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Diet and Dementia Risk

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of all Australians and provisional data is showing that dementia will likely soon be the leading cause of death. In 2023, it is estimated there are more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to more than 800,000 by 2058 (1).

Diet is one factor researchers are investigating for its role in reducing the risk of dementia and for the assistance a healthy diet may provide to people who have dementia. Which dietary factors might affect dementia risk?

Research has found several dietary factors to be associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia. These include (2):

  • Lower intake of saturated and trans fats

  • Higher intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

  • Higher intake of omega-3 fats

  • Higher intake of some antioxidants and vitamins

  • Higher intake of vegetables and fruits

  • Moderate consumption of alcohol (with caution – too much alcohol poses a significant health risk)

Here are our Top 10 Dietary tips to boost brain function:

  1. Eat oily fish at least 3 times per week (e.g. salmon, trout, tuna, sardines)

  2. Snack on 30g nuts (ideally walnuts) daily

  3. Use 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil daily

  4. Eat 2-3 serves of fruit (great choices include blueberries, prunes, cherries) daily

  5. Eat dark leafy vegetables daily (e.g. spinach, kale, rocket, chicory, silverbeet)

  6. Include legumes (e.g. lentils, kidney beans) in at least 3 meals per week

  7. Ensure all carbohydrates eaten are wholegrain/unprocessed varieties

  8. Limit sweets (cake/biscuits/pastries/chocolate) to once/week

  9. Avoid sugary drinks

  10. Keep alcohol intake to a maximum of 1 small glass of wine per day

Following these tips will reduce inflammation, provide protective antioxidants as well as key nutrients to nourish the brain.

Don't hesitate to make an appointment to see our dietitian Malindi Greenwood, if you would like further information and a more individualised approach.

1 Dementia Australia 2020. What you eat and drink and your brain.

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Dementia in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 20 January 2023.

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