Eating against oblivion: Does the right diet protect against Alzheimer's?
The most important risk factor for dementia is: age. And we're all getting older. In 2000 the earth's population had 420 million older people (65+), in 2050 there will be 1,300 million. Already 1.2 million people with Alzheimer's disease live in Germany, and the trend is rising. Because the disease of forgetting is not yet curable, the question of how to prevent Alzheimer's disease is becoming increasingly important.
Exercise, mental fitness, the right nutrition, social contacts and medical care promote healthy aging and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, that much is known today. Professor Dr. explained what influence diet can have. Gunter Eckert from the Justus Liebig University Gießen, as part of a panel of experts that the Alzheimer Research Initiative (AFI) recently organized in Frankfurt on the occasion of World Alzheimer's Day.
"Avoidable risk factors that can be influenced by diet," says Eckert, are: diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, high homocysteine levels and high cholesterol. "Depression, physical inactivity and smoking as well as low education are further risk factors.
The more risk factors are permanently reduced, the more the number of preventable Alzheimer's cases increases. With regard to nutrition, the consumption of polyphenols in epidemiological studies shows preventive effects. Polyphenols are typically abundant in Mediterranean cuisine. »The Mediterranean diet is characterized by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, olive oil and nuts, but little red meat and lots of fish. For fish, you should rather go for fatty sea fish such as salmon, cod or mackerel, since these fish contain many long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, «says Eckert. Spices, tea and red wine also contain polyphenols.
The positive properties of the polyphenols are based in particular on the following molecular mechanisms: there is evidence of better blood flow in the brain (which has deteriorated in old age and in dementia), polyphenols counteract inflammation in the brain (which are increased in old age and in dementia) and they improve the function of the »cell power plants«. Mitochondria do not work properly in old age and in Alzheimer's and polyphenols improve energy production.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to protect yourself from Alzheimer's disease. But a varied Mediterranean cuisine, lots of active movement in the air, enough sleep and stressing the brain, but also letting your soul dangle, can have a preventive effect. Rüdiger Lobitz, resp