Some people with dementia find that their appetite changes over time. You might feel more or less hungry or have food cravings. People with frontotemporal dementia are known to develop a sweet tooth. Because of appetite changes, people with dementia sometimes gain or lose weight. Some people with dementia forget to eat and become malnourished. It is important to maintain a healthy weight. Being low on certain vitamins and minerals can have a negative impact on how well your brain works. Your diet is important for brain health.
If you have concerns about your weight, diet, or appetite, talk to your doctor. They may send you to a dietitian for further advice.
Eat a healthy diet
Research shows that a Mediterranean diet can help prevent dementia, but there is no proof that this diet helps people who already have dementia.
- A Mediterranean diet includes lots of vegetables and fruits, legumes and nuts, wholegrains, fish, seafood and olive oil, as well as some dairy.
- A Mediterranean diet tends to limit the intake of sugar, red meat and processed food.
- You don’t need to cook Mediterranean recipes, just prepare your meals with foods that are commonly found in a Mediterranean diet. Try to eat fresh, healthy food like fruits and vegetables. Your brain will work best with this fuel.
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Drink less alcohol
Drinking a lot of alcohol (i.e., more than 7 drinks a week for women, or more than 14 drinks a week for men) increases the risk of getting dementia. Heavy drinking may also accelerate deterioration in people with dementia.
Drink 8-10 cups of water per day
Studies suggest that people who are dehydrated don’t think as well. Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 cups of water per day. It’s easy to forget to drink water, and a person’s ability to sense thirst decreases with age. Make it part of your routine to have a glass of water with every meal, and in between meals too. Water is the healthiest choice but tea, milk, juice and soup can also help you stay hydrated.
Improve your diet gradually
It’s hard to change habits, including your diet. Food is more than just nutrition. Food can be enjoyable, comforting and a way to express yourself or your culture. Changing your grocery shopping habits can be an effective way to improve your diet – for instance, buy more healthy food, and less junk food.
Start with one or two small food changes until they become a habit such as drinking more water or eating more fruit.
- Try to eat more fresh, healthy food which includes lots of fruit and vegetables.
- Try to eat less processed food.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Drink more more water.