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What you Need to Know About Fish Oil & Omega 3s to Help With Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by on Sunday, January 26th, 2014

There is a lot of discussion today about how (and which) Omega-3s can have positive effects on the brain and promote cognitive health. Specifically, these have been touted as a way to slow the onset of memory loss, and reduce risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.  Does the truth live up to the hype?  If so, what type of fish oil is best, and are supplements enough to help with Alzheimer’s? 

From Confusion to Clarity

The #1 take home point with Omega’s 3s (also referred to as a “Omega 3 fatty acids”) is that not all of the different types are created equal in terms of potential for protecting brain health. As discussed in detail in The Alzheimer’s Diet book, there are several types of Omega-3s, with DHA having the most evidence for brain protection, followed by EPA. Another new study was recently published that again supports this. Another common form of Omega 3 is called ALA, but the problem with ALA is that only a very small percentage actually gets later converted in the body to the brain-boosting forms (DHA and EPA). Complicating things, a recent study showed an association between DHA and prostate cancer in men, yet the American Nutrition Association (as well as many experts) state that the overall benefits likely outweigh risk. Before considering any changes to ones diet or before considering starting a supplement, people should always discuss first and seek approval by their treating physician.  For a specialized opinion, scheduling a consultation with the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center in NYC  is also an option.

Another important point that leads to a lot of confusion is that a lot of people use the terms “Fish Oil” and “Omega-3s” interchangeably. Fish oil comes from fish and can be supplemented in the diet in capsule form, but each capsule has different amounts of DHA, EPA, ALA etc. Many people also don’t realize that Omega 3 fatty acids are plentiful in certain types of fish, and the fish actually get these brain-healthy fatty acids from eating algae. There are even very specific types of Omega 3 supplements that are DIRECTLY from algae, rich in DHA, and have been studied specifically in patients with the earliest stages of AD.  These studies showed slowing of cognitive decline and improvements in memory. To learn more about this topic, as well as which types of fish may be most beneficial, and to read an overview of all the evidence and other specific dietary choices for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment, read The Alzheimer’s Diet book.

Research

Research is being done regarding the effect of fish oil when it comes to the Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.  Read below for more details.

Benefits of fish oil for help with Alzheimer's

Image Source: Friendseat.com

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How Can I Reduce My Risk For Alzheimer’s? New Clinic Offers Help for AD Patients & Family at Risk

Posted by on Friday, January 10th, 2014

Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just affect the patient; it affects the entire family. Recently, the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program (APTP) and Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic (APC) at New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center was founded by Neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson, an Alzheimer’s specialist who has several family members with this disease. This specialized clinic and research program focuses on the latest treatments for patients, as well as cutting-edge strategies that may reduce a person’s risk for AD (or help to delay its onset), with an emphasis on nutritional approaches and comprehensive education for the entire family. Interested in scheduling a consultation? Please call 212-746-0226

Scientists now understand that AD starts in the brain 20 to 30 years before the onset of symptoms, giving physicians ample time to intervene in an individualized fashion for those as risk. There is no “magic pill” or “magic cure” for AD treatment or prevention; however, combining a variety of strategies based on strong science and safety may yield the best chance for benefit.

As a part of this initiative, individuals interested in lowering their risk for Alzheimer’s can be followed over time and receive a personalized plan based on a variety of elements, such as their risk factors, genes, past/present medical conditions, and the latest scientific research. Patients in the APTP and APC will be cared for over time using a sophisticated and interactive state-of-the-art research tool and database. This approach allows for ongoing monitoring and the development of personalized therapeutic options aimed at reducing Alzheimer’s disease risk and providing optimal care.

The approach is based on a collaborative care model for Alzheimer’s disease, while being firmly grounded in the latest scientific evidence-based therapies. This integrated approach to care aims to provide the most comprehensive therapies for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s, “preclinical” Alzheimer’s, and patients who are at risk for the disease.

 Click Here to Visit the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program

at Weill Cornell Medical College website:

 APTP 

Or, Visit this Page to Learn More about the Personalized Approach at the APTP.

