7 Dementia Diet Principles

By Shari Darling

This day was like no other. My husband Jack, a former Commander of the Navy SEALs (Ret.), was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We left his neurologist’s office and went to a restaurant for an early dinner. We were quiet. Sitting across from Jack, I looked into his eyes but could not read what he was thinking. My hands were shaking. I finally muttered, “So what do you think of this diagnosis?” With his quiet and assured confidence, he replied, “You really don’t know who you are until you take on something much greater than yourself.” Jack was ready to take on what some might say was the greatest war of his life.

Watching my husband decline before my eyes felt bittersweet, filling my heart with deep grief and also immense love. Learning of his diagnosis was frightening. Since then, I’ve learned that dementia is a world-wide epidemic. In 2010, 35.6 million people were living with dementia. This statistic will double by 2030 and triple by 2050. There are likely as many caregivers as patients, and dementia is severely taxing our health care systems. The impact on all of us is huge.

Jack’s neurologist immediately put him on dementia medication, which halted the decline. I was grateful. But the drug did not alter his existing late-stage moderate symptoms. Jack had already lost the ability to bend his knees to sit, and would fall backwards into the TV chair.  He had broken two chairs. Carrying the garbage bag to the curb proved awkward and too heavy for him. He hunched over and shuffled, rather than walking upright. He talked to himself while wide awake. 

As a food and wine journalist and author, I am well aware that diet is the source of our health. I researched all the current dementia-related dietary plans. They appeared sound and scientifically proven, but ventured too far from our existing eating habits. My SEAL was no rabbit. Experimenting with our diet and through research, we put together the 7 Dementia Diet Principles and both implemented them into our lives. I also found an amazing functional medicine doctor (www.drlevy.ca) who designed a brain-focused vitamin and supplement regime for Jack. 

Are all cognitive and functional symptoms a result of dementia? Or are some symptoms a result of a nutritionally deficient brain that also happens to be cognitively impaired? What we do know is that the Dementia Diet nourishes the brain, mind, body, and spirit, and incorporates 7 easy principles.  

  1. Supplement one’s diet with a physician-monitored vitamin/supplement regime.
  2. Drastically lower carbohydrate and sugar intake, both natural and refined.
  3. Be gluten and wheat-free.
  4. Balance one’s diet with low glycemic fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  5. Eliminate unhealthy fats and eat healthy fats.
  6. Eat organic and sustainable and, when possible, grass-fed animal proteins in moderation and occasionally. Eating organic, grass-fed dairy on occasion is okay, but fermented is best.
  7. Eat brain foods and spices.

I can confidently state that through the elimination of a few bad habits, the implementation of the Dementia Diet, and under an individualized vitamin regime designed by his doctor, Jack went from 230 pounds to 180 pounds. He no longer snores nor uses a sleep apnea machine. Jack can sit down in a chair – while holding a tray of hot soup. He carries the garbage to the curb every Tuesday morning, and not only walks upright, but sometimes even dances! Many other symptoms have reversed. Jack is back. He’s funny, intense, annoying and overall…my Jack. I have come to refer to the reversal of dementia symptoms as nothing short of “everyday mini-miracles.” 

Shari Finished PhotoShari Darling is The Sophisticated Wino, an international award-winning and best-selling author, speaker, columnist, TV and Radio Host, educator and wine judge.

Click here for more on the just-released “Dementia Diet: Everyday Mini Miracles”.


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