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Foods to Avoid With Dementia

by
author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods to Avoid With Dementia
Unhealthy fats and low-nutrient foods may contribute to dementia and related complications. Photo Credit gourmet burger with steak sauce image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com

Dementia refers to memory decline that usually results from damaged brain cells. In addition to your memory, dementia also affects your physical movement, language or social capabilities. More than simply forgetting where you placed your keys, dementia can make it difficult to tend to your usual life. You may have trouble bathing, feeding or dressing yourself or become easily lost. Although no known cure for dementia exists, medications and lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, may improve your condition.

High-Fat Meats

High-fat meats are rich in the unhealthy fat-form saturated fat. Although small amounts of saturated fat fit within a healthy, balanced diet, moderate intake may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer's disease -- the most common form of dementia. In a study published in "Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders" in May 2006, researchers analyzed the fat intake of 1,449 adults ages 65 to 80, 117 of whom had dementia. While participants consuming moderate amounts of polyunsaturated fat, which is prevalent in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, showed a decreased risk for dementia, moderate intake of saturated fat was linked with heightened risk for dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers concluded that improving dietary fat intake may be particularly important in people genetically predisposed to dementia. To improve your fat intake, replace high-fat meats, such as beef, steak, lamb, bacon, sausage and dark-meat poultry, with lean meats, fish and legumes.

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Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

Hydrogenated vegetable oil is an artificially produced fat form that contains rich amounts of trans-fatty acids, or trans-fats. Trans-fats can increase your LDL, or "bad," cholesterol and reduce your HDL, or "good," cholesterol. Managing your cholesterol is important, according to the Alzheimer's Association, because high cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries, which is associated with heightened risk for Alzheimer's disease. Common sources of trans-fats include hard margarines, shortening, and commercially prepared pie crust, pastries, crackers, cookies, canned soups, peanut butter and frozen meals that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient.

Enriched Starches

Starches, such as breads, cereal and pasta, provide glucose -- your body's main dietary source of energy. Whole grain starches, such as oatmeal, brown rice and 100 percent whole grain bread, provide valuable amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which promote overall nutritional wellness, digestive function and cardiovascular health. People with Alzheimer's frequently forget to eat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and are prone to malnutrition. Keeping your kitchen stocked with whole grains instead of enriched starches can help ensure that your food choices are nutritious, and guards against diet-related complications.

Added Sugars

Added sugars, such as cane sugar, corn syrup, maltose and sucrose, add calories, bulk and flavor, but few nutrients, to foods and beverages. The UMMC recommends that people with Alzheimer's disease avoid refined foods, sugar in particular, and consume more nutritious and hydrating foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. While occasional sweets are unlikely to cause harm, keep foods and beverages rich in added sugars, such as jelly, pancake syrup, regular soft drinks, candy and commercially prepared desserts to a minimum. Replace jelly with all-fruit spread, apple sauce or fresh fruit and doughnuts and pastries with low-fat bran muffins.

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