Gary Lineker opens up about his dementia concerns
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Close to one million Britons are living with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society suggests preventing the onset of dementia through lifestyle choices could save tens of thousands of lives. So what foods should you be eating to reduce your risk of dementia?
More than 800,000 people in the UK have dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Society predicts 209,600 more will be diagnosed with the condition this year.
That equates to one person being diagnosed with the life-changing condition every three minutes.
At present, there is no cure for dementia, however research is helping us to better understand what might cause it, and how you can lower your risk of developing the condition.
The biggest ‘risk factor’ for dementia is age. One in six people over the age of 80 has the condition, while only 42,000 people under the age of 65 have dementia in the UK.
However, your lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on your risk of developing the condition, including your diet, and how active you are.
One staple food in particular should be limited to less than one tablespoon every day, in order to curb your risk of developing dementia, but what is it?
What foods are bad for dementia?
Keep in mind that there is no cure for dementia, and while dietary approaches can reduce your risk, there’s no guarantee on turning back the clock on symptoms once they start.
However, the MIND diet – which combines aspects from the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet – has been shown to slow age-related brain decline.
This diet focuses on eating natural, plant-based and unprocessed foods, while reducing your salt intake.
And according to the MIND diet, eating no more than a tablespoon of butter or margarine every day could slash your risk of developing dementia.
The reason the MIND diet recommends reducing your butter intake is because butter is high in saturated fat.
The MIND diet endorses olive oil instead, because it is a monounsaturated fat, which is credited with improving your blood vessel function and reducing inflammation.
If you use butter to cook with, try replacing it with olive oil. Olive oil is also delicious to dip bread or toast in.
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In addition to cutting your butter intake to less than a tablespoon – or 14 grams – a day, the MIND diet also suggests cutting down on these foods:
- Fried or fast food (less than once a week)
- Cheese (less than once a week)
- Red meats (less than four times a week)
- Pastries and sweets (less than five times a week)
So, what foods should you introduce to your diet?
The MIND diet has been recommended by both the British Heart Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Society.
The MIND diet is also recommended to reduce risk of heart disease. However, heart disease and dementia share many risk factors – including high cholesterol and obesity – so this diet can help slash your risk of either condition.
According to the diet plan, these are the foods you should eat regularly for healthy brain and heart function:
- Olive oil – as a dressing and as your main cooking oil.
- Wholegrains – such as quinoa.
- Green leafy vegetables – such as spinach, cabbage and kale at least once a day.
- Any vegetables – every day.
- Nuts – every other day.
- Beans and lentils – at least three times a week.
- Berries – such as strawberries and blueberries.
- Chicken or turkey – poultry gets a thumbs up, though it’s recommended to be enjoyed only a couple of times a week.
- Fish – particularly oily fish rich in omega-3 like salmon and herring.
- Red wine – but no more than one glass of wine a day.
Different types of dementia
There are many different types of dementia, and people can even have two different types of dementia at once.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Other types of dementia include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia.
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