by: Sarah Landers
Turmeric has been identified as the most important and beneficial component, and is an ingredient used in almost every curry – from your mild and creamy kormas to extra hot and spicy vindaloos. Great news if you are a lover of spicy food – but what exactly is it about turmeric that helps prevent dementia?
Dementia and turmeric
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and more than 5 million Americans are currently living with the debilitating disease. Even more terrifying is the fact that one in every three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia.
There is no known cure for the progressive disease, but scientists have found that there are various superfoods and natural remedies that can help slow down or prevent the development of the condition. The health benefits of turmeric are numerous, and it is thought that this spice alone is powerful enough to replace your entire medicine cabinet. The main component in the spice – curcumin – is thought to fight liver damage, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s, various types of cancer and now, dementia.
Curcumin is believed by scientists to block rogue proteins called beta amyloid, which clump together and destroy neurons, as reported by The Telegraph. The scientists at Edith Cowan University in Perth studied 96 participants aged between 40 and 90 over a period of 12 months. Some of the participants were given a daily placebo, while others were given curcumin pills.
The scientists then tested various verbal and memory skills, and found that those taking the placebo suffered a decline in mental function after only six months, while those taking curcumin saw no decline.
According to The Telegraph, there is already evidence revealing a lower prevalence of dementia and better cognitive function in cultures where curry is a staple part of diets. Curcumin therapy has also been trialed in animals.
Dr. Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK is reserving judgment. She said: “Some studies have produced limited evidence very high doses of curcumin – much higher than might be normally found in foods like curry – could have some impact on memory and thinking skills, but large-scale clinical trials will be required before researchers can fully assess any potential benefits.”
Foods to avoid to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
If you are keen to minimize your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, you should avoid eating the following foods:
- Foods high in aluminum: This additive is used in almost everything, including cheese, cake mixes and milk formulas. Aluminum is toxic to brain tissue, and has been linked to the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Foods high in artificial sweetener aspartame: This sugar substitute has been linked to brain tumors, seizures and dementia.
- Foods high in mercury: These include farmed salmon, rice and high-fructose corn syrup. Long-term exposure to this toxin may produce Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
- Foods high in artificial flavoring diacetyl: This has been linked to dementia, and is a major component in snack foods such as buttered popcorn and beer.
- Foods that contain a lot of preservatives: Monosodium glutamate accelerates cognitive decline and is contained in almost all processed foods, according to Top 10 Grocery Secrets.