12 Foods That Cause Dementia 2024

foods that cause dementia

Researchers after conducting numerous studies conclude that there are some foods that cause dementia.

This is why a healthy diet is important because some foods are known to boost brain health while others are linked to an increase in dementia risk and other serious health problems.

Let’s check out some of the foods that can increase the risk of developing dementia.

Foods That Cause Dementia

1. White Foods

white foods can cause dementia
White foods feature prominently on the list of foods that cause dementia. These include foods like white pasta, rice, and other foods that cause a spike in insulin.

Worth noting is that spikes in blood sugar usually cause inflammation in the body and it also sends toxins to the brain. This is one of the suspected causes of dementia.

2. Sugar

sugar is linked to dementia cause
You should avoid eating too much sugar if you want to protect your brain.

This is because excessive sugar consumption leads to inflammation in the brain. It can also increase your blood sugar levels depriving the brain and the body of the energy they need.

3. Processed Meats

processed meats
Processed meats are a favourite for many. What you may not know is that these foods are rich in nitrosamines. This is a carcinogenic chemical compound that makes the liver produce fats that are poisonous to the human brain.

The fats interfere with the blood-brain barrier which causes damage to the brain cells. This also results in insulin resistance.

4. Processed Cheeses

processed cheeses
Cheese is also among the foods that cause dementia. These include mozzarella sticks, American cheese, Laughing Cow, and Cheez Whiz. Consuming the processed cheeses leads to a protein build-up in the body which has been linked to the development of dementia. Cheese is also a source of saturated fat that clogs heart and brain vessels.

Consuming too many saturated fats can result in inflammation in the brain, impaired memory, and a higher risk of developing a stroke. You are advised to replace your cheese slices with almonds because they are better for your health.

5. Microwave Popcorn

microwave popcorn
This is known to have diacetyl a chemical that is suspected to increase the number of amyloid plaques in the human brain.

There has been a lot of research linking the build-up of these plaques in the brain to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Alcohol

alcohol and dementia
Taking too much alcohol is known to have grave effects on the brain.

It can lead to metabolic changes, reduction in brain volume, and disruption of neurotransmitters or chemicals that the brains use for communication. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism usually have a deficiency of vitamin B1 which can result in brain disorders that can develop into Korsakodd’s syndrome.

The syndrome is characterized by serious damage to the brain which brings about eyesight problems, confusion, unsteadiness, and memory loss. Some brands of alcohol also contain nitrates that are linked to dementia.

7. Refined Carbohydrates

refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates include grains that have been highly processed like white flour. These are known to have high glycemic load and a high glycemic index which means that the body digests them fast causing a spike in insulin levels and blood sugar.

A high intake of refined carbs can impair intelligence and memory as well as increase dementia risk.

8. Foods with a Lot of Trans Fats

foods with a lot of trans fats
Trans fats (also known as trans-fatty acids) refer to a kind of unsaturated fat that has harmful effects on brain health. The ones that occur naturally in animal products are not the problem. The issue lies with the industrially manufactured Trans fats called hydrogenated vegetable oils. These oils are used in many baked products.

Research shows that taking too much of these oils leads to poorer memory, cognitive decline, lower brain volume, and risk of dementia.

9. Highly Processed Foods

highly processed foods
Highly processed foods feature on the foods that cause dementia because they are full of added fats, sugar, and salt. These include sweets, chips, store-bought sauces, ready-made meals, and instant noodles, etc.

They are usually low in nutrients and high in calories which can lead to weight gain which hurts the brain.

10. Foods with MSG

foods with MSG
Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a food additive used to enhance flavour and preserve food.

It has been linked to dementia where it intensifies symptoms of the disease because it overstimulates the nervous system. It is, therefore, important to read food labels when shopping to stay away from some of these ingredients that may affect your health negatively.

11. Fish with Mercury

fish with mercury
It is strange to see fish among the foods that cause dementia seeing that it is one of the recommended foods for brain health. While fish is good for your health, you must stay away from the ones that are loaded with high mercury levels because they can put you at risk of suffering from dementia.

Mercury is a heavy metal contaminant as well as a neurological poison that can remain in animal tissues for a long time. After ingesting mercury whose primary source is wild seafood, it spreads in different parts of the body concentrating in the kidneys, liver, and brain.

It results in brain damage because the toxicity of mercury disrupts stimulations of neurotoxins, the central nervous system, and neurotransmitters.

12. Margarine

Margarine is one of the foods to avoid if you want a healthy brain because it is not only full of chemicals, but it is also highly processed.

Researchers also state that diacetyl one of its ingredients is linked to dementia because it promotes beta-amyloid clumping a protein that is one of the trademark features of dementia. Diacetyl is also known to increase the toxicity of the protein in the brain.

Closing Thoughts – Foods that Cause Dementia

The brain being one of the most vital organs needs to be taken care of properly. It keeps your lungs breathing, heart beating, and systems functioning. This is why it is important to steer clear from foods that cause dementia and stick to a healthy diet if you want to keep the brain functioning at optimum condition.

