Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that can cause memory loss and difficulty with thinking, problem-solving or remembering words. People with Alzheimer’s disease might feel confused or forget things like where they left the front door key or even where they live.
Alzheimer’s disease affects mainly older people, over 65, but younger people can be affected too. It can be distressing for the person with Alzheimer’s and for those close to them.
Being overweight or obese in middle-age increases your chances of getting Alzheimer’s later in life, whilst people whose mid-life diets are high in plant-based foods and low in saturated fats, processed foods and sugars have a lower risk. There are real concerns that the current obesity epidemic linked to unhealthy diets could lead to a huge rise in the numbers of people suffering from dementia in the future.
There are strong links with meat, eggs and high-fat dairy products. These foods promote the concentration of certain metals in the brain (copper, iron, cadmium, lead and mercury) and the saturated fats in these foods aids absorption. Animal products also increase the body’s production of IGF-1, a growth factor linked to Alzheimer’s disease. And the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is also increased by elevated blood lipids, blood pressure and diabetes.
On the other hand, plant-based diets are linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Low levels of vitamins D and B12 are also considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease so make sure to take a supplement! You may be able to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s by eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Avoid fatty foods like: red meat, chicken skin, sausages and pies, whole milk and full fat dairy products, coconut oil and palm oil, pastry, cakes, biscuits, sweets and chocolate. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta, nuts and seeds. Make sure you have a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your diet but avoid supplements with iron and copper – find out more about this here.
Find out what you need to eat each day here.
Find out how you can lose and maintain a healthy weight here: 5:2 Vegan Style