Your Partner in Ageing


Healthy Living: Eat These Foods To Combat Dementia

Uploaded On: 01 Jun 2024

An elderly couple enjoying cooking together

We know nutrition plays a significant role in our well-being, with proven evidence that lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains can help combat a range of diseases and keep us healthy. However, did you know that making good food choices can also prevent or slow dementia?

Given that one in ten people aged 60 and above in Singapore has dementia, and the number is expected to rise to over 150,000 patients by 2030, it is increasingly crucial for Singaporeans to examine their diets and look to incorporate foods that can improve cognition and enhance their overall well-being.


What Is Dementia?


Image of an elderly woman with dementia


Before we explore the brain-boosting foods that can help combat dementia, let us first examine what dementia actually is. Despite its prevalence, dementia is often incorrectly referred to as “senility” or “senile dementia”, reflecting the widespread but incorrect belief that severe mental decline is a normal part of ageing. In fact, dementia is not a single illness but an overall term to describe the various symptoms that one may experience when living with a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Contrary to popular misconception, diseases grouped under the term “dementia” do not happen with old age. Instead, they are caused by abnormal brain changes or damage to our brain cells, triggering a decline in our cognitive functions and interfering with our brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other. When this happens, our behaviour, feelings, and relationships with others can be severely impacted.

In that case, why does dementia generally occur in elderly patients in Singapore? That is because conditions that damage the brain, such as Alzheimer’s or vascular disease, can take years to affect the brain sufficiently for symptoms to develop. Moreover, as a person ages, they become more frail over time. As a result, they are more likely to be coping with other changes and health conditions that can increase their risk of dementia.


What Foods Are Good For The Brain?


Foods Good For The Brain


Although the elderly experience higher risk, younger Singaporeans can also develop dementia, which is described as “young onset” when symptoms surface before the age of 65. Therefore, it is essential for you to be mindful of your diet even at a young age and incorporate foods to combat brain ageing.

According to experts, a diet rich in antioxidants and carotenoids may safeguard against dementia by reducing oxidative stress. That occurs when more highly reactive molecules that obtain oxygen (termed free radicals) are present in our bodies than molecules that neutralise them, known as antioxidants. Antioxidants and carotenoids can help minimise damage to cells from free radicals, which are responsible for damaging our cells and causing ageing, illness, and other diseases.

Foods like spinach, kale, and parsley are among the best sources of antioxidants and carotenoids. Other alternatives include corn, egg yolks, and red grapes. Eating these types of foods and steering clear of processed junk foods can contribute to an overall “healthy ageing game plan”, helping you maintain healthy, full lives and avoid diseases.


What Other Foods Can Reduce Dementia Risk?


Foods That Fuel Your Brain


In addition to foods rich in antioxidants and carotenoids, specific diets are known to be beneficial to brain health and reduce the risk of dementia. That includes the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which encourages us to consume green leafy vegetables, beans, berries, fish, poultry, nuts, whole grains, and unsaturated fats like olive oil, eggs, and low amounts of red meat.

While studies surrounding the MIND diet and its effect on dementia remain inconclusive, research has shown that it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or cognitive decline. Evidence even suggests it might increase specific nutrients that protect the brain from anti-inflammatory processes and stop harmful proteins like amyloid beta, which are usually found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, from forming.

While there are various factors pertaining to dementia that you cannot control, such as age, genetics, and family history, what you consume is one aspect you can manage. However, be realistic in your goals and expectations. Meanwhile, it is advisable to think holistically and not be afraid to experiment with your diet. Be patient and commit to the healthy changes that you are making. We are confident that you will notice an improvement in your overall well-being.

At Orange Valley, we understand that dementia can be overwhelming, not just for the patient but also for their caregivers and family members. From active ageing centres (care) dedicated to providing dementia day care services to dementia nursing homes that offer professional, round-the-clock nursing care, we strive to ease the stress of caregiving off your shoulders by delivering the best possible care to your elderly loved ones grappling with the condition.

Nutrition care is also a pivotal aspect of our dementia care programme. Our dietitians work closely with our subsidiary, Singapore Nutri-Diet Industries, to provide nutritious meals tailored to our residents’ dietary needs, with a carefully crafted menu designed to help reduce dementia risk. Visit our website to learn more about our dementia care services today.