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Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are caused by a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors, including diet and nutrition. Ailments such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease also contribute to cognitive decline and are influenced by the foods you eat. Good nutrition helps prevent the onset of these diseases and can improve brain function. Although other factors contribute to brain-aging, such as exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation, diet remains a huge factor in brain health.
What is the One Food that Fights Dementia?
No one single food fights dementia. The key is a balanced diet, with plenty of brain-nourishing foods, including healthy fats high in Omega-3s, leafy greens, and fruits. Secondly, a focus on minimizing stress, increasing exercise, and social interaction could also have life-changing benefits.
The Mind Diet
Researchers at The Rush University Medical Center developed the MIND diet, which may reduce the risk of developingÂ Alzheimer’s diseaseÂ by more than 50 percent! Even those who followed the diet ‘moderately well’ reduced their risk by about a third. It has been hailed as a ‘game changer’ in the battle to fight dementia. In one study on 923 people between the ages of 58 and 98, those who followed the MIND recommendations had a cognitive function level of 7.5 years younger. (1) The MIND diet provides us with 10 healthy food groups to incorporate into our diet, and 5 unhealthy food groups to avoid. It combines other popular nutrition plans proven to prevent cognitive decline, theÂ Mediterranean diet,Â and theÂ DASHÂ (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. MIND is an acronym. M stands for Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. But the MIND diet also has a few significant differences and has been proven to be more effective than other diets at reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Foods to Reverse Dementia
If caught early enough, dementia can be reversed, or its onset slowed. The first step is to address your diet and any nutritional deficiencies. The right diet can reduce toxins, improve hormonal imbalances, fight inflammation and oxidative stress, and enable your body to function optimally.
The most powerful weapon against dementia could be berries. Berries are powerful antioxidants and are filled with anthocyanins that fight inflammation in the brain. This prevents the amyloid protein from forming plaques that are a major cause of Alzheimer’s. Studies show that eating blueberries leads to improved memory. (2) The MIND diet recommends eating a 1/2 cup serving of berries twice a week, but for optimal brain health, you could eat them every day.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Vegetables are good for the brain, but not all of them are created equal. Generally, the ones most beneficial to brain health are the colorful ones, leafy greens, red cabbage, and purple cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables are particularly good at keeping the brain healthy and contain lots of vitamin E, C, and K, like folic acid, carotenoids, and sulforaphane. They include Brussel sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and radishes.
3. Leafy Vegetables
Eating leafy vegetables has a range of benefits. The MIND diet recommends one serving per day. The darker they are, the more antioxidants they have, including kale, spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, arugula, and all the leafy herbs.
MIND researchers recommend four or more servings of beans each week. Include lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and cannellini beans. Beans are also an important aspect of the Mediterranean diet.
Nuts are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E, both of which are incredibly beneficial to brain health. However, you should avoid salted and roasted nuts. The MIND diet includes a half-cup serving at least 5 times a week. You can include nuts in their whole form, or you can use nut milk and flowers as a way to get more nuts into your diet.
Fish is great for brain health. Especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, with their high Omega-3 content. However, how the fish is cooked is important. You should avoid fried fish and instead opt for oven-cooked. One study showed that fish, at least once a week, led to larger brains, as long as the fish was not fried. (3) The MIND diet recommends including fish at least once a week.
7. Chicken and Poultry
Chicken and other poultry are also beneficial to brain health if it is not fried. The MIND diet recommends two or more servings a week.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains that have been minimally processed are full of fiber and good for keeping blood sugar stable. They are also good for healthy gut bacteria. The MIND diet includes three servings of whole grains each day. Serving sizes are small â€” one half cup whole grain pasta, whole-grain cereal, barley, brown rice, or one slice of whole-grain bread.
9. Olive Oil
The MIND diet recommends olive oil as the primary cooking oil. Olive oil is full of healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats that keep blood vessels healthy. It also helps your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D and K.
10.Â Red Wine
The MIND diet includes one glass of red wine per day. Red wine contains potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals. A single glass at the end of the day can also help to reduce stress. The Mediterranean diet also includes red wine. The MIND diet recommends no more than 5 ounces per day of red wine for Alzheimerâ€™s risk reduction. And in the ongoing phase 3 trial of the MIND diet study, they have dropped red wine as a healthy food group. Five ounces is a very small glass, and people tend to drink more. A higher intake of alcohol is correlated to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. If you enjoy wine, then a small glass, preferably red, won’t harm you. However, if you don’t drink alcohol, then don’t start.
What Foods are Bad for Dementia?
Foods are considered harmful to the brain if they:
- Contain mostly simple sugars.Â Sugar and other simple carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes and inflammation. This is why people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Vascular Dementia. Foods to avoid include candy,Â table sugar, syrups, andÂ soft drinks.
