Three Ways to Prevent and Treat Dementia and Alzheimer's

by Lorna Vanderhaeghe, MS

In Canada, more than 15 percent of those living with Alzheimer's are under the age of 65, [on the news last evening from the USA was the fact that of the millions suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer's, 200,000 are below the age of 60] so no longer do we see this as simply a disease of aging. Women make up more than 72 percent of those with Alzheimer's disease and one in 10 adults will develop dementia.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, "Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills ... Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies."

Super brain nutrients

One of the most promising areas of research in the improvement of dementia is in the area of nutritional supplements. The following four super brain nutrients can provide the protection we need to keep our brain healthy.

Acetyl-L-carnitine, memory booster: 

Extensive research shows acetyl-L-carnitine can protect brain cells, restore flagging energy, and stimulate brain cells, prompting them to grow new connections to other neurons. But where acetyl-L-carnitine is most important is in combating brain aging and preventing dementia.

Studies of Alzheimer's suffers have reported improvements in memory compared to patients receiving placebo. One study showed that when acetyl-L-carnitine was added to the typical drugs for Alzheimer's a variety of functional and behavioural parameters were improved by over 50 percent when compared to the drugs alone. Stanford University researchers stated that acetyl-L-carnitine slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is also an important nutrient in the treatment of stroke victims, improving memory, task performance and cognition during recovery after stroke, especially when combined with blueberry extract.

And what about boosting brain power in anyone? A dose of 500 mg of Acetyl-L-carnitine with breakfast can jump-start the brain, improving mental clarity, spatial learning and energy.

Anti-aging alpha lipoic acid: 

Found in every cell in the body, alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight off infection and disease, protect organs and prevent premature aging.

Alpha lipoic acid helps turn glucose into energy in the cells, making it an important treatment for diabetes, and is recognized to relieve painful diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). Alpha lipoic acid has also been studied for post-stroke treatment due to its protective effect on brain and nervous tissue.

Diabetes type 3 is a newly discovered form of brain diabetes causing increased brain aging. The combination of acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are superstars at improving overall brain function, thereby reducing memory decline.

Avocados are almost as powerful as blueberries at protecting the brain

Memory enhancement with blueberry extract: 

Blueberries became news when old rats who were fed blueberries became youthful again. Now scientists have found that blueberry extract improves memory in humans. Research showed that the group taking blueberry had a significant improvement on learning and memory tests. Twelve weeks of daily blueberry consumption improved the scores of two different cognitive tests involving memory in older adults. The study's authors suggested blueberries could slow or postpone the onset of aging-related memory problems. 

Curcumin, brain protector:

Alzheimer's disease degrades the nerve cells in the brain through inflammation in brain glial cells, the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, metal toxicity and oxidative damage. Several studies have found that curcumin, the yellow pigment in the curry spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in the brain that can break down plaques and improve memory. The research will continue but it is compelling enough at this point to add curcumin to your brain-protecting program.

Super brain foods

What we eat also plays a role in our overall brain power.

Playing games that require you to remember words, spell, do calculations or perform new thought patterns keeps those neural networks strong (at  my  age  of  72  I  still  teach  guitar, banjo, mandolin; I'm still playing; I read books all the time; I'm constantly studying, adding to me website, and blog. I work part-time as caretaker for a Community Center; I work with and ride my horse 3 times a week;  all  this  keeps  my  brain  healthy  and  young - Keith Hunt)

Some foods just stand out when it comes to their powerful brain effects.

Blueberries improve memory cognition and motor skills. Blueberries not only slow age-related brain decline but also reverse and improve memory. Add one cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to your daily diet.

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, sardines and herring are essential for brain function. Numerous studies have shown that eating about four ounces of wild salmon two to three times per week significantly reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Remember wild is best.

Organic green tea is another brain-boosting food. Drinking two cups of organic green tea per day has been shown to lower the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults and protect from Parkinsons and other age-related brain disorders. Make sure it is organic to avoid any fungicides used in the processing.

Avocados are almost as powerful as blueberries at protecting the brain. The wonderful monounsaturated fats in avocado promote healthier blood flow in the brain.

Brain games

Use it or lose it is an important adage when it comes to brain health. Play games, chess or cards or learn a new language. Download the Words with Friends ap on your phone or tablet or play through Face-book. Playing games that require you to remember words, spell, do calculations or perform new thought patterns keeps those neural networks strong.

This is the first time in Canadian history that we have more people over age 50 than under 50, and we need to start early to improve brain function. We are living longer but Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are common. Start a brain-boosting program today. 

Lorna Vanderhaeghe, MS, is a leading Canadian women's natural health expert. She has authored more than 11 books, many of which are free at