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Holiday Guide for Living with Those with Dementia-Festive Meals that Promote Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Posted by on Saturday, December 21st, 2013

If you are a caregiver or family member of one of the 5.4 million individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, you may be wondering what the upcoming holiday season will bring, particularly if you have a  family member with progressive cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s dementia.  You may have many questions such as “how can I make a holiday meal that will promote the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and ensure the food I serve is healthy enough for the Alzheimer’s diet?”   

holiday meals for prevention of Alzheimer's

Image Source: Pinterest

There are many ways to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday with your loved one who has dementia. Below are some tips on transforming a potentially stressful holiday season to an enjoyable and safe event for those who have a family member or close friend who suffers with dementia:

  • Encourage the individual with dementia to follow their own instincts when it comes to setting limits on how much t social interaction they are able to engage in.  Remind other family members that individuals with dementia may not be able to participate in every event.
  • Encourage family members and friends to be sure to visit the person with dementia over the holiday season, even if it is difficult.  Socialization is great for prevention of Alzheimer’s, but it is a good idea to limit the number of people who visit to only a few at a time to keep distractions at a minimum.  Be sure that there is adequate time for rest between visitors if many family members are planning to visit.
  • Keep the noise level low and avoid over stimulating the individual with Alzheimer’s by keeping lights low-avoid drastically change the intensity of light.
  • Caregivers should take advantage of the holidays to visit family members and take a break from the day to day routing of caring for someone with dementia.  Seek out help from other family members to cover for you if you need to. Continue reading…

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Nobody Ever Said Prevention of Alzheimer’s Would Be a Sweet Deal!

Posted by on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

With the holidays approaching, it’s a great time to talk about healthy sweeteners-particularly for those who are following a diet for Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).   One important aspect of an Alzheimer’s Prevention diet (based on scientific evidence that proves certain people can delay the onset of AD) is avoiding unhealthy foods high in sugar, fructose and high fructose corn syrup. These unhealthy sweeteners are  present in many of the holiday treats that are available in abundance at this time of year.

Fructose is a natural ingredient in fruits and vegetables, however when it is extracted from natural foods, leaving it void of fiber, fructose becomes a sweetener that is high on the glycemic index chart (the higher the rating, the faster the food causes spikes in blood sugar).  Fructose is processed the same in the body as sugar.  Fructose is added to many types of processed sugar such as white table sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  

high fructose corn syrup not recommended for prevention of Alzheimer's

Image Source; mindbodygreen.com

When it comes to sugar substitutes there are many different alternatives  including; NutraSweet, aspartame, saccharine, Sweet-n- Low and more.  Then there are the natural sweeteners such as; honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar and stevia.  But with so many choices,  which type of sweetener is best for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease?

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New Research Shows Improvement in 36% of AD Patients who Took Axona, 44% Stabilization

Posted by on Monday, December 2nd, 2013

There are some very exciting new clinical trials that have shown a new medical food therapy (available now in the US) may help some patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  

A recent study of the effectiveness of caprylic triglyceride (CT) – the active ingredient in a non-drug prescription called Axona, was conducted by Dr. Steven Douglas Maynard and Dr. Jeff Gelblum at Indiana University/Mount Sinai Medical Center. The research article was published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment Journal in October 2013.

The primary reason for the study was to evaluate the effects of CT in those with mild to moderate AD in a routine clinical practice setting. The effect of CT was evaluated in the study by medical records reviews by the physicians, as well as reports from caregivers who were asked to answer questionnaires at specific intervals during the study period.  

alzheimer's research effecitiveness of Axona

Image Source: Bestinfographics

The study included male and female participants age 50 and over, diagnosed with probable mild to moderate AD who had received this new prescription-only medical food for over 6 months.

The results of the study were encouraging.  Of a total of 55 participants who took Axona in addition to medications for AD, 80 percent were stable or had improvement in cognition.  This was after an average of over 18 months of taking Axona, where 36.9% of the participants in the study improved (and 80% of patients improved or remained stable). 

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Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease-National Memory Screening Day 2013 Provides Public Education

Posted by on Monday, November 18th, 2013

National Screening-Day Treatment for Alzheimer's diseaseNovember 19, 2013 is National Memory Screening Day, which is an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. It’s an effort to promote early detection of, and intervention for memory loss, helps educate the public about the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and helps encourage early diagnosis. Click here to watch an interview with Dr. Isaacson about this important event. Since November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, individuals who may be concerned about their memory (or about a loved ones memory) are encouraged to get a memory screening on any day in November.

