Preventing Alzheimer’s: The Importance of Diet, B Vitamins and Omega 3s

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by Nils Osmar. Thursday March 3, 2022

In this video, Professor David Smith, head of pharmacology at Oxford University and a leading expert in dementia, talks about the importance of dietary factors including avoiding sugar; getting enough B vitamins; eating whole foods, eating fatty fish as a source of Omega 3 fats in:

  • Preventing brain atrophy, and
  • Reversing age-related cognitive decline.

Key points from his presentation:

  • If Alzheimer’s and dementia are age-related, then does that mean they’re an inevitable part of aging? No. Alzheimer’s in particular is associated with specific changes in the brain, not found in everyone. It really is a disease, it’s not a natural part of aging.
  • Only 1% of all Alzheimer’s is directly caused by genes. Genetic risk factors interact with non-genetic risk factors. To prevent Alzheimer’s we have to find a way of slowing or stopping the shrinking of the brain.

The Mind Diet is Protective

The Mediterranean diet reduces risk of Alzheimer’s by 34% compared to people eating a standard American diet. But the s0-called “MIND Diet” reduces it far more. The MIND Diet is rich in:

  1. Whole Grains
  2. Green Leafy vegetables
  3. Other vegetables
  4. Berries
  5. Fish
  6. Poultry
  7. Beans
  8. Nuts
  9. Olive oil
  10. On the mind diet, “Red meats should be eaten less than four times a week. Butter and cheese should be eaten no more than once a day.”

Other Dietary Recommendations

  • The higher our intake of fish, the stronger our memory as we age. “Eating fish once or more each week reduces risk of AD by 33%.”
  • High normal blood glucose (associated with consumption of sugar and refined grains) is associated with decreased brain volume and cognitive performance. Having high blood glucose, even within the normal range, is a risk factor for dementia. To avoid dementia, it’s important to eat a low-sugar diet
  • It’s important to eat foods high in B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folate, B12) and vitamins C, D and E.
  • It’s important to keep plasma levels of omega 3 fatty acids from marine sources high.
  • High trans fats are associated with a loss of brain volume.
  • If you drink wine, keep it to one small glass per day. Both total abstinence from alcohol, and drinking more than a small glass a day, were associated with increased rates of AD.
  • “Women who ate 2 or more servings of berries a week delayed cognitive aging by equivalent of 2.5 years.”
  • Low vitamin D is a risk factor for dementia. “Vitamin D deficiency increased risk of AD by 69%”
  • “The lower the level of vitamin B12, the faster the brain is shrinking.” This was verified to be a causal relationship (not just correlation) in the Vitacog trial. Taking B12 and B6 as supplements was shown to slow brain atrophy and slow or stop further cognitive decline.
  • Of all of these interventions, the speaker considers B vitamin supplementation most important. But B vitamins were only protective in people who had high plasma omega 3.

My thoughts:

Like others in the group, I’d like to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia, and am doing what I’m aware of to prevent them.

  • I eat fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies several times a week.
  • I eat organ meats (an ideal source of B vitamins) at least once a week.
  • I eat green leafy vegetables and take a green powder daily.
  • I sometimes take a multivitamin supplement to keep my B vitamins high. But I tend to neglect taking it. Watching the video was a reminder to me that supplementation with B vitamins is one of the most important things we can do. So I’ll be increasing my consumption of B vitamins.
  • Note: People in the anti-aging community often take metformin to lower blood glucose. But metformin can result in low plasma B12. This isn’t intended as medical advice, but in my opinion it’s extremely important to take a B12/B6/folate supplement if taking metformin.

Preventing Brain Shrinkage

The speaker revisits the question of brain shrinkage repeatedly in the video, mentioning the importance of slowing and preventing it. One method of preventing shrinkage that he doesn’t mention is hyaluronic acid.

There are many good brands of HA. The one I’m currently taking, and have gotten the best results from, is DoNotAge’s high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, I’m taking 2 capsules a day.


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