No one would be happy to be diagnosed with a potentially dangerous condition like dementia or heart disease. Dementia is an umbrella term and does not refer to a particular illness. Instead, it encompasses the overall deficiency in recollection, cognition or judgment that hampers the normal functioning of everyday life.
Suppose you or someone you love has risk factors for dementia. Or they may suffer from other issues like a sleep disorder, lung disease, or hearing loss. There are steps you can take to maintain a good quality of life. Better yet, you can improve your brain health and live longer by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Knowing these, is preventing Alzheimer's Disease possible at all? Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain condition that cannot be reversed. It gradually deteriorates memory, cognitive abilities, and ability to perform everyday tasks. This form of brain cell damage in older adults is the most common cause of dementia. Although dementia is more prevalent as people age, it is not a natural aspect of ageing.
In this article, we will explore some tips on preventing dementia through natural ways. For a quick read-through, here are some recommended approaches to combat cognitive decline:
Modifying lifestyle factors
Being physically active
Making healthy food choices
Being socially active
Controlling blood sugar levels
Lowering blood pressure
Avoiding too much alcohol intake
Getting a good night's sleep
When you spot early signs of cognitive decline, it's time to act and prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia. There is no definitive cure for this condition, so prevention is the best thing we can do.
Fortunately, there is a so-called Alzheimer’s diet to which we can adhere. While not a miracle solution, evidence supports the reversal of cognitive decline after making specific lifestyle changes.
Check out treatment for dementia in Singapore for a more in-depth explanation of the options available once the verdict, or diagnosis, is final.
Research has shown that out of all fruits and vegetables, leafy green vegetables provide the greatest defense against cognitive decline. These greens have antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are important components of healthy diets like the KetoFLEX program.
In addition, leafy greens are rich in folate. Blood concentration levels of this vitamin are said to indicate the likelihood of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Others such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts should also be added to one's diet. They are full of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, which is why they’re an essential part of diets that support healthy brain ageing.
Elevated blood sugar levels can contribute to diabetes, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Consuming fruits as part of a healthy diet can provide essential nutrients while helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Tomatoes contain a potent antioxidant called lycopene. Several foods tend to lose their nutritional value during cooking. Tomatoes, on the other hand, offer more lycopene once cooked than when consumed raw.
In addition, fruits like blueberries are famous for being brain food. Like tomatoes, these berries possess protective properties for our cells through antioxidants.
Fish is an important part of diets that specifically target Alzheimer's and dementia, such as the KetoFLEX plan. With its high protein and healthy fat content, fish has a range of benefits for brain health.
Individuals with Alzheimer's often have low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain health. Consuming fish rich in omega-3s may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease while also supporting cognitive abilities. Moreover, fish is an excellent source of vitamin B12, which is important for brain function. Low levels of vitamin B12 puts one more likely to develop dementia.
Many types of fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including:
Legumes are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Despite being low in fat content, they are an excellent source of protein and fibre. Scientific research supports the idea that consuming them on a regular basis can potentially prolong one's lifespan.
Examples of these are:
Thus, it is best to have a well-balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet. This healthy lifestyle involves consuming a lot of veggies, fruits, and lean protein. Preferably, opt for proteins that are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.
Enjoying a daily glass of wine is often seen as beneficial for heart health. Yet, the KetoFLEX diet recommends limiting consumption to just a few drinks per week. If you're a wine enthusiast, consider opting for sugar-free, low-alcohol red wine as a healthier alternative.
Studies suggest that moderate wine consumption may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia. This is attributed to flavonoids, the compounds that lend colour to certain fruits and vegetables. As anti-inflammatory antioxidants, flavonoids promote brain health by alleviating oxidative stress within brain cells.
Red wine, in particular, is rich in resveratrol, a compound gaining popularity for its potential health benefits, including its promising role in Alzheimer's disease prevention.
Drinking various types of tea can also positively impact brain health, with the effects varying across tea varieties. Green tea, for example, is abundant in catechins, a flavonoid renowned for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists believe that green tea's protective qualities make it an excellent choice for supporting brain health. So, whether you prefer wine or tea, sipping mindfully can contribute to a healthier brain.
Check this article to dig deeper into the seven stages of dementia.
Prebiotics and probiotics support gut, immune, and brain health. Specifically, prebiotics are fibres that nourish the gut microbiome, regulating good bacteria levels and benefiting the whole body. On the other hand, probiotics are beneficial bacteria that, when consumed, improve gut microbiome, immune system, and overall health, including brain function.
Green bananas (occasionally)
Sugar-free dill or sour pickles
One of the most popular nutritious fats is olive oil. It is an essential component of diets meant to combat dementia. KetoFLEX, in particular, appreciates the advantages of this oil's healthy fats. Unlike carbs, your body can utilise healthy fats as cleaner energy because they turn into ketones rather than glucose. Since we're limiting carbs in the KetoFLEX diet, consuming adequate quantities of healthy fats is necessary.
Monounsaturated fats are classified as healthy fats that have the potential to enhance cholesterol levels. A healthy lifestyle entails elevating your good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing your bad cholesterol (LDL). Doing so minimises a person's risk of cognitive difficulties associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Poor sleep and cholesterol are both associated with beta-amyloid proteins that form brain plaques, which cause Alzheimer's. Aside from avoiding a head injury and sleeping well every night, focusing on cholesterol-lowering foods can also help keep the Alzheimer's disease away.
