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Does the Paleo Diet Really Work in Alzheimer’s Prevention?

Posted by on Friday, January 11th, 2013

It seems that there is yet another new diet claiming to be the new medical miracle to cure everything from Cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. The diet is called the “Paleo” diet and its claim to fame is that eating the diet plus exercise and an adjustment in lifestyle will result in weight loss, and other health improvements – including Alzheimer’s prevention. But does the “Paleo” diet really work to prevent Alzheimer’s?

Paleo Diet

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What Is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is a healthy diet that is said to enable us to return to eating the way our ancestors did. Advocates say it is the healthiest way you can eat if you want to be healthy, lean, and have lots of energy! The diet’s therapeutic properties are based on  recent research which has shown that refined food such as sugar, and trans fats are the culprits in many degenerative diseases – such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and even in Alzheimer’s disease.

 

the paleo diet

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The Paleo Diet Food Guidelines
Th Paleo Diet is comprised of lean proteins which are recommended to support healthy muscles and bones and improve the immune system. Fruits and vegetables, high in antioxidants, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber are also a big part of the diet.  The Paleo Diet claims that an abundance of fresh fruit helps lower the chance of many diseases. Healthy fats are acquired from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed meat. Additional benefits of the Paleo Diet come from an abundance of  monounsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids which are thought to lower instances of obesity, cancer, diabetes and  heart disease.

foods to avoid and foods to eat in Paleo diet

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Foods to avoid on the Paleo Diet include: grains, processed food, sugar, legumes, starchy foods dairy and alcohol.

According to research that led to the creation of the Paleo diet, the type and amount of fat found in grain fed animal meat is significantly healthier compared to grass fed animals. Wild fed animals are said to offer much healthier nutrition with more unsaturated fat and healthy omega 3 fats.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet
Studies have shown that the Paleo Diet results in improvement in blood lipids and weight loss.  The diet claims to be beneficial to those who are willing to make some pretty drastic diet changes such as giving up grains, legumes, and dairy, and increase  foods with a high level of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

According to research by Professor Loren Cordain and Staffan Lindeberg M.D., Ph.D the Paleo diet was compared to the Mediterranean diet in insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetes and the result was that the Paleo diet reversed the symptoms of type II insulin dependent diabetes. Lingeberg’s study also showed that the Mediterranean diet resulted in little or no improvements in insulin resistant , Type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet showed little if any improvements. (this sentence seems repetitive).

The founders of the diet urge people to get involved and start on the diet because they say experience is the best teacher as far as learning what this unique diet is all about.

How does the Paleo Diet work in Disease Prevention – Including Alzheimer’s Prevention?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S.  Research supporting the Paleo Diet indicates that historically when humans ate wild meat, nuts and berries and little processed foods, there was virtually no such thing as heart attacks or stroke. The theory is that if we go back to our roots in eating a diet similar to the one our ancestors consumed, we could avoid many of the modern day illnesses that plague our western society today.

The European Journal of Internal Medicine published a recent study on the role of diet in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The article talks about the benefits of a lower carbohydrate diet in Alzheimer’s disease.  Since diet is successful in treating diabetes, advocates say it is a great choice in Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment as well.  Here’s a healthy recipe to try out if you want a sample of the types of foods recommended on the Paleo Diet:

Salmon arugula salad recipe

salmon salad for Paleo Diet

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Serves 4

Ingredients for the salad

1 large wild caught salmon fillet
2 tbsp. coconut oil
A few sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh arugula
Spring Mix
3 artichoke hearts, chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dressing

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. paleo mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. Dijon or homemade mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Set the grill on medium-low heat. While the grill heats up, season both sides of the salmon fillet with salt and pepper to taste. Place on a sheet of foil (enough to wrap around the whole piece of fish) and drizzle with coconut oil. Sprinkle the top of the fillet with minced garlic and place a few sprigs of thyme on top. Seal the salmon in the foil and place on the barbecue grill. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft pink and flaky.  Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl combine the arugula, cherry tomatoes and artichoke hearts. During this time you can also combine the ingredients for the dressing and set aside for later use.

Once the salmon has cooked, remove from the grill and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Using a fork, pull apart the salmon into smaller pieces. Toss in with the rest of the salad ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing and serve while the salmon is still a little warm.

Many nutrition experts disagree with eliminating legumes and healthy whole grains-which is one of the primary principals of the Paleo Diet. On the other hand,  other experts feel that upon the arrival of grains and processed foods, came many new and more severe health issues.  

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, it’s recommended to consult your physician before any type of drastic diet change, including the Paleo Diet, but it never hurts to explore new ideas and stay informed on the latest research in diet and nutrition for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment.

For more easy to follow nutrition advice check out The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Approach to Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, or visit theadplan.com to learn more about Neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson's 9 week diet plan and his cutting edge approach in the fight against AD in Alzheimer's Treatment | Alzheimer's Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide 2012 Edition. Also, sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates in AD treatment and prevention news.

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