More research is still being conducted to offer a better understanding of the link between dementia risk and diet. In the meantime, it is best to focus on consuming a balanced and healthy diet that will keep your brain healthy as you age.

9 Best Foods to Reverse Dementia in 2024

foods to reverse dementia

For years, research has been ongoing to identify the foods to reverse dementia. Even though dementia currently does not have a cure, experts state that lifestyle and diet can play a significant role in preventing and even reversing pre-dementia and early dementia.

Dr. Mark Hyman, a champion of the body-mind effect, explains that the things you do to your body end up affecting the brain. Thus, the importance of healthy diet and nutrition.

Going by the fact that dementia usually begins with too much sugar in the brain, controlling blood sugar levels can help in reversing cognitive decline and dementia.

Controlling blood sugar has a lot to do with what you eat.

Let’s look at nine foods that can help to reverse dementia.

Best Foods to Reverse Dementia

1. Leafy Greens

foods to reverse dementia - leafy greens
Dark greens such as romaine, kale, and spinach are known to be rich in vitamins like K and A and brain-boosting antioxidants.

These antioxidants can help to protect the brain cells from the damage that is associated with dementia. The high-nutrition and low-calorie veggies keep the brain and other body parts in shape.

To get all the nutrients, they are best eaten raw, but you can also enjoy them roasted, baked, or steamed depending on what you prefer. You should try and eat at least one cup every day to fight off dementia.

2. Berries

berries are a great food for dementia
Berries are included in the list of foods to reverse dementia because medical data and literature show that they are good for the brain. Here there is an option of consuming acai fruits, blueberries, and strawberries.

You should try and have at least two servings a week.

Several studies demonstrate the usefulness of berries for brain health. An example is one that was published in 2013, revealing that people who ate more berries experienced a slower cognitive decline as they grew older by up to 21/2 years.

3. Certain Types of Fish

certain types of fish as a food for dementia
Eating fish can enhance memory and boost brain health, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Omega 3 fatty acid, in particular present in fish, helps to maintain a fully functional brain.

Salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies are heavy in omega 3’s.

They also contain selenium, potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium, which also help in the war against dementia.

Fish like salmon and tuna are also known to a healthy heart, which is also essential for preventing dementia and cognitive decline. It is okay to eat fish at least once or twice a week.

4. Beans

Beans are rich in plant protein, iron, nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. All these are great for increasing longevity as well as reducing the risk of stroke, which is one of the risk factors for dementia.

Some scientists also state that beans help to regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Researchers recommend having at least three bean servings in a week.

5. Whole Grains

whole grains
Whole grains are considered to be part of foods to reverse dementia. This is because they are rich in B vitamins, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Some great whole grain options to consider include millet, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, and sorghum.

These offer a great source of sustainable energy to the brain and they also feed the gut with good bacteria. The MIND diet advises people to consume whole grains three times every day.

6. Nuts

SF Gate reveals that consuming nuts regularly can improve cognitive function considerably while giving you a “younger brain” at the same time. Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, macadamias, and walnuts come highly recommended if you want to reap the benefits.

The healthy fats and protein present in some nuts help to enhance memory, reverse age-related cognitive decline, and prevent inflammation that damages the brain. Try and eat nuts about five times every week.

7. Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great addition on the list of foods to reverse dementia. The tasty potatoes are loaded with minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and vitamins C and A, which are beneficial to the brain.

The potatoes have the ability to regular sugar levels in the blood and they also have anti-inflammatory effects. You can have these 2 times minimum a week.

8. Seeds

Including various seeds like pumpkin seeds, flax and linseeds in your diet can also help to keep dementia at bay. Such seeds are a great snack option that you can take in between meals.

The seeds are good sources for vitamin E and an array of brain-boosting minerals.

Linseeds, in particular, offer the body plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, which help to reduce cholesterol levels and decrease inflammation.

They also have chemical compounds that protect blood vessels from inflammatory damage. Aim at snacking on the seeds daily.

9. Healthy Fats

healthy fats
When talking about foods to reverse dementia, it is also essential to include healthy fats that make the brain happy. These include extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and omega 3 fats.

Fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados are also recommended. You can use these as your main cooking oil or as a dressing for your salads.

Final Thoughts – Foods to Reverse Dementia

Eating healthy foods comes with tonnes of benefits like reducing the odds of developing dementia.

Making mindful food choices where you include brain-friendly foods like the ones above might be the solution to both preventing and reversing dementia.

Similar Articles to Read

10 Best Herbs for Dementia and Brain Health 2021

8 Best Superfoods for Dementia 2022

All-Natural Brain Health Supplement Reviewed

ProMind Complex ReviewedIt is not always easy to find superfood herbs, nor is it always practical to grow your own herbs. Taking a well-formulated supplement may be the best solution.

