I’m at that age where misplaced keys or a forgotten word gives me pause. I write so much about Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory loss diseases, I know the havoc they wreak, not only on the patient, but on their entire family. That’s why I take a proactive approach in decreasing my odds of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Keeping active—both mentally and physically—can go a long way in keeping those diseases at bay. Research now shows there are certain foods that can also help or hurt brain health.
AARP suggests the following foods may lower your risk of dementia. Remember, whole foods are better than supplements for nutritive value, but supplements are better than nothing, so I’ve listed the foods and their corresponding vitamins/minerals. Time to stock up your fridge and pantry with these goodies:
- Beans and green peas (vitamin B-1 and folic acid)
- Citrus fruits and berries (vitamin C)
- Almonds (vitamin E)
- Fatty cold-water fish like salmon, cod, mackerel, and herring (omega-3 oil)
- Spinach (flavonoids, vitamins A and K, folic acid and iron)
- Coffee and chocolate (caffeine)
From the Alzheimer’s Association, here are some foods that contain toxins. The resulting inflammation can lead to a build-up of plaques in the brain resulting in impaired cognitive function. They should be avoided as we age.
- Processed cheeses such as American cheese, mozzarella sticks, Cheez Whiz and spray cheese (causes protein and plaque build-up)
- Processed meats like bacon, smoked meats, hot dogs (nitrosamines)
- White foods like white bread, white rice, pasta, white sugar (causes insulin spikes)
- Microwave popcorn (diacetyl)
- Beer (nitrates)
If you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, have you seen a change in the disease severity when you’ve altered their diet? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section.
Also, be sure to watch the Golden Globe Awards, for which Julianne Moore is nominated as Best Actress in a Drama for her star turn in “Still Alice”, the story of a woman, a brilliant professor, wife, and mother, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.