Food News

Eat Plants (and Do Some Other Stuff) to Reduce Your Alzheimer's Risk, Say New Guidelines

According to researchers, ditching the animal products might be a major factor in avoiding one dreaded disease associated with aging: Alzheimer's. And while you may think you're too young to worry about such things -- that time, it flies.

Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, along with other researchers, recently released a series of seven guidelines they say will help boost brain health and reduce the risk of this hideous disease -- one of which includes eating plant-based foods.

"Alzheimer's disease isn't a natural part of aging," Barnard commented in a release. "By staying active and moving plant-based foods to the center of our plates, we have a fair shot at re-writing our genetic code for this heart-wrenching and costly disease."

The guidelines were developed based on recommendations from conference speakers at the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain. These are folks who know their stuff.

The seven guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease are:

Eat less bad fat. The study says to minimize intake of yucky saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are mostly found in dairy products, meats, and coconut and palm oils; trans fats in snack pastries and fried foods (on labels they're dubbed "partially hydrogenated oils.")

Eat more plants. The study recommends that veggies, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as main courses; i.e., less bacon, more broccoli.

Make with the vitamin E. They recommend consuming 15 micrograms of vitamin E each day FROM FOODS, not the pill-popping shortcut. You can get this good-for-you nutrient in seeds, nuts, leafy greens, and whole grains.

B-12, baby. This one you can do via supplement. At least 2.4 micrograms per day for grownups, they say, and also recommend having these levels checked on the regular.

Iron and copper are no-nos. They suggest avoiding any vitamin that includes iron and copper -- including multivitamins. Iron supplements should be an option only if your doc recommends it, they say.

No aluminum. The foil kind is OK. While aluminum's role in Alzheimer's is still rather mysterious, to be on the safe side, they suggest avoiding the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contain aluminum.

Move your body. Exercise for 120 minutes a week, they say, and make sure to include aerobic activity (brisk walking is good) at least three times a week.

If you need additional incentive, Alzheimer's Disease International predicts Alzheimer's rates will triple worldwide by 2050, and the Alzheimer's Association predicts long-term care costs start at $41,000 per year. Scary stuff.

Nobody wants to be a statistic, so maybe make with the plant-eating already. Check out our Voice Places listings of vegetarian eateries.

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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. In addition to the Miami New Times, she's written for Live Happy magazine, Paste magazine, Thive magazine, and Hannah is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac