When caring for someone with dementia, there comes a number of complications around eating and nutrition. So, here is a short list of foods that can be beneficial as well as some foods that can be detrimental for those with dementia.
Even if you aren’t caring for someone with dementia, this list is also a great way to understand and learn about foods that can help prevent the risk of dementia.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, among others, have all been linked to improving cognitive memory function.
Nutritious greens such as spinach and kale have been shown to have brain-boosting powers. Leafy greens offer a number of vitamins, but the B Vitamin folate in particular has been linked to the ability to promote brain and heart health by controlling an essential amino acid called homocysteine. This is important, as having high levels of homocysteine in the body has been correlated with dementia, memory loss and stroke.
The omega 3 fatty acids found in certain types of fish have been shown to be great for your brain health. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut and trout.
Curcumin, which is found in turmeric, has been shown to be highly correlated with both preventing cognitive decline and treating dementia already present in mice. One challenge for humans though, is that our bodies often don’t easily absorb curcumin.
As opposed to one specific food, the Mediterranean-style diet has shown massive improvements on people’s overall health and has been strongly connected to improved cognitive function and a lower risk of the development of dementia.
This diet includes;
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Red wine (in moderation)
Research into the link between dementia and lifestyle habits in recent years has discovered that fish was the single most important dietary factor in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment. One study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, evaluated the lifestyles of over 7,750 participants for five to 10 years.
Each participant was required to fill out a questionnaire on their eating habits, followed by a number of cognitive memory, language, and attentiveness tests. The results found that dietary factors, specifically the consumption of fish, were the most important in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment and decline.
While there are a number of foods that will help improve your cognitive ability and thus help reduce your risk of long-term health issues such as dementia, there are also a number of foods to avoid, such as fried food, processed meats and sugary fizzy drinks.
While the above foods are fairly obvious in why they are unhealthy for you, there are two foods/ingredients that may be more shocking – MSG and margarine. MSG can be found in a number of packaged and supermarket foods, even foods that you may think are healthy such as salad dressing, ketchup, seasonings and soup.
Although it is not an ingredient present in all of these all the time, it may be an idea to start looking out for it. Furthermore, margarine has become an increasingly popular alternative to butter despite being highly processed and full of chemicals and has been linked to a number of health issues.
The ingredient diacetyl advances the clumping of the protein beta-amyloid, which is a common feature in dementia and Alzheimers’. This ingredient may also increase the toxic effects of this protein within the brain.
Health and fitness apps like Freeletics provide a number of healthy recipes and meal plans that give you all the tools for a balanced diet.
Have a look at their blog for some nutrition tips and food inspiration.