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6 Food Items that May Increase Alzheimer’s Risk

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It’s thought that diet plays an important role in brain health. Consuming a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, grains, and legumes may protect your senior loved one from developing Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, certain foods can actually heighten the risk. Here are some foods that are linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Bacon

Bacon is a processed meat that contains unhealthy chemicals known as nitrosamines, which may cause free radical damage. Nitrosamines can affect pancreatic and liver function and, in some cases, may lead to brain toxicity. Consuming a diet high in nitrosamines causes the liver to manufacture certain fats that can cause undesirable changes in the brain. While an occasional strip of bacon may not raise the risk for brain disease, regular consumption isn’t recommended. 

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2. Whole-Grain Bread

While many people believe whole-grain bread is a better food choice than white bread, it can cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. Considered a “healthy carbohydrate,” whole-grain and wheat bread may be just as unhealthy as bagels and donuts. Spikes in blood glucose levels may be linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. To reduce this risk, offer your loved one a diet rich in legumes instead of whole-grain bread to promote optimal brain health.

3. White Rice

White rice is considered an empty carb. However, it’s typically enriched with certain nutrients, such as small amounts of iron, potassium, and magnesium. White rice doesn’t contain vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B6, or vitamin A. Consuming white rice may cause spikes in insulin levels, which could send harmful toxins to the brain. Other white foods that may be linked to brain disease include sugar, pasta, and white bread.

4. Beer

While many seniors enjoy an occasional beer, drinking too much may raise the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Like bacon, beer contains carcinogenic nitrosamines, which can cause dangerous changes in the brain. Your loved one doesn’t need to abstain from alcoholic beverages completely. Drinking an occasional glass of red wine may promote optimal brain health and lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Red wine may also enhance cardiovascular health and cerebral circulation and reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.

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5. Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn is high in fiber, which is an essential component of a healthy diet. However, microwave popcorn contains a harmful chemical known as diacetyl. This substance promotes the development of amyloid plaques in the brain. The accumulation of amyloid plaques may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and cognition problems.

6. Processed Cheese

All types of processed cheeses, including wrapped cheese singles, contain certain unhealthy proteins. When these proteins build up inside the body, the risk for Alzheimer’s disease increases. For a healthy source of protein, replace processed cheeses with nuts and low-fat yogurt, which can promote optimal brain health.

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