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Whilst many people may connect dementia primarily with Alzheimers disease, there are other forms of dementia. A stroke or brain tumor may cause dementia, and several vitamin deficiencies, notably vitamin B12 and folate, may contribute to dementia. Vitamin D and vitamin E deficiencies have also been linked to cognitive dysfunction and dementia. There is increasing evidence that the diet you eat during adulthood has an impact on your brain and the likelihood that you will retain your mental faculties. Some medical conditions make your mental function particularly sensitive to the type of foods in the diet. For example, a diabetic who eats simple carbohydrates is likely to develop memory problems after such a meal.
One article entitled Dietary Influences on Cognitive Function with Aging, published in volume 1114 of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Healthy Aging and Longevity, reported that adults can reduce their risk of dementia by regularly eating fruits, vegetables, grains and fish, while keeping the diet low in saturated fat. In another article published in the November 13 issue of Neurology, French researchers noted that three dietary routines helped seniors avoid dementia. Those who ate fish at least once a week, ate fruits and vegetables daily and used fats such as walnut oil were more likely to retain their mental faculties into old age. A daily intake of fruits and vegetables decreased the risk of dementia by 28%. Fish eaters were 40% less likely to develop dementia. Those who did develop dementia primarily suffered from Alzheimers disease. Omega-3 oils, found in fish, rapeseed, flaxseed and walnut oil are all rich sources of Omega-3 oils.
The Mediterranean diet has received considerable publicity recently as a way to reduce heart disease risk, but there is also evidence that this diet may help to ward off cognitive declines and prevent mild decline from becoming full-fledged Alzheimers disease. The Mediterranean diet is rich in legumes and fish. Meat is not used heavily, but tends to be a special occasion meal. The diet is typically low in saturated fats but rich in olive oil, while fruits and vegetables predominate in Mediterranean dishes.
Alzheimers is a disease that begins very subtly in middle age, and all indications are that it progresses over many years, so eating a good diet as an adult may have an impact by the time you become elderly. Diet is unlikely to affect dementia that occurs after a stroke, but eating sufficient vitamins can help prevent dementia that results from vitamin deficiencies. The message from this research:
1. Eat fish, especially oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines, at least twice a week.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables at each meal; strive for at least five servings a day.
3. Use walnut, olive or flaxseed oil for salad dressings or pasta.
4. If you are diabetic, it is particularly important to eat a well-balanced diet to promote mental function.
5. Consult your physician to determine if a vitamin supplement would be beneficial in your particular circumstances.
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