People who are in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease can improve their condition and regain their memory with a chosen diet. Alzheimer’s disease is linked to lifestyle, eating habits and can be avoided and countered with a few simple rules.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of Alzheimer’s cases (75%) are not inevitable, but rather caused by a complex interplay between our genetic makeup and a host of lifestyle factors including, in particular, a poor diet, physical and intellectual inactivity as well as smoking. In a way, this is good news, because it means that it is possible to significantly reduce the risk of suffering from this disease by adopting healthier lifestyle habits.
Alzheimer’s disease: when the machine gets carried away
Brain cells (neurons) that allow us to think communicate with each other using connections called synapses. It is a network of incredible complexity: it is estimated that a single neuron establishes on average 10,000 synapses, so that, with some 100 billion neurons, a human brain contains approximately one million billion of these connections. . During the development of Alzheimer’s disease, abnormalities such as amyloid plaques disrupt this nerve signal transmission at the synapses. These plaques are, initially, mainly present in the regions of the brain involved in memory, and it is for this reason that amnesia is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequently, the lesions spread to other areas of the brain, resulting in the progressive destruction of cognitive functions.
To counter the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, two main strategies can be considered:
1) slow down or even eliminate the formation of senile plaques;
2) promote the connection between neurons to counteract the harmful effect of these plaques.
The first option is the subject of intense research, but drug development is hampered by the complexity of the process responsible for the formation of these senile plaques. The second option has been less explored, but is nonetheless interesting: is it possible to counter the effects of senile plaques by improving the connections between neurons? To answer this question, researchers tested the impact of a beverage containing three ingredients:
- docosahexaenoic acid, a long-chain omega-3 known to play a crucial role in neuronal functions;
- choline, an essential constituent of the lipids that form the membrane of neurons;
- uridine, a precursor of certain constituents of these membranes.
In a clinical trial, this brew was given for a period of six months to patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and its effects were compared to a placebo containing no beneficial substances. The researchers observed that the people who had consumed the beverage saw their memory capacities increase significantly throughout the study, while those in the placebo group deteriorated from the third month. Electroencephalography analysis indicates greater neuron connectivity
in the group that received the cocktail as well as a pattern of brain activity that is closer to the normal brain.
In the meantime, we must remember that Alzheimer’s disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging, but a chronic disease whose development is closely linked to lifestyle habits. A diet containing foods rich in omega-3 (salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseed), maintaining a normal weight and regular physical and intellectual activity remain the best protection we currently have against this neurodegeneration.
Scheltens P et al. Efficacy of Souvenaid in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: Results from a Randomized, Controlled Trial. J Alzheimer Dis; 31: 225-236.