Thursday, September 03, 2015

Warding off Alzheimer's with B Vitamins & Omega 3

September is World Alzheimer's Month. My dad had Alzheimer's so it's a disease which I particularly loathe as it ravaged his brain and rendered him unrecognisable. It also nearly killed my mother looking after him. Eventually he was found a place in a care home and died of a heart attack - a welcome relief.

It seems that Alzheimer's is not hereditary, but I don't intend to take any chances.

I subscribe to an e-newsletter called Food for the Brain which aims to help people ward off the disease and increase their awareness of it in others. This month it talks about steps you can take to ward off the onset of Alzheimer's. They can be summarized very simply as: lead as healthy a life as possible.

Diet is the front line in the anti-Alzheimer's campaign. Eat more essential fatty acids to increase the levels of omega 3 and decrease levels of omega 6 (found in high levels in AD patients). This means eating more oily fish, nuts and seeds and raw dark green leafy vegetables. I've stopped eating salmon however because it's contaminated with toxic chemicals so I stick to sardines, mackerel, and smoked herring instead.

On the flanks are sufficient levels of the antioxidants vitamins C and E to combat oxidative stress in our bodies. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Sunflower, chia and hemp seeds sprinkled on salad gives a nice crunch, for example.

Early subversive attacks by Alzheimer's can be analysed by checking your homo-cysteine levels. If too high (above 10µmol/l), this amino-acid will cause toxicity in the body, in which case combat it with supplements of B6, B12 and folic acid.

Lifestyle is central to the anti-Alzheimer's campaign in that it influences risk factors, so the best way to avoid it is to lead a healthy life - do exercise to stay physically and mentally fit, keep socially active, keep learning to stimulate your brain, and stop smoking. Still smoking? Do 50 press-ups!

If the worst happens, damage control can be administered through drugs and medication which can minimally affect the Clinical Dementia Rating. Solanezumab, for example, has been shown to reduce brain shrinkage over eighteen months by... 2%! I wouldn't call that much of a result for a massive blast of chemicals, and who knows what the side-effects are!

A much better result has been found from giving patients B vitamins with high levels of omega 3 reducing shrinkage by up to 73%!

So patients with high homo-cysteine levels should take B vitamins and omega 3 for a treatment that is thirty times more effective than the current most hopeful drug treatment, with no side-effects and at a fraction of the cost.

For a super anti-Alzheimer's recipe, try the fishcakes on the Food for the Brain website.

Ingredients (serves 2):
  • 250g of roasted vegetables (eg. potatoes, carrots, parsnip, onions)
  • 150g of mackerel (tinned or fresh) – other fish works too
  • 4 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tbsp of ground chia seeds (chia and flaxseeds can be ground together)
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard (English mustard works fine too, but use slightly less as it is hotter)
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped - only add if there are no onions in your roast vegetables)
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
  • Honey & mustard sauce (just mix one tbsp of mustard, 1 tsp of honey)
  • Capers to garnish (you can add a table spoon to the fish mix if you like, it is quite delicious)
Mash roast vegetables, add shallots, salt, pepper, beaten egg and mix well. Then add the fish, this is best done in flaking it on top of the mashed ingredients and then carefully folding the fish into the mix (at this point fold in the capers if you are adding them)
Pre-heat the oven at 160c and lay out parchment paper on a roasting tray. Place the ground chia and linseed on a plate - season with salt and pepper. 
Use a large spoon to divide the mix and make equally sized balls, then one by one flatten with the palm of your hand and coat with the chia and flaxseed mix before placing them on the baking tray. Do this very carefully as the fishcakes are quite fragile at this point. 
Bake for 30-45 minutes.Garnish the fishcakes with honey & mustard sauce and capers - Add minted mushy peas and/or a kale and lemon salad for an extra boost of nutrients!


  1. Getting oily fish here is next to it's back to the sardines tinned in olive oil...

    1. A good choice as you eat the bones too. :)

      My family moans like hell when I cook oily fish so I also buy mostly tins.

  2. Really interesting info, particularly about the diet. My husband is currently staggered by the amount of excellent data he has come across in his medical journals with regard to the health benefits of exercise - far more than he had realised. So we are now trying to make sure we eat well and exercise.

    1. I've been an exercise slouch during the summer because it was too hot, except for some time swimming in the sea, but it's back to normal now (almost). :)

  3. Thanks for this. It's coming to that time if our lives when we are having to consider the future of parents with Alzheimers looming.

    1. It's not a happy prospect. I hope your parents don't succumb.

  4. It is a fear lurking in the background, although there is no history of Alzheimers in either of our families. Your diet tips are very useful. The Times is always going on about doing more exercise as a way to combat both Alzheimers and many other unpleasant health problems associated with aging.

    1. Yes, it's not just good for the heart but a whole range of body parts. :)

      And weight-training is important to ward off osteoporosis to maintain bone density.

  5. Gosh, this is really interesting, thank you. I think there's also a big correlations between mercury fillings and this disease. Had mine taken out years ago, but it can be dangerous so it's not always advisable. Great, simple (effective!) diet tips here. I worry because am allergic to fish and nuts are expensive over here, but now I shall feel more justified in spending on them!

    1. Are you allergic to cod liver oil capsules too? They might be the answer.


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