Top Foods that Raise Dementia Risk

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Many foods are nutritious and recommended because they boost physical and mental health. However, there are foods and food additives that increase the risk of dementia. Older adults can protect their cognitive function by limiting or avoiding the following foods. 


The beer-making process often involves adding ingredients that contain nitrosamines, which include nitrates and nitrites. These compounds have been shown to pass through the blood-brain barrier and cause DNA damage, which eventually damages brain cells. Older adults are better off enjoying a glass of red wine.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Fair Oaks seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Fried Foods

Foods are exposed to extremely high temperatures during the frying process, which creates chemical compounds known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The compounds combine with fats and proteins to accelerate cell aging and cause harmful inflammation. AGEs have also been associated with the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins. Along with fried foods, seniors should resist exposing meats to high temperatures and overcooking when frying or BBQ grilling. 


For a long time, margarine was considered a better alternative to butter. However, it contains a chemical additive known as diacetyl, which has been shown to encourage amyloid-beta protein adhesion and clumping. Margarine also contains trans fats, which are known to increase LDL cholesterol levels that contribute to plaque formation. Healthier alternatives include mashed avocado, olive oil, and nut butter.

Seniors who need help preparing nutrient-dense meals should consider professional in-home care. Senior home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Microwave Popcorn

The microwave variety of popcorn also contains diacetyl, the preservative mentioned above in the discussion of margarine. 

Processed Meats

Bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and ham all contain nitrosamines. The foods also typically contain high amounts of fat and sodium, which raise LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, affecting the cardiovascular system. Processed meats interfere with normal blood flow to the brain by constricting blood vessels or possibly causing plaque formation. 

Processed Cheese

Similar to processed meats, American cheese, canned cheese spreads, and mozzarella sticks all contain nitrosamines. 

Red Meat

Red meat provides an abundance of iron, which the body needs to prevent anemia. However, when consumed in large quantities for an extended time, too much iron enters the body and accumulates in the gray area of the brain. Seniors should limit their red meat intake to once or twice a week. They must also choose high-quality meats such as grass-fed beef. 

Refined Carbohydrates & Sugar

Diets containing a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar cause inflammation, which damages delicate brain cells. Carbohydrates and sugars also raise the amount of glucose and insulin in the blood. Over time, cells may become insulin resistant and prevent glucose from providing the brain with nutritional benefits. High levels of insulin circulating in the bloodstream without the ability to enter cells causes blood vessel damage, which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. Foods to avoid include bread, cake, pasta, white rice, and white sugar. 

Sweet Beverages

Fruit juices and sodas contain large quantities of sugar that cause internal inflammation, eventually leading to cell damage. 

Eliminating unhealthy foods from their diets is one of the best lifestyle choices older adults can make. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care. Fair Oaks Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (916) 485-4663 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.


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