Digestive Balance in Alzheimer and Dementia

Alzheimer and dementia

Achieving a proper digestive balance in Alzheimer and dementia is a lot like literally providing food for thought. If we are what we eat, then people with Alzheimer’s disease must have eaten lotus flowers and drank from the waters of the Lethe River. Mythological references aside, a person’s diet and nutritional habits –or lack thereof- can have a very meaningful impact on the onset and extent of Alzheimer’s disease. As far as nutrition goes, the single most influential risk factor for Alzheimer’s is an elevated level of homocysteine in combination with a deficit of B vitamins and folic acid.

Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that can directly damage the medial temporary lobe, the part of the brain that quickly degenerates in Alzheimer’s disease. In the absence of B vitamins, which the body needs to convert the neurotoxin homocysteine into the beneficial antioxidant glutathione and amino acid SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine), homocysteine can run rampant and wreak havoc in the medial temporary lobe. Studies in Europe and America have not only associated high levels of homocysteine with memory decline, but also shown that such levels can predict physical brain degeneration in individuals otherwise considered healthy.
The good news is that homocysteine levels can be measured with a home test kit and, even better, that the body can be supplemented with B vitamins in order to prevent and even reverse memory loss. Foods such as meat, poultry, fish, offal, eggs, nuts, beans, lentils and tofu are a great source of B vitamins like B12. Similarly, starchy like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals are very rich in B vitamins. Breakfast cereals in particular are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals like B12 and folate. Liver is a source of folate as well. Keep in mind that folic acid on its own can mask B12 deficiency; thus it is recommended to only supplement folate if B12 is being supplemented too. 

Related Read: Can Vitamin E slow down Alzheimer?