03 Mar New research links a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to decreased Alzheimer’s risk
Alzheimer’s disease affects 750 000 people in South Africa and tens of millions worldwide – robbing people of their precious memories and alienating them from their friends and loved ones during their golden years.
Amid the often gloomy news surrounding Alzheimer’s in the scientific community, a recent research paper is giving new hope to older adults who wish to live their best lives after retirement.
The secret to beating Alzheimer’s, it seems, could be as simple as increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
Flavonol intake linked to lowered risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers at Rush University, Chicago studied 921 people – aged 81 on average – for a period of six years. The subjects were asked to give detailed information about their diets and daily lifestyles.
What’s interesting about this research is the link it appears to have found between flavonol intake and Alzheimer’s.
Participants who consumed high levels of flavonol, which is found in fruit and vegetables, were 48% less likely to develop the condition than those who ate the least.
Participants in the highest intake group consumed just over 15mg of flavonol per day.
While the study’s authors made sure to point out that diet was not the only possible explanation for this positive outcome – income, education level and regular socialisation also seem to have been important – the link between flavonol and Alzheimer’s is definitely something to take note of.
Increasing flavonol intake may be as simple as eating your veggies
You may be wondering just how many plates of fruit and vegetables you’d need to polish off in order to consume 15g of flavonol. As it turns out, the quantity of plant-based foods required to supply that amount of flavonol isn’t that large at all.
A few cups of greens, fruit, and berries per day should be more than sufficient for most people.
There are four main types of flavonols: isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin. These compounds are found in high concentrations in the following foods.
- Isorhamnetin is found in pears, olive oil, wine and cooked tomatoes
- Kale, tea, broccoli, spinach, and beans are rich in kaempferol.
- Tea, wine, tomatoes and oranges are excellent sources of myricetin
- Quercetin is found in tomatoes, tea, kale and apples.
As you may have noticed, there are several foods that contain more than one type of flavonoid – including tea, wine, tomatoes and kale.
This makes them excellent candidates for inclusion in a healthy diet for people of all ages – especially the over-60s.
Good health is the reward for a lifetime of holistic eating
It’s quite normal to get excited over new discoveries – especially when they have the potential to nip a terrible condition like Alzheimer’s in the bud. However, it’s important to remember that flavonol-rich foods are not an instant solution and eating them in excess won’t necessarily guarantee good health.
Instead, the wisest approach is to include a variety of healthy, plant-based foods in your diet – and if you’re an alternative medicine practitioner, this is excellent advice to pass on to your patients.
Population studies over several decades point to the health and longevity benefits of consuming a Mediterranean diet.
As it happens, the Mediterranean diet also contains many flavonol-rich foods including tomatoes, red wine, kale, spinach and other greens. It also contains low levels of sugar and processed foods.
While all of these factors undoubtedly contribute to good health, it’s difficult to isolate a single one of them and recommend it in isolation.
A healthy diet, low stress levels, and mental stimulation are all excellent goals for retired people and those over 60, and should definitely be encouraged by their health practitioners.
Alternative medicine has a major role to play in the health of seniors
If you’re an alternative health specialist or a supplement manufacturer or distributor, you have a vital role to play in the long-term health of the people who turn to you for dietary advice and supplements.
For more information on the alternative medicine industry, or if you’d like to market your product or service more effectively, contact us today.