Ward off Dementia and Alzheimer’s with Diet and Leisure Activities

Your brain is a many-splendor thing. Whether we’re playing chess, reading, giving a speech, or sleeping- the brain is a highly responsive and fine-tuned organ. The brain’s perception of the world can even change our feelings – whether it’s anger, frustration, satisfaction, or elated happiness, so it is important to keep your brain happy and healthy!

Ward off Dementia and Alzheimer’s with Diet and Leisure Activities

The brain is a vast, complicated network of highly- electrical nerves surrounded by fatty tissue for insulation.  Just like a piece of wire is made up of copper strands to conduct electricity and enveloped by a plastic and rubber insulation, your brain tissue and nervous system functions in a similar – though certainly much more complicated—way.

When the outer insulation—or myelin sheath—of nervous tissue is damaged, wires get crossed and tangled, signals become mismanaged and quite a bit of confusion can result.  Damage to brain tissue is thought to be a result of inflammation, age, and possibly our diet.

Probably one of the most functions the brain has is memory, and memory suffers most with conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. There are strong links between what you eat and how well you can retain and use your memory as you age. Because once brain tissue and brain matter is gone – you cannot get it back. This makes taking action now to preserve your memory key to maintaining your brain’s ability to solve puzzles, balance, and remember important details each day.

Consuming excess sugar and simple carbohydrates most likely has an effect on how well you retain your memory.  Following a Mediterranean diet may have a promising effect on preventing dementia.  A Mediterranean-type diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean proteins, olive oil and nuts, seeds and legumes, and is very low in simple sugars, simple carbohydrates, desserts, sweets, chips, pretzels, doughnuts, etc.

Mediterranean-style diets are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, shrimp, and soybean oil. These special fats can help protect the outer lining of nervous tissue and protect it from damage due to exposure to inflammatory chemicals.

When you eat too much sugar and carbohydrates, and you blood glucose becomes elevated, the hormone insulin will be released.  With Alzheimer’s disease, large amounts of beta-amyloid plaques are present, which can prevent brain cells from functioning and receiving insulin signals properly.  Plaques and neurofibrillary tangles can be a result of a type of brain insulin resistance, which means the brain cells do not understand and do not fully receive the message that insulin sends.  This means they are less likely to get the nutrients and protection from oxidative stress that they need to survive.

The Brain and Exercise

If you are talking about the brain, exercise and the chemicals that are secreted after exercising play a huge role in brain health.  A recent study showed that just 12 weeks of physical activity older adults who had mild dementia was beneficial to both brain function and physical ability, as well as overall quality of life.

Leisure activities also may prove to be a non-medication treatment for improving brain function – maybe as much as structured exercise in some people. Examples of leisure activities include walking, swimming, household tasks, playing games or puzzles, and enjoying company with friends – which can all help ward off dementia.

 

References:

Safouris A, Tsivgoulis G, Sergentanis TN, Psaltopoulou T.  Mediterranean Diet and risk of Dementia. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2015 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print].

Nakatsuka M, Nakamura K, Hamanosono R, Takahashi Y, Kasai M, Sato Y, Suto T, Nagatomi R, Meguro K. A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of Nonpharmacological Interventions for Old-Old Subjects with a Clinical Dementia Rating of 0.5: The Kurihara Project. Dement Geriatr Cogn Dis Extra. 2015 May 30;5(2):221-32. doi: 10.1159/000380816.

Antunes HK, Santos-Galduroz RF, De Aquino Lemos V, Bueno OF, Rzezak P, de Santana MG, De Mello MT. The influence of physical exercise and leisure activity on neuropsychological functioning in older adults.  Age (Dordr). 2015 Aug;37(4):9815. doi: 10.1007/s11357-015-9815-8. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Konrad Talbot, Hoau-Yan Wang, Hala Kazi, Li-Ying Han, Kalindi P. Bakshi, Andres Stucky.  Demonstrated brain insulin resistance in Alzheimer’s disease patients is associated with IGF-1 resistance, IRS-1 dysregulation, and cognitive decline.  J Clin Invest. 2012 Apr 2; 122(4): 1316–1338. Published online 2012 Mar 26. doi:  10.1172/JCI59903. PMCID: PMC3314463.

SHARE
Previous article10 Antioxidant-Rich Food & Health Benefits
Next articleThe One Thing Your Brain Needs Most: Exercise
Silver Team
Our team of dietitians, chefs and fitness experts love to share helpful information and tips to make living your best life as easy as possible. We stand for longer and healthier living through what we eat and how we live.