Dietary Interventions Build a Healthy Brain

Pharmacy Practice in Focus: Health SystemsMarch 2020
Volume 9
Issue 2

Higher dietary intake of flavonols may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer dementia.

Recently published study data from the community-based Memory and Aging Project suggest that a higher dietary intake of flavonols may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer dementia.1

The study, which was conducted by Thomas M. Holland, MD, and colleagues at Rush University and is ongoing, included 921 participants, of whom 220 developed Alzheimer disease dementia.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times® sister publication, NeurologyLive®, Holland said that the study findings are important because they “add further confidence to the fact that the foods we are consuming do matter. When we think of foods, we naturally think about the vitamins and minerals contained in those foods. This research lends a further understanding of the contents of the foods we eat.”

Investigators at the CDC agree with Holland, as they recently established a public “healthy brain” initiative that focuses on dietary changes, mental and physical activity, and social engagement, as ways to maintain cognitive health.

In this month’s issue, Monique F. Miller, a PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy in Storrs, discusses this CDC initiative, noting that “with more Americans living longer lives, cognitive impairment has become a growing health concern.”

But she also wrote in her Health & Wellness article that, “cognitive impairment is not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, investigators have determined healthy lifestyle behaviors that may decrease the likelihood of suffering cognitive impairment later in life.”

The CDC recommends that incorporating foods that contain complex carbohydrates; fatty acids such as eggs, fish, and nuts; and lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and seeds, can all contribute to a “healthy mental diet.”

As Holland said, “eat your fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, and drink some tea every now and again. A healthy diet that contains various fruits and vegetables is critical for continued health, especially brain health, and is a strong component of a healthy lifestyle.”

These counseling points for your patients are particularly important, as the FDA has not approved any drugs or treatments for mild cognitive impairment. Although approved drugs to treat Alzheimer disease are available, no cure exists, so discussing other options, such as lifestyle interventions, is a good way to make an impact on the more than 16 million adults who live with cognitive impairment.

Also in this issue: a look at an area-based pharmacist program, managing Crohn disease, and prevention of non—small cell lung cancer.

Thanks for reading!

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