Random forgetfulness is a part of life experience and an occasional memory slip is normal, but if you are over 65, you probably wonder if these “senior moments” are something serious such as underlying risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Age, family history, genetics and other risk factors play a role in developing Alzheimer’s later in life. While we cannot change the risk factors like age and genetics, we can mitigate the risk via small changes to lifestyle and food habits.
The good news!
Research shows that eating certain foods can bring down the possible mechanisms (inflammation and oxidative stress) that cause Alzheimer’s. Evidence shows that including plenty of plants and plant-based foods and limiting red meat, saturated fats, and pastries is best for protecting brain health. Here are the recommendations from long-term scientific findings, including some foods to avoid. As you go over the recommendations, please pay attention to the servings per week and day for each food.
Best foods to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
Leafy greens: Include at least 6 servings per week of leafy greens in your menu. A serving of leafy green means – one cup raw or half cup cooked leafy vegetables. Examples of leafy greens – kale, spinach, collard, arugula, watercress, etc.
Other vegetables: Ensure at least 1-2 servings per day of vegetables like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, radish, squash. Notice that these vegetables are recommended to be consumed at least once per day. A serving is one cup of raw vegetables or half a cup of steamed, roasted, or cooked vegetables.
Berries: Good news for berry-lovers! The recommendation is to eat at least 2 servings of berries per week. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and vitamins. One serving means one cup of mixed berries or any berry of your choice. As a bonus, berries have a high fiber content hence help regulate bowel movements too!
Whole grains: Take at least 3 servings per day of whole grains like steel-cut oats, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, corn, whole-wheat couscous, and quinoa. Whole grains are a good source of fiber and B vitamins. One serving is half a cup of cooked brown rice or other cooked whole-grain OR one slice of whole-grain bread or a small whole-grain muffin or one cup of ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal.
Healthy fats: Include healthy fats in the form of nuts, fish, avocado, and olive oil. The recommendation is to eat one serving of fish per week, five servings of nuts per week. One serving of fish means about the size of your palm, one serving of nuts means about 1/3rd cup or one handful (about 20 almonds).
Beans: Add three servings per day of beans like chickpea, adzuki beans, black beans, pinto, navy beans, etc. One serving is half a cup of cooked beans.
Avoid or limit the following foods : Red meat, butter or margarine, cheese, and sweets/pastries.
Keep in mind, along with dietary changes, staying physically active (mild to moderate exercise routine) can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. It is also important to have a conversation with your doctor on Alzheimer’s if you do have concerns about yourself or a loved one.
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