Separating Fact from Myth Regarding Superfoods and Dementia
If you’ve watched a senior loved one battle Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia, you might be worried that your genetics put you at higher risk for developing it, too. That’s an understandable concern. Adults who have lost a loved one to this disease know firsthand how tough it can be.
Though researchers haven’t yet been successful in determining what causes Alzheimer’s disease, or if genetics may play a role, they do believe diet and lifestyle are important for Alzheimer’s prevention.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any “superfoods” you can consume that will prevent Alzheimer’s. Scientists know, however, that a healthy diet may help you avoid type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. That’s important because a growing amount of research seems to indicate a link between these conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.
A well-balanced diet that may help prevent or delay the progression of Alzheimer’s should include the following:
- Vegetables: Leafy green and cruciferous vegetables are believed to help control blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes. Examples of foods you can work into your daily diet include kale, spinach, radish, cauliflower, broccoli, romaine, and cabbage.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish, such as sardines, tuna, and halibut, are linked to better heart health. While research on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids isn’t conclusive when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention, some small studies show it may slow the decline associated with the disease.
- Coffee: This one is a little bit more complicated. Researchers at Laboratory of Neuroscience in Boston say that coffee contains high levels of polyphenols, which help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Both are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. For adults who have Alzheimer’s, however, new research suggests that coffee can increase anxiety, agitation, and other hallmark symptoms of the disease.
- Spices: Preventing inflammation is another step scientists believe we can all take to avoid Alzheimer’s. A few spices that are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties are turmeric and cinnamon. Think about ways you can work them into your daily diet, such as adding cinnamon to your morning coffee or sprinkling it on your oatmeal. You can use turmeric in smoothies, scrambled eggs, soups, and more.
- Fruits: The antioxidants and flavonoids in berries, melon, plums, and oranges have high fiber content and can also help prevent cancer. Another benefit seems to be helping protect cognitive function. Some research shows that women who consume high amounts of berries can delay cognitive aging by as much as 2.5 years.
- Oils: People in the Blue Zones—those areas of the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives—use olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings. It replaces other types of oils that often contain saturated fats.
At Sunrise Senior Living communities, delicious, well-balanced meals are a part of everyday life. We share real-time nutritional information on our website so residents and their loved ones can see the breakdown of each day’s meals. From calcium content to saturated fat, we make it easy to eat a healthy diet.