Diet as a risk factor for dementia

We hear so much from the media about what we should or should not eat. One day blueberries are the new so-called ‘superfood’ that will reduce our risk of developing dementia, the next it is the humble plum.

But what information can we rely on to be accurate? Can the food we eat really reduce our risk of developing dementia? If a person has dementia, can their diet or use of supplements influence how they experience dementia or its progression?

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Diet as a risk factor for dementia
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

The brain requires a regular supply of nutrients in our diet to function and remain healthy. There is growing recognition that what we eat affects the way our brains work and our mental health, as well as our physical health.

Traditionally research undertaken to investigate the connection between diet, cognitive function, and risk of dementia has primarily focused on the impact of individual nutrients on brain health. Those nutrients commonly researched include vitamins B6, B12, C, E, and folic acid, as well as omega 3 essential fatty acids. The outcome of such research has been inconclusive and thus guidelines to advise on specific nutrient intakes have not been developed. In this feature, we’ll explore some of the ongoing research on this topic.

Healthy hearts mean healthy brains

We know that certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity can increase our risk of dementia. For some time these risk factors were commonly associated with vascular dementia. We now know that they are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Much of what we know now to be healthy for our heart is also healthy for our brain, so many of the dietary messages we have been encouraged to follow for a healthy heart will also apply to the health of our brains.

Salt

It is advisable to reduce our salt intake regardless of the type of dementia we are considering. A salt-rich diet can contribute to the risk of increasing our blood pressure, which in turn can increase the risk of stroke and vascular dementia.

About three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from processed foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, soup, and sauces. So it is not just what you add yourself that makes the difference, but how the food itself is manufactured.

The Food Standards Agency recommends that we should aim to have no more than 6 grams of salt daily, which is approximately one level teaspoon.

Fats and oils

The significance of too much fat in the diet has been the topic of many conversations with regards to a healthy heart and vascular system. In particularly saturated fat, commonly derived from animal fat (for example fat on meat, lard, butter, or ghee) or trans fats (fats created during the hydrogenation of vegetable oils and often found in processed foods such as pastry or vegetable shortening) can elevate cholesterol levels in the body if eaten in significant quantities. A high saturated fat intake has also been implicated, along with other dietary factors, as increasing the risk of dementia.

Omega 3 and oily fish

Omega 3’s essential fatty acids have an important part to play in the structure of our brain cells, helping to maintain the health and functioning of our brain. Research is undertaken as part of the Older People And n-3 Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (OPAL) study supported the view that eating oily fish (or omega 3) is associated with better cognitive function in later life but recommended further work to clarify the impact of these essential omega 3 oils on the brain.

We need omega 3 oils from food as they cannot be made efficiently by the body. Oily fish is a rich source of omega 3’s essential vitamins and minerals and it is recommended that we have at least one portion of oily fish a week. Guidelines vary though according to the individual – see the Food Standards Agency website, www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/fss/fats/ for further information. Omega 3 oils may also be found in vegetarian sources such as linseeds, rapeseed oil, walnuts, and soya beans.

Antioxidants

Vitamins C and E, commonly found in fruit and vegetables, are examples of antioxidants – that is, substances that work against the negative effects of oxidation that occurs naturally in the body.

Vitamin E has been the subject of much research in relation to reducing the risk of dementia, with conflicting results. There are many other sources of antioxidants other than vitamins, for example in green tea, red wine, and cocoa. Each of these has been the subject of studies and considered as a potential ‘superfood’ in protecting the mind and body.

The research appears to demonstrate a link between antioxidants activity and dementia but is not conclusive about which foods are guaranteed to help reduce the risk of dementia and how much we need.

It is generally considered that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables will provide us with a valuable source of antioxidants and be more beneficial than taking supplements alone. The Food Standards Agency recommends at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily to help maintain a good intake of vital vitamins and antioxidants.

Folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12

Deficiencies in folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 can cause an amino acid in our body, called homocysteine, to rise. Higher than normal levels are considered to be a risk factor for a number of disease states including cardiovascular disease and dementia, and are thought to contribute to poor cognition.

However, there are no guidelines to consuming supplements of B6, B12, or folic acid individually merely to reduce the risk of dementia (although these nutrients may be prescribed for actual deficiencies such as anemia). Again the advice is to ensure that foods rich in B6, B12, and folate are present in the diet.

Can a Mediterranean-style diet help?

In recent years, research in the field of nutrition, cognitive function, and dementia has built on what we know about the key nutrients involved in brain health. Subsequently, this research has begun to focus more on dietary patterns or how combinations of specific nutrients can impact cognitive function or reduce the risk of developing dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the process involved in developing this dementia.

The ‘Mediterranean-style diet’ has been popular for many years for helping to maintain a healthy heart and body. This style of eating is traditional to people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Generally, such a diet is considered to be rich in fruits and vegetables, olive oil, cereals, legumes, and fish, with small amounts of lean meat and moderate amounts of dairy foods. Overall this style of eating provides a diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants and low in saturated fats. This diet has been associated with reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

The impact of good nutrition on the health of our brains cannot be dismissed. We know that malnutrition affects physical and mental wellbeing: our brains need nutrients to work and remain healthy.

Diet and what we eat have an important role to play in adopting a healthy lifestyle which can help keep both our bodies and brains healthy. Eating a nutrient-rich diet, particularly one that has lots of fruits and vegetables, omega 3 oils, and low amounts of salt and saturated fats, will help to maintain the health of both our heart and brain.

Research in this field is ongoing and the hope is that that this will provide us with more knowledge and understanding of how diet and nutrition impact cognitive health and the risk of developing dementia.

Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.

Essays

Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.

Admissions

Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.

Reviews

Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.

Reviews

Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Are you looking for Assignment Help save 20% with this code BIXBY