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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Can diet and nutrition help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s?

The thought of developing Alzheimer’s is understandably frightening. Adding to the anxiety for many people is the feeling that there is nothing you can do to prevent it. But although today there is not a cure or a 100% pre-emptive course of action, there actually are steps you can take to lower your risk.

While there are contributors to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis that are outside of your control, including age and genetics, there is still much you can do to influence other risk factors such as diet, exercise and cognitive training.

Just looking at the impact that diet alone can make is encouraging. As research continues to study the connection between what we eat and brain disease, healthy food choices are showing promising results when it comes to decreasing the chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

Taking advantage of the window of opportunity

Studies have discovered that changes to the brain can happen years before the indicators of  Alzheimer’s are experienced. If lifestyle modifications can be made, there is the possibility to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or to delay its debilitating symptoms. This could buy time, allowing people to maintain their independence and self-sufficiency longer, which can make a huge difference in quality of life.

While research may not be able yet to tell us definitively why diet may help, it does appear that what’s good for the heart may also be good for the brain. It’s suggested that certain nutrients may protect the brain through anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. The right diet, according to the National Institute on Aging, may also inhibit beta-amyloid deposits, which are present in the brains of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Food that is good for brain health

One diet that has shown a positive impact is the MIND diet. A hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, they each have been known for the benefits of lowering blood pressure and improving heart health.

Elements of these diets are combined to create the MIND diet, which limits red meat, saturated fats and sugar while encouraging plant-based foods. When followed, studies are showing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s may be reduced up to 53 percent. According to the Mayo Clinic, the MIND diet has also demonstrated an ability to possibly slow cognitive decline and even improve memory.

Research that followed the eating habits of an older population for 4 ½ years sought to learn if there were any diet similarities for those who developed dementia versus those who did not. They discovered those who ate foods more closely aligned with the MIND diet on average had the same brain acuity as those who were 7 ½ years younger.

What the MIND diet includes:

The following is a list of recommended foods and servings:

  • At least three servings of whole grains a day

  • Green leafy vegetables (such as salad) at least six servings a week

  • Other vegetables at least one serving a day

  • Berries at least two servings a week

  • Red meat less than four times a week

  • Fish at least one serving a week

  • Poultry at least two servings a week

  • Beans for at least three servings a week

  • Nuts at least five servings a week

  • Fried or fast food less than once a week

  • Less than a tablespoon of butter or margarine a day

  • Less than a serving of cheese a week

  • Less than five pastries or sweets a week

  • Limit to one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day

  • Mainly use olive oil for cooking

The best diet is one you’ll follow

Research also showed that adhering to the Mediterranean diet produced basically the same results, but some people find it harder to follow as it requires eating fish multiple days a week. Another great benefit of the MIND diet is that it doesn’t have to be meticulously followed to produce results. The biggest decline in risk does come the closer you adhere to the diet, but even those who followed it less strictly enjoyed a decrease.

Studies have also compared those determined to be cognitively normal who ate a Mediterranean diet with those who ate a Western-style diet containing more red meat, saturated fats and sugar. The results revealed that when older adults made even a few of the changes to their diets, they could begin lowering their risk. Another study showed that those who followed the MIND diet could enjoy a slowing of cognitive decline on an average of almost 5 years.

Can the right community help with healthier eating?

For many residents, the answer is yes. One of the top benefits of living in a community is not only having easy access to delicious food but healthy meals as well. Special diets are able to be accommodated and there should be no trouble finding healthy selections.

If you’re considering Memory Support Assisted Living for yourself or a loved one, make sure to ask about their dining programs. There should be choices and flexibility regarding meal times, food selections and options that provide nutritious and beautifully prepared meals.

Ingleside at Rock Creek Memory Support Assisted Living

At Rock Creek, we understand and fully support helping our residents both eat well and live well. Our Memory Support Assisted Living offers all-day, flexible dining choices that feature chef inspired meals, stocked kitchens and hydration stations. We make it a priority to offer a range of options that encourage our residents to eat well.

Our community and whole-person approach is specially designed to support our residents to feel empowered and engaged. We also encourage families to share meals with their loved ones and are here to help in any way we can.

Call (202) 905-0018 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a personalized tour today.


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