What we eat affects our mood, our energy levels, and plays a key role in maintaining strength as we age. But it may impact brain functioning as well, which has led scientists to research if our diet could be connected to Alzheimer’s risk.

Recent data has backed up their claim.

It’s no secret that sugary and highly processed foods have a negative impact on our bodies. But it’s only recently that we’re beginning to see similarities in the diets of those who have developed Alzheimer’s disease. While scientists are still in the early stages of this research, knowing what foods to avoid could help you get a head start on reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Some foods you may have expected, while others may come as more of a surprise.

Added Sugars

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to food or beverages when they are processed. They often come in the form of sodas, desserts, pastries, breakfast cereals, and yogurt.

A recent study published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease found that individuals who consumed 1-7 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per week were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who consumed no sugar-sweetened drinks.

Another study published in Front Endocrinol found that added sugars can make your body resistant to insulin, which is a common feature in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

To reduce your sugar intake, Harvard’s School of Public Health offers a few tips:

  • Choose plain yogurt with no added sugar and add in fresh or frozen fruit
  • Choose cereals with 5% of the Daily Value or less of added sugars and add sliced ripe bananas or berries.
  • Choose water, seltzer, herbal tea, coffee, and other beverages with no added sugar. Add a slice of orange, lemon, lime, or cucumber for a subtle flavor boost.
  • If you choose to enjoy a favorite treat high in sugar, practice eating a smaller portion than usual. Enjoy it fully by chewing slowly and savoring it.

Fried Foods

The thought of french fries, fried chicken, and BBQ is mouth-watering. Unfortunately, they’re on our list of foods to avoid.

The reason for hesitation is Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize that term. Just know it’s an ingredient in fried foods that’s not great for your brain.

AGEs are common in meat and dairy foods and increase when the food is cooked in high temperatures over long periods of time, such as frying and highly processed food. Red meat tends to have the highest amount of AGEs.

A study published in PNAS  provided a blood test and questionnaire used to assess dementia to 93 adults over the age of 60. The researchers found that adults that had higher levels of AGEs in their blood experienced more cognitive decline over the next nine months when compared to those with lower AGEs in their blood. They also found that adults with high levels of AGEs were developing insulin resistance, which we now know is a common feature of Alzheimer’s disease.

Next time you’re out to eat, try having that piece of meat grilled or baked and consider sides like fruits and veggies instead of french fries.

Refined Carbs

Refined carbohydrates are carbs that have been processed to strip away bran, fiber, and nutrients. Refined carbs are commonly found in white bread, white rice, pasta, pizza dough, pastries, and many breakfast cereals.

A 2020 study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia found that a diet rich in refined carbs led to a long-term risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers studied 2,777 individuals over 65 for 12 years and found that high consumption of refined carbs led to an increased risk of the disease.

Refined carbs are easily absorbed and digested, leading to a spike in blood sugar and glucose entering your body. Your body then produces lots of insulin to allow that glucose to be converted into energy. Because of this overproduction of insulin, your body forms insulin resistance. And as we now know, insulin resistance is common in Alzheimer’s disease.

There are a few things you can do to avoid refined carbs:

  • Cook at home so you know what your eating 
  • If you don’t like to (or ar unable to) cook, let your in-home care provider cook for you
  • Look for foods that list whole grains as the first ingredient
  • Choose whole-grain pasta, bread, and rice
  • Limit sugary drinks
  • Replace processed snacks with fruits and vegetables

How a Caregiver Can Help

A professional caregiver can prepare your loved one foods that improve cognitive function and don’t put them at an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. An in-home caregiver can also put them on an exercise plan and reduce stress by providing companionship and helping with day-to-day activities. Both exercise and reduced stress may play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well.

If you’re interested in in-home care, contact Golden Care today. We take pride in being San Diego’s top choice for in-home care services.