If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, or have a family history of this common form of dementia, you no doubt have many questions about risk factors and prevention. People still inquire about reports from the 1960s and ‘70s that linked aluminum consumption to Alzheimer’s disease. Is there cause for concern?
Where is Aluminum Found?
Aluminum is the third most common element on earth. It is in our soil. It is in our water. That spinach salad you ate last night, the tea or coffee you drank this morning, the potatoes you had for lunch…all likely had traces of aluminum. Aluminum is also commonly found in pots and pans, beverage containers, antacids, and antiperspirants.
However, the amount of aluminum that gets into our food from cookware and beverages is likely minimal, and the aluminum that occurs naturally in some foods is not well absorbed by the body. On average, we probably ingest 30-50 milligrams of aluminum on a daily basis from foods. Some antacids may contain as much as 5 grams of aluminum.
A Look at the Research
Unfortunately, studies that have been conducted on the Alzheimer’s-aluminum connection have been inconclusive or contradictory, sending mixed messages to people seeking answers.
Most researchers investigating this issue have failed to confirm an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s from aluminum exposure. Alzheimer’s, like nearly any other medical illness such as cancer or heart disease, is likely due to a complex interaction of genetics, environment, and lifestyle. If aluminum plays a role in Alzheimer’s, it is likely not the primary cause.
That being said, it is probably best to avoid or limit high exposure to aluminum. Indeed, too much exposure to, or absorption of many metals by the brain may potentially have adverse neurological consequences.
3 More Tips for Good Brain Health
Eat a healthy diet containing foods medically proven to be good for the brain, including leafy greens, beans, fish, nuts and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) offer excellent nutritional guidelines to support cardiovascular health and have shown evidence of reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Stay active at least 15 minutes a day, three times a week, whether it is walking, bicycling, swimming, or a combination of several activities. Doing puzzles and coloring are also good for the brain; however, don’t do the same puzzles every day. Mix it up. Do crosswords one day and Sudoku the next. The brain benefits most from a variety of activities.
Stay socially involved. Getting out with other people or attending plays or sporting events exposes you to new thoughts and ideas and helps maintain brain health.