Dear Dr. Mirkin:
Can diet help to prevent senility and Alzheimer’s disease?
Answer: Probably. A study from Columbia University in New York shows that those least likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and folate, in foods such as nuts, fish, tomatoes, olive oil, poultry, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and dark green leafy vegetables. They eat less red meat, organ meats and high-fat dairy products (Archives of Neurology, April 2010).
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with an overactive immunity called inflammation. Your immunity is good for you because it prevents germs from invading your body. However if your immunity is overactive, it uses the same chemicals that it uses to destroy invading bacteria to punch holes in your arteries and damage your brain (Nature Medicine, August 2009).
The foods recommended in the Columbia study reduce inflammation, while red meat and high fat dairy products may increase inflammation. Being overweight also increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease because full fat cells release hormones that cause inflammation (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2009).
A practicing physician for more than 40 years and a radio talk show host for 25, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
Dr. Mirkin's latest book is The Healthy Heart Miracle, published by HarperCollins. His daily short features on fitness have been heard on CBS Radio News stations since the 1970's.
He has written 16 books including The Sportsmedicine Book, the best-selling book on the subject that has been translated into many languages. Dr. Mirkin did his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and over the years he has served as a Teaching Fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, and Associate Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Read more at www.drmirkin.com.
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