Dementia is the term used for all diseases and conditions characterized by a decline in memory and other cognitive skills that affect an individual’s ability to function and perform daily activities. It also leads to a change in a person’s behavior and how they think. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, where even walking and swallowing becomes impaired and is ultimately fatal.
According to Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer’s Disease International, “Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the biggest global health challenges facing our generation.”As of 2013, there were an estimated 44.4 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will increase to an estimated 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. It is also important to note that the fastest growth of dementia in the elderly population is happening in the South Asian and Western Pacific regions, including China and India. (Source)
This degenerative disease mainly affects the elderly and its symptoms usually appear by the age of 65, although some studies show it may occur much earlier. While these data can be disturbing, recent researches also say that we can reduce our risk of having this disease or prevent it altogether, one of which we can control everyday—our food intake.
Altering your diet can help you avoid Dementia and Alzheimer’s if you start now. So here are the foods you should be eating to give your brains a good fighting chance:
1. Foods rich in B Vitamins
Particularly vitamins B6, B12 and Folate, B vitamins improve the cellular process called methylation cycle which fights the increase of homocysteine molecule that may damage the brain and even the heart. Eat more greens like spinach, parsley, broccoli, asparagus, romaine lettuce and consume more turnip, beets, bell peppers, and lentils. Fresh salmon and calf’s liver are best sources for B12 vitamins. Check more foods rich in B vitamins here.
2. Foods with Good Cholesterol and Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 Fats is an essential fatty acid that our bodies need to help regulate blood clotting, build cell membranes, and overall cell health. Omega-3 fats are found in most seafood like wild salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, and mussels but you can also have it when you eat grass-fed beef, avocado, edamame, flaxseed oil and walnuts. Foods that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help increase good cholesterol in our bodies which is crucial for cell improvement. So do consume free-range eggs, olive oil, meat and dairy products but in moderate proportions.
Herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, sage, clove and cumin are powerful antioxidants that break up the plaque in the brain and reduce brain inflammation that affects the memory. The berries family is also a good source of antioxidant—especially wild blueberries. Increase your intake of tomatoes, seaweed, garlic, nuts, fruits and vegetables like kale, red and green chili peppers, red cabbage and artichokes in your daily meals. You may also indulge yourself with dark chocolate, green tea and red wine in moderate amounts since these also are high in antioxidants.
4. Whole Grains
Dr. David Perlmutter, a leading natural neurologist in the U.S., attests that grains can help prevent Alzheimer’s as well as other neurological disorders because of its ability to protect and enhance the brain’s plasticity which helps reshape it and improve brain functions. Gluten-free oats, quinoa and kammut are best grains to stock up on. Make sure you always include them in your everyday diet.
5. Natural brain food and supplements
Do not only fill your plates with the first four foods we have given, but also consume natural brain food and supplements as dietary agents to prevent and/or treat Dementia, Alzheimer’s and other age-related cognitive changes. These are gingko biloba, coconut oil, krill oil for astaxanthin, and the ultimate antioxidant which is alpha lipoic acid (ALA) that slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s (Source). Magnesium is also vital such as pumpkin seeds, parsely, basil and whey among many others and you may also include magnesium threonate as supplement which is a latest discovery and shows higher absorption ability in the body (Source).
As per Dr. Perlmutter, “Nutrition matters. The brain is more responsive to diet and lifestyle than any other part of the body (Source). Therefore, being more mindful of your food intake and how you live can save you or your love ones from succumbing to Dementia and Alzheimer’s.