Deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease have sky-rocketed by 89% since the year 20001. Currently, 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease with 16 million projected to have it by 20501. Alzheimer’s is an insidious, chronic disease that affects patients and their families for about a decade before killing them. It puts extreme emotional and financial stress, not only on the patient, but also on the family members and caregivers who look after patients during their illness.

Emerging research comparing plant based diets, like the vegan diet, to the average American diet show that a plant based diet has neuroprotective effects for the brain. For example, a recent study from California showed that vegan subjects were half as likely to become demented compared to those who ate meat, including poultry and fish. Cumulative data on vegetarians show a trend of delayed onset of dementia overall2. Harvard University researchers found that older women who eat foods containing monounsaturated fats, such as avocado, nuts, and seeds, are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who eat foods high in saturated fats, like meat and butter.3

The typical Western diet consists of high carbohydrates, high saturated fats, and refined sugars, increases oxidative stress in the body, which significantly contributes to cardiac and cerebrovascular disease. Both of these disease states are caused by fat and cholesterol plaques building up along the sides of blood vessels walls throughout the body. Poor diet doesn’t just affect the vessels in your heart; it affects the vessels in your brain too! The small vessels of the brain can become clogged leading to small areas of brain death. Eventually these damaged areas can cause dementia and cognitive defects. Along these lines, a study from the Mayo Clinic discovered women with heart disease are three times more likely to develop cognitive problems associated with dementia.3

The evidence is clear: our typical Western Diet is linked with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We need a diet shift that supports a plant based diet to prevent heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and dementia. Foods that decrease oxidative stress like fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts can protect our brain health in addition to helping us lose weight, reduce fatigue and medications. Your physical health and mental health will both be improved by the significant antioxidant properties of the plant based diet. So head to the produce isle today!


  1. Alzheimer’s Association.
  2. Giem, P., W.L. Beeson, and G.E. Fraser. “The incidence of dementia and intake of animal products: preliminary findings from the Adventist Health Study.” Neuroepidemiology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1993. Web. 08 Aug. 2017.
  3. “New Link Between Dementia and Diet.” PETA Prime. Mayo Clinic, 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 08 Aug. 2017.
  4. Solfrizzi, V., et. al. “Relationships of Dietary Patterns, Foods, and Micro- and Macronutrients with Alzheimer’s Disease and Late-Life Cognitive Disorders: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Volume 59 (2017), pp 815-849.


  • Thank you Dr. Benzur!
    I recently watched a documentary called What the Health that cited additional studies supporting a plant-based diet for optimal health.

    Be well,

    Natalie Sampson

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