Did you know that opting for the appropriate diet can help reduce the risk of dementia? The same blood vessel system that helps blood circulation and heart function also supplies the brain. When blood vessels become narrowed due to atherosclerotic plaque or when blood pressure rises too high, this is just as detrimental to the brain as it is to the heart.
According to research, a properly composed diet, rich in the right minerals and vitamins, can provide a means of preventing senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Find out about food to prevent dementia and the relationship between dementia and diet.
Food to prevent dementia – what is the best diet for the brain?
The best diet for the brain is a diet that combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diet (MEDITERRANEAN – DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). Studies have shown that this dietary model helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by maintaining effective blood flow and reducing harmful inflammation.
The MIND diet is a relatively new dietary model, with the first scientific data on it published in 2015, yet the results of observational studies suggest positive effects from its use. It was found that people who strictly followed the diet had a 53% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while those who followed the recommendations less strictly had a 35% lower risk. It was also noted that those strictly following the MIND diet experienced slower cognitive decline.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components provided with the diet also reduce the formation of so-called amyloid plaques, which interfere with communication between nerve cells in the brain and can ultimately even lead to their death. These are considered by many researchers to be one of the important causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Evidence suggests that the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet can help protect against Alzheimer’s dementia. The DASH diet recommends eating foods low in saturated fat, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet takes a similar approach, recommending the inclusion of plant-based foods and healthy fats and moderate amounts of lean meat. Both, as well as the MIND diet, discourage the consumption of red meat, sugar and processed foods.
Food to prevent dementia – what foods to eat to prevent dementia
MIND diet developers highlighted the best foods for dementia patients to eat, as they are beneficial for brain function.
Products to include in your diet to prevent dementia:
- leafy green vegetables – at least six portions per week.
- other vegetables – at least one portion per day.
- berries – at least 2 portions per week.
- nuts – at least 5 portions per week.
- wholemeal cereal products – at least 3 portions per day.
- pulses – more than 3 portions per week.
- fish (not fried) – at least one meal a week.
- poultry (not fried) – at least 2 meals per week.
- olive oil – as the main fat used in the preparation of meals.
Food to prevent dementia – top principles
Learn the three foundations on which an anti-dementia diet should be based.
According to healthy eating principles, fruit and vegetables should make up half of what we eat. The MIND diet pays particular attention to the consumption of vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables and berries. They are a source of many vitamins and nutrients, as well as substances with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Green leafy vegetables are a source of folic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids and flavonoids, nutrients associated with a lower risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.
Whether you drizzle olive oil over your salad or sauté your vegetables with canola oil, replacing saturated fats such as butter, lard, cream, fatty cheeses and cured meats with vegetable fats helps keep your brain healthy. These simple changes help keep blood vessels healthy. Although any type of vegetable oil is a good option, extra virgin olive oil has the added benefit of being rich in antioxidants.
Nuts are a great snack with high nutritional content. They are rich in fibre and protein, and contain healthy fats that can help protect blood vessels, what constitutes a better alternative to processed snacks. Some nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pecans contain high amounts of antioxidants. Moreover, walnuts are rich in plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.
Food to prevent dementia – what food to avoid to prevent dementia
According to the MIND diet, foods such as butter and margarine, red meat, cheese, fried and fast-food products, confectionery, and sweets should be limited. Such products contain saturated and trans fats. Studies have shown that the consumption of trans fats is linked to a variety of diseases, including heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.
 Morris M.C. et al. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Dement 2015; 11: 1007.