Even though we cannot avoid aging, we can still slow down or prevent its negative effects. Unfortunately, according to statistics, by the age of 70, 1 in 5 people will experience cognitive impairment, which could progress to dementia or death in 5 years. Even though there is still no remedy for Alzheimer’s, its symptoms can be controlled with the right methods.
The Link between Alzheimer’s and Homocysteine
A study done in the 90s tested 22 patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and discovered high level of homocysteine in their blood. Another study from the 70s found that two children who suffered from rare genetic mutations had an abnormally high level of homocysteine in the blood. The Framingham study showed that 1 in 6 Alzheimer’s cases could be a result of high levels of homocysteine, which in turn triggers brain damage as well as decline in memory and cognitive abilities.
What Is Homocysteine?
When the levels of this non-protein amino acid are too high, the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots, as well as inflammation in the blood vessels, elevates. In order to eliminate the surplus amount from the body, you need vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid.
According to one controlled trial, there was a reduction of homocysteine levels with the help of B vitamins and the brain atrophy in patients with cognitive impairment was slowed down. Atrophy happens much quicker in Alzheimer’s patients and if the rate of brain loss is slowed down, the worsening of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s could be prevented.
Those who took B vitamins for a period of 2 years had a slower rate of brain shrinkage and research also indicates that these vitamins were able to lower the atrophy in the areas of the brain causing the progress of Alzheimer’s.
What about Folic Acid?
Several studies point out that following a diet rich in plants can lower the levels of homocysteine by 20 percent in only 7 days. Folate is present in foods like beans and greens. According to researchers, this is probably a result of the high levels of fiber that increase the levels of folic acid in the blood. This type of diet also decreases the intake of methionine which is a breakdown product present in protein from animals. Its reduction could balance the homocysteine levels.
People who led a diet excluding all products from animals like meat, dairy, eggs, etc. had awful levels of homocysteine. This could be a result of insufficient amounts of vitamin B12, although their levels of fiber and folate were enough. Vegans need the right amount of B12 to prevent brain loss and still enjoy a plant-based diet.