Dementia: food and lifestyle
According to NHS choices dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. It is a common condition, affecting about 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65.
As its ‘Dementia Awareness Week’, I’ve pulled together the findings from recent research to give a guide on what should and shouldn’t form part of a healthy balanced lifestyle
Be the correct weight for your height
Being overweight or obese could increase your risk of dementia.
Keep the brain active, with puzzles, learning a new skill or language, get smartphone or tablet savvy
Challenge yourself, by trying something new or different each week; go to a different supermarket or coffee shop, try a new recipe, read a different type of book than you normally would, buy a new magazine or paper, walk a different way to the park or a friends house, eat with your opposite hand!
Include a range of healthy foods in to your diet. This can include:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables (especially green leafy veg); think a ‘rainbow of colour’
- Wholegrain rice, bread and pasta – for increased fibre
- Less saturated fat, from dairy, meat and processed foods and more fat from olive oil or rapeseed oil
- Increase your intake of beans, peas and lentils – low in fat and high in fibre
- Oily fish like salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel and sardines. Or linseeds, chia seeds or seaweed if you are vegetarian or vegan
- Reduce your salt intake; try and aim for no more than 6g (or 1 ½ teaspoons) a day – this will help maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Reduced the amount of ready meals, takeaways and processed foods you eat – these can be high in fats, sugars and salt
Get more active, walk a bit more rather than always take the car or bus, spend time in the garden, do the housework, mow the lawn, go swimming, practice yoga or pilates, or go dancing. Walking as little as 15 minutes a day can help reverse shrinking of the brain.
Stay within a safe alcohol limit; that is now 14 units a week for both men and women. The latest advice is to also have a number of alcohol free days.
Be sociable, join a class or group, get to know others or have family gatherings and keep your brain active
Try and manage your blood pressure – many of the above lifestyle changes could have a positive impact on your blood pressure
Stop smoking (if you do)
A good guide is that what is good for the heart, such as regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet, is also good for the brain.
Information and support can be vital in maintaining mental heath and wellbeing. I can help support a person to make informed food and healthy eating choices that’s right for them.
I can give informal and practical advice about food shopping and budgeting. How to turn those foods in to simple low cost meals that can be eaten on the day, stored in the fridge or frozen (ready for another day).
Why not consider coming to learn how to make simple vegetarian or vegan meals in my kitchen in West Bridgford
“We enjoyed Susan’s visit to our group we found it very informative,
She was very easy to listen to and was very knowledgeable regarding
the questions asked, We are so pleased that we are currently arranging for her to come back and give us a talk on food and mood. We learned new things about the everyday foods we use. As a result of this we have started to change some of our eating habits. Very knowledgeable and understanding of our needs Thank you” The Gedling Follow On Group
“Susan very generously gave her time and expertise to speak on eating well for brain health at a memory cafe I run.
Thank you so much for coming to talk to us at the memory cafe this morning Susan. Everyone said what a good talk you gave. I’m sure people will be greatly helped in putting your suggestions into practice. You gave us very clear, practical advice and guidance, and enabled us to feel it’s okay to have some treats too. We really liked the simple and quick meal suggestions, and ways of adding fibre and protein to foods in easy ways.” H Rawlinson, memory café Keyworth