Posted by: Chris Maloney | May 31, 2012

Can Dr. Oz Prevent Alzheimers With Diet Changes?

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzhei...

English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Dr. Oz, “Diet is crucial when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s, and not just for seniors.”  Yikes!  Here I have been going along without being aware of these crucial things I need to do.

The first thing he says is that as my belly grows, my brain shrinks!?  Wow, there are people all over America with no brains.   But I guess we already knew that.  Then he says I can eat food but I need superfoods (imagine a cucumber with a cape).

Here are the five he recommends:

1) Elderberries.  (quercetin)  I like elderberry jam, and I use elderberry extract as an immune support.  Check, already part of my diet.

2) Pecans.  (omega-3s)  Oops!  Does occasional pecan pie count?  Very occasional, because it’s too sweet.  Half a can of corn syrup, anyone?  But wouldn’t that make my belly grow and my brain shrink?

3) Chicken giblets or clams (B-12)  Do chickens even come with giblet packs anymore?  And I hate clams.  But I get tons of B-12 using nutritional yeast, so I’m going to check yes on this one.

4)  Vegetable Juice (vitamins and antioxidants)  He doesn’t say which one, but no added sugar.  I’ve got carrot juice in the fridge.  Ignoring his suggestion to juice at home (25 pounds of dry carrot mulch anyone?) I’m checking this one.

5)  Beets (nitrates)  He says these will increase blood flow to my brain.  I always thought they just made urine red.  I don’t get my daily beets.

So I only got three out of five.  How did you do?

Now I’m looking into the diet connection.  The mouse version of Alzheimer’s does better on exercise than diet change.   There is some association between metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease.  Some see Alzheimer’s as a vascular disease resulting from insufficiency as you age.  If that is the case, turmeric might be a better choice than beets.

But does diet affect Alzheimer’s Disease?  It’s a factor, but one among many.  The world expert statisticians have this to say:

Diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia in midlife, and current tobacco use were associated with increased risk of AD, and Mediterranean-type diet, folic acid intake, low or moderate alcohol intake, cognitive activities, and physical activity were associated with decreased risk.” (abstract below)

What? Nothing about beets?  Nope.  So I’m following all the existing recommendations based on all available data.  Doing what I can to avoid it.

Oh, and gaining weight doesn’t make your brain shrink.  It’s high lipids that are a risk factor in mid-life.

Arch Neurol. 2011 Sep;68(9):1185-90. Epub  2011 May 9.

Risk factors and preventive interventions for Alzheimer disease: state of the science.


Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



Numerous studies have investigated risk factors for Alzheimer disease (AD). However, at a recent National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference, an independent panel found insufficient evidence to support the association of any modifiable factor with risk of cognitive decline or AD.


To present key findings for selected factors and AD risk that led the panel to their conclusion.


An evidence report was commissioned by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. It included English-language publications in MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from 1984 through October 27, 2009. Expert presentations and public discussions were considered.


Study inclusion criteria for the evidence report were participants aged 50 years and older from general populations in developed countries; minimum sample sizes of 300 for cohort studies and 50 for randomized controlled trials; at least 2 years between exposure and outcome assessment; and use of well-accepted diagnostic criteria for AD.


Included studies were evaluated for eligibility and data were abstracted. Quality of overall evidence for each factor was summarized as low, moderate, or high.


Diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia in midlife, and current tobacco use were associated with increased risk of AD, and Mediterranean-type diet, folic acid intake, low or moderate alcohol intake, cognitive activities, and physical activity were associated with decreased risk. The quality of evidence was low for all of these associations.


Currently, insufficient evidence exists to draw firm conclusions on the association of any modifiable factors with risk of AD.

PMID:  21555601





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