Brain Foods – Diet for Dementia Prevention

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Concerned about memory problems as you get older? Well, you’re not alone! The good news is that there’s mounting evidence suggesting that we have more control over cognitive decline than we think, and our diet is a major player in this game.

While it’s not possible to reverse dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is possible to potentially delay or prevent the onset of symptoms by incorporating these foods into your diet and engaging in mentally stimulating activities.

We’re all aware that maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves eating a well-balanced diet. Including plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein in our meals not only offers various advantages but also aids in the prevention of various cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

When it comes to brain health, diet and nutrition are game changers, and we shouldn’t take them lightly.

How does a healthy diet influence brain health?

Let’s break down what makes up a “healthy diet.” There are several eating styles that have proven brain benefits, but they all have one thing in common: they revolve around whole, unprocessed foods.

Some examples include the Mediterranean diet, which takes inspiration from the cuisines of southern Italy, Spain, and Greece, the low-salt DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and the MIND diet (Mediterranean and DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). 

These approaches emphasise plant-based foods like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts while limiting processed foods, added sugars, and animal meats high in saturated fats.

A well-balanced diet is advantageous for the brain as it aids in the prevention and management of chronic ailments like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol. These ailments have the potential to heighten the likelihood of cognitive decline by causing damage to the blood vessels.

In addition, healthy foods provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can protect brain cells.

Furthermore, eating a variety of healthy foods can improve the gut microbiome, which ongoing research has linked to better brain health.

If someone’s diet is not healthy, they not only miss out on the nutritional benefits but also risk negatively affecting their brain with the foods they consume.

A diet that is high in saturated fat, processed meats, fried foods, and sugar, while lacking in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, can cause systemic inflammation. This inflammation can hinder the proper functioning of brain cells. 

Unfortunately, simply taking a multivitamin won’t solve these problems. Whole foods provide a combination of nutrients that work together.

A healthy diet for brain health works in tandem with a healthy lifestyle. Check out the below tips for a healthy lifestyle for optimal brain health to prevent dementia.

Tips for a healthy lifestyle 

Get enough sleep

It is crucial to obtain an adequate amount of high-quality sleep in order to uphold cognitive function and minimise the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In order to maintain a healthy brain, it is imperative to establish a consistent bedtime routine and adhere to a regular sleep schedule.

Additionally, addressing sleep-disordered breathing, like apnea, is essential. Avoid eating or exercising within 2-3 hours of bedtime, and be cautious about relying too heavily on sleeping pills or alcohol to induce sleep, especially if you have restless legs syndrome.

Practice exercise

Regular physical exercise can help protect your brain from ageing and improve your mental function. It’s important to avoid being physically inactive for long periods of time and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 3 to 5 days a week. If you want to keep track of your progress and stay fit, use wearable technologies like fitness trackers and apps.

Manage stress

When you’re under prolonged stress, it can actually harm your brain and lead to fatigue, disrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. To protect yourself, try making lifestyle changes and learn effective coping mechanisms.

Engage Socially

Loneliness and depression can also have a negative impact on your cognitive health, causing memory loss and problems with attention. It’s important to maintain and build social connections, and if you’re experiencing depression, seek support.

Keep learning

To keep your brain stimulated throughout your life, engage in intellectual activities. Education at any age can help protect against cognitive decline, so consider taking a class or volunteering to keep your brain active while staying socially engaged.

Manage chronic illness

Chronic diseases can increase the risk of dementia, and some medications can impair brain function. It’s a good idea to periodically review your medications and supplements with your physician and work together to manage your brain health. 

Once you have the right treatment plan, make sure to take your medications as directed and stay updated on any new information regarding drug interactions and dementia risks by checking with your pharmacist or online resources.

Best foods for a healthy brain

Here are some foods that can help improve and maintain brain health, based on scientific research. Instead of focusing on just a few, try including a variety of these foods into your diet to maximise their brain-boosting benefits.

Green leafy vegetables

Load up on vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce. These veggies are packed with antioxidants that protect against cellular damage, as well as fibre that helps reduce inflammation. 

In fact, a study found that people who ate one to two servings of green leafy vegetables a day had a cognitive decline rate equivalent to being 11 years younger compared to those who rarely or never ate these veggies.

Whole grains 

The reason for incorporating whole grains into your diet is that they contain antioxidants that are not found in fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they provide fibre, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and other nutrients which is important for brain health. Studies have shown that diets with three or more servings of whole grains a day scored the highest. 


