Proper Diet Could Bolster Mental Health, Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s

More than 320,000 New Yorkers live with Alzheimer’s Disease, and the number is expected to rapidly increase as the baby boomer generation ages. But now doctors have developed a new diet that could help delay or prevent completely, the onset of the degenerative disease. NY1′s Health reporter Erin Billups filed the following report.

Cheryl Fawn’s grandfather died last summer after living with Alzheimer’s for seven years.

“He was a really sweet, wonderful man,” Fawn says. “It was really painful actually to watch that progression.”

So now Fawn, herself a wellness coach, has turned her attention to her diet, hoping to prevent Alzheimer’s in her future.

Recent studies have shown that what people eat can impact their brain health. The Mediterranean diet is a well-known example.

But Dr. Christopher Ochner, a research associate at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, says a combination of healthy eating habits can actually restore memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients, or even better for those at risk.

“With prevention, we can actually put it off long enough that, depending upon other circumstances, the person actually may not develop it at all,” he says.

Ochner has co-authored a new book, “The Alzheimer’s Diet,” which compiles the best parts of other diets. Unlike the Mediterranean diet, Ochner focuses on cutting out high glycemic carbohydrates, which can create insulin insensitivity in the part of the brain that processes memory. He says low glycemic carbs burn longer and cleaner.

“Your brown rice, your whole wheats, your rye breads, as opposed to whites. Your body is able to regulate that much better, so you’re not getting this insulin insensitivity in your brain,” Ochner says.

Like the Mediterranean diet, Ochner recommends eating more Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, to counteract the free radicals that damage brain cells while burning glucose.

“Getting those antioxidants will neutralize those free radicals,” says Ochner.

“Definitely noticed a change. I do think it has to do with the carbohydrate, because if I had a day where I would slip up and eat something really starchy, I wouldn’t feel that clear mentally,” Fawn says.

She hopes the good results are something she can use to motivate preventative eating among her family members.

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