We’re talking diet and dementia. At the DC we’ve long been advocates of a vegan diet. In this article, we’ll be talking through how diet completely changed someone’s life…
Foods said to help improve symptoms of dementia have apparently been recorded after a man told of his mother gaining back her memory by getting her to follow a diet high in leafy green vegetables and berries. You can read Mark Hatzer’s full story here.
From the Alzheimer’s Society Website:
Mark and Sylvia’s personal action plan for living well with dementia
1. Eat ‘brain-nourishing’ foods, such as:
– Berries, especially blueberries, blackberries and strawberries
– Leafy green vegetables, spinach and kale
– Sweet potatoes, carrots, swede, and more.
2. Keep away from bad foods, such as:
– Refined sugar and sugary drinks
– Fried foods and ‘fast food’
– Pastries, cakes, sweets, and more.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help people with dementia to manage their symptoms, but there is no strong evidence that these steps will slow or stop the underlying diseases that cause dementia.
. . .
Mark’s mother, Sylvia, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016, and it had progressed to the point that she could no longer remember who he was. Speaking of when his mother was in hospital, Mark said, “She didn’t recognise me and phoned the police as she thought she’d been kidnapped.” Sylvia spent two months in hospital before she was well enough to be discharged.
“When she left hospital, I thought instead of prescribed medication we thought we’d perhaps try alternative treatment,” Mark said, “In certain countries, Alzheimer’s is practically unheard of because of their diet.”
“I slowly got my mum back,” Mark said about the change in diet, “Her memory is improving all the time. She is more alert and engaged. She is basically her old self again.”
The foods in the Mediterranean diet are used as they all are considered ‘brain-boosting’ and have been said to have a positive effect on the brain. Orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, for example, contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant said to benefit the brain and memory.
Oily fish, another food prominent in the diet, contains omega 3. Omega 3 has a range of health benefits and could reduce symptoms like those in dementia.
Berries, like blueberries and blackberries, are highly recommended as they contain flavonoids, a nutrient that is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. It is also claimed that blueberries can activate the part of the brain that controls learning and memory, but more studies are needed.
Other components of the diet, like leafy green vegetables are also rich in antioxidants which help benefit the brain.
A diet that is also being recommended in patients with dementia is the MIND diet. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The DASH diet is a diet designed to lower high blood pressure (hypertension). It does this by focusing on food that is low in sodium.
The foods recommended in the MIND diet are:
- Vegetables, green leafy vegetables in particular
- Berries, mostly blueberries
- Wine, in moderation
- Olive oil
- Oily fish, like salmon or mackerel
The foods to avoid are:
- Red meats
- Fried or fast foods
- Pastries and sweets
- Butter or margarine
Like all diets, the MIND diet has its own set of rules to follow. These are:
- Eat a salad every day
- Eat at least three servings of wholegrains every day
- Eat one other vegetable every day
- Eat beans around every other day
- Eat fish once a week
- Eat poultry and blueberries at least twice a week
- Drink a glass of wine every day
- Eat nuts as a snack almost every day
- Unhealthy foods are allowed, but limit them to less than once a week
- Limit butter to less than a tablespoon per day
The end goal of the MIND diet is to lower the risk and progress of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as any other health benefits the diet might bring.
As with all diets, consult a doctor before starting a new diet plan.
Author: Marsha Turner.