Diet is a huge topic of conversation on health-centric websites, TV shows, social media feeds and magazines. If you were to ask most people about the reasons why they thoughtfully consume their food, they’d likely list some common benefits, including weight maintenance, muscle strength, bone density, skin clarity, and organ health.
One lesser-considered benefit of smart dietary choices is that they may help reduce our risk of developing dementia. How? A diet high in sugar, salt and trans fats can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity — each of which are known factors in developing dementia.
There are some everyday food choices that can be integrated into your diet to improve your overall health and, in turn, help to lower your risk of developing dementia. Furthermore, these dietary adjustments can also be beneficial for people who are living with a type of the illness. As per the Alzheimer’s Association, poor diet and nutrition can cause weight loss and may increase behavioural symptoms for those living with Alzheimer’s, or another type of dementia.
If you are caring for a loved one who has received a dementia diagnosis, consider securing help from specialist providers like Integracare Home Care. As healthcare professionals, they understand the role that food plays in senior care. In addition to helping with other Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), their compassionate, highly-trained team can help seniors shop, plan meals, and cook and prepare food — empowering them to retain as much independence as possible for as long as possible.
The Benefits of Antioxidants
While many dietary changes can be implemented, we’re focusing on antioxidants here. When our body experiences an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals (volatile atoms), it can lead to damage in the cells, which in turn can cause neurological damage — leading to dementia. Antioxidants can neutralize these free radicals. In a 2022 study from the American Academy of Neurology, researchers found that people with high levels of antioxidants in their blood are “less likely to develop dementia.”
If you’re meal planning, consider incorporating some of these antioxidants into your meals this week.
This tiny berry packs a punch. It’s high in antioxidants and thus can reduce the potential for developing heart disease and high blood pressure while delaying the decline in brain function that comes with aging. Fresh blueberries can be costly; fortunately, studies have proven that frozen berries, their more cost-effective counterpart, are just as nutritious.
Kale contains six antioxidants, including vitamin C and alpha-linolic acid. It’s a superfood, chock-full of potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can enhance cognitive ability and delay cognitive decline.
A versatile and easy-to-eat vegetable, potatoes contain around 20mg of vitamin C. This high count equates to 13% of an individual’s antioxidant capacity.
4. Pinto Beans
These tiny beans contain antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols. Pinto beans can easily be incorporated into soups, chilis and salads.
5. Tomato Juice
Tomato juice is jam-packed with vitamin C and beta-carotene — two mighty antioxidants. Just be sure to source a brand with a low sodium level.
6. Dark Chocolate
Hearing ‘chocolate’ and ‘health’ in the same sentence is unusual. In the case of cocoa and dark chocolate, however, both rank high on the list of beneficial antioxidants. In fact, in one study, it was found that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than antioxidant heavyweight, the blueberry.
The Takeaway on Antioxidants
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is a fantastic way to keep your body and mind healthy. By incorporating foods full of antioxidants, you’re minimizing the potential for free radicals to cause damage and helping to stave off dementia.