Dementia and Brain Foods
By Kayla Olmstead, MS, RD, CD
Dementia and Alzheimer’s affects about 50% of the population and is more common in women. While it may seem inevitable, there are plenty of preventative measures to reduce the rate of cognitive decline or the onset of memory affecting diseases. Nutrition plays an enormous role in our health outcomes, and it’s easy enough to alter the diet to ensure healthy brain function!
Folate is Vitamin B9. For adults the RDI is 400mg/day which can be obtained through a vitamin or lots of dark leafy greens and oranges. Adequate folate levels also prevent depression, its essential to consume!
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve cognitive function as well. As a matter of fact, research shows that following the Mediterranean diet can reduce future cognitive impairment by 35%. A diet for the mind consists of foods like olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, red wine, and fish. Specifically, green leafy vegetables, beans, berries, and poultry. Foods that can be consumed in moderation include red meats, butter, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried or fast food. The mind diet also recommends drinking one glass of wine per day!
The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish are considered to by Alzheimer disease-protective nutrients. Omega 3’s are vital fatty acids found in nuts, especially walnuts, seeds like flax and chia, and oily fish like salmon and tuna. DHA is an omega 3 found in oily fish and eggs and is a key player in protecting the brain and preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many plant-based sources of Omega 3’s can be converted from ALA to DHA, but not very efficiently, especially as the liver ages and becomes damaged. Vegetarians and vegans should consider a supplement to ensure adequate DHA levels.
In addition vitamin B12, vitamin D, and beta-carotene are also considered as nutrients that can prevent Alzheimer’s. Evidence shows that lifestyle factors can play a role as well. It is important to stay active and engage in regular mental stimulation, whether that be reading, playing games, or social interaction. Overall, eating a healthy diet and keeping your mind moving are great ways to preserve your cognitive function.
Monthly Challenge ideas:
• Eat fish weekly
• Use olive oil in recipes
• Eat nuts like walnuts and almonds for snacks.
• Talk to your doctor about a folic acid supplement
Content from: GWAAR Nutrition Team in Collaboration with UW Stout Dietetic Student Nicki Lehtinen and Dana Lemke