What does a brain-healthy diet include, and what are some of the eating habits people with dementia may want to stay away from?
Dementia can be a devastating diagnosis to receive. And one of the most difficult aspects of dementia to deal with is the fact that a cure hasn’t been discovered yet. However, there are thankfully plenty of treatments and medications that are continually being researched as effective solutions for slowing down its progression.
For example, your diet and nutrition play an enormous role in slowing down dementia. With a healthy diet, medication, exercise, and cognitive treatments, your chances of slowing down the progression increase greatly.
But what does a brain-healthy diet include, and what are some of the eating habits people with dementia may want to stay away from? To learn more, we talked with some expert dietitians about the worst breakfast habits for dementia.
1. Eating processed meat products
Full English breakfast includes sausages, ham, pork, and bacon – they may appear to be good sources of protein but in truth, all they offer is sodium and saturated fats. This can worsen inflammation in the body and brain of dementia patients.
2. Eating too much sugar
Pancakes and waffles may appear to be the most delectable and irresistible breakfast foods. But it could not only spike blood sugar levels but may even worsen brain inflammation in dementia patients thereby making their condition worse.
3. Skipping breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and for several reasons such as maintaining metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Weight watchers may feel that skipping breakfast can help their cause, but in truth, it does not; dementia patients, too, must not skip this meal as it may disturb energy and focus levels.
4. Eating too many breakfast foods high in saturated fat
Saturated fats are safe when consumed in extremely low quantities. But if you are eating breakfast foods high in saturated and trans fats such as too much butter, fries, or bacon, it may adversely affect cognitive health in dementia patients.
10 healthy breakfasts recipes that boost your brain function
Whether or not you agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you probably know that a healthy morning meal can serve as fuel, making you feel more energetic and sharper.
When it comes to boosting your brain power, your goal should be to get the right amount of calories (or energy), plus a balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, says Danielle Levy-Wolins, R.D., in-house dietitian at the healthy meal-delivery service Thistle. “Taking a look at your breakfast plate, consider making half the plate fruits and veggies, a quarter of the plate protein and a quarter whole grains,” she explains. “Healthy fats are more of an addition and can include avocado, olive oil, and any type of nut or seed.”
Meanwhile, you should try to cut back on processed foods, added sugar, and simple carbs, which can cause your energy to tank (and your mind to become foggy) before lunch rolls around.
To keep your brain sharp, consider adding these foods to your breakfast plate:
Berries, which contain flavonoids that have been linked to slower rates of cognitive decline.
Fatty fish is especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have long been understood to protect and bolster cognition.
Leafy greens provide brain-boosting nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin K, and folate.
Eggs are a great source of choline, which has been shown to improve brain health throughout life—but only in their yolks.
Nuts provide protein, and walnuts in particular have tons of omega-3s and are associated with healthier brains.
Beyond boosting cognition, these foods provide the calories, protein, and nutrients you need to feel your best throughout the day. One 2015 study even found that “brain foods” such as these can promote mental health, meaning they’ll leave you feeling better overall.
According to Levy-Wolins, an ideal brain-boosting breakfast would be a half-cup of oatmeal, a two-egg omelet with veggies, and some berries. The Mediterranean diet is also a good guide to cognition-enhancing breakfasts—tons of its staples, including leafy greens, fish, whole grains, and yogurt, have been linked to slower cognitive decline and better overall health.
Ready for more brain-boosting breakfast ideas? Here are 10 delicious and healthy breakfasts recipes that boost your brain power.
Read more: 10 healthy breakfasts recipes that boost your brain function