Dementia is a common umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms linked to a decline in thinking skills and memory which diminishes the person’s ability to communicate, focus and perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading types of dementia which only gets worse with time and that is why it is essential you add brain healthy foods to your diet. Albeit the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dramatically increases as you age, it can also affect younger people. According to a renowned Pakistani neurologist, Dr. Wasey Shakir informed during a press briefing at the Karachi Press Club in 2019 that though no specific data of the elderly population suffering from dementia in Pakistan is available, approximately 8 to 10% of the population above 65 years’ experience chronic memory loss. He further mentioned every 68 seconds someone across the globe develops Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 5 to 7% people above 65 and 10 to 15% people above 75 are afflicted by this ailment.
In a seminar organized on Alzheimer’s in Lahore in 2017, Dr. Yasmin Raashid said that roughly 48 million people are suffering from dementia across the world and this figure is most likely going to triple by 2050. Out of this approximately one million Pakistanis are living with dementia, which makes it vital to provide medical practitioners and paramedics appropriate training to manage dementia and provide proper care.
What is Dementia
This ailment pertains to the loss of cognitive functioning which includes reasoning, remembering and thinking. This ailment can hinder behavioral abilities, for instance, problem-solving, memory, language skills, self-management, visual perception and an ability to pay attention or focus to the extent of interfering with the individual’s everyday activities. Certain patients are also unable to control their emotions, which causes their personality to change.
Symptoms of this ailment can range in severity from affecting an individual’s functioning to entirely depending on another person for everyday activities. These signs first appear when once-healthy neurons within the brain stop working, disconnect from other brain cells and expire. Though with age people lose some neurons, not everyone experiences dementia and those who do, experience a much frequent and more significant loss.
Causes of dementia can range depending on types of brain changes which may be taking place. The various types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal disorders, lewy body dementia and vascular dementia. Some people even suffer from more than one kind of dementia. The frontotemporal disorder is caused by damage caused to the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes. Lewy body dementia, one of the most common causes of dementia, involves abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein within the brain. Lewy body deposits affect chemicals within the brain, which in turn can lead to behavioral, mood, movement and thinking issues. Vascular dementia occurs due to brain injuries and stroke that can affect brain and cognition functionality.
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How to Increase Brain Power?
Though there is no known cure for dementia, there are certain things you can do at an early age to keep it at bay. Researchers recommend people to take precautions from a younger age to delay the chances of developing this disease by being social, eating a healthy diet and working out. Below are three memory booster brain foods which can easily be incorporated in your diet:
Memory Enhancing Berries
Make sure to include blackberries, blueberries and strawberries to your diet they are ideal for enhancing memory and preventing age-related memory loss. Berry fruits are loaded with high levels of antioxidants which protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals. Berry fruits are also known to enhance cognition and motor control while changing the way neurons in the brain communicate, which can prevent inflammation in the brain that leads to neuronal damage. Furthermore, they are loaded with high amounts of phenolic compounds, specifically anthocyanins and anti-inflammatory attributes which are responsible for giving blue, bright red and purple colors.
Did you know oxidative stress can speed your brain’s aging process which can adversely affect brain functionality? According to animal studies published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine 2009 berry fruit is ideal for reversing age-related cognitive deterioration among animals. In another research published in the Journal of Neural Regeneraton Research in 2014 it was demonstrated that berry fruits curtail age-related neurodegenerative diseases while enhancing cognitive and motor functions. The neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative ailments are linked to phytochemicals.
Memory Booster Fish
Iron and iodine in fish help maintain cognitive functionality. Fattier fish like trout and salmon are loaded with memory-boosting omega-3 fatty acids no wonder it is called ‘brain food.’ It can lower the risk of developing dementia when eaten as part of a healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are vital nutrients for well-being as they stimulate cell membranes in the brain, the protective skin which surrounds cells. Since this is slowly generated by our body, we hasten the process by deriving it from our diet. Oily fish including herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 which is potent for our brain health from cognitive development in the fetus till the memory and learning as an adult. When brain cells are fed omega-3 rich foods, it can communicate with other cells which is essential for brain functionality. Furthermore, when omega-3 is consumed by the body it is broken down into other molecules which play crucial roles in the brain. Certain molecules protect cells from oxidative stress, which is a driving force for Alzheimer’s disease.
In a research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine 2009 it was reported that fish consumption or omega-3 fatty acids were directly linked to the increased decline of dementia. According to several epidemiological studies, a high level of dietary consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) proved beneficial for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. Three studies indicate that the ApoE4 genotype limits protection. However, DHA is neuroprotective since it is loaded with numerous mechanisms such as neuroprotective DHA metabolites, enhanced trophic factors, decreased arachidonic acid metabolites and even downstream tropical signal transduction. DHA provides adequate protection against diabetes, cardiovascular disease and head trauma that might lead to dementia. It further limits the build-up of amyloid β peptide toxin, which is known to be the driving force for this ailment. Though more clinical trials are required to determine how well omega-3 fatty acids perform against dementia, overall results indicate the intake of fish along with antioxidants can prove to be exceptionally useful if taken from an early age.
Packed with nutritious benefits nuts make for a delicious healthy snack. Make sure to steer clear of nuts with additives such as salt and sugar, instead opt for dry roasted or raw nuts. Potent for brain health nuts contain antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats. They can reduce bad cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. It is best if you eat nuts at least five times a week. Walnuts are the most vital nut for memory. They are rich in high concentrations of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which are ideal for preventing age-related memory loss, enhancing cognitive performance among adults and protecting brain functionality in newborns. Furthermore, adding walnut oil or walnuts to your diet can reduce resting blood pressure as well as lower blood pressure response to stress.
According to a research published in The Journal of Nutrition 2014 it was concluded that English walnuts also known as Juglans regia L. are loaded with various phytochemicals, which includes high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are potent for benefiting brain health. Walnuts are loaded with Polyphenolic compounds which reduce the inflammatory load on brain cells and oxidant levels while enhancing interneuronal signaling, accelerating neurogenesis and sequestration of insoluble toxic protein.