ReaDemetia investigated products that we felt had the ingredients and integrity to be worthy for our audience to consider. One product, ProMind Complex, ticked many of the boxes.

Read our comprehensive review of ProMind Complex HERE.

Easy Meals for Dementia Patients (Guide)

Easy Meals for Dementia Patients 2

A nourishing balanced diet is important for keeping the body strong and healthy. This is definitely the case for dementia patients as poor nutrition can lead to various medical problems. These include lack of lower body strength making movement a challenge, weight loss and sometimes, an increase in behavioural symptoms. For older carers, trying to prepare tempting meals for loved ones isn’t always easy, so it makes sense to prepare easy meals for dementia patients that are tasty and simple to make…

‘Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food’ Hippocrates

What are the basic guidelines for meals for dementia patients?

Giving your loved one a balanced diet can really boost their health. There has been plenty of research into nutrition for dementia patients and it has been found to make all the difference to the dementia patients’ level of fitness and body strength, which in turn helps maintain their quality of life.

As well as a well-balanced diet, it is important that dementia patients exercise as much as possible. Dementia patients usually find eating small, regular meals and snacks is easier than tackling large plates of food.

Sometimes differences in visual and spatial abilities can make it difficult for them to recognise certain foods. Food needs to be tempting with different colours, textures, and smells. Sometimes medication can affect your loved one’s appetite.

This can either be a change in medication, or in the dosage, and it is best to keep a close eye on things and if the problem hasn’t resolved after a week- ten days, it is good to speak with your GP.

If you find that your loved one is having problems swallowing, or is changing their eating habits, it is well worth seeking professional guidance.

A good balanced diet for dementia patients includes:

balanced diet for dementia patients

  • Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grains and pulses
  • Lean meats and fresh fish
  • Low-fat dairy products

Keeping your loved one hydrated is very important. Small drinks should be offered throughout the day – water and sugar-free drinks are ideal. A couple of cups of coffee and tea- without added sugar – are fine too.

Types of food to limit:

Types of food not good for dementia patients

  • Foods with high levels of saturated fats such as fatty cuts of meat and butter as these are bad for the heart.
  • Reduce sugar intake. Refined sugars are full of calories and low in vitamins and minerals. Try sweetening foods with a little honey or unsweetened fruit juice.
  • Salt is added to many foods and is certainly in all ready meals as it is known to enhance the flavour. Try to add no salt to your cooking and use herbs and spices to enhance flavours.


Dementia-friendly mealtimes

tempting easy meals for dementia patientsAs well as offering smaller meals, it is important to check that your loved one feels comfortable at the table and that their chair is at the correct height and distance from the table. Before you serve the meal, check it is the correct temperature and not too hot

Make sure there are no distractions such as the television and keep the table setting simple but attractive. Dementia patients can find it tricky to distinguish the food on patterned plates and tablemats.

It is far better to opt for a plain coloured placeman/ tablecloth and white plate and do not lay their place setting with too many pieces of cutlery. Never try to hurry the meal.

  • Eating is a social occasion so try to share a meal together

Easy-to-make recipes for dementia patients

It is best to choose recipes that use just a few ingredients and are quick to complete. If it is possible, involve your loved one in the meal preparation such as cleaning vegetables or measuring amounts.

Always opt for fresh seasonal produce where possible and think about serving raw foods. Carrot, celery and cucumber matchsticks are perfect with a dip such as Tzatziki, hummus or guacamole. Many dementia patients find it easier to eat finger foods and it is the ideal way to serve small portions.

10 nutritious and easy meals for individuals with dementia:

Simple recipes for dementia patients

  • A bowl of salad with some prawns, pieces of salmon, smoked trout, cold chopped chicken or chipolata tossed in.
  • Pasta and prawns – cook prawns with a little garlic and mixed herbs for a few minutes and serve on a bed of warm pasta shapes.
  • Omelette – eggs are nutritious and quick and adding some pre-cooked or leftover vegetables to an omelette makes a tasty meal.
  • Scrambled egg tastes extra good if mushroom, grated cheese, chopped ham or sweetcorn are added.
  • Jacket potato with melted cheese or pesto.
  • Easy baked salmon – place a piece on salmon on a greased piece of tin foil. Top with a chopped tomato and half a chopped onion. Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes.
  • A small individual pizza topped with sliced mushrooms, ham and cheese (muffins can be used as the base and topped with tomato paste, grated cheese, olives etc. and cooked at 200°C for 5 minutes).
  • A mini stir fry made with chopped aubergine (eggplant), chopped courgette, half a chopped onion and chopped green pepper, cooked in a little olive oil.
  • Fresh fruit salad with a spoonful of plain yoghurt on top.
  • Apple sauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon and topped with ice cream makes a tasty pudding.

There are plenty of websites for inspiration for dementia-friendly meal ideas:-


Smoothie – one of the best recipes for dementia patients

If your loved one finds eating some foods a little tricky and prefers soft foods, making a colourful nutritious smoothie can be the perfect answer as the smoothie looks colourful and is easy to drink.

