As we age, it is common to become more forgetful. However, almost 10% of adults 65 and older have serious memory problems which can impact normal daily living and participation in social activities. These significant changes in brain functioning are often lumped under the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Other causes of memory loss in adults may be vitamin deficiencies, thyroid conditions, multiple concussions, and a series of strokes.
The second most common cause of memory and other cognitive problems in elderly adults is vascular dementia. It is typically caused by a series of mini strokes related to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can contribute to stiffening of the artery walls. A buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances can cause blockages in the brain and other parts of the body.
To reduce your risk of developing dementia symptoms as you age, follow the same dietary recommendations that reduce your risk of heart disease. Heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors, such as high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), and high blood pressure. Adopting a more heart-healthy diet will lower your risk of developing dementia symptoms.
Specific tips to lower risk of developing debilitating memory problems are:
· Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are virtually fat and cholesterol free and supply fiber.
· Switch to skim or 1% milk and lean protein to lower your intake of saturated fat.
· Vary your protein food choices. Consume eight ounces of seafood per week to add Omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. This may help reduce inflammation and improve brain function.
· Choose foods and drinks with little or no added sugars to limit extra calories and avoid excess weight gain. Choose water more often as your beverage.
This article was written for The Richland Beacon News and the Delhi Dispatch for Thursday, May 19, 2012.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture