Alzheimer's Disease: Nutrition
While there is no special diet required for people with Alzheimer's disease -- unless they have another condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes that may require a particular diet -- eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is extremely beneficial. This article addresses the basics of good nutrition and the challenges faced by a person with Alzheimer's disease.
- Eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods from each food group.
- Maintain a healthy weight with a good balance of exercise and food.
- Limit foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Cut down on sugars.
- Limit foods with high sodium and use less salt.
- Stay hydrated (some people may have fluid restrictions due to another medical condition, such as heart failure or liver cirrhosis).
Ask your health care provider if any foods or drinks can interfere with the medicines you're taking.
Check to see if any medicines you are taking are affecting your appetite, bowel movements, or other side effects that can affect your nutrition. Your health care provider may be able to make adjustments to your medication regimen or recommend alternatives to alleviate side effects.
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are great sources of fiber, which can help curb constipation.
- Drink enough water or other fluids.
- Stay physically active.
Relieving Dry Mouth
With Alzheimer's, the body's signal for thirst may be diminished. In addition, some medications can be drying. Besides drinking water, other ways to relieve dry mouth or increase fluids include
- Dunk breads, toast, cookies, or crackers in milk, hot chocolate, or tea to soften them.
- Take a drink after each bite of food to moisten your mouth and to help you swallow.
- Add broth or sauces to foods to make them softer and moister.
- Eat sour candy or fruit ice to help increase saliva and moisten your mouth.
Maintaining Your Weight
Malnutrition and weight maintenance are often issues for those with Alzheimer's disease. Poor nutrition related to Alzheimer's may be related to different reasons, such as a diminished sense of hunger and thirst, problems eating or swallowing, problems using utensils or inability to self-feed, poor food choices, and depression.