Income, Diet, Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease begins decades before first symptoms appear. There is no cure for this devastating neurodegenerative disease. In such situation modification of modifiable risk factors many years before disease begins is only rational strategy for reducing the impact of this disease on society. The question appears what can be modified? It is clear now that in order to slow down the course of the disease three types of activity: mental, physical and social along with healthy diet are necessary. How early should we start prophylaxis? In our paper entitled “Correlation of Alzheimer’s disease death rates with historical per capita personal income in the USA” authored by Stępkowski D., Woźniak G., Studnicki M. PLOS One 2015 (on the blog) we found that early periods of life are the most important for the susceptibility to this disease in late age. The susceptibility depends on per capita income, a rough measure of healthiness of a life style. We found that people in higher income groups are less sensitive to this disease. It can be explained by better life style including diet. It means that these social groups are more likely to adapt all the mentioned activities and they also most probably have higher educational attainment and therefore build so called “cognitive reserve” not mention healthier diet. Cognitive reserve is our capital for late age. In our second paper by Studnicki M., Woźniak G., Stępkowski D. entitled “The Calculator of Anti-Alzheimer’s Diet. Macronutrients” PLOS One 2016 (also on the blog) we calculated the macronutrient content of a diet which would be a prophylactic solution for Alzheimer’s. This predicted diet is specific for a period of life and different for youth, early midlife, late midlife and late age. Specifically we predict for late age higher total fat intake, less protein and carbohydrates intake than the American population have eaten. For exact values I refer the reader to the original paper. One can ask what can be the effect of shifting the consumption to these predicted diets. It has been calculated that modifiable risk factors account for about one third of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. So we can expect that effect of diet will be contained in these 33%. With 5 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the USA reducing new cases by one third would have very important positive impact on the society.

Dariusz Stępkowski

Low vitamin D levels linked to increased risk of dementia

A study on 1658 participants showed that people with low levels of vitamin D have about twice higher risk of developing dementia.

Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease

An information about how to maintain proper serum witamin D levels  can be found here:

What oils should we use preparing food?

Looking for useful infos about comparison of variety of cooking oils I came across the blog run by Andrew  Wilder and found cooking oil comparison chart. It is really worth recommendation. This handy chart which you can print from pdf file, available under the link below, is very helpful in making proper oil choices for dressing, baking, frying etc.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids: How Much is Enough?

From University of Maryland, Medical Center

Omega-3 fatty acids


Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can?t make them — you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.

Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.

It is important to have the proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.


Clinical evidence is strongest for heart disease and problems that contribute to heart disease, but omega-3 fatty acids may also be used for:

More under the link below,


Vitamin D: How Much is Enough

From Harvard Public Health Review:

While vitamin D?s role in strengthening bones is well established, its links to cancer and immune-system malfunctions have only recently emerged. At the Harvard School of Public Health, nutrition experts say large segments of the population don?t get enough vitamin D and are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to raise the daily recommended dose, from 400 international units to 800. For an update on what?s known so far about this important nutrient, the Harvard Public Health Review spoke with HSPH Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology Edward Giovannucci.

Q: What are the documented benefits of vitamin D?

A: Vitamin D?s best-known role is in building strong bones. We?ve seen plenty of advertising urging people to take calcium to strengthen bones, but people also need to know that calcium can?t do the job well if they?re low on vitamin D. The two micronutrients work

More under the link below,


Adopt Brain-Healthy diet

From Alzheimer’s Association

According to the most current research, a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well. A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.