The smoothie can be made using fresh seasonal fruits or you can keep a bag of frozen fruits in the freezer, with no need to defrost them!

Pop a chopped banana, handful of berries (fresh or frozen) a pot of natural yoghurt and two tablespoons of milk into an electric blender and whizz until smooth.

If your loved one likes a slightly sweeter tasting smoothie, add a spoonful of smooth peanut butter.

Making a smoothie is a very tempting easy meal for dementia patients!

Easy Meals for Dementia Patients – Final Thoughts

It is important that you prepare hassle-free meals for the elderly with dementia as there is a chance that your chosen dish may not be a big hit with your loved one. This is not as disappointing as if you had spent more time preparing it.

If your loved one doesn’t want to eat a particular dish, leave it a little while, enhance the flavour with some herbs or spices if you can and try again….


Why Do Dementia Patients Eat So Much?

why do dementia patients eat so much

A comprehensive answer to the frequently asked question, Why do dementia patients eat so much, is here, written by a doctor and nutritionist.

The differences in appetite between dementia patients vary. Some eat too little, yet others overeat. Some dementia patients may consume too much food in one sitting or eat too many meals in a day.

But why does that occur?

Patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia generally tend to overeat more.

Also, such patients develop a liking for food with a strong smell or taste and tend to eat the same food repeatedly (1).

For instance, very spicy, salty or sugary foods.

It’s also common to observe excessive eating and other related eating behavioral changes in dementia patients as their dietary preferences change.

Some even develop a seemingly inexplicable obsession with certain foods.

Managing Overeating and Dementia

Diagnosed dementia patients will experience a decline in their memory, problem-solving, and other thinking-related skills.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and patients’ appetites usually change as a result of this.

What Causes A Dementia Patient To Eat More? – Four Possible Factors

what causes a dementia patient to eat more
Globally the dementia statistics continue to rise. A predicted 75 million people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease by 2030.

One in three elderly people dies from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in the US alone.

Dementia affects each aspect of living and poses hurdles that are rather unusual and challenging. Research indicates three of the main reasons dementia patients eat so much include:

1: Diminishing Taste Buds

As people age, their taste buds diminish. As their disease worsens and their taste buds weaken, the insulin levels in their brains can decrease.

Some dementia patients, therefore, experience intense cravings for foods containing high calories. They may prefer heavy or flavor-filled foods such as sugary sweets.

2: Changing Appetite

Also, dementia patients’ appetites change which results in craving unhealthy foods. If a patient overeats, they may eat inappropriate foods. They may even try to consume things that aren’t food, such as a napkin or bar of soap.

This is because they might not recognize the item or understand its use, and therefore they confuse it for food.

3: Forgetting Recent Meals

Why Do Dementia Patients Eat So Much?
Due to their declining memory, dementia patients may forget that they’ve recently eaten.

They may frequently ask or search for food. Also, they may be concerned about when their next meal will be. This leads them to eat more.

4: Changes in Mood Might Affect Food and Eating Preferences

It is not uncommon for people with dementia to suffer from co-existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

One way they find comfort is by eating more or indulging in foods that give them a sense of comfort, which are often sweet and over-indulging (2).

How to Help a Dementia Patient Eat Less?

how to help a dementia patient eat less
It can become problematic if a dementia patient eats too much.

It’s important to ensure they’re consuming nutritious food to stay healthy and avoid becoming overweight.

Some patients may refuse help when eating, and they also might not be able to adequately express this.

It’s better not to pressurize a dementia patient to eat or drink when they’re anxious.

Some ways to cater to changing eating habits in dementia patients are as follows:

1. Accept unusual food combinations: Strange mixing of food isn’t likely to cause patient harm, especially if the food is healthy and in appropriate portions. It’s better to acknowledge rather than challenge this.

2. Satisfy sweet cravings for healthier alternatives: If a patient likes sweet foods, try incorporating fruit or naturally sweet vegetables such as carrots or sweet potato into their meals.

How to monitor what patients with dementia eat?

Solutions to monitoring what a dementia patient eats include:

  • Cutting food into bite-sized pieces: This assists the patient and makes eating easier, especially if they aren’t able to use utensils by themselves.
  • Eating in company: By enjoying a meal together with a loved one, a patient is more likely to eat the healthy meal you’ve served them.
  • Fortifying the prefrontal cortex: This controls a patient’s dietary self-restraint. Help by ensuring they avoid alcoholic beverages, sleep sufficiently, and exercise if they’re able to.
  • Including plenty of protein: As far as possible, incorporate eggs, milk-based pudding, or protein powder in the patient’s meal.
  • Puréeing their vegetables: Patients are more likely to consume softer vegetables.

dementia patient is overeating

If a dementia patient is overeating and you’d like to help them to eat less, try the following approaches:

  • Generously serve salad and vegetables: Carbohydrates and starch should take up less than half of a plate.
  • Halve the original portion: Start by halving the patient’s original portion. Only offer them the second half should the patient request more food.
  • Keep them occupied: A patient will feel less bored or lonely if they have something to do and keep busy.
  • Offer healthy snacks: Make bite-sized cut pieces of fruit or other healthy nibbles easily accessible.
  • Replace a second helping with a drink: Rather than offering the patient more food, give them a “treat” drink such as hot chocolate or a milkshake.

