Dietary fat and cholesterol have borne the brunt of nutritionists’ wrath for years. Now it’s sugar’s turn. In addition to being associated with weight gain, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, now even Alzheimer’s disease is being laid at sugar's doorstep.
There is a strong case for over-consumption of sugar being a direct cause, perhaps the number one cause, of Alzheimer’s disease. Whether or not further research bears this out, reducing your sugar intake can only improve your health.
Here are some questions and answers about sugar consumption and diet that may help you reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
What foods should I avoid?
Be conscious of processed sugars in the food you eat. Watch for ingredients such as glucose, fructose, dextrose, galactose, sorbitol and polyglycitol, which are all forms of sugar. Most processed, packaged foods have a high sugar content. Your diet should be based primarily around foods from the produce section that have not been processed, and can be eaten raw or with minimum preparation. If it’s in a package, beware, and read the ingredients. Convenience foods are a tough habit to break, but if you start gradually substituting fresh fruits and vegetables for the old standbys, your health can only benefit.
Aside from sugary foods, are there other items I should eliminate?
Unfortunately, sugar is also hiding in many of the traditional foods we love to eat, such as bread, spaghetti, mac and cheese and other pastas. Carbohydrates convert to sugar in our bodies. Stick to whole grains, and definitely limit your consumption of fruit juices, including orange juice, which is chock full of concentrated sugar.
Your next question is probably, “So what can I eat?”
Again, fruit, not fruit juice, vegetables, and lean meats are your best bet if you want to improve your health. It’s true that many fruits have a lot of carbs, but they break down more slowly in your body.
Are there foods that can increase the chance of my brain staying healthy?
Current research shows that food with anti-inflammatory properties, such as spinach, fish, garlic, dark berries, and turmeric can protect your brain and improve blood flow, and delay or prevent the decline of your body and mind processes. Possibly even Alzheimer’s disease.