Oct 09, 2017

Dementia Myths: Can These Foods Help Me?

Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, and with around 200 people each day developing dementia symptoms, people are always trying to find new ways to lower the chances of themselves or a loved one from developing the condition.  

Much like health fads, there’s always a new story about what is and isn’t good for you when it comes to dementia.

To be clear, there isn’t a cure for dementia – and there is nothing you can eat or consume, as of right now, that will completely reverse dementia symptoms. But what about reducing the risk of developing dementia in the future? 

Here are some of the most common “tips” that have been reported – and we’re going to differentiate the fact from the fiction of every one of them.


Though turmeric has been used for centuries in South-East Asian cuisines, it’s appeared more recently as one of the biggest new trends in the “superfood” market because of it’s high content of curcumin.  

The benefits of turmeric and curcumin apparently include powerful medicinal properties, such as being anti inflammatory, anti oxidising and preventing cancer.

But what about dementia?

It’s believed that inflammation may play a role in causing dementia, and with turmeric having benefits that prevent inflammation – the logic is that turmeric, by effect, may stop the progression of dementia.

However, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, the effects of curcumin have also only been seen in laboratory setting, and not in people with Alzheimer’s.

Coconut Oil

There are many health benefits to having coconut oil – it’s been reported to help a person have healthy skin, hair and weight loss.

And for the brain, it’s been suggested that coconut oil could act as an energy source to help prevent brain cells from dying.

There was even a research conducted by Dr. Newport which stated that the oil is useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

However, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, there isn’t any scientific research or evidence to suggest that coconut oil could benefit people with dementia or prevent them from developing symptoms.

There would need to be more clinical trials with people who do have Alzheimer’s disease to better understand if there was there was any benefits to coconut oil.

Whether turmeric can slow down or even reverse the progression of dementia is still yet to be determined, and required more scientific evidence.


This may be a strange one, because most health outlets will suggest that to prevent any ill health, a person should reduce the amount of alcohol they consume.

And yet there is the occasional story saying that drinking a certain amount of alcohol can protect a person from the risk of dementia.

The claim is that people who ever over 75 ”who drank two to three drinks a day decreased their risk of dementia by as much as 60% percent compared to those who abstained”.

However, as the Alzheimer’s Society points out, this research can often be skewed by the previous drinking habits of the test subjects – some of the non-drinkers had never had a drink while others were people who were giving up on drinking.

And those “quitting” drinkers might have already accumulated damage to and skewed results to seem as if non-drinkers are at a higher risk. By this logic, research like this could be scientifically sound.

However, it should be noted that heavy drinking over a long period of time can lead to brain damage, which in turn, increases the risk of dementia.

Cannabis (Or Marijuana)

This suggestion is especially controversial as the legality of marijuana is different from place to place. In Australia, medicinal cannabis is legal with changes in legislation made earlier this year.

Traditionally used to help with symptoms from cancer treatment and chronic pain, could cannabis be used medically for the dementia?

A preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that very small doses of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, could slow the production of proteins that are found in the brain of those of who have Alzheimer’s disease.

And there is even suggestion that cannabis could help to manage some of the behavioural symptoms of dementia.

However, the Alzheimer’s Society says that there needs to be more conclusive evidence to show is cannabis could be medically used for dementia.

Scientific research has come a long way in the past few years, and it can be challenging to know which to true and which may not be accurate.

Like any health advice, it’s best to consult with a professional than to take the value of a random article you read online.

What has be suggested and the most tried and true, is living an overall health lifestyle, with a balance of healthy eating, exercise, alcohol in moderation and no smokin.  

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