The reason for their antioxidant power is that they help counter the effects of oxidation, which is an essential part of the brain ageing process. Plants have developed highly effective antioxidants over millions of years to survive the tremendous oxidation caused by the sun’s rays.

Dark fruits, like blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, contain the highest levels of antioxidants. According to a study, consuming more blueberries and strawberries was linked to slower rates of cognitive decline.


Beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans, and lentils, are also beneficial for brain health. They are a great source of fibre, B vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Beans have anti-inflammatory properties and can help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The MIND diet recommends consuming beans at least three times a week.


Researchers also examined individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet with added nuts and discovered similar advantages as those from consuming EVOO. 

Other studies focusing on walnuts have demonstrated their ability to enhance cognitive function and lower the chances of various ailments like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, which are all risk factors for dementia. To adhere to the MIND diet, aim for at least five servings of nuts per week and choose plain ones over salted or sugared varieties.


Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, is an amazing way to get omega-3 fatty acids, is good for your brain and reduces the risk of cognitive decline. One of the omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is especially important for brain health, but our bodies can’t make it on their own, so we need to get it from our diet. According to experts, having two to three servings of fish per week is sufficient to give your brain all the advantages of this nutrient.

Olive oil

Olive oil is packed with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, known for their high content of polyphenols. These polyphenols are natural compounds found in plant-based foods that shield our cells from harm caused by free radicals. 

By doing so, they can reduce brain inflammation and even enhance cognitive abilities and memory retention. So why not drizzle some olive oil on your salads or use it to lightly sauté your veggies?

Almond butter

Almonds are incredibly beneficial for the brain because they have Riboflavin and L-carnitine, two nutrients that prevent cognitive decline. Give it a shot and make your own Almond and Almond Butter from scratch.


Turmeric, a common ingredient in every kitchen, holds a powerful antioxidant called Curcumin. This amazing compound possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit your health.

 One of its remarkable abilities is safeguarding your brain from ageing and neurodegenerative disorders. Many believe that Curcumin can play a significant role in both preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease.

Foods to avoid for a healthy brain

If you want to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, it’s important to limit your intake of foods that are known to cause inflammation. Some of the main offenders are:

  • Red meat
  • Desserts, sweets, and sugary drinks
  • Refined grains
  • Processed, fried, and fast foods
  • Alcohol

You don’t have to completely cut these foods out of your diet to keep your brain healthy. Instead, try to consume them in moderation and swap them with healthier options whenever you can.

Sample meal plan 

This meal plan is designed to provide around 2000 calories, which is the recommended intake for an average person. If you need more calories, feel free to add an extra snack or two. On the other hand, if you need fewer calories, you can remove a snack.

If you have specific nutritional requirements or need help creating more meal plans, it’s a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian.

BreakfastTo 1 cup cooked steel-cut oats, add 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds and ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries; at last, sprinkle cinnamon.
Snacks1 Medium orange
LunchBeans and rice – Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot. Sauté ½ of chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder until the onion becomes soft. Then, add 1 cup of drained and rinsed canned beans. Serve this delicious bean mixture over 1 cup of cooked brown rice.
2 cups salad (e.g., cucumbers, mixed greens, bell peppers) with salad dressing (mix together 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp black pepper)
Snacks ¼ cup unsalted mixed nuts
Dinner3 ounces baked salmon brushed with the same salad dressing used at lunch
1 whole grain roll dipped in 1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped steamed cauliflower


There’s still so much we need to discover about what constitutes a diet that promotes brain health. Research shows that what benefits your heart might also benefit your brain. Therefore, the smartest choice for enhancing our memory is to avoid unhealthy fats and make sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in our meals.


What are the healthy fats that can help improve your brain health?

Olive oil: Olive oil is filled with monounsaturated fat, which is great for lowering LDL cholesterol levels when you swap it for saturated or trans fat. If you want the most natural option with the highest levels of protective antioxidants, go for extra-virgin olive oil.
Nuts: When it comes to nuts, walnuts are a fantastic choice. It is filled with omega-3 fatty acids that can lower triglycerides, boost vascular health, regulate blood pressure, and reduce blood clotting.

What are the diets that help in preventing dementia?

It is a blend of two diets that are already recognised for their ability to lower the risk of heart and circulatory diseases. The first one is the Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains, fish, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. The second one is the DASH diet, which focuses on controlling blood pressure, a risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases, as well as dementia. While the DASH diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, it strongly emphasises reducing salt intake.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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