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Diet and Dementia - Can Changing Your Diet Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

Monday, 15 April 2013  |  Paul

 

How important is your diet when it comes to developing dementia? Read on to find out about recent research into the area and what experts recommend.

What we put in our bodies can affect us in more ways than we know.

Whilst people are often more worried about counting calories and watching their waist lines when eating, they should also be thinking about how the food they eat could affect their health. Research into diet and dementia is currently on-going so current theories over a link between the two should under no circumstances be taken as factual medical advice. However, there is some evidence that by controlling your diet you can lower or increase the chances of developing dementia.

Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK with many moving into a specialised dementia care home to be treated by dedicated staff. Read on to find out about some of the latest research on the link between diet and dementia and the latest research on whether or not dietary steps can be taken to prevent the condition.

Current opinions

The link between what somebody eats and whether it helps prevent dementia has been a contentious one. Various research studies have provided evidence for both sides of the argument, with sufferers often bombarded with competing advice when searching online.

Over the years various food and food groups have been championed as having the potential to prevent dementia. For example, a few years ago a US researcher claimed that a weekly curry could help protect against the condition. It was claimed that the curcumin in curries could help avoid the spread of amyloid protein plaques, which experts believe contribute to the degradation of the brain's wiring.

Recently work by the Archives of Neurology seemed to suggest that a diet rich in fish, vegetables and nuts could also reduce the chance of developing dementia. The research, which followed 2,148 retirement age individuals for four years, found that the nutrients derived from a more 'Mediterranean' diet helped lower the risk.

However in the face of this research a new study has cast doubt on these claims over the benefits higher antioxidants levels might have on preventing the onset of dementia. The work by experts at the Harvard Medical School in Boston found that whilst individual antioxidants or the food they are derived from might lower the risk of dementia, the overall levels of the molecules in the body were irrelevant. 

The importance of diet

Whilst it might currently be impossible to cure or categorically prevent the condition, a healthy diet can act as an integral part to delaying or staving off the effects of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia.

Fresh fruit and vegetables and lean protein will all help the health of your brain. There is also evidence to suggest that avoiding trans-fats whilst embracing omega-3 fats, drinking green tea to protect glial cells and eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help stave off the condition. 

But good diet is only one part in the fight to reduce your risk of dementia, with good sleep, an active social life, regular exercise, mental stimulation and the ability to handle stress the best way experts currently believe you can reduce your risk of dementia.

Have you changed your diet to try to avoid dementia?

References

http://www.helpguide.org/elder/alzheimers_prevention_slowing_down_treatment.htm

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=102

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256717.php

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8615456.stm

http://www.webmd.boots.com/stroke/news/20130220/do-antioxidant-rich-diets-stroke-dementia

 

Author: Jamie Monteath