western diets consume too much fat and fast food, but in the U.S. and other parts of the world, many people donít eat enough good fat. Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, is important for good health.
What are we going to do with grandpa? Grandpa doesn't have Alzheimer's yet, but last year he didn't remember much of anything except to tell the same old stories. It's obvious his short term memory is fading fast and he often struggles with remembering the grandkid's names. His memory medication doesn't seem to provide much relief and it's very expensive.
Having a friend or family member suffering from cognitive decline is reason enough for us all to be concerned ourselves. Believe it or not, 40% of people in the U.S., and elsewhere, will face some form of cognitive decline in their lifetimes. At current rates, within the next decade, the number of persons with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementias may double.
Now there is increasing evidence that dietary factors play a major role in onset rates. New research suggests the disease is increasingly preventable. Non-genetic factors include upwards of 90 percent of Alzheimer's cases. Genetic factors are linked to a receptor in the brain involved in fat metabolism.
Recent studies from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet show mice given a high fat, high sugar and high cholesterol diet for nine months developed preliminary signs of Alzheimer's Disease using markers also seen in patients. The study results have yet to be reproduced, but are supported by numerous correlative studies in the scientific literature that suggest diet and lifestyle are increasingly considered central factors in the onset and prevention of the disease.
Top researchers are now reporting that Alzheimer's, the most debilitating form of dementia, may also be linked to chronic omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) nutritional deficiencies. In what is known as the Framingham Study, trial subjects with low plasma DHA levels were at greater risk of onset plus DHA levels were lower in the brain and plasma of patients with dementia.
Doctors always will say diet and lifestyle are the first consideration. In addition, research suggesting DHA is the only omega-3 that protects cognitive function during aging, a topic reiterated by a recent Johns Hopkins Health Alert (http://wwwjohnshopkinshealthalerts.com), which states that appropriate levels of dietary DHA alone could help prevent up to 70% of new Alzheimer's cases. The FDA recognizes DHA levels are an essential part of the healthy structure and function of nerve cells in the brain.
Is prevention linked to something as simple as replacing the bad fats with the good fats? In the past 40 years, there is a correlation between increases in weight gain and Alzheimer's onset rates. Perhaps the growing rate of all dementias is partly linked to diet and DHA deficiency together. Therefore, one's diet and DHA intake is at the heart of the question: What are we going to do with grandpa?
What else can you do for yourself? Exercise both your body and your brain. Ironically, studies have found that people who regularly work crossword puzzles and brain teasers like Sudoku, significantly extend the time their brains stay sharp and improve their memory.
Be Social. Staying involved in your community, helping others, and generally staying involved in the world around you is shown to be another key way to keep your brain sharp and alert.
Strive to Learn. You should never stop learning and challenging yourself mentally. Every class you take, no matter how old you are, and every new activity or idea you undertake, exercises your brain and increases the chance it will keep working well for many years to come.