- Are high in trans and saturated fats.Â Eating harmful fats can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s. Not all fats are bad, and some are important to brain function, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Butter, cheese, palm oils, and red meat have high amounts ofÂ saturated fat.
- Contain excessive salt.Â Too much salt can lead to cardiovascular disease, especially high blood pressure or hypertension. These are known risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Avoid processed and fried foods, including chips, frozen pizza, and cured meats.
- Create pathogenic compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).Â AGEs are inflammatory substances in foods that can be harmful to the brain. They result from processing food at high temperatures. AGEs are substances that crosslink proteins together. In blood vessels, this means the linings of arteries become stiff and prone to developing plaques. AGEs concentrate in areas of the brain,Â such as the hippocampus, where short-term memories are formed. Foods high in AGEs include fast, fried, and possessed foods and butter, mayonnaise, and cream cheese.
What are The 5 Worst Foods for Memory?
The five groups of food that you should limit on the MIND diet are:
1. Red Meat
Red meat is healthy in small amounts but should be limited to a 3-5 ounce serving each week. The more someone eats, the greater their risk of cardiovascular disease. If possible, only eat red meat a few times a week and get as high-quality meat as possible. Preferably grass-fed.
2. Fried Food and Fast Food
Limit fried and fast food to the occasional treat. They are high in AGEs, unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. Many trans fats have been banned, but most restaurants still fry food in inexpensive, inflammatory oils.
Use real butter over margarine, and limit butter to one tablespoon a day. Use olive oil as your key cooking oil.
Cheese also contains saturated fat. Limit cheese intake and choose high-quality cheese that is naturally low in fat, such as feta, parmesan, and pecorino.
5. Pastries and Sweets
Pastries and sweets are full of unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. Keep it for the occasional treat, not everyday foods.
What are 3 Foods That Fight Memory Loss?
If you struggle to stick to diets, and this is all sounding a little overwhelming. Then begin by eating more of these three foods that fight dementia.
Blueberries haveÂ numerous health benefits, especially for your brain. Blueberries and other deep-colored berries contain anthocyanins, which have powerful antioxidant effects. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which contribute to neurodegenerative diseases and brain aging. Antioxidants in blueberries have been found to improve communication between brain cells (4). Animal studies have also shown that blueberries help improve memory and may even delay short-term memory loss (5).
Eating fish will help protect you from cognitive decline. Fatty fish, in particular, is high in omega-3 fatty acids and includes trout, sardines, and salmon. Your brain is comprised of 60% fat, half of which is the omega-3 kind. Your brain uses omega-3s to build nerve and brain cells, which are essential for memory and learning. (6). Many studies have shown that Omega-3s slow age-related decline and help ward of Alzheimer’s disease. (7,Â 8). Insufficient amounts of Omega-3 are linked to depression and learning impairments. (9).
Vegetables are also great for your health, and you should be sure to eat plenty. Broccoli, for example,Â is filled with powerful plant compounds, including antioxidants. (10) The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are beneficial to brain health. (11) It also contains high vitamin K levels, with one-cup giving you 100% of your daily recommendation. Vitamin K is something people often do not get enough of, and it is essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat thatâ€™s densely packed into brain cells (12). Vitamin K has also been linked to better memory. (13,Â 14).
Supplementation for Dementia
Eating a well-balanced diet is important. However, it is difficult to fill all of your nutritional needs with diet alone. Some vitamin deficiencies are common, and supplementation can be beneficial whilst some herbal remedies also have promising research behind them. You can read more about vitamins and dementia here. Certain vitamins and minerals offer cognitive benefits, and vitamin deficiencies can potentially contribute to dementia. Therefore supplementation as part of a healthy and balanced diet can also reduce the risk of cognitive decline. If you are considering a dietary supplement, speak with your doctor first to ensure there are no potential interactions with existing health conditions or medications.
Zinc deficiency is common in older adults and has been associated with mental decline. (15) Zinc is an essential mineral integral to gene expression, DNA synthesis, immune function, wound healing, and protein synthesis. (16)
B-vitamins are important to brain health. They help break down homocysteine, which is associated with a greater risk of dementia. They also produce energy that is used to form new brain cells. (17)
There is a strong like between vitamin D deficiency and dementia and Alzheimer’s. (18) It has benefits to cognitive and heart health. If you do not get much sun, then you should supplement. Around 41.6% of the U.S. population is thought to be deficient in vitamin D. (19).
