While no treatment for Alzheimer’s or dementia currently exists, maintaining good health habits can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which we recognize every June, encourages people of all ages to gain awareness of these positive habits and the need for preventive cognitive care.
Benefits of Plant-based and Flavanoid-rich Foods
Better cognitive health starts with a healthy lifestyle — cardiovascular exercise, proper sleep, and good eating habits.
But what does that mean specifically for food and dementia risk? Evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet, which is largely plant-based, can lower the risk for cognitive decline as we age. And new studies focused on flavonoids may be pointing toward more specific foods.
Flavonoids comprise a group of nutrients found in many fruits and vegetables. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that one specific type of flavonoid, anthocyanins, is most strongly associated with reduced dementia risk. Anthocyanins appear most abundantly in blueberries, strawberries, red wine, apples, pears, oranges, bananas, and tea.
Research into Foods that Lower Dementia Risk
The study followed 2,801 men and women over the course of 20 years. All were dementia-free at the start of the study. However, by its conclusion, 193 individuals had developed Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Depending on specific flavonoid, those in the 60th percentile or higher for intake had 42% to 68% lower risk for developing dementia than those in the 15th percentile or lower.
The study’s senior author, Paul F. Jacques of Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, highlighted that individuals could see benefits from even a small commitment to increased flavonoid consumption. According to the research, as little as “a couple of servings of berries a week” could make a difference. Study participants averaged approximately eight apples or pears, seven half-cup servings of blueberries or strawberries, and 17 cups of tea per month.
For less than an apple a day, individuals may be able to reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Caring for Cognitive Health with BrainCheck
Early diagnosis and comprehensive care planning can help patients mitigate the risks of cognitive impairment. BrainCheck helps clinicians provide both. Within a single platform, BrainCheck offers comprehensive assessment technology, clinical decision support, and cognitive care planning.
BrainCheck also allows physicians to track changes in cognitive function over time, allowing them to see how changes in diet or other adjustments affect patients. And cognitive assessment and care planning are reimbursable using CPT 96138, CPT 96132, and CPT 99483, giving physicians another reason to add BrainCheck to their practices.