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Can you prevent Alzheimer's ?

Like many degenerative diseases, Alzheimer's stems primarily from not looking after your diet and lifestyle. The actual damage in the brain is caused by inflammation linked to too many oxidants - toxins generated from burning, whether from cigarettes, exhaust fumes, or fried or browned food.

Supplements are vital in treating dementia. High levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood can be an indicator of Alzheimer's, so taking the vitamins that lower homocysteine levels is crucial - that means  vitamin B1, B3, B5, B6, folic acid and B12. The antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A and C and particularly E are other important preventatives, helping to prevent oxidative damage from pollution and toxins. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (aim for a mix of all colours, ranging from blueberries, beetroots, carrots and yellow peppers to green vegetables), and supplement with an all-round antioxidant supplement. The minerals zinc (15mg) and selenium (200mcg) are also important antioxidants; ensure your supplement has these as well as lipoic acid, NAC, glutathione, co-enzyme Q10 and anthocyanidins. A diet rich in vitamin E, found in seeds and fish, cuts risk by over 60 per cent. Supplementing vitamin E has proven better than the best drug for reducing symptoms in those with Alzheimer's.

Omega-3 fats, especially DHA found in oily fish, are helpful because of their anti-inflammatory properties. DHA also keeps the brain healthy by replenishing the fatty acids that make up brain cells. Try eating oily fish such as mackerel or wild or organic salmon three times a week, and supplementing 600mg of the omega-3 EPA and 400mg of DHA. The chemicals phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine aid mind and memory and are found in lecithin, so you can boost your levels by sprinkling a teaspoon of high phosphatidyl choline lecithin granules (known as Hi-PC lecithin) on your cereal in the morning. Otherwise, 'smart nutrients' such as glutamine (1,000mg), gingko biloba (150mg), pyroglutamate (250mg) and DMAE (100mg), found in many 'brain food' formulas, can help. And keep your mind and body active: exercise, and even just doing a daily crossword, can make a real difference.

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