Guidance for Good Nutrition

guidance for good nutrition
To ensure a dementia patient is eating correctly, a balanced diet including various foods is key.

Meals should contain fruit, lean protein foods, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and whole grains.

It is recommended to serve small portions of high saturated fat and cholesterol in a meal.

While some fats are healthy, it’s best to use butter, fatty meat cutes, lard, and solid shortening sparingly.

Also, high-sodium foods should be restricted. Replace salt with herbs or spices instead to flavor meals.

To reduce refined sugars, avoid serving processed foods. Baked goods made with fruit or sweetened with fruit juice are better alternatives.

Honey is also an optional sweetener.


Although some dementia patients tend to overeat, it is possible to better monitor what they consume and how often they do so.

If a patient has a particularly strong preference for foods that aren’t healthy which leads to insufficient consumption of other food groups, it is advised to consult with a dietitian.

Professional assistance with an eating plan will ensure good health with nutritious food and avoid excess weight gain.


1. Kyoko Kai, et al. Relationship between Eating Disturbance and Dementia Severity in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8): e0133666.
2. Chia-Chi Chang, et al. Prevalence and factors associated with food intake difficulties among residents with dementia. PLoS One. 2017; 12(2): e0171770.

Dementia And Spicy Foods: Are They Related?

dementia and spicy foods

With the progression of dementia, taste buds weaken, making patients develop strange food cravings, even for extremely spicy foods. But is dementia and spicy foods linked increasing dementia risk?

Are Dementia And Spicy Foods Linked?

The prevalence of dementia is on the rise and numbers are expected to double every 20 years.

It appears when your brain suffers from neurological problems leading to loss of memory and poor judgment.

The decline in memory deteriorates the quality of life in the elderly and, in the long term, reduces cognitive function.

The effects of dementia, and problems happening concurrently with it, are extensive. Moreover, they do not affect the brain only.

Scientists have observed significant alterations in dietary behaviors of people suffering from dementia.

These range from the changes in appetite to unusual food cravings.

How Does Dementia Affect Eating Habits?

how does dementia affect eating habits
Dementia leads to various metabolic and psychological changes in the body. These, coupled with the weakened taste buds, change dietary preferences.

During a research study conducted by the Medical research council, the caregivers of dementia sufferers pointed out a preference for foods that are strong and savory in flavor.

Some of the eating patterns in people with dementia are:

  • Over-eating
  • Binge-eating
  • Decreased appetite
  • Changes in food choices
  • Pica (craving for inappropriate foods)
  • Pica (craving for non-food items e.g. mud)
  • High consumption of sugary and spicy foods

Do People With Dementia Crave Spicy Foods?

do-people with dementia crave spicy foods
The unusual food cravings vary from person to person. Some people crave sweet foods while others incline towards spicy or salty foods.

The reason why the elderly with dementia crave spicy foods are as follows:

1. Dementia Weakens The Taste Buds

The craving is due to the disappearance of taste buds with the progression of the disease.

Humans can identify salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami taste.

However, dementia sufferers lose this ability with time. Dementia makes them unable to identify a particular taste as well as differentiate between two different flavors.

This is due to the loss of nerve endings in the tongue.

Since dementia appears with morbid brain conditions, it diminishes the neurological sense responsible for taste.

The elderly cannot feel the tanginess of food so, they ask for a stronger flavor. The same is true for salty foods.

2. Capsaicin Releases Endorphins

Ever wonder why spicy food burns tongue? It is due to the active ingredient present in chili, called capsaicin.

Capsaicin instigates pain receptors in the mouth and tongue, causing a burning sensation.

Due to the activation of these receptors, the brain translates it as a painful experience and floods the body with endorphins.

These are responsible for elevating mood and reducing the painful sensation.

Additionally, dopamine is released which is involved in the reward system of the brain. The result is a euphoric state called “runner’s high”.

Since such neurotransmitters are low in quantity in dementia patients, the body creates a compensatory mechanism.

It generates cravings for foods that cause endorphins to rush.

Is There Any Cultural Relation To Cravings of Spicy Foods?

is dementia and spicy foods linked
Food choices vary immensely throughout the world.

This is also true for the condiments used to prepare local cuisine.

Predictably, the taste buds of natives of each region are adapted to the flavors of their local food seasonings.

Asians consume far more chili and spicy herbs in their meals as compared to westerns.

