While no special diet is required for people with Alzheimer’s disease—unless they have another condition, such as diabetes or hypertension or high cholesterol, that requires diet monitoring—eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is extremely beneficial. With the proper diet, your body will work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy, and your medications will work properly.
This article addresses the basics of good nutrition. Please consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.
- Eat a variety of foods from each food category.
- Maintain your weight through a proper balance of exercise and food.
- Avoid fried foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Try to limit sugars.
- Moderate your use of salt.
- Drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
- You may drink alcoholic beverages in moderation (consult your physician).
- Create a diet with foods high in antioxidant content.
Ask your doctor about possible food interactions with the medicines you may be taking.
- Eat foods high in fiber. Good sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber and water help the colon pass stool. Most of the fiber in fruits is found in the skins. Fruits with seeds you can eat, like strawberries, have the most fiber.
- Eat bran cereal or add bran cereal to other foods, like soup and yogurt. Bran is a great source of fiber.
- Drink eight 8 oz. cups of water and other fluids a day.
- Move your bowels when you feel the urge.
Tips to relieve constipation
- Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Eat prunes and/or bran cereal.
- If needed, use a very mild stool softener or laxative. Do not use mineral oil or any other laxatives for more than two weeks without calling your health care provider.
- Minimize distractions in the area where you eat.
- Stay focused on the tasks of eating and drinking.
- Do not talk with food in your mouth.
Amount and rate
- Eat slowly.
- Cut your food into small pieces and chew it thoroughly.
- Do not try to eat more than 1/2 teaspoon of your food at a time.
Thirst often diminishes with age. In addition, some medicines may dehydrate the body.
The following tips can help you deal with thirst and dry mouth:
- Drink 8 or more cups of liquid each day, 10 or more cups if you are feverish.
- Dunk or moisten breads, toast, cookies, or crackers in milk, hot chocolate, or coffee to soften them.
- Take a drink after each bite of food to moisten your mouth and to help you swallow.
- Add sauces to foods to make them softer and moister. Try gravy, broth, sauce, or melted butter.
- Eat sour candy or fruit ice to help increase saliva and moisten your mouth.
- Don’t use a commercial mouthwash. Commercial mouthwashes often contain alcohol that can dry your mouth. Ask your doctor or dentist about alternative mouthwash products.
- Ask your doctor about artificial saliva products. These products are available by prescription.
Maintaining your weight
Malnutrition and weight maintenance is often an issue for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Try these steps to make sure you are getting proper nutrition:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating five to six times a day may be more easily tolerated than eating the same amount of food in three meals.
- Take a daily vitamin/mineral supplement.
- Liquid diet supplements may be helpful.