August 12th, 2019 | Senior Health
We all have memories of being forced to eat our veggies as a kid - or just eating food that we didn’t necessarily like even though we knew it was good for us. When we grew up we pretty much ate what we wanted - until we saw just how bad some foods were (such as processed sugar, refined foods and unnecessary carbohydrates) and what they do to our waistlines, bodies – and even our minds. And as more and more science is emerging, we’re learning it’s time to take the adage that you “are what you eat” seriously!
A Senior’s Diet Is Incredibly Important - Especially for Memory and Preventing Dementia
Dementia is a very serious condition for seniors. The syndrome deteriorates memory and limits performing everyday thinking and activities. It affects at least five million people in the United States, with that number expected to rise! And while this statistic sounds terrifying, the reality is that a lot of us could be living much healthier lives (which could dramatically reduce the risk of developing early onset dementia) - starting with our diets.
Scientists at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago are building more and more evidence that a diet rich in 7 key foods can reduce the risk of developing dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50%*.
This is because while genetics, not getting proper exercise, smoking, drinking and even the education a person receives play a role in people developing dementia, getting nutrients that feed your brain can restore cognitive function equivalent to being over 7 years younger.
Studies published in the Alzheimer’s & Dementia journal that followed 900 people between the ages of 58 to 98 showed “marked benefits” in those who ate the following 7 foods:
Leafy Green Veggies
Kale, spinach and broccoli have at least one thing in common - they’re green. And it’s no wonder Popeye was so powerful after he ate them; they’re full of vitamins A, C, K, as well as iron, calcium and folate. Folate (also known as vitamin B9) specifically has been proven to reduce dementia risks. Plus the fiber helps keep you regular!
Nuts are serious brain food, according to the MIND (Mediterranean) diet. With healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants they make a great snack that actually works to reduce the risk of heart disease. What’s more is that some nuts (like walnuts) have been linked to better memory and reasoning associated with remembering specific tasks or questions.
Berries (especially strawberries, blueberries, acai fruit and raspberries) have been associated with a wide variety of positive benefits. Blueberries are packed with anthocyanins that have been proven to enhance memory, and raspberries have ellagic acid - which has anti-cancer properties. All berries have vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, which is an important factor in the metabolism of food and for the nervous system.
Beans are high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and loads of minerals they should always be a regular part of your diet. Beans reduce blood sugar, balance cholesterol levels, clean out your colon and help you maintain a healthy gut.
Fish and Poultry
Fish and poultry have easily digestible fat, and Omega fatty acids have been shown to have marvelous effects on the brain and nervous system. By eating two or more servings of these foods a week, you give your body nutrients it doesn’t make naturally itself (which prevents it from depleting internal vitamin storage from internal organs like the brain).
Olive and Coconut Oil
Along with reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, coconut oil and olive oil both contain medium-chain-triglycerides that the body easily absorbs. Olive oil in particular is rich in antioxidants and phenolic compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation (one of the main causes of damage to the brain).
When consumed responsibly, coffee has huge cognitive benefits that significantly lower the actual progression of cognitive impairment, spatial memory and working memory associated with dementia. This is both due to caffeine and the many antioxidants in coffee (including B vitamins).
Scientists are discovering that many forms of dementia are caused by brain inflammation. Often, inflammation is due to excessive sugars, diabetes, or a lack of healthy fat and cholesterol to help pad the brain. Even more, it’s been proven that some foods actively increase your risk of developing dementia! Luckily, while there are a lot of things we can’t control our diet is something we can! Plus, you don’t have to completely change your diet - even small changes can make a difference.
It’s incredibly important to get information about dementia and dementia prevention and to take tours of assisted living residences and memory care apartments before you require full time caregiving, meal planning and special diets. It’s important to remember that while caregiving for a senior with dementia can be difficult and time consuming, it can also be hard to cope with emotionally. Finding the right places to lend a helping hand makes all the difference! Call Legend Senior Living or visit our website to learn more.