Therefore, experts think dementia sufferers from the Asian region are more likely to indulge in binge-eating spicy foods.

In such regions, the population develops a habit of using strong spices.

So, they misunderstand their lack of sense of taste in dementia as a bland and flavorless meal.

This results in an excessive intake of chili among the old age population.

Although it is more prominent in areas where spicy cuisine is widespread, westerns are also prone to such cravings.

Their chili usage is minimal but hot sauces and other herbs are still popular in Caucasians and western ethnicities. The proportion may be far lesser but they often enjoy pickles and jalapenos.

A study done in the UK showed that 15% of participants reported a likeness for spicy foods frequently after the onset of dementia.

Do Spicy Foods Increase The Incidence Of Dementia?

do spicy foods increase the incidence of dementia
High spicy food intake may not be as harmful as excessive use of sweets, but it has a deeper relationship with the cause.

Scientists think that chili consumption is linked with an increased risk of dementia.

In Asia, chili is the most frequently used spice. In some regions of China, one in every three adults consumes chili daily.

It has many beneficial impacts on obesity and hypertension due to the presence of capsaicin in it. But there is more to the story.

Considering these properties, capsaicin should reduce the oxidative burden of the brain and enhance cognitive function but evidence proves the opposite.

People who consume more than 50g of chili per day experience a reduction in cognitive function.

The findings also suggested:

  • Twice the risk of self-reported poor memory
  • 56% increase in the incidence of memory decline
  • The low global cognitive score for cognitive function
  • A decline in memory co-efficient with each 10g increase in chili intake
  • Both males and females are equally vulnerable
  • Less marked in overweight individuals
  • Those with normal or low BMI are more prone to dementia due to chili

Apart from these, spicy foods can upset the stomach and lead to long-term gastrointestinal problems.

Considering these findings, it is essential to cut back spicy food consumption in seniors in order to slow the progression of dementia.

How to Manage Spicy Food Cravings in Dementia?

how to manage spicy food cravings in dementia
1. Salty foods can replace spicy foods but they should be used with care as they increase the risk of hypertension in the elderly.

2. The senses of smell and taste are intertwined. So, preparing food with seasoning that can create a delicious aroma helps in managing cravings of spicy food without actually having a spicy meal.

3. Spices, other than chili, and herbs should be incorporated to increase the flavor of the meal.

4. Some naturally occurring spicy foods like jalapenos and pickles used as a seasoning.


The sense of taste diminishes and endorphin production reduces with the progression of dementia.

To overcome these troubles, the elderly often crave spicy foods. They can cause an upset stomach and even worsen dementia with time.

The decline in memory function due to chili is higher in the underweight population. To reduce this possibility, chili should be replaced with better spices and herbs.

Salty meals can be used in a controlled amount but some naturally occurring spicy products like jalapenos and pickles are better substitutes.

Why Do Dementia Patients Stop Eating?

why do dementia patients stop eating

There are multiple reasons why do dementia patients stop eating and it is important to understand why they may start to avoid food.

Dementia patients might refuse to eat if they either dislike the food or are trying to tell you their meal is too hot or too cold.

They may not even know that they should chew and swallow it.

Patients diagnosed with dementia will experience a decline in their memory as well as problem-solving and other thinking-related skills.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia and as many as 50 percent of these individuals find it difficult to eat at some point during their disease (1).

It becomes increasingly difficult for affected patients to perform normal daily activities. For this and other reasons, patients with dementia will spit out their food or stop eating entirely.

What Causes A Dementia Patient To Stop Eating? – 4 Factors to Consider

what causes a dementia patient to stop eating
The global statistics for dementia are mind-boggling. As of 2017, the total number of people with dementia was estimated to be 50 million.

This number is expected to rise to 75 million by 2030. Furthermore, in the US alone, one in three elderly people dies from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

These increasing numbers of cases bring with them increasing challenges.

Feeding such patients is indeed one of the biggest challenges.

Poor nutrition increases the risk of dehydration, muscle loss, higher chances of infection, a decline in the overall well-being, and even death (4).

In the seven stages of Alzheimer’s a patient moves from their dementia being barely detectable to an extremely severe, steady, and visible decline (5).

It’s not abnormal for Alzheimer’s patients to stop eating or drinking in the later stages of their diagnosis.

Approximately 50 percent of diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients won’t eat enough food or drink sufficient fluids (1). The resulting weight loss develops into a larger problem as their disease progresses.

As per research, following are the four main reasons dementia patients stop eating and drinking as their disease progresses.

1. Dementia Affects Brain Areas Associated With Swallowing

dementia affects brain areas associated with swallowing
Inability to swallow food is termed as dysphagia. The prevalence of dysphagia among elderly can be as high as 40 percent. This percentage is even higher among people with dementia (6).

But why is that?

Different types of dementia eventually lead to the shrinkage of the parts of the brain that coordinate swallowing. Consequently, the patients find it extremely hard to swallow as their disease progresses.

