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Eating Healthier Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

 REGINA D. Posvar LPN,RNA
REGINA D. Posvar LPN,RNA

Q: Are there foods I can eat to prevent Alzheimer’s?

A: In the past there was a lot of controversy over this topic, but there has been research that suggests that eating certain healthier foods may keep the brain healthier, while other foods can harm the brain. Some research has noted the reversal of some cognitive symptoms with the use of coconut oil of which there is now an alternative food supplement called Axona or Caprylic Acid. It is the only food supplement at this time that is approved by the FDA. There is continued research for coconut oil and palm kernel oil and their results.

Of course the Caribbean can go on and on about coconut oil and the many benefits it releases. But this is not the only health food that is beneficial when it comes to prevention of Alzheimer’s. Most research is pointing indirectly at a Mediterranean diet. The more leafy green vegetables and foods that decrease inflammation like walnuts, flax seeds, tuna, salmon, cucumbers and others you eat, the healthier your…? Wait! This sounds like a Healthy Heart diet. Yep! The same foods for your heart are needed for your brain. So my suggestion is to eat “heart healthy”. If you want a more detailed diet regarding memory and cognitive symptoms, see a doctor who practises Naturopathic medicine familiar with natural and self healing.

Q: My mom was on memory medication five years ago. I feel she is getting worse. Should I put her back on the medication?

A: Medication used for Alzheimer’s such as Donepezil (Aricept); Rivastigmine (Exelon); Galantamine (Razadyne), which are all classified as cholinesterase inhibitors and Memantine (Namenda) a M- methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist treats moderate to severe Alzheimer’s are all really best taken early in the disease. Statistically they only last about three years of noticeable improvement. You may or may not see any difference. But because you see no change, does not mean that it was working.

What I have seen a lot with patients I have cared for is a dramatic decline in cognitive abilities when taken off the medication. Unfortunately, we are not able to detect if the medication is maintaining the current level or not. What studies are showing now and promoting is taking the medication as early in the disease as possible to prevent the progression or slow it down. They are finding better results with patients taking the medication early on.

The question is whether it is beneficial to put someone back on the medication, the answer is no. The patient will not regain their level of cognitive abilities from when they first started the medication. These medications are not like behavioural medications, although in later stages they can be used to manage anxiety to take the edge off. If you take someone off a behaviour medication and the behaviour returns, you can take the medication again to regain the level of function of desire. Memory medications do not work like that. Unfortunately the level of function is lost.

Q: If stress is causing my memory problems, is it possible to get my memory back if I eliminate the stress?

A: Yes and No. It depends on the damage the stress has caused and how long the stress has gone untreated. If symptoms of memory impairment or cognitive interruption are detected early on, then treating the stress to eliminate or decrease are step one in reversing the symptoms. Step two would be learning about exercising your memory to improve and build up new healthy cells. It is so easy for someone to tell you, “just stop worrying about it,” or “get over it.” Everyone processes information differently. It is our job as human beings to accept and understand those differences whether we completely understand how it works or not. To say one method of thinking is the right way and the other way is wrong, is not fair to our individuality. For example: dyslexia is a learning disability. This learning disability does not interfere with a person’s intelligence. It is actually a different way of processing information. Likewise, processing a method to decrease your stress is different for everyone.

Laughter is good for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver.
The nice thing about Alzheimer’s is that you can meet new people every day! And without ever leaving the house. Send questions or humor related to dementia to angelsofthewest@outlook.com or 758-486-4509

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