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Nutrition and the Brain

When I was raising my children, I could always tell the difference in behaviors after they had cookies or other sweets.  As a dementia caregiver, I have had the same awareness of consumption of foods in relationship to behaviors in my clients. 

 Research proves that sugar can lead to glucose spikes and crashes, resulting in wildly fluctuating energy levels.  Artificial sweeteners have been linked to behavior problems in children and may be toxic to neurons.  Fatty meals, cream and whole milk, lard, shortening and butter contains artery clogging saturated fats that can impede blood flow to the brain and lead to poor cardiovascular health that is associated with cognitive decline.  Junk and fried foods are high in artery clogging saturated fats that can impede blood flow to the brain and lead to poor cardiovascular health.  Carbonated beverages can be high in phosphorus, which can interfere with absorption of critical neurotransmitter boosting mineral calcium.  Alcohol and caffeine interferes with absorption of neuronutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, potassium, and iron.  

We cannot totally control the diets of all our clients.  They’ve lived a lifetime with the same eating habits and sometimes, we ourselves don’t paid heed to the experts who give us this wonderful advise.  However, we can make a stab at it and look for the best food choices and alternatives. 

If a client likes fish, encourage cold-water varieties like yellowfin, water packed tuna, salmon and mackerel.  Fish is a great brain food with the Omega 3’s.  If a client is offended by the smell of fish, there are recipes and ways to mask the odor, which I will discuss in other blogs. 

Encourage colorful fruits and vegetables such as spinach, blue berries, and strawberries.  These foods have phytochemical anti-oxidants and essential vitamins known to support peak cognition.  The makeup of these fiber rich produce foods are said to cool inflammation and protect the brain against free radicals. 

Whole grains, nuts, seeds, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamin E and calcium.  For a source of critical neuron, nutrient choline and beans are needed to synthesize choline.  Amino acids in protein are found in lean meats. 

If possible, try to stay with organic grass fed animal meat and organically grown fruits and vegetables to cut down on harmful additives and poisons that attack the body and brain.

Watch for suggestions and recipes for persons with dementia in future blogs.

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