About 6.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. By 2050, the number of Americans age 65 and older is anticipated to reach 88 million. As the aging population increases, the risk of dementia also does.
Research to find a cure for dementia started years ago. But up to this time, experts have not discovered a cure. So, they’ve turned their attention to other variables, like diet and foods, in the hopes of lowering the risk of cognitive conditions. Studies on brain foods include yogurt.
The connection between the gut and the brain
Like the brain, the gut also produces many neurochemicals to regulate mood, memory, and other mental processes. This function is similar between the two.
In fact, gut bacteria produce nearly 95% of serotonin or “happy hormones” in the body that influences moods.
The two things that can impact the neurotransmitters produced by the brain are inflammation in the gut and a poor diet. Proteins produced by some gut bacteria could alter the interaction between the nervous and immune systems.
This change could lead to the development of amyloid plaques in the brain found in those with Alzheimer’s.
Hence, problems in the gut and an unhealthy diet can contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
How does eating yogurt help?
Researchers look at how yogurt could help with dementia. Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium, which benefit the body in many ways. Eating it promotes a healthy gut, good digestion, and stronger immunity.
Yogurt has probiotics, which are good active living bacteria. The probiotics present in yogurt, in some types of cheese, and other fermented foods can prevent gut inflammation that could affect the nervous system.
Effects of yogurt on your health
Trillions of good and bad microorganisms live in the gut. Researchers refer to these microorganisms as gut microbiota. The microbiota affects the immune system.
The aging process changes the microbiota in the gut and causes imbalance. This change could weaken the immune system, making older people susceptible to diseases. Since yogurt is rich in good bacteria, researchers believe it could improve gut health, which can then affect the brain in a positive way.
To prove, researchers used mice to determine how good bacteria can help with cognition. Based on research, laboratory mice showed increased cognitive function and memory after fecal transplants of good bacteria from younger mice to older mice.
Further observations revealed that older mice developed better memory and were less affected by anxiety, a common dementia symptom. Brain scans also revealed that the brains of older mice regenerated.
The study suggests that good bacteria in the gut might help reverse cognitive decline. Yogurt is a good source of good bacteria. However, advanced studies are needed to confirm if the findings apply to humans.
What is the main cause of dementia?
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's, and its risk increases due to various factors, such as:
- Family history: If a family member has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there's a high probability that you may have it, too.
- Age: As you get older, your risk of Alzheimer's increases.
- Health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and Down syndrome can raise the risk of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
- Depression can affect memory that can lead to poor attention. Most people with Alzheimer's suffer from depression.
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and drinking alcohol can contribute to dementia.
- Brain infection, such as meningitis, can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
What vitamins can help dementia?
There's no solid evidence that vitamins or supplements can prevent or slow down Alzheimer's or dementia. However, what you put into your body has undeniable effects on your health.
Taking vitamins can help the brain get the nutrients needed to stay functioning.
Remember to consult your doctor for potential side effects or problems before taking any vitamins or supplements.
Here are some vitamins that promote brain health:
● Vitamins E and C
It was found out that people with dementia have low levels of both of these vitamins. Including them in your diet may boost brain health and immunity.
Most seniors have zinc deficiency, so supplementing about 30 to 40 mg of zinc could help enhance body and brain functions.
● Vitamin D
In one study, older people with moderate vitamin D deficiency were 53% more at risk of dementia. The risk increased to 125% for those severely deficient.
● Vitamin B1 and B6
Both of these vitamins help improve nerve and cognitive function.
● Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Taking omega-3 vitamins can benefit the cardiovascular and neurological systems, promoting overall health.
In a nutshell, what you eat could be your first line of defense against all sorts of diseases, including dementia. Filling your plate with vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome food selections can promote your body’s healing ability from illnesses.
How can you prevent dementia later in life?
There’s not enough evidence to prove that dementia is preventable. However, you can reduce the risk by changing aspects of your life that you can control, including making healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some suggestions:
- Eat a balanced diet - A Mediterranean diet consisting of various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and moderate dairy consumption, like yogurt, is good for your health.
- Exercise regularly - You shed excess fat and maintain a healthy weight when you exercise. Engaging in physical activities also improves blood flow in the brain.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking - Smoking and alcohol harm the immune system, so find a way to quit. When you get sick, your body will find it difficult to fight infection and diseases when your immunity is weak.
- Get enough sleep - Sleeping problems are a symptom of varying health conditions, including dementia. If you have trouble sleeping, consult a doctor for advice. A good night’s rest is crucial as it allows the body to recover from fatigue.
Good nutrition is vital for a healthy body. Yogurt could be part of your diet as it’s good for the gut. It’s rich in probiotics that help boost the immune system and protect you from infections and diseases. But choose your yogurt as some choices, such as sweetened yogurt is packed with sugar, which is not healthy. Choose plain yogurt or ones with less sugar.
In summary, the food that you eat impacts your brain and health, so choose what you eat wisely.
Syed has years of experience dealing with people, understanding their needs, and helping them find solutions to their problems.
As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP), Certified Montessori Dementia Care Professional (CMDCP), Syed is committed to working closely with Senior and their family knowing what is it like for individuals facing a challenging time, at times groping in dark trying to figure what is the appropriate next step or care level for their unique situation.
Syed and Senex Memory Advisors are fully committed to working closely with families in creating a personalized, step-by-step process memory care plan at zero cost.