At this point in time, there is still no known cure for dementia. However, there are ways to prevent it, and one thing worth trying is to eat more foods that fight dementia.
Before diving into how eating certain types of food can help in the fight against dementia, it’s worth taking the time to understand the condition first.
Per the World Health Organization, dementia is a chronic and/or progressive syndrome that can harm an affected individual’s cognitive abilities. A person’s cognitive abilities deteriorate with age, but those with dementia are affected more.
Examples of cognitive abilities that may be affected by dementia include a person’s comprehension, orientation, and memory.
Several diseases can cause dementia. Among the most notable examples are Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.
If some of the blood vessels responsible for supplying blood to your brain are damaged, the odds of you developing dementia also go up. Traumatic brain injuries can similarly contribute to the eventual development of dementia.
Basically, anything that leads to brain cells being lost or damaged can play a role in the eventual emergence of dementia in an individual.
How Your Diet Can Affect the Fight against Dementia
There are several risk factors to consider when it comes to dementia, and while some of them are out of your control, your diet is certainly something you can exercise power over.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who have an unhealthy diet are more likely to develop dementia compared to individuals who consume plenty of nutritional foods. We’ll get into what those specific food types are in a bit.
Furthermore, there are certain benefits you can gain from eating specific items that are also useful in combating dementia.
To be clear, you will need to adopt a variety of lifestyle changes if you want to minimize your chances of developing dementia. Still, you need to start somewhere, and changing your diet will help.
A Diet Plan That Helps
Back in 2015, researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that a specific diet plan could reduce a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease by around 53 percent. Even those who didn’t stick to the diet plan completely saw their risk for developing the disease drop by around 33 percent.
So, what is this diet plan?
It’s known as the MIND Diet, and it brings together elements of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet. MIND itself stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, per this article from CBS News.
The MIND Diet consists of several food types, but there is one offering that you must have in your daily meal plans if you want to fare better against dementia.
That food type in question is none other than whole grain. The diet recommends that people get at least three servings of whole grains per day.
Most people eat at least some type of grain regularly. The grain food group consists of rice, pasta, bread, crackers, and cereals.
There are different benefits people get from eating grains.
For starters, grains provide us with a boost of energy. They also contain nutrients such as iron and niacin. It also helps that grains are affordable yet filling, making them ideal to put on your plate if you’re looking to save money.
However, not all grains that you see in the supermarket are equal in terms of nutrient content.
The thing about white rice, white bread, and any other type of refined grain is that they lack helpful nutrients. Refined grains have their outer layers removed as they are processed. You don’t want to see those outer layers removed because they contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and even protein.
Intact grains also fill you up longer while simultaneously keeping your digestive system in great condition. To think that you’re losing so much because of the refinement process is a real shame, and why you should seek out whole grains more.
Now that you understand the benefits of eating whole grains, it’s up to you to stock up on them.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can find whole grains faster by looking for the official stamp from the Whole Grains Council or by looking for items labeled as “100 percent whole grain.” If you see the words “enriched” or “refined” on the label of a bag of rice or a box of cereal, you may want to purchase something else.
Those with relatives in assisted living facilities should also check if their loved ones are getting a steady supply of whole grains from their caregivers.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Aside from the whole grains, green leafy vegetables are the next most important elements of the MIND Diet.
These vegetables are high in vitamin content. You’re getting vitamins A, C, and K in abundance if you opt to consume green leafy vegetables regularly. Vitamin A can provide a boost to your immune system, vitamin C excels at repairing body tissues, while vitamin K is good for promoting proper blood clotting.
On top of the vitamins you’re getting from green leafy vegetables, these food items feature a large number of antioxidants. These antioxidants are important because they target free radicals that can damage your body.
Examples of green leafy vegetables you should eat more of are beet greens, microgreens, and spinach. Make it a point to eat green leafy vegetables at least twice a week but eating them more often would be preferable.
Green leafy vegetables are not the only plants that should figure more prominently into your diet. Cruciferous vegetables also boast a healthy complement of nutrients that can help you ward off dementia.
Similar to green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables feature large amounts of antioxidants and vitamin K.
Cruciferous vegetables you should eat more of include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and turnips.
The great thing about cruciferous vegetables is that you can prepare them in a variety of ways. They can be stir-fried, steamed, and even pureed in the case of cauliflower. Integrating them into your diet should be easier because of their versatility.