A low-fat diet is typically advised for promoting overall health. Still, distinguish between bad fats that heighten the chances of experiencing heart disease and dementia, and good fats that safeguard both the heart and the brain. Studies have shown that diets high in saturated and trans fats (found in hydrogenated vegetable oils) lead to an increased risk of dementia.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
Meat, such as bacon
Full-fat dairy products
On the other hand, consuming more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats has been linked to a lower risk of dementia. These fats may raise HDL cholesterol levels, thereby protecting brain cells. Foods high in these beneficial unsaturated fats include:
Nuts and seeds
Vegetable oils, such as soybean, sunflower, safflower, peanut, and canola oil
Omega-3 fats, in particular, are thought to protect blood vessels, reduce inflammation in the brain, and contribute to brain development and healthy nerve cells. Research into the role of omega-3 fats in the brain is ongoing. Foods rich in omega-3 include:
Oily fish like salmon and tuna, among others
Flaxseed (linseed) oil
High-sodium (high-salt) diets can raise your blood pressure and cause heart problems, which can then turn into brain health issues. Eventually, this may lead to dementia or Alzheimer's. To maintain brain health, it's important to stay at a healthy weight, get plenty of exercises, and eat a balanced diet. Work on health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol before they get worse.
Instead of relying on the salt shaker, consider adding zero-carb herbs and spices to make your dish more flavourful. Avoid fast food and processed foods (including frozen meals), which usually contain a lot of salt. The more you cook at home, the more you can control what goes into your food.
Keeping the brain healthy is greatly influenced by the intake of vitamins. Vitamin D, for example, is essential for brain development and is sourced from food or sunlight exposure. Low levels of vitamin D3 are said to be a risk factor for several cognitive diseases, including dementia. While some studies suggest that vitamin D3 supplementation may improve cognitive function, further research is needed to confirm these findings.
B-complex vitamins, such as B6, B9, and B12, are involved in numerous bodily functions and help regulate homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels are commonly found in individuals over 65 and are associated with strokes, coronary artery disease, and dementia.
Ginseng, specifically Panax ginseng, is a traditional Chinese medicine known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have shown that it can help with the following conditions:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
While mostly considered safe for consumption, there could be adverse effects such as inability to sleep, a fast heart rate, and high blood pressure if taken in large amounts or alongside other prescriptions. Also, the benefits of taking Panax ginseng may not be guaranteed and could decrease once the supplement is no longer being consumed.
Ginkgo biloba has been utilised in Chinese medicine for centuries. Clinical trials have yielded mixed results; some studies suggest that, when combined with conventional medication, Ginkgo biloba may enhance cognitive performance. Others indicate its effects are inconsistent and unreliable.
What is clear is that, a specific extract of ginkgo, EGb 761, has demonstrated promise in numerous studies. It can lead to improvements in behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with dementia, subsequently alleviating caregiver distress.
Though ginkgo biloba is generally safe for most patients, it is not recommended for those taking medication for high blood pressure.
Keep your mind active and challenged by engaging in activities that test your cognitive skills. You can:
Learn new hobbies, read books, or solve crossword puzzles.
Play games that stimulate your brain, such as memory or strategy games.
Change your routines to create new brain pathways.
Learn a new language or musical instrument to boost brain connectivity.
Attend adult education classes or workshops for continued learning.
Get your friends together for a weekly game of cards or other avenues to bond over. Moreover, social connections are great for excellent, lifelong brain health.
Playing games and doing some form of brain training may help slow memory loss and other mental problems. People who stay mentally active can form and preserve cognitive associations. By strengthening memory connections, older adults can spend less time in a state of decline, even if they do get Alzheimer's.
That may vary from person to person. But the main idea seems to be keeping your brain's ability to think, maintain connections, and create new ones. You could start with something as simple as eating with your non-dominant hand. Altering your routines frequently can create new brain pathways, which can then improve brain health.
Reducing stress can improve mental health and lower the risk of Alzheimer's. Some stress-relieving techniques include:
Yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises to cultivate mindfulness and relaxation.
Spending time outdoors in nature to decrease stress and promote physical activity.
Engaging in social activities, community events, or support groups to build connections and emotional resilience.
Being indoors all the time contributes to risk of dementia. Not being cooped at home, in contrast, is proven to encourage physical activity while decreasing stress.
This traditional Chinese medicine practice involves inserting thin needles into specific body parts. Acupuncture may improve cognition, mood, pain, and insomnia in dementia patients.
Studies suggest that massage and aromatherapy can benefit dementia patients. Lemon balm and lavender oil are known to enhance cognition, mood, and reduce aggression, respectively.
Exposure to bright light, similar to natural light, can improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Light therapy boxes are affordable and easy to use at home. Furthermore, they are helpful in resetting one's internal clock and promote relaxation.
Music has the ability to affect the area of our brain where we store our most significant memories. Therefore, it has been utilised as a form of treatment for individuals suffering from dementia. Research has demonstrated that this method can ameliorate disruptive conduct, diminish stress, and boost mental well-being and overall quality of life.
Furthermore, this approach can be easily replicated at your homes or in homes for the aged. Simply select energetic and fast-paced music during the day to promote activity and calming melodies in the evening before bed.
In conclusion, while more research is needed to fully understand the connection between diet and dementia risk, adopting a healthy, balanced lifestyle can contribute to maintaining a healthy brain as we age. Factors potentially reducing dementia risk include regular exercise, brain stimulation, and a nutritious diet. However, it's important to note that these activities do not guarantee the complete prevention of dementia.
For individuals with dementia, no special diet is necessary unless another health condition warrants dietary modification. A well-balanced, nutritious diet can provide numerous benefits, such as improved bodily function, increased energy, and reduced risk of other health issues. It's essential to manage weight, ensure adequate intake of vitamins and essential nutrients, and stay hydrated to maintain optimal health. Addressing these factors can help prevent complications like confusion, constipation, and dehydration.
For more information on dementia care, visit this dementia nursing home in Singapore.