Evidence shows that those with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, cereals, and limited intake of red meat and sugar have the key to lower risk of developing dementia. Find out how you can follow this dementia diet to help prevent dementia.
You can do many things to lower your risk of dementia. It includes regular exercise, not drinking alcohol, staying socially and mentally active. One of the easiest things you can do to help prevent dementia is to change your diet. Some may refer to this as living a dementia diet, while others might call it an Alzheimer’s diet. Still, it helps lower your risk of dementia, no matter what you call it.
What do we Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s Prevention?
Many studies suggest that what we eat affects the brain’s ability to think and remember things. With this study being at the forefront of researchers’ minds, they have begun to wonder if general eating habits can make a difference.
The Mediterranean diet, MIND diet, and other healthy eating options have shown cognitive benefits on dementia patients. However, the evidence is not as beneficial as cognitive training, maintaining your blood pressure, and physical exercise. Scientists continue to test these diets to see if they can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet and Dementia Risks
We know from research that dementia can appear years before the first symptom is visible. Researchers are beginning to understand that there may be a window of opportunity available to help prevent or at least delay dementia symptoms with lifestyle changes. Some risk factors associated with dementia cannot be altered, though. But, lifestyle changes that include eating healthy, quitting smoking, and exercising can have some positive effects.
It is possible that having a certain type of diet can assist the biological mechanisms that affect the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. But beyond that, a healthy diet can help prevent diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, which helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
When it Comes to an Alzheimer’s Diet, Remember the Basics.
As you might come across a million different ideas and diets that help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important to remember the basics of a healthy diet. These things include the following.
- Eat a variety of foods. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Practice appropriate portion sizes.
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat and high in cholesterol.
- Cut back on sugar or eliminate it from your diet.
- Avoid consuming too much salt.
- Drink plenty of water.
15 Foods that Lower your Risk of Dementia
One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of dementia is to change your diet. This is sometimes referred to as the Alzheimer’s Diet.
There is no sure-fire cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but healthcare providers have seen patients who have improved cognitively by making lifestyle changes, including their diet. An Alzheimer’s diet is eating brain-healthy food that can help prevent dementia.
Studies have shown that if this diet is adopted early enough, it may reverse cognitive decline.
To reduce your risk of developing dementia, consider the following in your diet:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Non-starch vegetables
- Prebiotics & probiotics
- Olive oil
- Whole Grains
- Avoid sugar
- Avoid trans fats
- Less Salt
#1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Eating green leafy vegetables is the number one food that helps prevent dementia. Some great choices include:
- Romaine lettuce
- Leaf lettuce
- Bok Choy
Green leafy vegetables have so many antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are also high in folate.
#2. Non-starchy Vegetables
Vegetables that are non-starchy, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts, are all great to help prevent dementia. They have a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which help support a healthy brain. They are also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies show that these vegetables can help treat and prevent mild cognitive impairment. Inflammation is strongly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s, so eating more non-starchy vegetables is good for you.
Fish is a great lean protein that has lots of healthy fats. It is a key component in the dementia diet. According to research studies, those who eat more fish may experience less cognitive decline as they age.
Try to stick with types of fish that have high levels of omega-1 fatty acids. These include:
Fish is a great source of vitamin B12, which helps fight memory impairment.
Beans provide protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates in a dementia diet. They are also a good source of folate (low folate levels are linked to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s). Try to eat three servings each week. These include:
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Green beans
- Kidney beans
While drinking too much alcohol can lead to cognitive impairment and dementia, an occasional glass of red wine can help prevent your brain from aging.
Research shows that drinking wine in moderation reduces your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Nuts are another great addition that you want to include in your Alzheimer’s diet. They are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This helps improve your cardiovascular health and helps protect your brain.
Studies show there may be a link between nut consumption and cognitive function. Women who ate five servings or more of nuts each week experienced better cognitive function. They also remembered names and objects better and had better language skills.
#7. Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics help with gut health as well as your immune system.
Prebiotics are fibers that help feed your digestive system and strengthen your gut microbiome. They help regulate good bacteria levels that are in your digestive system.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that you eat. This will positively impact your gut microbiome, which helps your immune system.
- Dandelion greens
- Artichoke hearts
- Green bananas on occasion
- Fermented vegetables
- Dill pickles with no sugar
#8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is the best healthy oil to use for cooking. When your body consumes healthy fats, it can use them as a cleaner energy source than carbohydrates.