Phosphatidylserine is a substance that protects brain cells. It plays an important role in memory, but unfortunately, levels decrease with age. Some evidence suggests that supplementation can boost mood, concentration, and short-term memory.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Pine Park has anti-oxidative and neuroprotective benefits. For this reason, experts believe that it may have some benefits to those with Alzheimer’s Disease. (22)
Recent clinical studies show that luteinÂ can help maintain cognitive and visual health. (23) There is also promising evidence for Lutein as a treatment for Parkinson’s due to its influence on dopamine and its antioxidant properties. (24)
Rather than consuming lots of supplements, some products are trying to provide a full profile of nutrients to keep your brain healthy. Centrapeak is one such supplement. It is a high-quality, all-natural male vitality booster that has been designed to improve cognitive function, boost motivation and energy, increase strength and enhance libido. It aims to naturally increase testosterone levels, which decrease as men age and lead to various problems. With healthier levels, you should have more energy, mental clarity, and strength. It contains all of the ingredients listed above, including vitamin D, vitamin B6, Zinc, Panex Ginseng, pine bark extract, Phosphatidylserine, and Lutein. You can read a full list of ingredients and dosages here. When you have more energy, it is easier to socialize, exercise, and perform mentally challenging tasks. All of these things are essential to brain health. Positive feedback loops are powerful, and by eating the right diet and supplementing with the right vitamins and minerals, you could see a transformation in your life and the restoration of your youth.
- Morris MC, Tangney CC, Wang Y, Sacks FM, Bennett DA, Aggarwal NT. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.Â Alzheimer’s Dement. 2015;11(9):1007-1014. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2014.11.009
- Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults.Â J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(7):3996-4000. doi:10.1021/jf9029332
- Raji, C., Erickson, K., Lopez, O., Kuller, L., Gach, H., Thompson, P., Riverol, M. and Becker, J., 2014. Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss.Â American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 47(4), pp.444-451.
- Subash S, Essa MM, Al-Adawi S, Memon MA, Manivasagam T, Akbar M. Neuroprotective effects of berry fruits on neurodegenerative diseases.Â Neural Regen Res. 2014;9(16):1557-1566. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.139483
- Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, et al. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults.Â J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58(7):3996-4000. doi:10.1021/jf9029332
- WysoczaÅ„ski T, SokoÅ‚a-WysoczaÅ„ska E, PÄ™kala J, et al. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Role in Central Nervous System – A Review.Â Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(8):816-831. doi:10.2174/0929867323666160122114439
- Belkouch M, Hachem M, Elgot A, et al. The pleiotropic effects of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid on the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.Â J Nutr Biochem. 2016;38:1-11. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.03.002
- Devassy JG, Leng S, Gabbs M, Monirujjaman M, Aukema HM. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Oxylipins in Neuroinflammation and Management of Alzheimer Disease.Â Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):905-916. Published 2016 Sep 15. doi:10.3945/an.116.012187
- Rathod R, Kale A, Joshi S. Novel insights into the effect of vitamin Bâ‚â‚‚ and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function.Â J Biomed Sci. 2016;23:17. Published 2016 Jan 25. doi:10.1186/s12929-016-0241-8
- Vasanthi HR, Mukherjee S, Das DK. Potential health benefits of broccoli- a chemico-biological overview.Â Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009;9(6):749-759. doi:10.2174/138955709788452685
- Khalaj L, Nejad SC, Mohammadi M, et al. Assessing competence of broccoli consumption on inflammatory and antioxidant pathways in restraint-induced models: estimation in rat hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.Â Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:590379. doi:10.1155/2013/590379
- Ferland G. Vitamin K and the nervous system: an overview of its actions.Â Adv Nutr. 2012;3(2):204-212. Published 2012 Mar 1. doi:10.3945/an.111.001784
- Soutif-Veillon A, Ferland G, Rolland Y, et al. Increased dietary vitamin K intake is associated with less severe subjective memory complaint among older adults.Â Maturitas. 2016;93:131-136. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2016.02.004
- Presse N, Belleville S, Gaudreau P, et al. Vitamin K status and cognitive function in healthy older adults.Â Neurobiol Aging. 2013;34(12):2777-2783. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.05.031
- Nuttall JR, Oteiza PI. Zinc and the aging brain.Â Genes Nutr. 2014;9(1):379. doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0379-x
- Ods.od.nih.gov. 2021.Â Office of Dietary Supplements – Zinc. [online] Available at: <https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/%20Zinc-HealthProfessional/> [Accessed 10 March 2021].
- Smith AD, Refsum H. Homocysteine, B Vitamins, and Cognitive Impairment.Â Annu Rev Nutr. 2016;36:211-239. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-071715-050947
- Littlejohns TJ, Henley WE, Lang IA, et al. Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease.Â Neurology. 2014;83(10):920-928. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000755
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- Juturu, V., 2015. Lutein, Brain, and Neurological Functions.Â Bioactive Nutraceuticals and Dietary Supplements in Neurological and Brain Disease, pp.41-47.
- Nataraj J, Manivasagam T, Thenmozhi AJ, Essa MM. Lutein protects dopaminergic neurons against MPTP-induced apoptotic death and motor dysfunction by ameliorating mitochondrial disruption and oxidative stress.Â Nutr Neurosci. 2016;19(6):237-246. doi:10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000010