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The Health Centre

Mind Your Diet

 

A balanced diet promotes brain health


dementia foodThe link between diet and brain health is becoming increasingly recognised by health professionals. A good diet is also essential for a healthy heart. While we have known for some time that too many saturated fats and salt can cause heart disease, research now tells us that they can also increase the risk of vascular
dementia.


One study showed people who consumed a diet rich in fats had a risk of Alzheimer’s disease 2.2 times higher than those people with a low fat content in their diet. Researchers working independently on two continents found evidence to support the dietary intake of antioxidants such as vitamins E, C and beta
carotene as they may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


The build-up of free radicals in the brain may contribute to plaque formation which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals. A diet with adequate food sources of vitamin E may be protective, especially if taken as a normal part of dietary intake. If sufficient dietary vitamin
E cannot be assured, a moderate dose supplement could be considered, but definitely not more than 400 mg a day.


A study of 370 people in Sweden showed Alzheimer’s disease developed twice as frequently in those who had low vitamin B12 and folate levels. It was reported that supplements with 0.8 mg daily of folate protected against cognitive decline − and was safe. Folate and vitamin B12 are necessary for cell function,
while deficiencies have been associated with neurological conditions including cognitive impairment and dementia.

 

The evidence is heartening. By adopting a balanced diet you may reduce your risk of dementia in later life. Remember, a brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.


Eat brain healthy food daily

 

Reduce saturated fats

Eat mainly lean red meat and chicken, and choose low-fat or no-fat products.


Eat protective foods
HDL (or good) cholesterol foods such as: olive oil, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds and fish.


Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce dementia. Foods include: soy and canola oils, canola-based margarines, fish, especially oily varieties (Atlantic salmon, mackerel, southern blue-fin tuna), trevally and sardines at least once or twice a week.


Antioxidant-rich foods including: prunes, raisins, blueberries, other berries, spinach, brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beetroot, avocados, oranges, red grapes, capsicum, cherries, kiwi fruit, onions, corn and eggplant.


Antioxidant-rich drinks including: green tea, tea and red wine (in moderation).
Folate including: oranges, mandarins, bananas, rock-melons, strawberries, avocados, corn, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnips, whole grain cereals and oats, peanuts, meat and soya.


Adopt a healthy food lifestyle rather than a short-term diet and eat in moderation.

 

Remember to include sufficient vitamins

 

Vitamin E rich foods include: vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals.


Obtaining vitamins from food sources is best; however, consider vitamin supplements if needed – but definitely not more than 400 mg of vitamin E a day.
Vitamin E can interact with other medications, e.g. increased risk of bleeding if on Warfarin, so people should first discuss commencement with their doctor.

 

Stay hydrated

 

Drink six to eight glasses of water every day unless medically advised to restrict fluids. Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol as these remove water from the body.

 

Source: extract from Mind Your Mind, Alzheimer's Australia

 

 
 
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