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5 Dietary Items that Can Cause Alzheimer’s

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Many older adults understand they must include the right foods in their diet to maintain optimal health. However, some may not realize certain foods cause physiological reactions in the body that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Eliminating or limiting the intake of these foods can protect the brain from potential damage.

1. Alcohol

Regularly consuming alcoholic beverages damages neurons via toxicity. Alcohol also causes inflammation and may lead to hypertension. High blood pressure deprives neurons of adequate blood flow. Beer, in particular, contains chemical compounds known as nitrates, which are associated with harmful amyloid-beta protein accumulation. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories that may lead to weight gain and diabetes, which has also been linked to Alzheimer’s development.

2. Microwave Popcorn

Prepackaged microwavable popcorn contains the chemical diacetyl, which is used to give popcorn a buttery flavor. Low concentrations of diacetyl are found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and foods. However, when consumed in microwave popcorn, the chemical somehow encourages amyloid-beta proteins and plaques to flourish in the brain. Seniors who enjoy popcorn are better off making it the old-fashioned way or in an air popper.

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3. Processed Meats

Processed meats include bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, and sausage. These meats have high fat content, which elevates LDL cholesterol and increases the likelihood of blood vessel blockages in the brain that starve cells of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. Weakened neurons are then more susceptible to the damage caused by amyloid-beta plaques. The meats are also typically seasoned and smoked but not cooked—thus, the processing doesn’t kill harmful microbes that could lead to infection and inflammation in the brain.

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4. Red Meat

Red meats are rich in iron, which seniors need to avoid developing anemia. However, when these meats are consumed more than three or four times a week, the iron accumulates in the gray matter of the brain and contributes to cellular degeneration. The chemical byproducts that occur when metabolizing an excess of protein have also been shown to encourage amyloid-beta plaque formation in the brain. Seniors are advised to instead include more poultry and fish in their diet. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that are known to protect neurons.

5. White Foods

Foods made using white flour, rice, and sugar are digested quickly, which causes blood sugar levels to spike. The long list of foods made from these ingredients includes baked goods and pasta. The foods also contain empty calories and high fat content. Elevated blood sugar levels encourage systemic inflammation that also occurs in the brain. Fatty foods lead to elevated LDL levels and the potential for plaque formation. Plaques in cranial blood vessels deprive the cells of much-needed oxygen and nutrients. Older adults might want to consider eating baked goods sparingly and only those made using whole grains.

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