June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. It is a time to bring attention to a disease that affects so many people – not just the almost 6 million people who have it, but all of the friends, family, and caregivers too.
An interesting fact about Alzheimer’s is that change begins in the brain a long time before there are any noticeable signs. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still unknown, but most likely involves multiple factors, like many other chronic diseases. In addition to age and genetics, lifestyle and diet also weigh in. Starting down a preventative path today is the best plan if you have any concerns about Alzheimer’s in your future.
Earlier this month, Dr. Lipman shared 10 Ways to Protect Your Brain From Alzheimer’s. His suggestions are not only good for Alzheimer’s prevention, but they will also help to keep other chronic diseases at bay. For diet, he recommends wholesome foods to decrease cell-damaging inflammation that’s considered a key contributor to the development of Alzheimer’s. A Mediterranean style diet is often touted as anti-inflammatory and disease fighting, but the best part about it, is that it’s a delicious and sustainable diet to follow. When thinking about disease prevention – finding a diet that is easy to follow and doesn’t feel depriving goes a long way in helping you stay on track.
I would remiss for not mentioning what I have learned from Dr. Lipman… no one diet is perfect for everyone. While the Mediterranean diet is a great foundation, tune into your body and see what works for you. Low carb means different things for different people, wine might not be the best choice for you, grains – especially gluten grains – should be avoided by most people. For example, some people are fine with legumes and whole gluten-free grains, while others need to reduce their intake if they do not process carbs well. Experiment and find your balance.
Main focus of a Mediterranean style diet:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and spices
- Olive oil
- Wild caught fish
- Moderate amounts of pasture-raised, grass-fed animal products
- An occasional glass of biodynamic or organic red wine
Stick with an anti-inflammatory diet at least 80% of the time to help reduce the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and also manage weight and support overall health. Be sure to avoid the most inflammatory foods – such as sugars and refined carbs, processed foods with inflammatory oils and additives, factory farmed animal products – and you are heading in the right direction!