Dementia is a term commonly given to people who show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease such as memory loss, diminished intellectual capacity, and changes in personality. Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people each year in the United States and has a devastating impact not only on the patient but everyone who is close to that person. Seeing a loved one slowly fade away from society and inevitably lose all recollection of one’s and identity is a tough pill to swallow. What many are not aware of though is that a deficiency of DHA, an essential fatty acid that most of us don’t get enough of, is frequently linked in patients with Alzheimer’s. In today’s world of nutrient depleted and severely processed foods it is vital that we get the proper amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet every day. But what has happened in our society that is causing deficiencies in essential nutrients to pop up more and more during one’s life span?
Let’s think for a moment about the standard American diet of today. When you think about the average breakfast, lunch, and dinner, what pops into your mind first? High in fat? High in sodium? High in sugar? All of the above? Sure of course! The “standard American diet” (SAD) of today consists of approximately one half the caloric intake in FATS, twenty times the recommended daily intake for SODIUM (salt), and as much as five pounds of SUGAR consumed per week (65% of our diet in the form of sugar). Compare this to the mere three pounds of sugar that we consumed per year back in 1960. Almost seven out of every ten people in America are overweight and one half of those are obese (30 or more lbs. overweight). With those facts it is easy to see why a simple little Omega-3 fatty acid is commonly lacking in our diet. But can it help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s? Many health experts say yes.
Every piece of fat that we digest, saturated or unsaturated, contains one or more fatty acids that consist of a fat particle and an acid particle. Two of these fatty acids, Omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid) are considered “essential” because our body is unable to manufacture them. It is the two derivatives of the Omega-3 fatty acid, EPA and DHA that our diet frequently lacks sufficient amounts of. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an Omega-3 fatty acid that our brain is comprised mostly of. Supplying the brain with proper amounts of DHA helps collectively promote healthy brain function and combat memory loss, dementia, and other health problems. DHA comes from our food in the form of a fatty acid compound that is found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Unknown to many though, are the seeds of the flax plant that contain the most Omega 3 fatty acids per ounce and a perfect balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 quantities.
Flax seeds may be the answer to Omega-3 deficiencies and resolve the problem of DHA deficiencies in patients with Alzheimer’s. Will a daily intake of flax seeds or flax oil help delay or mitigate the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s? Let’s just say there isn’t a brain doctor around that recommends against a daily flax supplement, especially in older men and women. Let’s take a quick look at this wondrous plant.
The flax seed comes from the flax plant, botanical name “Linum usitatissimum”, also known as; “common flax”, “linseed”, “lint bells”, and “winterlien”. Flax is classified as an annual herb that grows in the northwestern United States, Canada, and Europe. The plant produces two blue or violet-blue flowers per branch. These flowers turn into the fruits that house the seeds with approximately eight to ten seeds per fruit. The smooth flax seeds are shiny brown and partially flattened on each side. There is also a golden flax seed that a similar flax plant yields. Both the gold and brown flax seeds have similar nutritional values. The amazing thing about flax seeds are their unusually high levels of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flax seeds consist of approximately fifty-four percent Omega-3 fatty acids and five percent Omega-6 fatty acids making them the best foods in the world to eat for proper fatty acid balancing. The fact that so many studies have found Alzheimer’s patients deficient in Omega-3’s makes flax a crucial part of one’s daily nutritional needs.
Taking one tablespoon of organic flax oil per day or two tablespoons of organic seeds will fulfill this need. If the seeds are used then they must be chewed thoroughly for proper absorption. Grinding flax seeds just before using them is beneficial too, but one should only grind up what they need for the day otherwise the extra ground seeds will quickly lose their nutrients due to oxidation from heat, light, and air. Adding flax to your daily diet is a healthy decision by anyone and should be made mandatory for folks over sixty years of age. Flax seeds also provide additional health benefits due to the high fiber content and other healthful nutrients such as vitamins, lignans, minerals, and more.
Others tips for building an Alzheimer Proof body are to avoid eating anything with aluminum as an ingredient or cooking with any type of aluminum cookware. Recent studies have shown increased levels of aluminum build-up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Avoid all foods and products that contain aluminum. This also includes body hygiene products such as deodorants that contain aluminum additives. Choosing natural made products will address this problem swiftly. Remember to always read the ingredients label thoroughly on all products before making a purchase. Any ingredient that contains the word “aluminum” should be avoided.
A vitamin B supplement should also be considered as an addition the one’s daily diet. Multiple studies done over the last decade have revealed low levels of vitamin B12 in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. Interestingly, vitamin B12 requires a unique two step process to be absorbed and digested properly and as people age this two step process can be worn down which results in less and less B12 being absorbed eventually leading to a deficiency. Using a quality B complex supplement may help delay or deter any deficiency. Remember to consult a health expert before beginning any type of exercise or nutritional program.