2. They are Unable to Communicate Their Hunger Effectively

why do dementia patients stop eating
Dementia patients may also not be able to effectively communicate their hunger or the fact that they don’t like the food they’re eating.

3. Their Interest Changes and They Might Forget What They Used to Like

their interest changes and they might forget what they used to like
Also, a patient’s appetite and interest in food could change. They may not taste food or experience flavor as they did before (7).

As people age, their taste buds diminish. It’s common for dementia patients to prefer eating heavy or flavor-filled foods, such as sugary sweets for snacks.

4. Their Eating Habits Might be Affected By Physical and Mental Well-Being

their-eating-habits-might-be-affected by physical and mental well being
On top of the above, dementia patients could refuse to eat because they feel constipated, depressed, lonely, lethargic, or sore.

Appetite loss could also be a possible side effect of medication (7).

How to Help a Dementia Patient Eat?

how to help a dementia patient eat
If a dementia patient refuses to eat, it’s important to ensure they’re well hydrated. Dehydration is a cause of appetite loss. It’s also possible for elderly patients not to be sufficiently hydrated.

Because of this, they become dehydrated quicker and easier because of their age, body changes, or medication they’re taking.

Drinking water might be too plain and met with resistance. It’s useful to offer patients a soft, liquid meal such as cereal or soup instead.

Taking a look at the patient’s mouth will also reveal any redness or swelling that could cause a lack of interest in eating. A dental appointment could help to address any such concerns.

Some ways to encourage a dementia patient’s appetite include:

Setting up a daily meal routine

setting up a daily meal routine
This assists the patient’s body with feeling more ready to eat at fixed times.

Offering the patient their favorite food

They may be more likely to eat something familiar that they recognize and love.

Giving the patient a choice of food

Using prompts or pictures may help patients show you what they’d like to eat or drink.

Making their food look, smell and taste as tempting as possible

Patients are more likely to show interest in food that catches their attention.

Involving the patient in meal preparation

involving the patient in meal preparation
A patient may be more willing to eat if they’ve helped prepare the food.

Trying various types and textures of food or drinks

Milkshakes, smoothies, jelly, naturally soft foods, and puréed vegetables are all easier to chew & swallow.

What Happens in The Last Stage of Dementia?

what happens in the last stage of dementia
A patient could spend between approximately one and three years in the last severe stage of Alzheimer’s. Approximately 1.8 million US adults are in the final stages of dementia at the time of writing.

As the disease progresses, a patient can do less. They become increasingly dependent on others for assistance.

Eating and swallowing become more difficult during this stage. Sometimes patients won’t eat because they aren’t hungry or they’re simply confused.

Around the clock hospice care is usually administered to such patients.

How Long Can A Dementia Patient Live Without Eating?

how long can a dementia patient live without eating
When a dementia patient is no longer consuming fluids, and particularly if they’re bedridden, they may only live between a few days or at most a few short weeks.

Generally, when a patient is in the dying process they lose their appetite and sense of thirst.

While people can generally survive longer without eating than they would without drinking, a bedridden patient who’s not consuming sufficient food or drink in this last stage is unlikely to survive.

Are There Any Exceptions?

why do dementia patients stop eating and lose appetite
While some dementia patients eat too little, others overeat. Some dementia patients may eat too much food at a time or consume meals too often.

Patients suffering from behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia are more prone to overeating.

It’s also possible for patients to demonstrate excessive eating and other related eating behavioral changes because of changes in their dietary preferences.

They may even be obsessed with certain foods.


While many dementia patients do stop eating as their condition worsens, it’s possible to attempt to make their mealtimes more enjoyable.

Such patients may be more inclined to eat and drink if their mealtime is accompanied by activity and social stimulation.

By having some nostalgic conversations over a plate of food they may also be more inspired to eat or drink, and in turn, stay well-nourished and hydrated.


1. Chia-Chi Chang, et al. Prevalence and factors associated with food intake difficulties among residents with dementia. PLoS One. 2017; 12(2): e0171770.
4. Jansen S, Ball L, Desbrow B, Morgan K, Moyle W, Hughes R. Nutrition and dementia care: Informing dietetic practice. Nutr Diet. 2015;72(1):36–46.
5. Craig J. Thalhauser, et al. Alzheimer’s disease: rapid and slow progression. J R Soc Interface. 2012 Jan 7; 9(66): 119–126.
6. Livia Sura, et al. Dysphagia in the elderly: management and nutritional considerations. Clin Interv Aging. 2012; 7: 287–298.
7. Suski NS, et al. Factors affecting food intake of women with Alzheimer’s type dementia in long-term care. J Am Diet Assoc. 1989 Dec;89(12):1770-3.

Walnuts and Dementia – Beneficial Effects

walnuts and dementia

For years, researchers have been investigating the link between the benefits of consuming walnuts and dementia lowered risk or treatment.

