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12 Foods that Improve Brain Aging and Diseases Like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Susanna Sisson's picture
Aging woman

Drugs used for Alzheimer's treatment are not always safe, shows the research. This is why people are looking for alternative, including foods that can help with aging brain and benefits diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent degenerative disorder of the brain among elderly individuals. It is estimated that 5.5 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer's disease. Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer's.

Many studies indicate that oxidative stress is an important pathogenic factor which involves oxidizing macromolecules such as DNA, lipids, and proteins in AD. Beta amyloid formation is also an important factor leading to the symptoms and the disease. Drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s are not without serious side effects so researchers are looking to safer alternatives as an option.

1. Fucoidan – There is an abundance of research regarding fucoidan and almost every aspect of health from anti-aging, to cancer, organ regeneration, benefits in the treatment of cancer, anti-inflammatory properties, stem cell mobilization, and a large number or studies with regard to neurological disorders indicating a benefit in diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and prion diseases such as Kuru, which affected New Zealand natives who practiced cannibalism and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), both of which are fatal. There is now evidence that taking fucoidan prior to inoculation of prions in mice inhibited the development of the disease. Fucoidan is also known to inhibit the formation of beta amyloid, which can and does lead to Alzheimer’s disease. There is further evidence that fucoidan helps chelate heavy metals within the body, which can lead to neurological damage.

2. Coconut oil – In 2015, researchers at the University of Valencia completed and published a study which demonstrated positive results in subjects with Alzherimer’s receiving coconut oil versus a control group that did not. The scientists used mini test scores Lobo cognitive test, pre and post intervention in both groups and found a statistically higher score in those patients who ingested 40ml of extra virgin coconut oil daily.

3. Ginkgo biloba – There are almost 300 studies on the effect of gingko biloba and Alzheimer’s. One such study found gingko to be an effective adjunct treatment in Alzheimer’s related apathy. In another study, it was found that Gingko biloba extract (GbE) has potentially beneficial effects over placebo on cognitive performance, activities of daily living, and clinical global impression in the treatment of dementia at doses greater than 200mg/day (usually 240mg/day).

4. Green or other teas and coffee – Tea and coffee contain methylxanthines (MTXs) which are consumed by almost everybody in almost every area of the world. Caffeine, theophylline and theobromine are the most well-known members of this family of compounds. These MTXs may have preventive and even therapeutic potential in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). An Iranian study found consumption of green tea for two months by with the improvement of antioxidant system exerts beneficial effect on cognitive function.

5. Fish oil Omega 3 – A Canadian study found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in fish oil can reduce neuro-inflammation and cognitive decline, but EPA positively influences mood disorders, whereas DHA maintains normal brain structure.

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6. B-Complex vitamins – High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer's. B vitamins are known to suppress homocysteine. A 2010 study found that patients receiving high levels of B vitamins suffered significantly less brain shrinkage compared to those who had received a placebo, even after 2 years. In those who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial, their brains shrank at half the rate of those taking a placebo.

7. Iodine – Iodine is an essential nutrient found in seaweed that is known to inhibit the growth of cancers and improve metabolism. A deficiency can lead to “brain fog”, a symptom that mimics dementia.

8. Vitamin D – The benefits of Vitamin D on skeletal health and as protection against aging and skin cancer are well known as are the benefits with regard to cardiovascular health, stroke and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Scientists have determined vitamin D receptors are widespread in brain tissue, and the vitamin’s biologically active form has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's Disease. Therefore we should also include vitamin D in the category of nutrients beneficial in cognitive impairment and dementia.

9. Berries and cherries - These fruits contain anthocyanin that protects the brain from further damage caused by free radicals. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain antioxidants and lots of vitamin C and E. Resveratrol is a polycyclic aromatic compound found in skins of grapes, raspberries, mulberries in varying concentrations that has been found to have powerful antioxidant properties.

10. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and pecans - All of these nuts contain omega-3s and omega-6s, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, and magnesium.

11. Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds - These seeds contain zinc, choline and vitamin E which are important nutrients for brain health.

12. Cinnamon, sage, tumeric and cumin - Theses spices can all help to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain which can cause memory issues.

In addition to eating the foods listed above, you’ll want to decrease the risk of illnesses that can make your brain age such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Exercise and get enough sleep. Avoid aluminum and mercury as well as other heavy metals. Stop eating sugar. Do not take anticholinergics and statin drugs. Know the side effects of drugs your physician recommends. Be proactive about your health and you will substantially decrease your health risks.