A Mediterranean diet is for good heart and brain health. People who adhere to this diet are found to have a lower risk of developing dementia. In addition, consuming a Mediterranean diet has been linked with a slower decline in faculties if they already have cognitive impairment. The Mediterranean diet typically includes plenty of vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, some fruits, fish, olive oil, and small amounts of meat.
Antioxidants help in mopping up destructive chemical molecules in the body and free radicals, which result from our body’s use of oxygen to generate energy. Free radicals may also contribute to brain cell death in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Food Items To Incorporate To Manage Dementia
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr Jyoti Sharma – Director, Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Noida elucidates on the food items that a person should incorporate in order to keep the risk of developing dementia at bay. These food items may include:
1. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants. Most deep or bright colored fruits and vegetables have the highest concentrations of antioxidants. Research suggests that those who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing dementia. Antioxidants are also found in whole grains, tea, especially green tea, vegetable oils, and dark chocolate.
Diets high in refined sugars however, are harmful to the brain. In addition, it worsens the body’s regulation of insulin. They also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, consuming a Mediterranean-style diet doesn’t necessarily mean eating foods from Mediterranean countries. Instead, try to follow these foods for a healthy brain and overall health.
2. Whole grains
Whole grains help in improving concentration and focus. Just like everything else in our body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from the supply of energy in the form of glucose in our blood, to the brain.
Switching to whole grains which have a low glycemic index helps in releasing the energy slowly into the bloodstream. It also in turn keeps a person mentally alert throughout the day. Eating too few healthy carbs, like whole grains, in fact may lead to brain fog and irritability. Consumption of isabgol husk before meals is also helpful as it slows down glucose absorption and fulfills daily fibre requirements.
3. Oily fish
Oily fish contains active fats in a ready-made form, which means the body can use it. Good plant sources of oily fish may include flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and their oils. These fats are important for healthy brain function, the heart, joints, and our general well-being.
Low DHA levels are also linked to an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. On the other hand, having sufficient levels of both EPA and DHA is considered to help in managing stress and making the brain chemical.
Consumption of blueberries is effective in improving and delaying short-term memory loss. They're readily available, but one can also achieve the same effect with other dark red and purple fruits, like blackberries, and vegetables, like red cabbage.
Tomatoes help in preventing free radical damage. Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, helps in protecting against the kind of free radical damage to cells that occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer. Other food items that supply this, and have similar protective phytonutrients, include papaya, watermelon, and pink grapefruit..
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds help in enhancing memory and boost mood. Pumpkin seeds supply valuable minerals which are vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. They're also full of stress-busting magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan, which is the precursor to the good mood chemical serotonin. Other useful food sources include chickpeas and nuts like cashews and almonds.
Additional Tips For A Healthy Diet
- Enjoy your food
- Eat a variety of foods with an emphasis on plant foods
- Eat the right amount to maintain a healthy weight
- Eat plenty of foods rich in fibre
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day)
- Limit red meat but have fish twice a week
- Limit fried foods and processed snacks
- Avoid foods high in saturated fat
- Limit sugary foods and drinks
- Avoid foods high in salt and don’t add salt in cooking or at the table
- Drink plenty of water.
- Only drink alcohol in moderation
This general healthy diet may help reduce the risk of dementia, in addition to that of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.