It is the ticking timebomb that will affect 1.7 million of us in just 40 years. But can you stave off Alzheimer’s with a healthy diet? This week scientists said eating chicken, oily fish and nuts may help stop it developing. So what do the experts say about the other claimed methods of beating the disease?
A study of 16,010 female nurses in the US suggested that eating greater amounts of blueberries and strawberries is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline. Strawberries and blueberries are rich in a group of naturally occurring antioxidants called flavonoids, which scientists suggest may help to delay cognitive aging by protecting brain cells from chemical stress which can build up as we age. Population studies like this can provide useful clues about the effects of lifestyle and diet on cognition, but we must be sensible when interpreting the results. The study suggests a link between eating berries and slower cognitive decline, but there could be many factors at play. Previous evidence has shown that eating fruit as part of a healthy diet in midlife could help to reduce our risk of dementia.
Clean the house
A study which measured the activity of older people over a four year period, showed that daily physical activity such as cooking, cleaning and playing cards could help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Scientists recruited 716 volunteers with an average age of 82 years.
There is already some evidence that exercise in midlife can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. This study adds to this by suggesting that daily physical activity like doing household jobs or playing cards could have benefits into older age.
Learn another language
A recent article found some evidence to suggest that speaking more than one language may help to boost our ‘cognitive reserve’ — the ability of our brain to resist damage.
It is thought that this could help protect our brains from decline and may bolster our brains against the damage which causes dementia.
More research is needed to tease apart the most beneficial aspects of bilingualism — whether it is the age we starting learning, how fluent we are or how much we use the language in everyday life.”
Drink green tea
Scientists have found that green tea compounds could protect the cells in rats from the harmful effects of amyloid — the toxic protein that builds up in the brain during Alzheimer’s.
These results are at a very early stage, so they can’t make the leap of assuming that green tea can protect people from dementia.