Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. As prevalence rates climb, their focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies.
By Dr. Mercola
Alzheimer's disease has become nothing short of epidemic in the US. Could it be that some commonly eaten foods are the primary culprit? According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the book Grain Brain, your diet has major implications for your Alzheimer's risk.
Grain Brain has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for six months now, which is unusual for a health book. He has also been on a few PBS specials. Dr. Perlmutter is also the editor-in-chief of a brand new Harvard-based journal called Brain and Gut, slated to come out next year.
He came to the conclusion that brain dysfunction is rooted in a flawed diet, particularly our modern-day high-grain diet, after scouring the medical literature looking for clues to the underlying cause.
He'd grown weary of treating his patients' symptoms, and wanted to get to the bottom of the problem. As it turns out, the scientific literature is actually replete with information telling us that, yes, diet plays a crucial role in brain function. He says:
“What we've crystallized it down to now, in essence, is that diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and similarly diets that are low in fat, are devastating to the brain.
When you have a diet that has carbohydrates in it, you are paving the way for Alzheimer's disease. I want to be super clear about that. Dietary carbohydrates lead to Alzheimer's disease.It's a pretty profound statement, but it's empowering nonetheless when we realize that we control our diet. We control our choices, whether to favor fat or carbohydrates.”
High-Carb Diets Associated with 89 Percent Increased Risk for Dementia
As just one example, he cites research from the Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, which found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89 percent increased risk for dementia. Meanwhile, high-fat diets are associated with a 44 percent reduced risk.
Clearly, with Alzheimer's disease now hot in the tracks behind heart disease and cancer as one of the top three killers in the US, we really need to pay attention to such findings.
“[T]here is absolutely no treatment for Alzheimer's disease. And yet, according to Dr. Deborah Barnes, publishing in the journal Lancet Neurology, more than half the cases of Alzheimer's disease today – 54 percent – could have been prevented had people gotten this information,” he says.
Fortunately, even if you're already having “senior moments,” you can turn back the clock, as it were. You can regenerate cells in your brain's memory center. This occurs through a process called neurogenesis.
According to Dr. Perlmutter, the evidence clearly shows that high-carb diets and elevation of blood sugar is directly related to shrinkage of your brain's memory center. And when your hippocampus—your memory center—shrinks, your memory declines.
“That is the harbinger for Alzheimer's disease,” Dr. Perlmutter says. “It's the first place you look on a brain scan. But here is why we're having this conversation today: it is preventable and more importantly, it's reversible.”
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