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Nine Foods that Prevent Alzheimer’s

helathy older brain“We are what we eat” is an old adage that takes on new meaning with some research recently published by a nutritionist at Rush University Medical Center. According to findings reported by Martha Claire Morris, a Ph.D. nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University, a diet high in the right fruits and vegetables among other foods is a significant deterrent to late onset Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers in Rush’s Memory and Aging Project followed a group of 954 patients whose average age at the study outset was 81 years, tracking their diets and also monitoring their mental abilities for five years.
It is important to point out that with this older age group – unlike younger adults – genetic issues play a very small role in developing AD, but the researchers found that diet did. Participants who followed a “brain healthy” diet reduced their risk of developing AD by as much as 35% to 53%. A brain healthy diet includes vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. It also includes beans, nuts, berries and whole grains. The berries that packed the biggest preventative punch were blueberries. Fish and poultry were the primary meats in the diet, and the diet also included olive oil and wine (sorry…only one glass a day).
As important as consuming the good foods is avoiding the “bad diet.” On the list of foods to avoid in order to maintain brain health are red meats and fried or fast foods. And if you have a sweet tooth, you may need to retrain it as sweets and pastries are also taboo. Finally, cheese and butter are unhealthy for cognitive health…at least in amounts that exceed about a tablespoon of butter a day.
As the researchers reported, it is not a surprise that the “brain healthy” foods are high in vitamin K, but they cannot say it is vitamin K alone or whether something else in combination with this vitamin that helps brain health. They also caution that this is not a predictive study, but given that the results square with other research on “brain healthy” foods their findings suggest that we can use these foods to good benefit.
To learn more about the research and how nutrition is part of your brain health, visit the Rush University Medical Center web site (click here). And then head out to the grocer and grab a bunch of kale.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to


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