The passage of time is one of those things you simply cannot stop, and as humans age, we are often minded to think of what awaits us in the future. There is no shortage of people, particularly in middle age, who have fears about getting older. And while those fears are often generalized and not fully formed, one of the unspoken elements of that fear is that we will end up dealing with the effects of age-related dementia.
To make one thing clear up-front: Dementia is far from inevitable, no matter how long you live. No more than one in six people experience dementia at any point in their life, which doesn’t tally with the prevalence of the condition in news stories and TV dramas with older people in them. Nonetheless, it’s reasonable to be concerned about the prospect of dementia, especially as it pertains to taking the correct action to avoid it becoming a factor in your life. There’s really no way of knowing, so far from that time, whether you’re a likely candidate for the condition, but there is plenty you can do to make its arrival less likely.
Can the Right Foods Boost Your Brain Health?
It makes nothing but sense that you should be able to keep your brain healthy by following the right diet. After all, there are diets that help us gain muscle, ones that help us lose fat, and others that allow us to stave off conditions like osteoporosis. As with so many other aspects of general health, keeping dementia at bay is as much about what you don’t eat as what you do. Better brain health is, helpfully, strongly correlated with health in other areas, including the circulatory system.
So it makes sense to focus on eliminating certain foods from your diet first or at least only eat them sparingly. Doctors advise against eating significant amounts of red meat and sugar and recommend keeping alcohol intake to a sensible level, in order to ensure the best outcomes for both circulatory and cognitive health.
Which Foods Should You Be Focusing On Eating?
The primary theories as to why certain diets work better than others for late-life cognitive health mostly focus around the inflammatory properties of some foods – which would indicate that carbs should also be limited along with the culprits mentioned above. It also suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants would be well-advised. The optimum diet would seem to be one that contains plentiful fresh fish and lean meats, which makes use of a cold press juicer to get the best nutrients from fruit and veg, and which features a lot of green leafy salads – with olive oil drizzled rather than creamy dressings.
Some dietitians recommend what is known as the “Mediterranean diet”, which shares a lot of characteristics with the above, and point to the relatively low incidence of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease among the populations of Mediterranean countries. Without much more data, it’s hard to be absolute as to whether it is the diet that ensures this low incidence, or the more sedate work-life balance enjoyed by these countries relative to those with a higher incidence. However, given that we know the impact diet can have on all aspects of the human condition, it certainly seems improbable that this diet won’t at least improve your odds.
Can the Right Foods Help Even When You’re Diagnosed?
For five out of every six people, the question of which diet to follow after a dementia diagnosis won’t be a question they need to answer. However, for those who are placed in that position, it’s good to know that some foods have been associated with a slower progression of the condition and even some improvement in dementia patients. Given that we learn more about medical science with every passing day, the ability to slow dementia could mean that some of us are in the fortunate position of being able to benefit from revolutionary treatments in the future.
Leafy greens are recognized for their ability to deliver high levels of nutrients that fight depression – which is common in dementia patients and often speeds their decline. Nuts and berries, meanwhile, are extremely effective in reducing inflammation, strongly believed to be a driving factor in dementia symptoms. Spices such as cinnamon and cumin have shown an ability to reduce brain plaques which are a factor in many forms of dementia. All of the above foods have the chance to reduce symptoms in people already diagnosed – but importantly, if you make sure you eat plenty of them now, you are likely to greatly reduce your risk of ever suffering from the condition.