Nourishing the Mind and Body with Foods to Boost Brain Function

Brain-Boosting Foods for Memory Care

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While there is no way to reverse Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, research suggests that certain foods can positively impact cognitive function and overall well-being for individuals living with this challenging condition.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most delicious and nutritious brain-boosting foods for memory care and how to incorporate them into the diet of your loved one.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Adding more green leafy vegetables into the diet can promote brain and bone health, alleviate stress, and support healthy aging in people living with dementia. These vegetables are bursting with antioxidants (e.g., vitamins A, C, and E) and minerals (e.g. iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium) that fight harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage brain cells and facilitate cognitive decline.

Some leafy green vegetables that bolster a healthy immune system include:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Beet greens
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens, and more.

 

An easy way to add leafy greens (such as kale, swiss chard, and spinach) to your loved one’s diet is to sauté them in olive oil with some garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes, and a toss of grated Parmesan.

Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes

Legumes are among the most nutritious foods available. These brain-boosting nutrients are rich in vitamins E and B and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron, which are essential for supporting brain health, maintaining cognitive function, and minimizing inflammation. If you’re looking to add more legumes to your loved one’s diet, here’s what you can include:

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans, and 
  • Chickpeas.

 

Nuts (such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews) are also considered among the best foods for memory care. They are packed with healthy fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, studies suggest that a diet rich in Omega-3s can positively affect brain function and slow down the progression of dementia.

Seeds (such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds) are all good choices to add to your loved one’s diet. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, protein, and alpha-linolenic acid (a form of omega-3 fatty acid), all of which play an important role in maintaining brain health, improving concentration, regulating mood, and boosting memory power.

Berries

When it comes to brain-boosting foods for memory care, berries are among the top contenders. These small fruits (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and other types of berries) are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other essential nutrients that can be especially beneficial for those diagnosed with dementia. Studies indicate that including blueberries in the diet may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults and delay the onset of dementia-related symptoms. Moreover, berries help protect brain cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the key factors of cognitive decline.

Prebiotic & Probiotic Foods

Some studies suggest that probiotics are effective in the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease due to their positive influence on gut bacteria. They have the potential to
reduce inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body, including the brain, thereby slowing cognitive decline. Some probiotic foods for dementia patients to consume include the following:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha, and
  • Sauerkraut.

 

Prebiotics are also a group of nutrients that encourage a healthy and balanced gut microbiome, which is essential for overall health, including cognitive function. Although the exact contributors to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have yet to be fully determined, some risk factors include gut permeability, amyloid peptides, and systemic inflammation.

Therefore, regular consumption of prebiotics (such as onions, garlic, bananas, chicory root, and apples) can prove beneficial in controlling microbiota dysbiosis, which is, in turn, a major cause of constipation. Prebiotics act as a viable option in relieving constipation, strengthening the immune system, and reducing cognitive aging in dementia patients.

Colorful Fruits and Vegetables

Colorful fruits and vegetables are also some of the best foods for dementia patients to eat because they offer many nutrients that can benefit brain function and overall well-being. These vibrant foods are rich in carotenoids (colored molecules with yellow, orange, and red organic pigments), which give the characteristic color to many plants, including:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Watermelon
  • Oranges, and
  • Mangoes.

 

Carotenoids are beneficial for dementia patients because they contain antioxidants that can help them manage the disease and boost their immune system. Moreover, many colorful fruits and vegetables have high water content, which means they can keep dementia patients hydrated, thus maintaining cognitive clarity.

Whether served as part of a salad, blended into a smoothie, or enjoyed as a side dish, these foods offer a delicious way to foster a positive mood and help combat feelings of confusion or anxiety.

Fish

You probably already know that fish is a brain-boosting food as it boasts omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating fish (particularly fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and trout) in the diet offers an array of benefits for your loved one, including:

  • Cognitive and memory support
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved mental and emotional health
  • Reduced risk of dementia and heart disease
  • Healthy blood pressure, and more.

 

What’s more exciting is that fish can be prepared in various ways to suit different tastes and preferences. Whether grilled, baked, steamed, or broiled, it offers a delightful dining experience for all our residents.

Cocoa, Coffee, and Tea

While it might seem counterintuitive to say that beverages such as cocoa, coffee, and tea are good for memory care, they actually offer an array of advantages.

Cocoa is loaded with flavonoids (anti-inflammatory antioxidants), which help protect brain cells from oxidative damage, thus contributing to better memory and learning ability. Additionally, some studies have shown that moderate coffee/caffeine intake can decrease the risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and dementia in the elderly.

Regularly drinking a cup of tea (especially green or black tea) may reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline among older adults by 50%. Tea contains compounds like caffeine, polyphenols, catechins, and L-theanine that have been reported to have neuroprotective effects such as:

  • Anti-oxidative stress
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Inhibition of amyloid-beta aggregation, and
  • Anti-apoptosis.

 

However, while these brews offer various benefits, it’s important to practice mindful and moderate consumption.

At Arbor Trace Memory Care Center in London, Ontario, we understand that these brain-boosting foods offer numerous advantages for your loved one, and therefore, we strive to make them part of our comprehensive care plans. Oftentimes, it can be difficult for a family member to meet the nutritional needs of a loved one with dementia, especially as their disease progresses. Our care plans include catered meal preparation as well as multiple meal selections, including vegetarian food and low/no sodium options.

Contact us to schedule a tour for the Arbor Trace retirement community and learn how we incorporate brain-boosting foods into meals served at our memory care facility in London, Ontario.

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