Bowl full of fruits and veggies to help reduce the risk of dementia

Eating More Plants May Keep Dementia From Flourishing

Eating More Plants May Keep Dementia From Flourishing

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

You've heard that eating more plant-based foods is good for you. Still, it's not always easy to swap savory dishes for a bowl full of broccoli. Need another good reason to go green? A recently published 12-year cohort study out of the University of Barcelona suggests that following a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age.

Of the 800 participants, all aged 65 and up, those who consumed polyphenol-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as mushrooms, cocoa, coffee and red wine, had a lower risk of dementia compared to those who avoided these "superfoods."

According to the study's authors, these findings shed light on the relationship between the body's metabolism, the gut's microbiome (which includes trillions of microorganisms) and cognitive impairment.

"Studying this relationship is essential to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies that help take care of our cognitive health," the authors stated in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research Journal.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for excessive neurodegeneration in areas of the brain associated with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms progressively worsen and interfere with day-to-day life. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease.

What is a plant-based diet?

If you're getting most of your nutrients from plant-based sources, you're following a plant-based diet. This eating pattern focuses on adding more plants to your meals while minimizing (and sometimes eliminating) the consumption of food products from animal sources.

You don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to eat a plant-based diet; some people follow a "flexitarian" approach which focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes and seeds, but also includes occasional meats, fish or dairy.

Can a plant-based diet help against dementia?

In addition to the latest findings about plant-based foods protecting against dementia, emerging research suggests that following the MIND or Mediterranean diet is terrific for cognitive health. These eating patterns encourage daily consumption of nutrient-dense foods while limiting sugars, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods.

How can you fight dementia naturally?

There's no guaranteed way to prevent dementia. But building sustainable habits that encourage healthy eating patterns, regular exercise, restful sleep, and proper hydration can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Keeping your brain active by getting out of your comfort zone and learning new things helps the brain stay sharp and encourages neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to "rewire" itself.

4 plant-based foods that fight memory loss

It's never too early to be proactive about cognitive health. Making changes in your diet can set the foundation for a brain-healthy tomorrow.

Here are four plant-based foods you can add to your shopping cart!

  1. Nuts and seeds

    Omega-3 fatty acids are terrific for your brain, and walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts are packed with them. They're also a great source of magnesium, folic acid, vitamin B6 and more.
  2. Avocados

    —Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats, which help reduce blood pressure, lowering the risk of cognitive decline.
  3. Coffee

    —Coffee beans are rich in antioxidants and help protect brain cells against oxidative stress. Higher coffee intake has been associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer's.
  4. Berries

    —Blueberries, raspberries—all berries—are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that help protect brain cells against oxidative stress.

You can also complement these food choices by speaking with your nutritionist/dietitian (or doctor) to build a strategic plan focused on brain support. Adding brain-friendly nutrients like magnesium L-threonate and pregnenolone can do wonders for brain health.



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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.