Dementia refers to a disease related to memory decline that usually results from damaged brain cells. In addition to your memory, dementia also affects your physical movement, communication skills and social abilities.
This can be more than simply forgetting where you placed your keys, or why you entered a room. Dementia can make it hard for patients to carry out their everyday activities. People with the disease may have trouble bathing, feeding or dressing themselves, and become lost easily. Although no known cure for dementia currently exists, medications and other lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, may improve, delay or altogether prevent the condition.
Although the cause and procession of dementia is unknown, some studies have demonstrated that while some foods with certain nutritional value boosts memory, others actually increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, causing serious health problems, making it that much more important to limit or remove them from a person’s diet.
If you’re one of those caretakers worried about what to include and what not to include in the diet plan of your dementia patient, you might want to keep on reading.
Mentioned below is a list of food linked to increased chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
1. High-Fat Meat
High-fat meats are enriched in saturated fat which is said to be undesirable for health. Although little amounts of saturated fat can prove to be healthy, along with a balanced diet, however, intake of saturated fat beyond the desired amount may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study on “Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders” in May 2006, researchers analysed the fat intake of 1,449 adults ages 65 to 80, 117 suffering from dementia. While participants consuming considerable amounts of polyunsaturated fat, usually present in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, proved less risk for dementia, a higher intake of saturated fat however, was said to be linked to a high risk of symptoms associated with dementia developing or worsening a person’s condition.
To improve the fat intake within dementia patients, it is advisable for a person who suffers from dementia to replace high-fat meats, such as beef, steak, lamb, bacon, sausage and dark-meat poultry, with food containing low-fat meat such as fish, or legumes.
2. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) may cause plaque buildup in brain
AGEs also known as glycotoxins, these are proteins that have become gyrated mainly because of high exposure to sugars.
This usually occurs when cooking foods, such as fries and meat, at high temperatures. These harmful compounds are said to be linked to hypertension and diabetes; however, recent studies have pointed out that AGEs are linked to dementia as well. High levels of AGEs can lead to amyloid plaques to form in the brain – the most obvious sign of dementia occuring.
A recent study published by a team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital situated in New York, recently put forward view that compounds known as glycotoxins present in over-cooked foods can actually increase the risk for dementia occurring, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type of them all. The study is known as “Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans” which was published in the journal known as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
3. Enriched starches
Starches, such as breads, cereal and pasta, provide glucose (usually the body’s main dietary source of energy).
Whole grain starches, such as oatmeal, brown rice and 100 percent whole grain bread, provide considerable amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which enhances the overall nutritional wellness of the body, digestive function and cardiovascular health.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, since memory loss is one of the main symptoms of people suffering from dementia, they often forget to eat, this often leads to different complications including malnutrition. Source:
Keeping your kitchen stocked with whole grains instead of enriched starches can prove very helpful and ensure that your food choices are nutritious, and protects against diet-related problems for people suffering from dementia.
4. Added Sugar
Although added sugars such as sugarcane, corn syrup, maltose and sucrose may seem quite compelling to a person suffering from dementia, however, they provide little to no nutrimental value to the body, especially sugary snacks from venders and beverages. The UMMC recommends that people with Alzheimer’s disease avoid refined food, sugar in particular, and consume more nutritious and hydrating foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
While occasional sweets are less likely to cause any harm to the person suffering from dementia, it is advisable to keep food and beverages rich in added sugars such as jelly, pancake syrup, regular soft drinks, candy and commercially prepared desserts to a minimum level.
It is recommended to replace jelly with all-fruit spread, applesauce or fresh fruit and doughnuts and pastries with low-fat bran muffins. Moreover, an artificial flavoring known as diacetyl usually found popcorn butter has been linked to dementia. This is not just present in butter, but Diacetyl is used in snack foods such as baked goods and beer.
Although many companies have limited using diacetyl because of health risks associated to it, its use is still not eliminated. Like other noxious ingredients linked to dementia, diacetyl has been shown to produce an Alzheimer’s-linked protein known as amyloid.
Moreover, other research suggests the diacetyl disrupts the production of glyoxalase I, a detoxifying protein that prevents amyloids from sticking together.
5. Food high in sodium
According to doctors, an excess amount of salt is said to be damaging for the heart and brain. Even just a teaspoon of salt everyday is said to dull the mind and increase the risk Alzheimer’s disease or even worsen the symptoms in certain cases according to a study done in Canada.
The team recorded the level of physical activity along with salt consumption of 1,262 healthy men and women aged between 67 and 84 over a time frame of three years. They also assessed the mental health of the participants at the start of the study and once a year for the entire duration of the study, using a battery of tests more commonly used to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
‘The results of our study showed that a diet high in sodium, combined with little exercise, was especially detrimental to the cognitive performance of older adults,’ said Dr Alexandra Fiocco from the University of Toronto.
While managing the diet plan of dementia patients is not east for caretakers because eating healthy is never in the dementia patient’s agenda. It is very important to understand the connection between eating unhealthy and dementia. Patients who are psychiatrically disturbed may become delusional and distracted when it comes to their food.
This makes it even more important for caretakers to support dementia patients with sufficient care so that they can eat and drink properly.
It is also important for caretakers to take into consideration the preferences of the patient which can prove to be very helpful when treating them. Distractions and noise should be avoided as far as possible during eating time so patients can concentrate on their food properly.
Eating preferences and styles of the patient can change and therefore caretakers should be flexible when it comes to the person suffering from dementia’s diet plan.
Proper care, good nutrition and regular exercises can go a long way in preventing and slowing the progress of dementia.