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Northwest VEG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Portland, OR that works to educate and encourage people to make vegan choices for a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate world.

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New Dietary Guidelines for Brain Health

July 29, 2013

By Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD
Director of Nutrition Education PCRM

Portland VegFest & Health Conference Presenter

According to data used from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will triple by 2050. It is imperative that health care professionals and the public know diet could help change that devastating statistic. Although there is no known treatment for the disease, evidence suggests that we can prevent many cases of Alzheimer’s disease with simple lifestyle changes.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine put forth seven dietary principles that can help reduce the risk of the disease.

  1. Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
  2. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should be the primary staples of the diet.
  3. One ounce of nuts or seeds (one small handful) daily provides a healthful source of vitamin E.
  4. A reliable source of vitamin B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 mcg per day for adults) should be part of your daily diet.
  5. When selecting multiple vitamins, choose those without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.
  6. While aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, it is prudent to avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contribute dietary aluminum.
  7. Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week.
As with all good dietary advice, the benefits don’t just support one aspect of health, but rather support a holistic approach to thinking about health and wellbeing. These recommendations could not only cut one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease by half or more, but they can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

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