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Here’s How You Can Go Vegan And Improve Your Dementia symptoms

by | November 3, 2018

Can you go vegan and improve your dementia symptoms?

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease commonly reported amongst the elderly. There were approximately 50 million people reported to be suffering from dementia symptoms globally in 2017. The reason why dementia is an illness found amongst the elderly is because, as we age, our cerebral blood flow slows down by approximately 0.5% each year. By the age of 65, the average human brain’s blood flow is up to 15 to 20% lower than it was at the age of 20. A disease that results in the loss of cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning, thinking, problem-solving, self-management and behavioral problems, dementia is an illness that is categorized and based on severity. It is an illness that can root from multiple causes and this is why you cannot answer the ‘what causes dementia’ question easily.

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, other neurodegenerative disorders are said to result in dementia as well namely Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Vascular disorders are also responsible for contributing to dementia particular those that affect the blood circulation in the brain. Traffic accidents or other blunt trauma is also said to contribute to the cause. Infections such as meningitis are also causative factors.

Prolonged drug and alcohol use throughout years has also proven to lead to dementia.

When we talk about treating dementia, it is the management of the disease that is more important. There are multiple ways in which a dementia patient’s quality of life can be improved. Proper sleep, adequate physical exercise, a healthy and balanced diet and quitting destructive habits such as smoking and drinking are some of the changes that need to be made. Lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of developing dementia and prevent progressive damage in those who are already suffering from the illness. When it comes to management, as a caregiver your focus should be on communicating.

  • Diet and Dementia

One important lifestyle change that is said to greatly contribute to the improvement in the overall symptoms of dementia is adopting a healthier lifestyle in the form of exercise and a healthy diet. According to multiple types of research, foods rich in saturated fats are said to greatly contribute to increased cognitive function loss. Owing to the results exhibited by these researches, the focus has been shifted to plant-based diets and their role in the process of aiding patients with dementia

  • Plant-based Diets and Dementia

Plant-based diets can be divided into two types: the vegetarian diet and the vegan diet.

A vegetarian diet is plant-based, and it omits the consumption of any animal by-products. There are variants found in this diet form namely the ovo-vegetarian, meaning egg consumption and lacto-vegetarian diets meaning dairy consumption. According to research, adopting a vegetarian diet is said to contribute to reducing blood pressure and helping improve lipid profiles. The elimination of processed food from diet automatically cuts down the intake of nitrates and another preservative that is said to greatly contribute to an increased risk of developing dementia. However, on the other end of the spectrum, vegetarians are often prone to developing a deficiency of Vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 deficiency, if left untreated, is a reported cause of dementia as well as other cognitive problems.

A vegan diet is a variant of the vegetarian diet except for a little bit stricter. This relatively new diet omits the consumption of all meat and animal-derived products including dairy and eggs. This diet focuses on the intake of natural ingredients eliminating the consumption of processed foods. Overall, vegan diets have been said to contribute to reduced blood pressure, an improved lipid profile as well as weight loss. Packed with fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients along with a reduced saturated fat count, a vegan diet has been said to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases including dementia and dementia symptoms.

  • Veganism and its link with Cognitive Function

The link between diet and cognitive function has been subjected to multiple studies throughout years. Research has shown that those people who adopted a healthy plant-based diet in the earlier stages of their lives had a lower risk of developed dementia as compared to those who made the switch later on in life after having consumed a fairly significant amount of dairy and meat in their early years. The recorded difference was rather shocking as the former group exhibited an 85 to 90% decreased risk of developing any neurodegenerative illness.

Another research concluded that adults with higher cholesterol levels during their middle years of life were at a greater threat of developing Alzheimer’s disease and subsequent dementia in their later years. Apart from age-related and genetic factors, neurodegenerative disorders are more likely to be found in patients with high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Experts then decided to set a standard list of guidelines as a means of preventing Alzheimer’s disease. These are as follows:

  1. Minimize saturated and trans-fat consumption. These two are normally found in meat, dairy certain oils, and processed foods.
  2. Replace meat and meat with vegetables, whole grains, pulses and fruits as diet staples.
  3. Include Vitamin B-12 in the diet in the form of supplements or fortified foods.
  4. Include Vitamin E in the diet in the form of food and not supplements. Vitamin E is naturally abundant in foods such as nuts, grains, seeds, leafy vegetables, etc.
  5. Take supplements without iron or copper supplements and only take them if prescribed by the physician.
  6. Incorporate exercise in your daily routine.
  7. Incorporate berries in your diet as their high flavonoid content is said to have neuroprotective effects.

Although the workings of a vegan diet on the nervous system are still relatively unexplored, it manages to meet the guidelines set by exerts for dementia prevention. Remember, if you’re facing any memory problems, you should get a braintest soon to avoid any complications.

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Alycia Gordon

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness, and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing.

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