Having a family member be diagnosed with dementia can be a troubling time for everyone involved. For those diagnosed, it can be a devastating life change to endure. And if you’re the child of someone diagnosed, you not only have to deal with the blow of the diagnosis itself, but also the potential worries of what it may mean for your health later on.
It is important to note that dementia is not as hereditary as some people might assume. Although it is possible to pass it on to children or grandchildren, most cases of dementia are not hereditary.
When it comes to vascular dementia, parents are very unlikely to be able to pass it on to their children, but it is possible. They are more likely to pass on a specific gene linked to the disease or pass on some common risk factors for dementia, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
For patients with frontotemporal dementia, it is possible to pass it on to your offspring. According to The Alzheimer Societyabout 40% of people who develop this type of dementia will have a family member who will also develop dementia.
So While it’s entirely possible that you’ll never have dementia even if one of your parents has it, it’s still important to take care of your brain and eat foods that can help improve your health. whole of your brain.
Here’s what our dietitians have to say about the best foods to eat if dementia runs in your family. And for more healthy eating tips, check out The Best Foods For Your Brain After 50.
If dementia runs in your family or you’re concerned about it happening, it’s important to regularly get enough healthy fats like omega-3s in your diet.
“About 60 percent of the brain is fat, and half of that is omega-3 fat,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. “It has been found that foods rich in omega-3s can help prevent cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and slow mental decline. The brain also needs omega-3 fatty acids to make nerve cells , which are essential for memory and learning ability.
If you’re wondering what foods you should avoid or limit, you might want to watch your intake of red meat, processed meat, and other processed foods.
“I recommend limiting your intake of red meat and processed foods because they are inflammatory and can increase the risk of plaque in the brain that can contribute to dementia,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, MPH, RD, author of Recipe for survival.
In fact, animal research of Ohio State University showed that regular consumption of processed foods may lead to more rapid memory loss in aging populations. The same results mention that replacing these foods with omega-3 rich options (as mentioned above) can significantly improve your brain health.
Along with eating plenty of healthy fats and avoiding highly processed foods, getting enough B vitamins can help boost your brain health.
“Ensuring an adequate intake of B vitamins (thiamin, B12, etc.) is crucial because they can be linked to neurological (including brain) changes,” says Hunnes.
For example, a recent study found that Vitamin B12 deficiency could contribute to poorer cognitive function. You can find B12 in most animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. If you don’t eat meat products, you can always supplement with a B12 pill.
Yes, berries are good for your brain and can be a great snack for those worried that dementia is running through their family.
“Berries are believed to be among the healthiest foods for your brain due to their antioxidants and high levels of anthocyanins (plant nutrients),” says Hunnes.
A study found that young and older adults who ate blueberries had better memory and attention, as well as better blood flow to the brain.
They also found that older adults who regularly ate strawberries and blueberries had better memories than those who didn’t eat berries.