This is in a bid to identify foods or snacks that can either help prevent the development or progression of the illness. Professionals have been collecting data indicating that eating walnuts reduces inflammation and oxidative stress that builds up in the human brain as individuals grow older.

Many believe that oxidative stress and inflammation that occurs throughout an individual’s lifetime causes aging.

As time goes by, human bodies lose the ability to clean up the mess that occurs on a cellular level.

The build-up that occurs in the brain is partially responsible for the cognitive decline that elderly persons experience.

The concept of walnuts and dementia was borrowed from Greeks who believed in the “Doctrine of Signatures.”

This implies that a specific food item affects the body part that it resembles. For instance, walnuts resemble the brain; hence, walnuts improve brain health according to the “Doctrine of Signatures.”

Benefits of consuming walnuts

benefits of consuming walnuts
There are several reasons researchers consider the consumption of walnuts beneficial to persons who have dementia or are at the risk of developing the illness.

1. Walnuts have several components that are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This helps to protect cells and fight off inflammation.

2. The nuts are a great source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. These are no strangers to helping boost brain health according numerous studies.

3. Walnuts contain healthy fats that do a great job at nurturing the body’s cardiovascular and nervous system. Studies show that omega 3 fatty acids present in the nuts can improve things like blood pressure, abnormal heartbeats, and triglyceride levels.

4. English walnuts contain phytochemicals that include numerous polyunsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for brain health.

5. Walnuts are rich in polyphenolic compounds that improve interneuronal signaling, reduce inflammatory and oxidant load on brain cells, and boost neurogenesis.

6. Walnuts contain huge amounts of PUFAs like LA and ALA that are known to boost brain function and health even when a person is aging.

7. The nuts have polyphenols that promote neuronal calcium homeostasis on the hippocampus and striatum regions of the brain. These are regions that are essential for secondary and primary memory functions.

8. Walnuts also contain melatonin a bioactive compound that is responsible for regulating circadian rhythms. A melatonin deficiency has been known to result in cognitive impairment and dementia.

Supplementation with walnuts can improve cognition

Both human and animal studies from various researchers propose that supplementation with walnuts in a person’s diet can improve cognition.

A diet that includes walnuts is said to have beneficial effects on learning, memory, anxiety, motor coordination, and locomotor activity. Human clinical trials also suggest that the consumption of walnuts is associated with improvement in memory and better cognitive performance.

Some experts through observational studies have confirmed that older people who eat walnuts tend to experience better brain function which can include better mental flexibility, faster processing speed, and improved memory.

Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease indicated that walnuts may be beneficial in reducing risk, delaying the onset and slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most common causes of dementia. Below, you can find some of the studies that investigated the link between walnuts and dementia.

Studies on walnuts and dementia connection

studies on walnuts and dementia connection

A Study Citing Walnut Enriched Diet May Improve Memory

A study conducted by the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities confirmed what many experts say about walnut consumption and dementia. The researchers gave mice an equivalent of 1/4 cup of walnuts daily.

The professionals then tested their subjects to mazes and experiments that tested their psychomotor skills, coordination, and learning ability. The researchers found that the group of mice that were eating walnuts performed way better than the mice that were not on the diet.

Abha Chauhan the lead researcher was on record saying that there was a follow-up study suggesting that walnut extract could protect the brain from a protein known as beta-amyloid. This is the protein that often appears in the brain of individuals who have Alzheimer’s.

This is one of the discoveries that might help professionals with the development of novel treatments that can help people who have Alzheimer’s.

A Study Explaining Walnuts May Slow Cognitive Decline in At-Risk Seniors

A study conducted by researchers in Spain and California concluded that eating walnuts may help slow cognitive decline in elderly persons who are at risk. The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explained that healthy seniors who consumed walnuts affected their cognitive function.

The study observed almost 640 free-living elders in California, Loma Linda, Spain, USA, Catalonia, and Barcelona. The test group ate walnuts every day for 2 years while the control group did not have any walnuts.

The principal investigator Joan Sabate MD, DrPH, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Lina University stated that this was one of the most-controlled and largest trials that have been conducted in regards to the effects of nuts on cognition.

He further explained that even though the study produced a minor result, there may be better outcomes if the study was conducted for longer periods. Based on the findings, Sabate said that the need for more research to find out the perks of including walnuts in a person’s diet is still necessary.

Worth noting is that the research team was one of the pioneers to uncover the lowering effects of cholesterol when eating walnuts. These findings were published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Additionally, researchers from Loma Linda University found that nut consumption relates to the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Closing Thoughts

Although numerous studies investigated walnuts and dementia, more research is still necessary.

The data collected through future research will ascertain whether or not the consumption of walnuts has a significant impact on brain function and health as people grow older.

Keep in mind that most studies confirm that the brain prefers the whole nut rather than the supplement.

You may be interested in reading more about the benefits of people with cognitive decline eating a variety of nuts and dementia.

Follow by Email