Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s memory and causes confusion. Though there is no diet that will reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, eating a healthy diet can sometimes ease symptoms as well as prevent the disease’s progression especially in the early years.
What you eat can affect your oxidative stress, inflammation throughout the body, play a role in conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, as well as unbalancing your gut microbes. The gut microbes have been studied to show a link to the aging associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet, or Mediterranean-Dash intervention for neurodegenerative delay diet, is a combo of the Mediterranean and Dash diets. Both of which focus on plant-based foods. The MIND diet may help prevent or slow symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, or cognitive decline. It may not reverse the disease, but it may help slow the disease especially in the early years.
The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods. It limits animal products and foods with high saturated fats. The two foods that you eat the most in the MIND diet are berries and leafy greens. Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries have been shown to prevent cognitive aging. Kale, spinach, and collard greens also have shown to slow cognitive decline due to aging. Both berries and leafy greens are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are important to help fight free radicals and lower the oxidative stress in the brain and body. This diet does not require counting calories and it also does not eliminate any foods from your diet. This diet is a good option in helping with cognitive function when mixed with regular physical activity. Getting regular physical activity can also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods to eat when on the MIND diet are kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce, almonds, cashews, pistachios, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, salmon, trout, tuna, chicken, turkey, and olive oil. Olive oil should be the primary oil used whenever cooking. Foods like the leafy greens should be consumed at least 6 servings per week. Other foods like chicken and turkey should be consumed at least 2 servings per week. Nuts should have 5 servings per week. While the berries should have a minimum of 2 servings per week. Foods that you should limit on the MIND diet are red meats such as steak, ground beef, and pork, butter, cheese, sweet treats like cookies and cakes, and fried or fast foods.
If you or your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease there is no diet that can reverse the effects. Making sure they eat a balanced diet though can be essential in helping ease some symptoms along with making them feel good. A balanced diet with variety is important. Offering a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean proteins. Limit the amount of saturated fats and refined sugars in their diet. It is also good to help limit high sodium foods. When figuring out foods to feed your loved one, think of nutritious high-calorie foods. This could be chicken with the skin on, brown rice, potatoes, or whole grain pastas.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses loss of appetite can be a symptom. This can come from many different reasons. The foods on the plate don’t look familiar and the medications they are taking may cause them to not be hungry. Medications can also cause dry mouth which you will want to help battle with offering small sips of water or juice throughout the day. To help dry mouth soups, or breads dunked in a broth can be appealing. Medications may also cause constipation. Foods to offer to fight constipation are fruits and vegetables and high fiber foods. Make sure they are staying hydrated too; this can also help with constipation. If weight loss becomes a concern add supplements between meals to add calories. It also may be better for them to eat 5-6 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones.
When providing foods make sure they are easy to eat. Finger foods like chicken nuggets are a good option. Meal times should be calm too. Try to avoid distractions as much as possible. If you notice that they are overwhelmed by the amount of food on their plate, limit the foods. Put 1-2 foods on their plate at a time to help eliminate confusion or indecisiveness. When preparing foods, help check for temperature. Alzheimer’s patients may not remember to check the temperature of foods before taking a bite. Also make sure things are cut up, or if choking is a severe possibility grind foods up for them to be easier to eat. When at all possible eat together. Be there to chat and help out and make mealtimes enjoyable.
There is no specific diet that can help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Eating a MIND diet where you focus on plant-based foods may help prevent or slow down cognitive delay. When Alzheimer’s disease is already present focusing on a balanced diet with a variety of foods that are nutritious and high in calories can be beneficial in helping your loved one feel their best and ease some of their symptoms.
Need an easy way to add greens to your diet? Try Purium’s Green Spectrum is a collection of 15 different superfoods and greens, including sea plants, field grasses and garden vegetables!