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What Is the Connection Between Diet and Dementia?

a senior eats soup possibly after learning the link between diet and dementia

Diet and exercise play an essential role in well-being at all stages of life but are exceptionally vital for seniors. Proper nutrition significantly impacts the aging process, and research now shows that lifestyle choices, specifically diet and exercise, can help delay or prevent the onset of dementia. Nutrition counseling for seniors considers individual dietary and medical needs in creating a healthy meal plan.

At Buckner Villas, nutrition counseling is one component of our senior health and wellness programs designed to help residents maintain their physical, psychological, and social well-being. Our nutrition counselors and culinary professionals work together to provide a variety of nutritious, five-star-quality meals daily. Contact Buckner Villas at 512.580.9882 to learn more about the connection between diet and dementia and the benefits of nutrition counseling.

Understanding the Connection Between Diet and Dementia

The connection between brain health and diet has long been studied, but it has only been in more recent years that studies have begun to focus on diet, nutrition, and the aging brain. Healthy eating habits have been shown to promote greater efficiency in brain networks and cognitive performance and prevent memory loss.

Research strongly suggests that diet impacts biological processes like inflammation and oxidative stress that are underlying in Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Further, diet directly affects other risk factors for dementia, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients

According to the National Institute on Aging, observational studies show that the Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurogenerative Delay, or the MIND diet, lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by about one-third in those who moderately followed it and by more than half in those who followed it strictly.

The MIND diet combines Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, which focus on plant-based foods and strictly limit red meat, cheese, sweets, butter, margarine, fried foods, and fast foods common in the Western-style diet.

A Look at Foods that Fight Memory Loss

The MIND diet emphasizes eating from the following ten healthy food groups:

  • Leafy green vegetables – At least six servings per week
  • Other vegetables – At least one serving per day
  • Berries – At least two servings per week
  • Whole grains – At least three servings per day
  • Fish – One serving per week
  • Poultry – Two servings per week
  • Beans – Three servings per week
  • Nuts – Five servings per week
  • Wine – One glass per day
  • Olive oil

Many people are surprised to see wine on the list of brain-healthy food. Drinking wine at minimal levels has been shown to help the brain clear out waste. However, it is essential to remember that the MIND diet limits alcohol consumption to one glass of wine per day. More than that has detrimental impacts on health.

The Health Impacts of Poor Nutrition on Seniors

In addition to contributing to dementia, poor nutrition has significant health risks for seniors. Malnutrition leaves seniors more vulnerable to an increased risk of falling, more frequent hospitalizations, and possibly death. The health impacts of poor nutrition on seniors can include:

  • Decreased bone mass
  • Weakened immune system
  • Impaired muscle function (limiting mobility)
  • Anemia (causing dizziness and overall weakness)
  • Reduced cognitive functioning
  • Longer recovery times from injuries and illnesses
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Vision loss
  • Constipation and other digestive issues

At Buckner Villas, the health of our residents is our top priority. Nutrition counseling is one way seniors can address numerous age-related symptoms, including the onset of dementia, and improve their overall health and well-being.

Learn More About the Connection Between Dementia and Diet at Buckner Villas

At Buckner Villas, nutrition counseling is one of the numerous services we provide to residents of our faith-based senior living community in Austin, Texas. Other health and wellness services include, but are not limited to:

  • Transportation services
  • Medication management
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Fitness classes
  • Support groups
  • Social clubs

To learn more about the connection between dementia and diet and the benefits of nutrition counseling, contact Buckner Villas. Reach out using our secure online form or call 512.580.9882.