Quick and simple screening tests are used to detect memory impairment so people can then go and talk to a qualified physician and have the problem addressed early.  The earlier the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, the better outcome of treating symptoms.  Memory screenings are important to help distinguish between memory impairment due to normal aging, or something more serious. Screening is important to help us recognize the more serious causes of memory impairment as early as possible.

Anyone concerned about his/her memory should be screened. Usually we say people over the age of 65 years, but people with a family history of memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease may want to be screened earlier.  Why is it important to be screened earlier rather than later? The earlier someone finds out they have memory impairment, the earlier they can be diagnosed. The earlier they can be diagnosed, the earlier they can be treated. The earlier they are treated, the better they usually do. 

The typical screen is approximately 10 minutes and involves a series of questions and tasks designed to assess memory function, as well as language and thinking abilities. Screenings are offered at a variety of locations, community centers, hospitals, physician’s offices, clinics. But really, a memory screening can take place just about anywhere.

If you can’t get involved in National Memory Screening Day, it is important to know that it only takes a few minutes for your doctor to perform a memory screening. So, have a frank, open conversation with your doctor about any memory concerns and ask about a quick screening in the office.

For more information on the Treatment for Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s prevention, click here to visit The AD Plan.com and learn more about treatment and prevention.

For more information, visit http://nationalmemoryscreening.org

 

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Brain Healthy Thanksgiving Makeovers for the Alzheimer’s Diet

Posted by on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Serving a bountiful feast to celebrate Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition honoring family and friends during the holiday season, but what about those who are attempting to stay on a healthy Alzheimer’s diet?  Is there a simple way to incorporate a brain healthy Alzheimer’s diet at the Thanksgiving dinner table?

Healthy Holiday Alternatives for the Alzheimer’s Diet

There are some delicious and simple ways of substituting healthy alternatives for some of the not so healthy foods that commonly appear on the Thanksgiving table each year.  Believe it or not it’s not too difficult to forgo the rich calorie laden gravy and buttered potatoes as well as cream, sugar and fat in those tasty desserts, for healthier foods that help promote Alzheimer’s nutrition

 Thanksgiving Alternatives for Alzheimer's Diet

Source; Natural Healthy Concepts

 Everyone knows that the turkey is usually the highlight of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. While turkey is quite healthy for Alzheimer’s nutrition when cooked properly, unfortunately the fat laden gravy that is poured over the top is not so healthy.  Lean turkey is a great source of low fat protein and according to a recent report by Harvard Healthy Publication turkey is “easy on the heart.”   Caloric intake of turkey is lower if you stick to the white meat without the skin. Dark meat contains as much as two times the fat content, and the skin will add a surplus of unwanted saturated fat.  A three ounce serving of white meat contains 26 grams of protein and under 2 grams of fat.   Remember to monitor the portion of turkey on your plate, and avoid the trend of deep frying-slow baking is the healthier alternative.  See recipes for healthy Thanksgiving side dishes by clicking on the “continue reading” tab below. 

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World Alzheimer’s Day 2013: Appreciation & 7 Tips for Caregivers

Posted by on Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Today, September 21, 2013 is World Alzheimer’s Day. If you are a family member of a loved one with Alzheimer’s you may already know far too well how offering help with AD can change the role for each member of the family.  We admire and appreciate all of the dedication, devotion and love that primary caregivers and family members yield when it comes to meeting the demands for care of those with AD.  Caregivers may ask themselves; is there a better way to cope? Here are several tips and helpful links for education and support:

Although there have been tremendous strides in 2013 (and 2014 to come) in medical research in regard to research of potential therapies, including lifestyle and diet changes for Alzheimer’s,  there is still no known cure for the disease. There is, however, a tremendous amount of recent evidence that has shown that specific lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of AD, protect and even improve memory function. For more specific tips on the caregiving aspect of the disease, read below. 

Caretakers help with Alzheimer's

Image Source: Pinterest.com

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Alzheimer’s Diet Book Q&A: Grain Brain Connection

Posted by on Thursday, September 5th, 2013

We often get questions from readers via our Facebook page and over email – here is a common question we recently got from one of our Alzheimer’s Diet book readers.

