5 Foods That Raise the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Healthcare providers recommend that seniors maintain a healthy diet to prevent cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and other medical conditions. However, more and more studies suggest diet also plays a role in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Some foods are particularly suspected to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.

1. Red Meats

Red meat is a great source of iron, which is necessary for preventing anemia. However, an excessive amount of iron in the body contributes to the development of free radicals, which leads to cell damage and destruction. Iron tends to accumulate in the gray matter of the brain where cognitive impairment is likely to initially develop. Researchers recommend limiting red meat consumption to one or two times a week or choosing grass-fed beef.

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Refined Carbohydrates

A diet rich in foods with high levels of starch and sugar also puts older adults at risk. Seniors who enjoy regularly eating refined carbohydrate-rich foods are four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Bread, pasta, and baked goods cause a substantial rise in glucose and insulin. The sharp and rapid rise in blood sugar causes the pancreas to release more insulin, which researchers theorize damages the fragile blood vessels in the brain.

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High AGE Foods

AGE refers to “advanced glycation end products”. The glycogen compounds are naturally found throughout the body and in certain foods. However, AGE foods cause elevated glucose levels. A study performed by the National Institute on Aging found that seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s had increased glucose levels in their brains due to an inability to metabolize the substance. Unlike other cells in the body, glucose doesn’t need insulin to invade the brain or affect neurons. The excessive levels of glucose are thought to cause inflammation and cell damage.

4. Foods with High Cholesterol

Studies suggest elevated cholesterol plays an important role in Alzheimer’s development. Cholesterol is involved in the production of the amyloid-beta proteins responsible for damaging neurons. Laboratory animals fed high-fat, high-cholesterol foods demonstrated an increased difficulty learning and remembering compared with animals that ate healthier diets. The brains of the afflicted animals also displayed a significant loss of neurons and other symptoms typically associated with Alzheimer’s. In Finland, scientists studied 444 men. The group learned that the men who had chronically high blood cholesterol during middle age were three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in their senior years.

5. Gluten

Australian cardiologist Dr. Mak Daulatzai believes non-celiac gluten sensitivity has the potential to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease development. Gluten sensitivity may appear in people who don’t have celiac disease. In some people, the gastrointestinal system perceives gluten as a noxious substance or a threat. As such, inflammation occurs that spreads throughout the body, including the brain. Although he continues researching the topic, Dr. Daulatzai speculates that the adverse reaction to gluten leads to neuron damage.

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