This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Last Updated on December 13, 2021
A lot of factors can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia like genetics, environment, and lifestyle. This includes diet and nutrition. Also, the food you eat can impact blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, which all may increase the likelihood of cognitive decline.
Knowing the variety of foods that can help you prevent excessive cognitive decline can help you pick your favorites and create new meal plans and recipes that you enjoy, but that are also healthy for your brain and body. You may also want to examine unhealthy foods that can have the opposite effect. But first, what are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s Risk Factors
There are a lot of factors that can play a role in the development of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease. Age obviously makes a difference and the older you get, the higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. But obviously not everybody develops Alzheimer’s during old age because of the part that other factors play.
Genetics can influence Alzheimer’s risk and if you have a family member who has Alzheimer’s, then you are more likely to have it as well. In fact, there are certain identifiable genes that correlate with Alzheimer’s risk.
Heart disease and high blood pressure can increase Alzheimer’s risk and so can head trauma, particularly head trauma that causes a loss of consciousness. Alcohol abuse and poor sleep can also play a role in the development of dementia and cognitive decline.
Finally, lifestyle and diet also play a part. Some foods can increase the likelihood of Alzheimer’s while others can help to prevent the disease. This doesn’t mean you have to eat healthy all the time and always avoid pleasurable sugars and fats, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on your diet, especially if you already fall under one or more of the other risk factors.
If you are curious about Alzheimer’s symptoms, treatment, early signs, and other information regarding the disease, then you can also check out BetterHelp. They have tons of great resources available to help you or your loved one. A lot of aging people with multiple risk factors like to engage with information to prepare and know the signs to identify the development of the disease faster.
Now, let’s look at some of the foods you can eat to reduce your risk as well!
Most people like berries and it is easy to add blueberries or strawberries into your diet. They can go with breakfast cereals, in salads, or just as an easy snack during the day. Research shows that some people who eat berries experience a slower rate of cognitive decline. Berries also contain a lot of beneficial nutrients like vitamin C as well as a flavonoid, a type of antioxidant, called anthocyanin that can cease the progression of brain damage caused by free radicals.
You may not need any extra reasons to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, but coffee and the caffeine that it contains can be cognitive enhancers and, according to scientific evidence, may help to lower the risk of dementia. While not everyone likes coffee, there is another option that you may want to consider.
Tea, specifically green tea, can be an incredibly healthy addition to your diet. Different types of tea may improve the health of the brain. Green tea contains a compound called l-theanine that may be good for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and tea also contains antioxidants that act as anti-inflammatories to protect the brain.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens are some of the healthiest foods that you can eat. Options like spinach and kale contain high concentrations of vital nutrients for brain function. Furthermore, studies show that regular consumption of dark leafy green vegetables can reduce risk of cognitive-decline and even boost cognitive function. Some researchers believe that the high amounts of folate in these types of veggies contribute to this benefit. If you like salad, then you may want to consider swapping the iceberg lettuce for darker greens.
Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA that is crucial for the maintenance of a healthy brain. Studies show that diets high in omega-3s can help you reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. You can also find omega-3s in other foods on this list.
Nuts are very healthy and there seems to be a correlation between the consumption of nuts, like almonds and walnuts, and cognitive functioning. In fact, an animal study found that walnuts, which contain a lot of omega-3s, may help to improve memory in mice that already have Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping a small number of nuts on you at work can be a great snack that you can nibble on.
There are a lot of spice options that you can cook with and some of them can help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Ingredients like sage, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon can be tasty while also providing you with plenty of polyphenols that can benefit brain and cognitive health. So don’t forget to pick out some spices to bring out the flavor in your favorite meals!
That’s right, some types of chocolate can be good for memory and cognition. Evidence shows that dark chocolate can have some cognitive benefits and dark chocolate consumption correlates with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, milk chocolate will not provide as much cocoa and will be less likely to cause these positive results.
Avocados are extremely healthy and include a lot of monounsaturated fats that may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They may even boost cognition in otherwise healthy adults. It is easy to add avocados to a salad or sandwich and they are incredibly versatile and work with a lot of different flavors and recipes.
Olive oil contains a lot of omega-3s and healthy fats that can be great for Alzheimer’s risk and the prevention of cognitive decline. Olive oil also regulates bad cholesterol and there is a connection between cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of using vegetable oil or margarine, choose olive oil for better taste and healthier nutrition.
Foods to Avoid
There are also some foods that you may want to consider limiting or eliminating from your diet. Sugar can contribute to inflammation that, in turn, can increase the rate of cognitive impairment. Cutting or reducing sugar from your diet may have profound benefits in the long run.
You should also try to avoid trans fats that are found in processed foods and can increase the risk of heart disease and related problems. Cardiovascular health has been linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s development.
Finally, too much salt can raise sodium levels and contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues. Instead, try grabbing some of the healthier spices to flavor your meals like turmeric, cumin, or cinnamon. You can also try to limit the number of processed foods that you include in your diet.
While there are many factors that can affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, one that is easily controllable is diet. Choosing healthy foods can help you prevent cognitive decline and boost memory and other important faculties. Just knowing the foods that can help and hurt your cognitive function is a great first step toward improving your livelihood, brain health, and well-being.