More under the link below,

We are what we eat

We are what we eat – the influence of the diet on cognitive abilities and the memory
Journal Club 2014.07.01

Everyone will agree with the statement, that the healthy diet is supporting keeping for a long time good physical and intellectual fitness. However when we are reach the point of defining what the healthy diet is, it turns out , that the devil’s is in the details. Generally, the general view is that the proper diet should provide us with all needed macro and micro components of diet and in the appropriate amounts and proportions. When it comes to determination what amounts and proportion are appropriate it is nowadays a mess. When we think about keeping the mind fitness along with the ageing and about the influence of our dietetic habits on brain aging helpful are epidemiological studies showing positive impact of some diet components on the health of the brain. Among others: folic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin D3, omega-3 acids, vitamin B12 are showing positive correlations with mind fitness. Recently a positive effect of these components was confirmed in examinations with brain imaging techniques in order to detect deposits of beta-amyloid – a marker of the Alzheimer’s disease and the activity of the brain associated with the glucose usage as energy source – a marker of brain fitness. Research team led by Lisa Mosconi (Mosconi et al. BMJ Open, 2014, 4,) examined 49 healthy volunteers in New York from a high-risk group of falling ill with the Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers filled in the dietary questionnaire based on habits of eating certain foods. Consumption of individual components of diet was calculated. Researchers examined how higher consumption of determined components influences the level of deposits of the beta-amyloid and the metabolism of the glucose in the brains of persons not showing signs of disease. Persons who had the best use of the glucose had increased consumption of folic acid and beta-carotene. Higher consumption of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega-3 acids correlated with the smaller content of beta-amyloid plaques in brains of participants in the study. It is an important conclusion from these examinations, that mentioned ingredients had a positive effect on the brain when came from the eaten food rather than supplements. These preliminary results call for undertaking further long-term research on the larger group of persons, in which a positive effect of these diet components will be confirmed and perhaps of other diet components which weren’t still taken into account. This observation is unusually significant for drawing up accurate guidelines for composing the anti-Alzheimer?s diet which appears as one of the most effective ways of the prevention of this illness and other forms of dementia.

Journal Club 2013.11.03

Journal Club 2013.11.03

The influence of medicines taken by patients on their cognitive abilities and the memory

In 2013 in a scientific journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, group of researchers from the St. Louis in the USA published results of studies performed on group of 4414 patients in age 50 and above – men and women. For the examination were enrolled volunteers with normal cognitive abilities and the memory checked with battery psychometric tests. Patients filled in the questionnaire form describing taken medicines. After the end of one year a compliance of taking determined medicines with the decline of cognitive abilities was examined. Out of the list of over 100 preparations (of medicines and supplements of the diet) 9 preparations had established the link with the condition of cognitive fitness. Six of them had positive influence on retaining the decline of intellectual fitness and three influenced it negatively. Positively acting were naproxen, calcium plus vitamin D, sulphate of iron, potassium chloride, flaxseed, and sertraline and negatively influenced cognition bupropion, oxybutynin and furosemide. Amongst medicines positively acting it is worthwhile to put attention to calcium in combination with the vitamin D and flaxseed or linseed oil. Suplementation of the diet with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids contained in the flaxseed as well as in fish oils are considered as a good way of prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease and as the factor slowing down the course of Alzheimer?s disease.
Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

Influence of the change of the traditional diet in Japan and a few developing countries on the incidence of the Alzheimer’s disease in these countries.

Amongst the researchers dealing with the Alzheimer’s disease more and more a view is becoming widespread, that diet and dietary history of individuals and averaged for the entire human population is significant for the susceptibility to develop Alzheimer?s disease (AD) of the entire population. This year a publication was published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, authored by William B. Grant, analysing historical tendencies of the change of the diet in Japan and eight developing countries with reference to the prevalence of the Alzheimer’s disease in these countries. For Japan the factors strongly correlating with the increase of AD prevalence were: increased alcohol, animal products ? meat consumption, and the number of people smoking tobacco (measured by the amount of cases of the lung cancer). Negatively and strongly correlating was decrease in rice consumption. Change of dietary habits 10-15 years earlier influenced the prevalence of the Alzheimer’s disease much later. The author observed the similar period of delayed effects of the change of the diet for other eight developing countries. For these countries most strongly correlated with the increase in the number of cases: the increase of consumption of animal fats and increase in the caloric value of meals. The most important conclusion from this publication is that a significant risk factor for falling ill with the Alzheimer’s disease is what we ate in the past. In my opinion Polish diet containing quite a lot of complex carbohydrates (in the form of potatoes, groats, rice, bread) in spite of eating quite a lot of animal fats along with the influence of other factors is causing that an incidence of AD in Poland is on an average level by comparison with other countries. Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

