Senior Health

Here you will find informative articles on the topic of senior nutrition. Topics covered range from senior nutrition and weight loss to the relationship between BMI and quality of life for the elderly.

How to Prevent Dementia with a Balanced Diet

How can diet prevent or slow dementia? We know that certain foods can help the fight.


Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the brain, primarily beyond what might be expected from normal aging. While the overwhelming number of people with dementia are elderly, it is not inevitable. Chewing your way to a healthy brain can start now!

Foods that Fight Dementia

In addition to fueling your brain with these foods for memory loss, adopt the practices and recommendations described below. Filled with valuable nutrients and recommendations, reduce the risk of memory loss with this "dementia diet."

Eat Fiber
The hype of fiber consistently points to its significant ability to improve digestion and lower cholesterol levels. Its role in heart health can reduce and prevent against stroke, a precursor of vascular dementia. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the recommended daily amount of fiber is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. But after age 50, daily fiber needs drop to 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women. Get more fiber in your diet with these 5 easy tips!

Get to Know DHA
Also known as docosahexaenoic acid, DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring along with other seafood and some meat products, including grass-fed beef. Its provision is critical in infant development and has additional roles in heart health, depression, and arthritis. Despite the growing need of treatment guidelines and protocols orchestrated for Alzheimer's disease, DHA may just in fact prevent against age-related dementia!

Embracing a Mediterranean Diet for Dementia Prevention

Unlike many "diets" that often seem too good to be true, the Mediterranean Diet continues to shine in the health spotlight for good reason! In addition to the DHA-containing fish described above, the primarily plant-based diet whole grains and legumes, fresh produce and herbs, seeds and nuts, and olive and canola oils on a daily basis. The diet also supports fish and poultry at least twice a week, dairy products and red wine in moderation, and a low consumption of red meats.

The robust vitamin and mineral content complimented by healthy fats, lean proteins, and fiber have shown to protect against heart disease and the management of diabetes, along with benefits to memory and brain health. Supporting evidence in the journal Neurology suggests following the diet can protect against dementia as age advances, mostly by harnessing against brain changes.

Wake Up with Coffee
Although not exactly a food, that popular morning beverage does much more than compliment those breakfast eggs and pancakes! In fact, coffee offers much more than an initial energy jolt.

Recently published in the journal Nutrition, a set of reviewers compiled 11 relevant studies, from the years 1966 and 2014, and proposed higher coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk for Alzheimer's disease. Although ongoing research is encouraged, the data is nonetheless compelling and habitual intake of coffee continues to be brewed for its renowned health benefits. Compliment with a piece of dark chocolate, as evolving research suggests its antioxidant properties may improve blood flow to the brain, theoretically enhancing intellect and memory.

Manage Health Conditions
Poor management of blood sugar, pressure, and cholesterol may not only accelerate risk to more health complications, but can heighten the chances of developing dementia. Additionally, the DASH Diet and these diabetic and heart healthy tips can assist in blood pressure regulation and management of blood sugars and cholesterol. All-in-all, a well-balanced diet embracing the components explained throughout and above can lessen dementia risk while enriching your total sense of well-being.

Reduce the Risk of Dementia with a Balanced Diet

Sometimes, though, dementia occurs and maybe even in an aggressive fashion. Its marks can shake and disturb the worlds of all those encountered and negotiate total health of the individual affected. Increasing age may already compromise the ability to cook, feed oneself, or even swallow, with dementia only fueling the fire. The impacts of the chronic and terminal disease can subsequently accelerate malnutrition, with the risk of deteriorating the whole body. And while pushing for nutrition may be naturally embodied in your bouts of care, it may just add on more stress.

Additionally, and interestingly, the use of feeding tubes is starting to decline in individuals with advanced dementia and as a provider, refusing its placement is absolutely okay. The physical tube itself may alarm the elder, with raising confusion following the feeding protocol. A placement may lead to hospital admission or a lengthier stay, mostly related to a heightened risk of pressure ulcers or bedsores, a blockage, infection, or worse yet, patients may try to pull it out.

The bottom line: In end stages, cherish and relish memories at hand. As a family member and caregiver, nurture quality of life and try to offer nutrition as tolerated, especially as dementia progresses. For extended advice regarding diet and eating practices for your loved one, find more information here.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on May 09, 2019.


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