Eat to beat de­men­tia nour­ish your brain and re­duce your risk

While there’s no magic cure-all for de­men­tia, eat­ing well can re­duce your risk. Jane Druker meets Dr emma Der­byshire PhD to learn more

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

Qhow does de­men­tia af­fect peo­ple? It’s de­fined as neuro cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, in­clud­ing mem­ory prob­lems that in­ter­fere with daily life. It even­tu­ally pre­vents suf­fer­ers liv­ing on their own and is the lead­ing cause of death in women in the uK.

QWhy do one in six women de­velop the con­di­tion com­pared with just one in 11 men? the older you are, the more likely you are to de­velop de­men­tia. so, the fact that women tend to live longer than men may skew these sta­tis­tics.

QWhy is what you eat im­por­tant? all stud­ies show poor nu­tri­tion will dam­age the brain over time. though the brain com­prises only 2% of the body by weight, it uses up to 25% of its en­ergy. this means our brains are es­pe­cially af­fected by the food we eat. the brain is 60% fat, so fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 are vi­tal for its struc­ture and func­tion.

QWhich key vi­ta­mins and min­er­als do we need in our diet? the ones es­sen­tial to brain health are vi­ta­mins b1, b3, b5, b12 and C, folic acid, mag­ne­sium, se­le­nium and zinc. It’s key to have a healthy, bal­anced diet high in fruit, veg and spe­cific b-vi­ta­mins, sup­ple­mented with omega-3 and 6 fatty acid capsules – cru­cial for brain de­vel­op­ment.

QWhat’s the worst food to eat? High salt, sugar and sat­u­rated fat in­takes should be avoided. there is grow­ing ev­i­dence that a high-sugar diet could in­crease de­men­tia risk by con­tribut­ing to vas­cu­lar dam­age via el­e­vated blood glu­cose. Cut back on sugar as much as pos­si­ble and make sweets a rare treat in­stead of a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. avoid pro­cessed foods like crisps and bis­cuits, and pro­cessed meats like salami and chorizo – they tend to be filled with preser­va­tives, salt and sat­u­rated fats.

QWhat makes up a great diet? a lower risk of de­men­tia and im­proved mem­ory has been widely as­so­ci­ated with a diet that in­cludes a steady source of veg­eta­bles, fruits, nuts, seeds, un­pro­cessed whole­grains and cer­tain types of fish, es­pe­cially oily fish (salmon, mack­erel, her­ring). also ex­tra vir­gin olive oil is an ex­cel­lent source of fatty acids and plant nu­tri­ents, so is a good oil for help­ing brain health.

Qare vi­ta­mins nec­es­sary as well as a healthy diet? our di­etary in­takes of oily fish – a valu­able source of omega-3 – are wor­ry­ingly low. the Na­tional Diet and Nu­tri­tion sur­vey says that the av­er­age adult con­sumes 54g of oily fish a week – less than half the rec­om­mended in­take of 140g. given that oily fish is grossly un­der-con­sumed, tak­ing a clin­i­cally proven omega-3 sup­ple­ment that con­tains the right dose of the right fatty acids could be one way to help bridge the short­fall.

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