A healthy diet benefits more than just the waistline. It improves heart health, and lowers the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, dehydration, and even the possibility of malnutrition.
Research has shown that a healthy diet also impacts memory and can help slow cognitive decline. In fact, some specific aspects of food consumption are directly related to dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, including decreased ability to smell and taste, inability to eat independently, consumption of non-food items, swallowing issues, forgetting to eat, and significant changes in weight.
While changing lifelong eating habits is never easy, avoiding foods that induce memory loss and consuming more of the foods that boost memory can increase seniors’ chances of enjoying good health.
The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. The Mediterranean Diet recommends replacing butter with healthier fats, such as olive oil, and replacing red meat with fish and poultry twice a week.
Another popular diet that was originally designed to reduce blood pressure and is a good complement to the Mediterranean Diet is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. This diet includes fruits, vegetables and lean proteins but restricts red meat, salt, added sugars, and fat.
A combination of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet is called the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay). This program aims to stave off dementia and the decline in brain health that often occur as people age.
Before starting any diet or eating program, consult reputable sources and work with your doctor and/or nutritionist to determine what is right for you.
In my next blog I’ll discuss the impact of normal aging on the neurological system.