Following a healthy diet
Make healthy food choices! It not only improves your general health; in the long-term, nutritious food helps maintain your brain function and slows cognitive decline.
Your local Alzheimer Society can give you more activities and ideas to help you follow a healthy diet. Check out what programs and services are available near you.
Tips to follow a healthy diet
"I cook my own recipes; one of my favourites is a mince steak with stewed tomatoes and my very own spice mix." - Paul, from Toronto, Ontario. Paul lives with vascular dementia.
While there are no special food requirements for people living with dementia, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is still extremely beneficial for you. A healthy diet provides the fuel and nutrients that our bodies need to function efficiently, maintain general health and provide energy.
For people living with dementia like Paul, cooking is also a great way to challenge your brain, especially if you're following your own recipes! Here are a few ways you can follow a healthy diet (these tips can help people reduce their risk of getting dementia, too):
Try out the Mediterranean and the MIND diets
These diets recommend limiting processed foods, meat, sweets and dairy, Instead, they emphasize eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, olive oil and fish.
Enjoy a variety of foods in many different colours
- Blue and purple fruits and vegetables tend to be packed with anti-oxidants. Blackberries, blueberries, purple cabbage and plums are all great food choices.
- Go green every day with fruits and vegetables that are good for your brain and also benefit bones, teeth and vision. Green options include avocados, broccoli, celery, cucumbers, peas, spinach, pears, honeydew melon and many more.
- Choose white, tan and brown fruits and vegetables such as bananas, cauliflower, potatoes, turnips, onions and garlic.
- Add orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as grapefruit, cantaloupe, butternut squash, peaches, papaya, oranges, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers and lemons to your plate.
- Reach for reds every day. Beets, raspberries, red grapes, radishes, tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, rhubarb, pomegranates and cherries are just a few excellent red choices.
Find healthy ways to add flavour to your meals
A healthy diet can be tasty! Herbs, spices, nuts and olives are all healthy add-on options.
Be mindful of your eating habits
Choose appropriate portion sizes, eat healthy snacks and drink plenty of water – Canada's Food Guide recommends that you make water your drink of choice.
Plan meals in advance
By developing healthy eating patterns, you don't leave your diet to chance. There are meal planning apps and websites that can help you plan ahead, cook your own food and decide what recipes work best even if you have a busy schedule.
Hear more from Paul about how to live well with dementia. Read Paul's story.
Boost your brain by choosing healthy foods. Healthy food choices not only improve your general health, they are also beneficial to brain health. The following links provide healthy recipe ideas to incorporate as part of your healthy lifestyle.
TIP: For quick and easy recipes to prepare, try searching within each site using the key word “easy.”
To learn more about living well with dementia, you can download our Heads Up for Healthier Living brochure (print-friendly version), for people living with Alzheimer's disease and their families. Even if you have another type of dementia, the tips and strategies in this brochure can help you live well.
More useful links and resources
Heads up for healthier living. Alzheimer Society of Canada. This downloadable brochure can help people living with Alzheimer's disease and their families make lifestyle choices to stay healthy and live well with dementia. The tips and strategies in this brochure are applicable to people living with other types of dementia as well.
Brain health food guide: An evidence-based approach to healthy eating for the aging brain. Baycrest, 2017. This downloadable food guide provides more evidence-based tips for healthy eating, and was written in collaboration with nutritionists involved with the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA).
Canada's food guide. Government of Canada. Recently updated in 2019, Canada's food guide lists recommendations for healthy food choices, eating habits, recipes, tips and other resources.