Alzheimer’s is an all too common problem. Dairy proteins like whey show great promise in their protective effects against cognitive degeneration.
By Dawn Flemming
Around 5.6 million people over the ages of 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease in which brain cell connectivity leads to the decline of memory and eventual death.
A recent 2018 study found a protective effect in dairy protein on dementia and Alzheimer’s:
The intake of neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory compounds including oleamide and dehydroergosterol in meals is safe and easy, so nutritional approaches are promising for the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
Whey protein seems to stand out in improving cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable subjects:
Markus et al. demonstrated that the intakes of α-lactalbumin-rich whey protein isolate improved cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable subjects. They evaluated the effects of the intake of tryptophan-rich whey protein on the ratio of plasma tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids (Trp-LNAA ratio) and cognitive performance in high stress-vulnerable subjects.
It seems that the protein in dairy (which comes in the form of whey or casein) is especially beneficial in men. The study concluded that
Among men, a high intake of dairy products was significantly associated with better short-term memory after adjustment for possible covariates. The authors concluded that the intake of dairy products may prevent cognitive decline regardless of genetic and family environment factors in men.
Not all whey protein is equal. Processed whey protein powders with high sugar, artificial sweeteners and colors are not good for you.
If you are to consume whey protein, it is recommended that you get the organic grass-fed type without sugar or artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like honey and stevia are fine.
Whey protein isolates can also be problematic as they are highly processed. It is best to settle with whey protein concentrates as they are not as processed and contain more of their natural beneficial nutrients.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.