The Mediterranean diet is a balanced and healthful eating plan that has been found to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including dementia. The diet’s focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, lean protein sources, and healthy fats provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help protect against inflammation. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effects of this diet have long been linked to better cognitive functioning and lower rates of dementia. Below is how the Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of developing dementia.
Eating Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which protect the brain against cognitive decline. People who follow the Mediterranean diet typically get various products in their meals that provide the best nutritional benefits.
Additionally, some plant-based foods such as olive oil, nuts, and legumes are especially beneficial in providing essential fatty acids. Lastly, consuming more than five servings of fruit or vegetables each day has been linked to decreased risk of developing dementia. That is why most senior living options and retirement communities often promote healthy products in their daily meals.
Replacing Unhealthy Fats with Healthy Fats
Fats can greatly affect the body and mind, so it is important to consume the right ones. Eating fats from plants and fish help reduce inflammation, while unhealthy fats like those found in processed meats can increase the risk of dementia. That’s why a Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating more healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, fatty fish, and seeds which provide essential omega-3 fatty acids.
When eating fatty fish, opting for wild-caught varieties such as salmon or mackerel is especially beneficial. These are rich sources of omega-3s and are especially beneficial for memory care and dementia prevention.
Eating Whole Grains
Whole grains provide essential nutrients that support brain health, such as B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber. Additionally, they reduce inflammation, a major factor in the development of dementia.
When following a Mediterranean diet, people should consume whole-grain bread, pasta, cereals, and other staples instead of refined grains, which provide fewer nutritional benefits. Whole grains are also high in antioxidants which protect against the damage caused by free radicals linked to cognitive decline.
Limiting Refined Sugars
Type two diabetes is a risk factor for dementia, and consuming too much-refined sugar leads to this condition. That’s why people who follow a Mediterranean diet typically limit their intake of processed sugars. This includes reducing added sugars in foods like candy, soda, cakes, and cookies and limiting naturally sweetened items such as honey or agave. This is why most assisted living homes barely provide refined sugars as part of their meal plans.
However, this does not mean that all sweets are off the table. Enjoying small amounts of dark chocolate or fresh fruit as a treat can still be part of a healthful eating plan. This is because the antioxidants in dark chocolate also reduce inflammation, and fresh fruit provides essential vitamins and minerals.
Limiting Red Meat
Opting for lean proteins like fish, legumes, and poultry over red meat is one of the mainstays of a Mediterranean diet. Red meats are high in saturated fats and iron, which can contribute to inflammation when consumed in large amounts. This inflammation may lead to a host of health problems, including dementia.
Plant-based proteins are an excellent alternative because they are typically lower in saturated fats and provide essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, since plant proteins are packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as folate, magnesium, and iron, they can help protect against cognitive decline. Some community living for seniors options sometimes avoid red meat altogether in their menu to better promote healthy aging.
Enjoying a Glass of Red Wine
Drinking red wine in moderation can be part of a balanced eating plan, and it is especially beneficial when following a Mediterranean diet. Red wine contains high amounts of antioxidants like resveratrol, which are linked to better cognitive functioning and decreased risk of dementia.
When drinking alcohol, however, it is important to do so responsibly. Women should consume no more than one drink per day, while men should limit themselves to two drinks daily. This is why many communities of senior living in Sacramento, CA, limit their alcohol consumption when serving meals to their residents.
Dementia is a debilitating disease that significantly limits the quality of life. Fortunately, following a Mediterranean diet provides many health benefits which decrease the risk of dementia. This includes eating plenty of produce, replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones, consuming whole grains instead of refined sugars, and limiting red meat. Additionally, enjoying a glass of red wine in moderation has also been linked to lower rates of cognitive decline. Therefore, incorporating some elements of this diet into a person’s lifestyle may benefit brain health in the long term.
Regency Place is a senior living community that ensures its residents maintain a balanced diet and lifestyle that supports their cognitive health. Our meals are specifically tailored to the needs of seniors, and our staff is experienced in helping them meet their dietary goals. Call us today to find out more about us.