Vegan Dr. Michael Greger recently revealed how a plant-based diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, that affects millions of people each year.
Unlike heart attacks that are often triggered by cholesterol-filled arteries, the onset of Alzheimer’s is the result of something called amyloid – a substance that develops in brain tissue. The first stages of this disease can be seen as ‘tangles’ in the brain; these are detected in ten percent of people in their 20s, and 50 percent of people in their 50s, some decades before symptoms start becoming obvious.
“Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most physically and emotionally burdensome diseases, both for the sufferers and for the people who care for them,” writes Greger. He also says diet may be the underlying factor.
There is mounting evidence that a healthy diet offers protection from the ‘tangles’ that cause Alzheimer’s, he says. “Numerous studies have shown Alzheimer’s is more a disease of lifestyle than genetics, and there is an emerging consensus that the same foods that clog our arteries can also clog our brains.”
When comparing people who eat meat more than four times a week with people who haven’t eaten meat for 30 years, the risk of developing dementia is more than three times lower among non-meat-eaters. This knowledge isn’t new – back in 2014 the Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease stated: “Vegetables, legumes [beans, peas and lentils], fruits and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.”
Whole plant foods, especially berries contain a number of antioxidants, which Dr. Greger says are able to traverse the blood to brain barrier, protecting the neurological system from ‘rusting’ effects and eventual dementia.
Whole-foods, plant-based diets are considered optimal not only for dementia prevention but overall health, Greger says. “You will be doing the best you can to protect your memories and your brain power well into old age.”