Olive oil also contains monounsaturated fats, known as ‘the good fats.’ These fats found in olive oil can help lower cholesterol.
When following an Alzheimer’s diet, you want to include more poultry than red meat. You want to try and eat 1-2 servings each week of poultry.
If you want to feed your body with clean energy, provide it with avocados. They are full of healthy monounsaturated fats similar to olive oil. Individuals who eat monounsaturated fats are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
So make some avocado toast, add them to your scrambled eggs or add them to your mix of leafy greens in your salad.
Research suggests that drinking unsweetened green tea may reduce your risk of developing mild cognitive impairment that leads to dementia. If you want to sweeten your tea, be sure you do it with monk fruit or stevia extract but don’t use it all the time, everything in moderation.
Berries contain flavonoids and are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, fiber, Vitamins, and minerals. There are direct links in many different studies that link berries to better brain health.
#13. Whole Grains
Studies show some great options for whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pasta and bread
#14. Limit Sugar
Did you know that eliminating sugar may have the biggest effect on your brain health? When you eat sugar, it creates inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation can then lead to cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. By cutting out sugar, it can make the most significant impact on protecting your brain.
Try to limit or avoid the following:
- Trans fat
- Conventional Dairy
- High amounts of salt
#15. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans Fats are unnatural and are found in foods that are highly processed. They are a detriment to your cardiovascular health. Try to avoid trans fats while you are sticking to your dementia diet.
Try to avoid fried foods and highly processed foods.
#16. Limit Salt
High levels of salt can raise your blood pressure and cause heart problems. These problems can turn into dementia and other brain-related issues.
Try to limit adding salt to all your meals. Also, limit the amount of fast food you consume as well as the processed meals from the freezer section. They are usually loaded with salt.
Foods You Want to Limit on the Dementia Diet.
There are certain foods you want to limit on the dementia diet. These include:
- Red meat
- Butter or margarine
- Fried or fast foods
Can You Reduce Your Dementia Risk with a Proper Diet?
Will diet alone help reduce your risk of developing dementia? Maybe. Will diet, along with changing other lifestyle changes, reduce your chances of developing dementia? More than likely, as studies show that your risk of dementia decreases when you make multiple lifestyle changes.
If I have Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, Should I follow a Dementia diet?
Following a dementia diet is always a good idea. It helps with heart health and brain help. Studies have shown that even individuals living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia see cognitive benefits from following a healthy diet.
Nutrition tips while living with Alzheimer’s
- Limit Sodium. Most people consume too much salt. This affects your blood pressure. Try swapping out the salt for spices and herbs when you season food.
- Talk to your doctor about supplements. If your healthcare provider is worried about weight loss or a loss of appetite, they may suggest you add supplements to your diet. Be sure to discuss this with them before adding in supplements.
- Drink. For those living with dementia, staying hydrated may be more difficult. Try to drink small cups of water throughout the day. If this is hard, try consuming foods with lots of water. These include fruit, soups, and smoothies.
- Serve finger foods. Try to serve bite-sized foods that are easy to pick up. This includes grilled pieces of chicken cut-up, tuna sandwich squares, steamed broccoli, and berries cut in pieces.
- Choose foods that are easy to chew and swallow. Swallowing in mid to late-stage Alzheimer’s can lead to choking. Finding and preparing foods that are easy to chew and cutting them into bite-sized pieces can help. Try applesauce, slices of fruits, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, smoothies.
- Adapt to their abilities. Use dishes and utensils that make your loved one’s life easier who is living with dementia. If a bowl is easier for them than a plate, place their food in a bowl. If they prefer a spoon to scoop rather than a fork, that is great. Some individuals prefer to pick up the bite-sized pieces with their hands because it is easier and less frustrating. Any way to encourage your loved one to eat should be the best way.
- Don’t worry about the mess. Let your loved one who is living with dementia feed themself as much as they can. While this might make a bigger mess, let them have some sense of independence. Take advantage of non-skid surfaces and use plates and bowls that will not break if they fall. Use cups with lids to prevent spilling or fill glasses halfway and use a bendable straw. Just know that there will need to be a little bit of clean-up after each meal, but at least they are getting the nutrition they need.