We’ve known for a long time that diet plays an important role in the cause and possible prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Mark Bittman, well-known cookbook author and writer for the New York Times on all things food related, reports that scientists are increasingly intrigued by how insulin resistence – or a lack of insulin – impacts cognition and the Alzheimer’s disease process. In this well written and scientifically easy to understand opinion piece, Bittman reintroduces the idea that perhaps Alzheimer’s is the 3rd type of diabetes.
The impact of food and over-eating and what Bittman refers to as the Standard American Diet on the brain has been the topic of hundreds of recent scientific studies and references to Alzheimer’s as Type 3 diabetes go back as early as 2005, see this NY Times article and this study from Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School.
Bittman narrows the point of all these studies down to one key statement: “The link between diet and dementia negates our notion of Alzheimer’s as a condition that befalls us by chance.” As the research supporting this theory becomes stronger, the need for nutritional guidance and a better understanding of how food impacts our bodies becomes clearer. At Senior Living Residences, this is precisely why we have incorporated programs like Brain Healthy Cooking and Memory Preservation Nutrition have been essential to our Compass Memory Support Neighborhood philosophy.
But it’s not just about eating “brain-healthy” foods. It is about eating healthily. Bittman’s citing of the Standard American Diet refers to all the soda, junk-food, sugar, take-out, fast-food, and extra portions that we as a culture tend to eat more of. It is becoming increasingly clear that the best way to slow down the growing prevalence of both type 2 diabetes and dementia is to teach better eating habits to our kids and also re-educate ourselves about proper nutrition and healthy food options.
Want to learn more about eating well? Check out the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Eat Healthy – Be Active Community Workshops and other resources at Health.gov and there are tons of educational resources at the USDAs ChooseMyPlate site.