Nutrition, brain health and dementia

Two essential things you should know about cognitive decline and dementia

Firstly, food is just one thing that might help reduce your risk of developing these. I do not claim, nor does the research show that eating any one food, or following any one diet strategy is a sure-fire way to avoid cognitive issues. In all my books and presentations I discuss the wide variety of things we know can help, naturally with an emphasis on foods and eating strategies.

Secondly, do remember that most people do not live with dementia – even at later age.  It is true that unfortunately many people do, but it is not a natural consequence of ageing and is certainly not inevitable. The facts are clear: around 10 % or people over 65, and 30% of people over 85 live with dementia. Of course that is concerning, but it also means 90% of over 65s and 70% of over 85 DO NOT.

Genes and possibly good fortune play a part, but we know there are things you can do to help reduce your risk, and what you eat is one of them.

Not only that but for anyone living with a diagnosis of dementia, food continues to hold the power to help get the most out of life, supporting brain and body, while always continuing to add joy to life.

In my experience, the importance of eating and the disastrous consequences of the malnutrition that is all too common in those living with dementia, is frequently ignored. My book Eat To Cheat Dementia investigates the impact of eating on brain health and cognition, and how these then in turn affect the ability of someone living with dementia to get the nutrition they need.

Better Brain Food expands beyond that book, widening the focus to adults younger and older. It offers a window into the complex science of brain health and cognition for the everyday reader, provides advice and strategies to maximise brain health and cognition and adds 70+ delicious recipes to support that.

Just a bit more about dementia from Alzheimer’s Australia:

It is not a single specific disease. Dementia is an umbrella term describing a syndrome—a group of symptoms—associated with more than 100 different diseases that are characterised by the impairment of brain function, including language, memory, perception, personality and cognitive skills.

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing, although it becomes more common with increasing age, and so primarily affects older people. One of the expected consequences of an ageing population in Australia is an increase in the number of people with dementia over time, with projections estimating numbers may increase to around 900,000 cases by 2050.

It is, however, a major health problem in Australia, with profound consequences for the health and quality of life for those with the condition and their family and friends.

Although the type and severity of symptoms and their pattern of development varies with the type of dementia, it is usually of gradual onset, progressive, and irreversible.

In the early stages of the condition, close family and friends may notice symptoms such as memory loss and difficulties with finding familiar words. In the mid-stages, difficulties may be experienced with familiar tasks, such as shopping, driving or handling money.

In the latter stages, difficulties extend to basic or core activities of daily living, such as self-care activities, including eating, bathing and dressing. People with dementia eventually become dependent on their carers in most, if not all, areas of daily living.