May 9, 2012

May 9, 2012

Nutrition to Lower Your Risk of Dementia

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made it through the middle of another work week. I hope you have been having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Yesterday, I started a two part blog about how you can lower your risk of dementia with nutrition. Today is the second part of that blog.

3. Add in some almonds

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that works on a molecular level to promote healthy blood vessels. Given the brain’s craving for oxygen-rich blood, it’s easy to see why E is such an important part of a brain-healthy diet — and studies have shown that people with the highest blood levels of Vitamin E have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Vitamin E occurs naturally in almonds, other nuts and avocados, but the most common sources are healthy vegetable oils, like olive, canola and sunflower. Some green vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and collards, also provide this nutrient. But it’s important to get your vitamin E from food, and avoid mega-doses from supplements, because some studies have tied high-dose supplements to serious medical conditions, such as prostate cancer. “In foods, there are at least eight different chemical forms of vitamin E,” Johnson says. “We think they all do something a little different.”

4. Go fishin’

Scientists have conducted thousands of studies of omega-3 fatty acids in recent decades. These polyunsaturated “healthy fats” reduce inflammation in the body and seem to help the heart function.

UCLA scientists who took blood samples and performed MRI scans on 1,575 people recently reported that people with lower omega-3 levels in their red blood had more brain shrinkage and poorer performance on memory tests. Bowman thinks omega-3s help prevent a type of dementia that is driven by blood vessel disease by healing the blood vessels themselves.

The best dietary sources are oily cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel, eaten once or twice a week, Johnson says. Those who don’t eat fish should consult their doctor about whether to take fish-oil supplements, because fish oil also acts as a blood thinner, she says. People typically are advised take one to three fish-oil capsules per day.

5. Savor spinach

Popeye’s favorite snack is a winner in the Dark Leafy Green category. It’s rich in vitamins A and K, folic acid and iron, plus it’s versatile: It can be eaten raw in salads, baked, steamed or stir-fried. Spinach is also packed with at least 15 different antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids, which have been shown to inhibit the formation of the beta-amyloid plaques that build up in those with Alzheimer’s disease. Harvard researchers reported in 2005 that women in the long-running Nurses’ Health Study who ate eight servings of green, leafy vegetables a week (along with five servings of cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli or kale) showed less cognitive decline than those who ate less. It wasn’t clear, however, whether that was due to the greens themselves or to other factors, such as the wholesale substitution of vegetables for fatty foods.

6. Coffee craving

Java addicts everywhere likely rejoiced at word of the 2009 University of South Florida study showing that caffeinated coffee decreased blood levels of a plaque-forming protein and even reduced Alzheimer’s-like cognitive impairment — in genetically altered mice. Decaf did not have the same benefits, however. The Florida scientists also showed that beta-amyloid protein levels dropped in elderly people without dementia after they were given caffeine.

Now get out there and reduce your risks for having dementia. Living with HIV is hard enough by itself.

Have a great hump day!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab