Dementia is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning. There are many types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, fronto temporal dementia and dementia with Lewy Bodies. Dementia is more common after the age of 65. There are currently 342,800 Australians living with Dementia. On a weekly basis there are more than 1,800 new cases of Alzheimer’s in Australia. This is expected to rise to 7,400 per week by 2050.
That’s the scary part of the article over and done with! Now, what can YOU do to reduce your risk of developing dementia? Here are my “Top Ten” diet and lifestyle approaches to help you keep a healthy mind.
- Sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels in the body and this has been shown in animal studies to damage cells in the part of the brain that relate to memory. So you must get AT LEAST 8hrs sleep per night.
- Reduce your levels of stress, as stress raises cortisol levels in the body, so damaging the cells in your brain that deal with memory.
- Eat black soya beans. An animal study using mice in 2014 showed that black soybean extract had an anti-amnesia effect, specific to memory and learning.
- Increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids by eating nuts (especially walnuts) seeds and adding flaxseed oil to your salads. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to protect neurons, enhance memory and cognition, reduce inflammation (a cause of Dementia) and reduce the formation of plaques in the brain (another cause of Dementia)
- A 2 year study on brain shrinkage and memory function in people over 70 was conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford. Participants were given folic acid, B12 and B6. B vitamins reduced the rate of brain shrinkage by 30%. Reducing brain shrinkage reduces cognitive decline too.
- Reduce your intake of “Advanced Glycation End Products” (AGE’s). These are foods that are browned due to the reduction of sugar, which then reacts with proteins and fat in the food. These foods have been related to Dementia, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Boil and steam your food, as opposed to grilling, roasting, barbequing and frying.
- Take the herb Bacopa monnieri. A clinical trial was conducted in Australia on 46 volunteers aged between 18-60 years and published in 2001. After 12 weeks of treatment with Bacopa monnieri individuals reported improved speed of the processing of visual information, learning rate and memory consolidation.
- Take the herb Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). It is one of the holiest and revered medicinal plants in India. Several studies researching Holy Basil have demonstrated it improves the ability to acquire new information and enhances working memory.
- Get out in the sunshine or take a Vitamin D supplement. Low blood levels of Vitamin D have been associated with increased risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Drink green tea. The catechins in green tea have the ability to reduce the build up of plaque in the brain and reduce oxidation and inflammation. This helps to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Even if you are too busy to buy or take supplements, or cannot afford to purchase them, you can still reduce your risk of developing dementia by getting more sleep, reducing stress, getting out in the sun and steaming/lightly boiling your food.