The anti-dementia diet: What foods to eat and which to avoid

Health

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Jeff Harp from Highland Family Medicine said certain foods can help stave off dementia.

We discussed the notion of an anti-dementia diet Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

We’re talking about preventing dementia through diet changes. How prevalent is dementia?

One out of 9 people over 65 years old in the US have dementia. We have new information about associations between food choices and the development of dementia which may help decrease this frequency.

How can food cause dementia?

There is a lot we don’t know. It appears though that ongoing inflammation has a role in the development of dementia. Certain foods tend to cause inflammation in our bodies, as measured by pro-and anti-inflammatory markers in our blood. In a recently published study, people whose diets are high in inflammation-causing foods were 3 times more likely to develop dementia compared with those with low inflammation diets.

Which foods should we be avoiding, and what can replace them?

Baked good made with refined (usually termed white) flour, fried foods, sugared carbonated drinks, red meat, and animal fat such as butter, shortening, and lard all cause inflammation. These can be replaced with whole grains, tomatoes, spinach, dale, collards, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges, nuts, fatty fish – like salmon and tuna – and olive oil, all of which are much less inflammatory.

What common diets include these foods?

The Mediterranean, Flexitarian, Ornish, and DASH diets all support eating less high inflammation foods mentioned above, adding low inflammation foods in their place.

Any other recent findings?

Yes, there is news about caffeinated beverages. People who drink 2-3 cups of coffee, 3-7 cups of tea, or 4-6 cups of both options each day are 28% less likely to develop dementia than those who drink no caffeine.

What first steps do you suggest?

Choose a diet to investigate. Again, I recommend Mediterranean, Flexitarian, Ornish, or DASH. You can find descriptions and recipes through a simple electronic search. Try a few of the recipes. And have a cup of coffee or tea while you are doing that.

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