Over the past several years, health experts have recommended the Mediterranean diet due to its many health benefits. The diet is touted as an excellent option for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including heart ailments. However, recent studies now support the diet’s potential for reducing the risk of dementia. That’s especially important for older individuals who are at higher risk for developing various forms of dementia, including residents taking advantage of senior living options in California.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
In a nutshell, the Mediterranean diet adopts the eating habits of countries around the Mediterranean Sea, as those nations routinely experience fewer diet-related health issues than people in many other parts of the world. Health professionals often recommend the diet, as its benefits are well-documented.
Residents of Mediterranean nations generally consume foods that include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. While dairy products and red meat don’t fit any of those categories and are not generally recommended, they can be consumed in small quantities. For example, eating cheese and yogurt occasionally is approved, as is the consumption of a limited amount of red wine.
Antioxidants and Brain Health
Reducing the risk of dementia includes exploring ways to keep the brain healthy. Individuals taking advantage of community living for seniors are, as an age group, at a higher risk of dementia than younger people. That’s why assisted living homes routinely look for diet options that optimize brain health, and the Mediterranean diet is one option that’s proven to provide that benefit. So, how does the Mediterranean diet accomplish that goal? One way is by providing antioxidants that are necessary for brain health. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids, provide proven protective benefits for the brain, which means the odds of developing dementia are reduced.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Brain Health
In addition to antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids have shown great promise for reducing the threat of dementia. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines all provide high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and are everyday staples of the Mediterranean diet. Omega-3 fatty acids include anti-inflammatory benefits, enhance the health of brain cells, and contribute to improved blood vessel function. Communities providing senior living in Oceanside, CA, encourage residents to develop and maintain healthy eating habits that are part of the Mediterranean diet.
Heart Health and Cognition are Linked
Although no one fully understands the relationships between diet, heart health, and cognition, most health experts now suggest they are real and essential. The Mediterranean diet is well-established as a heart-healthy diet, and researchers are now convinced the diet’s components, like monounsaturated fats from olive oil, also benefit cognitive health. Reducing harmful chronic inflammation and enhancing blood flow improve overall brain health, which is believed to lessen the threat of dementia. However, even residents already receiving memory care are expected to benefit from the Mediterranean diet, as the progression of dementia is slowed by healthy eating habits.
B Vitamins and Folate Provide Essential Benefits
The foods included in the Mediterranean diet are rich in B vitamins and folate. Both of those elements play crucial roles in brain functions, which suggests they should be present in any dietary plan. Both are also crucial for producing neurotransmitters and maintaining existing nerve cells. Those characteristics are vital for overall brain health and minimizing the threat of dementia.
Lifestyle Factors Also Impact the Risk of Developing Dementia
While a healthy diet is crucial for reducing the risk of dementia, other lifestyle factors also impact residents’ brain health. In addition to dietary factors, the importance of regular exercise and socialization should never be ignored. Senior living communities provide a range of options that encourage residents to eat healthy meals, take part in planned activities, and socialize with other residents. For example, communities may include a fitness center, putting green, and a pool to encourage more physical activity.
Diet, exercise, and socialization all play essential roles in both physical and mental health, which means none of those elements should be ignored when exploring living options. The Mediterranean diet takes a holistic approach to achieving health, and senior community residents are always encouraged to take advantage of every strategy to stay healthy for as long as possible.
Explore the Living Options at Ocean Hills
At Ocean Hills Senior Living, we provide residents with tailored living arrangements designed to meet their needs and expectations. Our team also understands that residents want to remain as independent as possible, and we make every effort to make that happen. For more information or to schedule a personalized tour of the community, contact our team today.