Comment on Food Safety

Comment about the safety of the food

Published earlier “16 recommendations of healthy nutrition in the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease” provoked comments about the safety of food. The purpose of writing these recommendations was to propose a rational solution to the problem each of us can approach. Generally producers of the food are obliged to follow norms concerning applying plant protection products, veterinary medicines, fertilizers and the like. However assumption that this system is in 100% efficient and safe is incorrect, and so it can happen that we will buy products with amounts of substances originating in the process of manufacturing foodstuffs, above allowed level. And so diversifying a risk is a sensible strategy. This can be achieved by using different food types, coming from different sources, in this way reducing the risk of the accumulation of harmful substances of one type. All types of toxins have certain threshold above which they are starting displaying the detrimental effect to the organism. And so by lowering the risk of the accumulation of toxin we are lowering the risk of triggering its harmful action. Above reasoning does not mean that that our food is in general contaminated and are a sign of the cautious approach to the problem of the influence of substances of different kinds, used in the process of the manufacturing of foodstuffs, on the health. Such deliberations are necessary taking into consideration unknown long-term (in the range of 30-40 years) effects of applying these compounds. In the light of some studies showing that Alzheimer?s patients have a significantly raised level of the DDT metabolite – a pesticide withdrawn from use several dozen years ago the concern about food safety is substantiated. The Alzheimer’s disease is being triggered by the tangle of different risk factors acting in the past amongst which toxins can have their own contribution.
Dariusz Stępkowski PhD, DSc

not language edited

16 commandements of healthy diet

16 recommendations of healthy nutrition in the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, obesity, cancers, diabetes, ischaemic illness of the heart

1. Buying food, diverse as possible and from different suppliers, lowering in this way the risk of the accumulation of one type of harmful substances in the body, is recommended.

2. Least processed products, and self-preparation of meals are recommended.

3. Avoidance of the excess of sugar and salt is recommended.

4. Avoidance of the excess of cold cooked meats due to the large content of chemical additives is recommended. For enthusiasts of cold cooked meats a preparation of roasted meat by oneself is a good custom.

5. Avoidance of the excess of meat especially fatty one is recommended. We apply the great changeability of kinds of the meat and suppliers. Eating only a poultry is an infringement of 1st recommendation. The meat can contain harmful amounts of antibiotics – especially poultry is suspicious.

6. We are trying to replace the meat with fish – wild living saltwater fishes are most valuable.

7. Eating several servings of raw vegetables a day is recommended taking a 1st recommendation into account.

8. Eating several servings of fresh fruits is recommended taking a 1st recommendation into account.

9. We are eating slowly in order to let our body to take time for sending information about satiating its needs to the brain.

10. We should generally eat less of the food than we want to eat.

11. We apply small portions of different kinds of dishes clubbing together for the meal.

12. We are serving meals in an aesthetic way, eating slowly what allows for enjoyment of the taste and the appearance of dishes.

13. The dinner will go well with moderate amount of alcohol (equivalent of 25g of pure ethanol ? one glass of wine or one beer or one standard drink).

14. Drinking of one or two cups of the green tea and coffee per day is recommended.

15. Turmeric – spice well-known for Indian cuisine (a component of curry) in combination with the black pepper or hot red peppers should appear on our table.

16. Preparations of fish oil containing Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3 are the only supplements of the diet worth recommendation, taking a 1st recommendation into account.

Assoc. Prof. Dariusz Stępkowski PhD,DSc
Last revised 2014.05.31