QUESTION:

i have a question about this diet- i totally love the book & the info! however, i have been on a similar diet before- for weight loss & well-being ( came from Dr. Oz). however when i had lost the needed weight, i eventually went off the diet, because i couldn’t eat enough to maintain my weight. i have started your diet- pretty much- except for the lowest carb count- i have lost 5 pounds in maybe 3 weeks- don’t have much more i should lose- so my question is- how do you eat enough to not lose weight?? i am not a protein lover- you want low carbs, no sugar, no “white” things- what do i add to maintain weight?? please advise!!

ANSWER:

Great question! Maintaining weight is really about the total calories you are taking in, balanced against how many you’re expending, but that generally stays pretty constant unless you make drastic changes to your activity level. So, rather than add different less Brain-Healthy foods, it would be preferable to eat more Brain-Healthy foods. That is, a larger quantity of specific Brain-Healthy foods (see below for examples).

One of the key points about any diet (and especially The Alzheimer’s Diet) is that important aspects may need to be tailored for each individual. This is based on a variety of factors, like starting weight, current/past medical problems, and family history (to name a few). This is why we stress that before starting any dietary changes, it is always important to consult with a qualified medical professional and not make any changes without approval by the treating physicians. That being said, when it comes to weight loss on the Alzheimer’s diet, that is a common “side effect” for most people (we tend to hear that people will lose 5-10 pounds or so within the first 1-2 months, and oftentimes more).  If a person is close to their ideal body weight to begin with, and that person does not want to lose any more weight that occurs due to carbohydrate restriction, one helpful strategy is to increase Brain-Healthier fats (like those found in olive-oil, avocado, nuts, certain fatty fish, and seeds) and protein (like those found in lean turkey and chicken, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables). ‘Healthy fats’ deliver 9 calories/gram as opposed to only 4 calories/gram with protein and carbs so eaters will be getting more calories with less food. As discussed in The Alzheimer’s Diet book, this Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including brain protective effects. As was mentioned in the question, the less white “empty” carbs and sugars the better to reduce the drain of grain brain.

For those who are still finding it hard to maintain their weight this way, increasing Brain-Healthier carbs like blueberries and strawberries, and vegetables in general (if its green, it usually means eat it!) could help, as well as tailoring an exercise program that focuses on weight training and building muscle mass, in addition to cardio in moderation.

Another question recently came in (from one of our favorite readers), who asked about what types of “super” fruits and veggies could be substituted when our favorite berries (strawberries and blueberries) are either hard to find or become expensive over the winter months. While the best scientific evidence supports these two berries (Devore and colleagues, Harvard Medical School), others like raspberries, blackberries may also help, as well as pomegranate (just watch for too much added sugar if drinking juice!) and based on the latest research, antioxidants in cocoa powder, or red wine (~1 glass in women, 1-2 in men) with polyphenols, as a seasonal berry substitute.

Thanks for all your great questions and hope this helps!

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11 Foods to Power Up the Brain: Interview with Dr. Isaacson in More Magazine

Posted by on Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Read the article in this months issue of More magazine, “11 Foods That Age-Proof Your Brain“.  Dr. Isaacson, co-author of The Alzheimer’s Diet book with Dr. Ochner, and several other national experts are interviewed by Stacey Colino about the latest scientific evidence for diet and alzheimers risk reduction, alzheimers prevention and memory loss treatment.

When it comes to Alzheimers disease (AD) several risk factors like diabetes type 2, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure, been found to to increase ones risk for AD. Dietary changes may not only help reduce AD risk directly and even help manage memory loss symptoms, but also help these other medical problems too.

Whether a person develops AD is based on a variety of complicated factors, with advancing age being the #1 risk factor. Risk factors that can be modified (like dietary changes, blood pressure control, etc) have been showed in population based studies to delay the onset of AD by several years. When it comes to risk factors in general, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and while many AD patients may not have any risk factors at all, their disease may have been more related to advancing age and/or genetics. For more info on this you can read these recent blog posts: www.theadplan.com/blog/wordpress/2012/08/alzheimers-risk-symptoms-memory-loss/ or www.theadplan.com/blog/wordpress/2012/07/therapyformemory-org-question-of-the-month/