Photo by Ella Olsson: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flat-lay-photography-of-vegetable-salad-on-plate-1640777/Diet and nutrition are situated as key players in preserving cognitive function and overall brain health. The food we put into our bodies doesn’t just fuel our energy, it also shapes our health and how our brains function over time. In this blog, we’ll explore the correlation between nutrition and dementia. We’ll also unravel how certain dietary habits can potentially slow dementia progression, the benefits of nutrition for people with dementia, and must-know tips for promoting proper nutrition in someone living with dementia.
Table of Contents
- How Nutrition Affects Dementia
- Benefits of Nutrition for People with Dementia
- Can Lack of Nutrition Bring on Dementia Symptoms?
- How to Promote Proper Nutrition with Someone Who Has Dementia
- What are the Most Important Vitamins for Dementia?
- Challenges with Appetite and Eating
- Help with Nutrition and Dementia
How Nutrition Affects Dementia
The right amount of nutrition is essential for maintaining the body’s health and strength. When someone has dementia, inadequate nutrition could heighten their behavioral symptoms and even result in weight loss. On the other hand, good nutrition can aid in slowing down the progression of the disease and enhance the brain’s function.
Benefits of Nutrition for People with Dementia
A well-nourished brain is crucial for overall health and well-being. When we consume foods that are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, our brain receives the nourishment it needs to function optimally. Additionally, nutrition plays a vital role in managing and potentially alleviating some of the symptoms of dementia. But how exactly does a nutritious diet benefit individuals with dementia?
A well-balanced diet supports physical health, enhances cognitive function, strengthens the immune system, and even promotes better sleep. All of these factors have been shown to be advantageous for those living with dementia. Certain foods and nutrients are excellent for brain health and can potentially slow cognitive decline. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as the MIND diet, have been associated with decreased risks of cognitive impairment linked to dementia. Even more so, proper nutrition can also help manage behavioral symptoms associated with dementia, including mood changes and irritability.
Can Lack of Nutrition Bring on Dementia Symptoms?
Not only can an improper diet lead to many health-related issues, but deficiencies in nutrition can also result in the onset of dementia. In fact, studies have shown that consuming a diet filled with unhealthy sugar and fats puts individuals at an increased risk of dementia and some forms of the disease can appear as a direct result. Some of the symptoms of nutritional deficiencies include:
- Memory Loss
- Language difficulty
- Personality changes
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Extreme thirst
- Reduced urination
How to Promote Proper Nutrition with Someone Who Has Dementia
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Making sure someone with dementia has a balanced meal is critical since proper nutrition can have a significant impact on their cognitive function and overall health. With that being said, dementia symptoms such as memory loss and confusion can make eating difficult, resulting in insufficient nutrient intake. Here are some strategies for promoting proper nutrition in someone with dementia.
Stay away from foods with high cholesterol and saturated fat: While some fat is necessary for optimal health, not all fats are good. Use caution when dealing with fats like fatty cuts of meat, butter, and lard.
Offer a balanced diet with a variety of foods: Offer healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
Hold back on the salt: Too much sodium can affect blood pressure. Try to use alternatives to season food such as herbs and spices.
What are the Most Important Vitamins for Dementia?
It’s common for people to refer to natural remedies as a solution to slowing down the progression of dementia. There are certain vitamins and minerals out there that are shown to provide cognitive benefits. Considering that nutritional and vitamin deficiencies can be linked to causing dementia, finding supplements is a widely accepted treatment. Below are some of the most important vitamins for dementia.
Zinc: Consuming 30 mg to 40 mg of zinc per day can enhance memory and cognitive function.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid: High levels of amino acid are typically linked to the onset of dementia and 100 mcg to 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 and 400 mcg to 1000 mcg of folic acid per day can decrease levels of amino acid.
Panax Ginseng: Taking this supplement for 12 weeks can enhance mental performance.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: People who take these vitamins regularly have improved performance on memory and cognitive tasks.
Challenges with Appetite and Eating
Dementia brings on many challenges, and changes in appetite and eating habits are among those. There are a variety of factors that can contribute to a lack of appetite. Below are some of the most common reasons.
Food is not recognized: For people with dementia, it can be hard to identify the food from the plate.
Medication: Certain medications can have an impact on appetite.
Lack of activity: Walking outside or even doing upper body exercises can help increase appetite.
Help with Nutrition and Dementia
Dementia presents many challenges, especially when it comes to nutrition. However, with patience, compassion, and the right tactics, you can help in making sure that individuals with dementia sustain a balanced diet and enjoy nutritious meals. Whether it’s making food more pleasing to the eye, or adding supplements to their diet, there’s a plethora of ways to improve nutrition in people with dementia. Sometimes, providing extra care for a loved one with dementia can become overwhelming. If you need additional assistance, contact the friendly team at Suncrest Senior Living to help enhance their quality of life.
To get in touch with Suncrest Senior Living please complete the form below:
CONTACT A SUNCREST SENIOR CARE SPECIALIST
PHONE: (248) 207-5378