You will need some protein in your diet to strengthen your muscles and speed up the repair of any damaged tissues. Consuming any kind of protein is not a good idea, however. The sources of protein that end up on your plate must be healthy.
With that in mind, you should make it a point to shop for fish. Specific types of fish you want to put on your plate include salmon and tuna. Apart from being great sources of healthy protein, these fish offer omega 3 fatty acids that are great for your brain.
If you want to avoid adding unnecessary ingredients to your diet, you can opt to steam your fish lightly seasoned or perhaps eat it raw as sashimi.
Fish does not need to be your lone source of healthy protein. You can also get that important nutrient from lean meats. Lean poultry cuts are especially great additions to your brain-friendly diet.
Chicken and turkey are good options to consider if you need more protein in your diet but be sure that you stick to the lean parts of the bird. You’re specifically looking for chicken and turkey breasts as they yield plenty of meat but are skimpy on the fat.
You can cook chicken and turkey in different ways but roasting them with some herbs and spices is hard to top if you want something flavorful but not fatty.
If you’ve been a big meat-eater all your life, suddenly phasing pork and beef out of your diet is not going to be easy. Unfortunately, you cannot continue to eat those foods regularly if you want to give yourself the best chance of staving off dementia.
We’re not saying that beans will fill the void in your diet left behind by red meat, but what they can do is deliver that deep, earthy flavor that you cannot get from fish and poultry. Beans also happen to be rich in fiber and protein, so they are great for you from a nutritional standpoint.
Stewing or baking beans allows their flavor to develop better, but you can also puree them to create a dip. Toast some wedges of whole grain bread to get that dip to create a wholesome snack you can enjoy regularly.
If you’re still looking for more sources of healthy protein, then you may want to look at your supermarket’s selection of nuts. Nuts can serve as reliable sources of fiber, healthy fat, and protein. You can also get antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids.
Be careful when you are purchasing nuts from the grocery. Some of the items sold have salt, thus making them unhealthy.
Look for unsalted nuts when you are shopping. You should also try to toast the nuts yourself so that you can control the amount of oil used.
Once you’ve toasted the nuts and allowed them to cool down, you can put them inside a food processor and transform them into a light and delicious nut butter that pairs well with whole grain bread.
Thus far, you may have noticed that the list of foods that fight dementia is lacking in the sweet department. Every now and then, you’re going to get a craving for something sweet, and it would be nice if you could indulge that without straying from your new and improved diet plan.
The good news for you is that berries are in the MIND Diet.
Blueberries are one of the best foods when it comes to protecting your brain thanks to their content.
If you’re not a huge fan of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries can also be good additions to your diet.
Berries are great for baking. You can add them to muffins, pies, or tarts.
For those who are not proficient at baking, you can cook berries down to use as a sauce or compote. If you want to keep things simple, you can place some berries in a blender along with other ingredients to whip up smoothies.
For some people, their quality of life drops without chocolate. It’s a favorite dessert food for many, and some folks get addicted to it.
You’ve probably guessed this already, but many of the chocolate bars sold at the supermarket are not healthy. Do note, however, that not all forms of chocolate are bad for you.
If you cannot resist the siren call of chocolate, you can satisfy that craving by eating dark chocolate. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, dark chocolate contains flavanols that can promote better blood flow to your body.
As long as you moderate your consumption of dark chocolate, adding it to your diet should not be a problem. You can use dark chocolate for baking cakes and cookies, or you can even dip berries into it to create a brain-friendly sweet treat.
On cold days, nothing beats brewing up a nice pitcher of warm chocolate.
Last up in this article featuring foods that fight against dementia is none other than the favorite alcoholic beverage known as wine. The fact that wine is considered good for the brain should be a welcome revelation to many people all over the world.
Wine is particularly helpful because it can keep your cognitive abilities sharp.
Take care not to go overboard with your consumption of wine, however. One glass of wine per day is the recommended amount in the MIND Diet.
Dementia can be a devastating condition that completely changes a loved one. While there is no way to cure dementia today, we can keep it at bay by developing healthy habits. Consuming more of the items featured in this article will help you accomplish that.
You can also better manage your loved one’s dementia by seeking help from an assisted living facility. Get in touch with Lakeside Manor today to secure great care for your loved one.