In recent years, some in-depth studies have been demonstrating the close link between diet and Alzheimer's, a not so rare degenerative disease that affects both men and women in mature age (generally over 60), with an ever-increasing incidence which is starting to worry seriously. An incorrect diet begins to damage brain cells 20 years before the onset of the disease itself. It is therefore necessary to run for cover trying to safeguard our old age starting from the table and the foods we feed on every day.
Beware of AGEs
AGEs (acronym for Advanced Glycation End-products) are agglomerates of sugars created within our body deriving from many proteins, animal fats and foods in general fried or cooked at very high temperatures. These deposits attack the arteries, cause insulin resistance (therefore cause diabetes) and other degenerative problems, the worst of all, Alzheimer's. Cognitive functions must therefore be safeguarded by avoiding or, in any case, reducing the introduction of certain types of food harmful to brain health. Otherwise, the risk of contracting Alzheimer's will skyrocket, bringing with it other alterations such as cardiovascular damage, oxidative stress and inflammation.
Impossible to diagnose the disease early
To date, unfortunately, there is no certain method that identifies the onset of the disease at an early level, but in recent years a punctual search for biomarkers useful for identifying the pathology even before its onset in the individual has been launched. There is a network in Europe which assists various groups of researchers: two staff are Italian, the other French and German. They are analyzing the AGEs mentioned above because they consider them good biomarkers for Alzheimer's. The main purpose of this large research group is to find a safe way to trace the disease early, also studying ad hoc preventive therapy.
Copper metabolism to prevent disease
Recent studies at the University of Toulouse have shown that one of the most classic manifestations of Alzheimer's, i.e. amyloid plaques, are formed on the basis of alterations in the absorption of copper within the body. To stimulate the metabolism of this mineral, a diet rich in vitamins E and B12 can be taken.
Foods containing vitamins E and B12
Vitamin E plays an important fight against oxidative stress and can be found in greater concentrations in vegetable oils such as wheat germ, almond, sunflower, olive, safflower, soy, cotton, flax and corn; but also in spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, chickpeas and asparagus. Vitamin B12 is essential for survival and is also called the 'energy vitamin'. In fact, thanks to its energizing power, it keeps us active and vital, helps to assimilate the iron contained in food and regulates the nervous system. We find it above all in products of animal origin such as red and white meats, fish, molluscs and cheeses.
Let's talk about the AGEs…
When sugars combine with proteins or fats (so we speak of advanced glycation) some compounds are formed that are harmful to health. This is what AGEs are, which have been attracting the attention of doctors and researchers for some time now. We can find them on toasted bread, on grilled foods, on french fries. They give foods a particular flavor and some industries add them, artificially, for this very reason. Today's diet includes too many of these chemical compounds, which hinder the well-being of the brain and increase inflammation in the body. The term 'glycation' refers to a reaction, typical of the human body, between sugars and proteins, or lipids. As long as glycation occurs in a natural and controlled way, it allows the molecule undergoing it to carry out its pre-established function. Unfortunately, in some cases, the body loses control and glycation can occur randomly, without rules. Sometimes, therefore, glucose reacts with the other molecules creating inactive elements (AGEs, to be precise) which, in high quantities, are toxic and deleterious, are absorbed into the tissues and cause complications in already existing diseases, as well as in they give rise to others (especially diabetes and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's).