Many people with Diabetes have asked me how they may lower their chance of developing dementia and depression. The reason for an increased incidence of dementia in people with diabetes is not clear but it may be linked to the vascular complications caused by diabetes or problems with insulin signaling in the brain. A Medscape review noted that unhealthy diets may increase the risk for a number of psychiatric and neurological conditions including dementia and depression and a healthy diet may be protective. I would like to include some dietary recommendations from medscape which are appropriate for people with diabetes and may help protect brain function.
1) The Mediterranean diet which is high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and unsaturated fat such as olive and other plant oils is believed to lower the incidence of both stroke and depression.
2) Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables as well as monounsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts lowers the risk of depression. Trans fats which are found in processed foods, commercial chocolates may increase the risk of ischemic strokes. A deficiency of polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to ADHD in children.
3) Fish, which used to be called a brain food is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenonic acid which are believed to improve symptoms of with depression. The highest levels are in salmon, herring, and mackerel.
4) Dark berries and other darkly pigmented fruit and vegetables contain anthocyanins which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These foods may also reduce cardiovascular disease.
5) Red meat from pasture-raised animals has a much healthier fatty acid profile than meat from cows raised on industrial feedlots which have a higher percentage of saturated fats and a lower percentage of good fatty acids.
6) Consumption of very dark chocolate in small amounts (about 6 grams per day) may decrease the incidence of cardiovascular events because of flavanols which improve endothelial and platelet function.
7) Foods which contain high-fat dairy, and food that is fried, refined, as well as food with high sugar content may increase the risk of depression Foods high in salt may increase blood pressure and strokes in addition to the foods that are high in trans or saturated fat.
The foods recommended to be consumed and avoided by everybody can be worked into a diabetic meal plan. The berries do have fructose which may raise the sugar and people with diabetes will need to take this into account when they count carbohydrates in order to be compliant with their prescribed diabetic meal plan. Good control of blood sugar is a crucial element when considering your diabetes meal plan, and you should follow the recommendations from your health care provider in terms of the amount of carbohydrates allowed per meal and continue to use the glycemic index and glycemic load of all the foods you consume in planning your menu. See which of these recommendations are practical for you and please consult with your health care provider before changing your diet. Please let us know if you have any tips or any recipes that utilize the foods that are beneficial to your health.
Sybil Kramer MD
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