Food for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Nutrition for the Brain – Food for Thought
We have long advocated that certain foods can improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia causing diseases. Face it, eating is enjoyable, and generally improves quality of life for everyone. I am quoting Captain Obvious here. But there are foods that are thought to actually improve brain health – food for Alzheimer’s. One of the most promising is coconut oil. Turmeric is also getting a lot of attention, not only as an anti inflammatory agent, but for its ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier and deliver nutrients directly to the brain. It may be that a cure for dementia may eventually be found in our food. So we thought we should share some of our favorite recipes for Alzheimer’s.
Guidelines for creating recipes for Alzheimer’s
First and important, always consult with your medical professional before making radical changes to you diet.
We have a few suggestions and recommendations before getting to the recipes. Use organic and fresh ingredients whenever possible. If nothing else, organic food is less likely to contain the chemical pesticides and preservatives that or common on “traditionally grown” foods. Science is finding significant associations between Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders, and exposure to pesticides. And fresh, ripe, locally grown foods are more likely to contain increased levels of protective antioxidants and micro-nutrients¹.
Limit your use of processed sugars that can cause rapid elevations of blood sugar.¹ Particularly stay away from prepared foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners (aspartame in particular), artificial colors, MSG (and hydrolyzed vegetable protein), and any other artificial ingredient. Many, if not all of the substances named in this paragraph are suspected of causing damage to brain cells and contributing to dementia.
More good news! Diet has long been thought to fight dementia. There is clinical evidence³, for example, that the traditional Mediterranean Diet really does, in fact, protect the brain. The study cited below, Mediterranean Diet and Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, is only one of many investigations that credit this particular diet with Alzheimer’s protection.
Food for Alzheimer’s—Ingredients to Include
Foods that have clinical and/or anecdotal support as dementia fighters, or are otherwise potential dementia fighters.
- Coconut oil—be sure it is organic and unprocessed.
- Olive oil
- Omega-3 oils, found in certain fish, walnuts, flax seed, chia seed
- Certain spices and herbs
- and spice mixes like curry and garam masala
- Fresh fruit and vegetables, especially deep green and orange colored
- Seafood—especially cold water species that are high in omega-3 oils, like wild salmon and mackerel
- Whole grains, like barley, rye, buckwheat
- Legumes, like lentils and chickpeas
- Get this! Moderate consumption of alcohol, especially red wine, may have some protective value. But excessive use may contribute to neurological disorders; so don’t!
Ingredients to Avoid
Some foods and food additives may contribute to Alzheimer’s and other dementia and should be avoided or used minimally.
- Aluminum – not that you are likely to stir aluminum into a pot of soup, but some processed foods contain trace amounts. Most commercially available baking powder, for example, contains aluminum. Find an aluminum free brand, like Rumford. Many pancake and waffle products, baking mixes, muffins, etc. contain aluminum.
- Whenever possible, avoid foods that contain environmental chemicals; i.e., eat organic.
- Trans fats which are hydrogenated oils. I have heard it said that hydrogenated oils are the biggest travesty ever perpetrated on food and diet.
- It is usually recommended to avoid
Other Important Dietary Considerations
- There exists an ongoing controversy about the benefits of coconut oil. One of the most thoughtful accounts I have read about this was written by Dr. Stephanie Seneff4, who concluded that coconut oil and cholesterol is not only healthy, but can offer protection against AD; and that our preoccupation with low fat everything might actually contribute to the current Alzheimer’s epidemic. Her essay is certainly worth reading, and the citation below on this page contains a link. Also, read more about coconut oil on our blog, then make up your own mind.
- I have read doctors who generally recommend Canola oil. I recommend against it. For one thing, it is highly processed. Furthermore, I read recently that canola oil can actually contribute to memory loss. Like most things in nutritional science, this study is far from conclusive, but I, for one, will instead use olive oil and other oils we know to be healthy.
These recommendations are dietary in nature. To see a more general discussion about avoiding Alzheimer’s, see Can We Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Food for Alzheimer’s and Brain Health
Recipes and Preparations
Food for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
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- First of all, thank you for such a tremendous, caring and comprehensive website, I always pass the word along to those I think might benefit from it. Thank you so much, I really look forward to giving him something he can actually do. Lisa
- Wow! This is all so new to us. My mother in law came to live with us 3 months ago with stage 3 alzheimers. I am the major caregiver, bathing, feeding, meals, laundry, meds, activities but my husband is getting better at helping. I found your site when a friend suggested “toys for Alzheimer’s” and will definitely be coming back for more. Thank you for all the links and great products too. Paula