Hippocrates once said "Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food." In the case of dementia, a diet of nutrient-rich foods can improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
Advanced dementia patients may forget to eat, and eventually don’t feel hunger as a result of depression, medication side effects and cognitive decline. A healthy and balanced diet, however, can make a big difference in dementia’s regression. The nutrients found in certain foods not only feed your body, they feed your brain.
Veggies such as spinach, collard and mustard greens, kale, arugula and Swiss chard are all great sources of folate, or Vitamin B9, which is shown to improve cognition in older adults. Folate helps ward off depression (a common dementia side-affect) by contributing to serotonin levels. The Vitamin E in leafy green vegetables has also shown positive affects on the brain.
Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage and brussel sprouts help retain memory. They contain carotenoids and folate, which lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked with cognitive impairment.
Legumes are another great source of folate, as well as iron, magnesium and potassium. They also contain choline, a B vitamin that boosts acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter critical for brain function.
Berries And Cherries
All varieties of berries contain anthocyanin, a phytochemical that protects your brain from damage caused by free radicals, inflammation and radiation. Blueberries are packed with the most antioxidants, as well as plentiful amounts of Vitamin C and E.
Flavanols, the antioxidant in cocoa powder, help improve blood flow to the brain. The darker the chocolate, the better for you, since you’ll be getting more flavanols and less added sugar.
A study found that people 65 and over who ate three or more weekly servings of omega-3 rich fish had a nearly 26 percent lower risk of having brain lesions that can cause dementia, compared to those who never eat fish. The high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) keep the brain in tip-top shape.
A small handful of nuts packs a ton of nutrients, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, folate, Vitamin B6 and magnesium. These nutrients help protect against age-related memory loss, as well as work to improve mood. All varieties of nuts, including peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pecans, offer these benefits.
Seeds provide lots of Vitamin E, a vitamin associated with lower rates of agre-related cognitive decline. Choline, a compound found in sunflower seeds, helps improve brain function. The zinc present in pumpkin seeds improves memory and cognitive function, while the tryptophan fights depression. Flaxseeds are excellent alternative to fish, since they’re packed with memory-boosting omega-3s.
Certain spices not only add flavor to your favorite dishes, but also add antioxidants and memory-boosting compounds. The mere scent of cinnamon, for instance, enhances cognitive processing. In a study, participants who consumed sage performed better on memory tests. And curry lovers can rejoice; Curcumin, a main ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation that can cause memory problems.