Dementia and dietThe most important thing I want to get across to caregivers is that we must never assume a dementia sufferer refuses food because he or she doesn’t want or need it. That’s because there are many reasons why someone with dementia may refuse to eat. The contributing factors, and the common solutions I see and hear about, include all of the following: Depression and loss of interest in food go hand in hand. What once was a time of enjoyment and pleasure seems, through the joyless fog of depression, like a dreary burden. There are many effective treatments for depression, including medication and other therapies, but it’s important to first get confirmation that depression is the true diagnosis. Symptoms can be contained or even eliminated with natural lifestyle and diet changes. The un-natural solutions offered by Big Pharma are to be avoided except as a last resort. Difficulty communicating. Dementia turns the brain into a scrambled, disorderly mess. It leads inevitably to problems such as letting a caretaker know the person is unhappy with the food being served and can manifest as refusing to eat, refusing to swallow chewed food, spitting food out, and other ways to send a signal. Letting the person choose from a selection of foods, or showing them pictures may help.
Foods for dementiaThere’s strong evidence that our bodies are not set up to effectively digest the mainstays of the Standard American Diet—grains, sugars, legumes, dairy products, processed oils, salt, alcohol, and coffee. Instead we should eat what our ancestors ate—fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, roots, and meat. This is known as a Paleo or Keto diet, and I’m totally for it. The key? It’s all about keeping carbs away—replacing carbs with more nutrient-dense foods delivers health benefits across every part of our bodies—including our brains. Studies show strong indications that dementia can be slowed, halted, and even reversed when people observe this natural regimen. It means a radical change for some people, so anyone considering that change should get it cleared with their doctors.
B-12 deficiencyAlmost every patient I see lacks vitamin B-12, which plays an essential role in helping the brain build new neural pathways—one of the key processes involved in creating and maintaining memory. As we age, we’re less able to fully absorb B-12, and on every kind of memory test, people with high levels far outperform those with low levels. Our bodies can’t manufacture the B-12 we need, so I recommend these delicious and healthy providers:
- Cooked clams and oysters deliver more than 1,000 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Organ and muscle meats—a six-ounce serving of beef steak hits 150 percent of the RDI
- Each whole egg provides about 6 percent of the RDI
- One cup of whole milk provides about 18 percent of the RDI
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- Wheeler, Mark. “Memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s reversed for first time.” UCLA. Published October 12, 2014. Last accessed September 27, 2017.
- “Eating and Drinking” Alzheimer’s Society. Published NA. Last accessed September 27, 2017.
- Eenfeldt, Andreas. “A Keto Diet for Beginners” Diet Doctor. Updated September 2017. Last accessed September27, 2017.
- Williams, Susan. “Low VitaminB-12 in Elderly May Spur Dementia.” Live Science. Published September 26, 2011. Last accessed September 27, 2017.
- “Food for thought: Facilitating independence with finger foods.” Australian Journal of Dementia Care. Published September 16, 2016. Last accessed September 27, 2017.