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The Connection Between Diet and Dementia

Dementia isn’t just one condition. Instead, it’s an umbrella term for several diseases impacting your cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but others include vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. 

Dementia is typically characterized by the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, and the subsequent damage to your brain cells can lead to cognitive decline. 

Read on as the neurology specialists here at Link Neuroscience Institute explore the connection between diet and dementia and how the right foods can support your brain health.

The connection between diet and dementia 

What you eat can significantly impact your brain health, as with any organ. Your brain requires a constant supply of both micro- and macronutrients to function properly, and certain dietary patterns have been associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline.

Whether you’re trying to prevent age-related cognitive decline or you’re trying to slow the progression of dementia, these nutrients are vital for your brain health:

Antioxidant-rich foods

Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables help protect your brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E, lutein, beta-carotene, and selenium. Berries, leafy greens, and colorful vegetables are excellent sources of these brain-boosting compounds. In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can find other antioxidants like selenium in Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meat.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fatty fish like salmon and walnuts, are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and role in maintaining healthy brain function. If you dislike eating seafood or nuts, you can also take omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Whole grains

Unlike refined grains, whole grains contain bran, germ, and endosperm. Each part of the whole grain contains brain-boosting nutrients:

Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat to provide a steady energy supply to your brain and help regulate blood sugar levels.

Consider the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, has been associated with a reduced risk of dementia and improved vascular health. Its emphasis on healthy fats and antioxidants makes it an excellent choice for brain health.

Foods to avoid 

Just like healthy foods supply your brain with the nutrients it needs to function properly, unhealthy foods can do the opposite. According to research published in Clinical Interventions in Aging, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline. Limit the intake of sugary foods and beverages to protect your brain.

Other foods to avoid (or at least limit) include refined grains (remember your brain needs the nutrients in the whole grain!), processed foods, and trans fats. Trans fatty acids are particularly bad for your brain because they can interfere with your neuron’s ability to communicate with each other.

Lifestyle factors

Diet is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to preventing dementia. Other lifestyle factors, such as regular physical activity, mental stimulation, social engagement, and quality sleep, are also important. A holistic approach that includes a combination of these elements is the most effective in reducing your risk of dementia.

Managing dementia

If you or a loved one already have dementia, your diet can help slow the progression. Your Link Neuroscience Institute provider may also recommend medication to help slow the progression. 

To learn more about your dementia management options, call the California location of your choice: Oxnard or Santa Barbara.  You can also schedule your appointment online.

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