“It's often said that what's good for the heart is for the brain and we see common features in the dietary patterns that have been studied for the impact on heart health and those that are showing promising results in supporting prevention and delaying the onset of dementia.”
- Dr. Allison Cammer, Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan.
On November 29th, we hosted a Community Conversation to discuss reducing the risks of dementia through nutrition and socialization.
Our panel of experts for this Conversation were Dr. Allison Cammer and Julie Beitel, who are registered dieticians and facilitators of the Cognitive Kitchen Program based in rural Saskatchewan. Allison Cammer is also an Assistant Professor in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, and has served on the Alzheimer Society Board of Directors since May 2020. She is the Chair of our Nominating Committee.
We discussed nutrition and socialization because these are modifiable risk that we are able to change through lifestyle choices. In fact, 40% of dementias are preventable through our actions.
“The presenters answered a good variety of questions and provided specific and helpful tips for people living with dementia.”
- Nutrition and Socialization Community Conversation Attendee
During the conversation, Allison and Julie explained a variety of different topics including:
- The impact that social gatherings have on our health.
- Recommended dietary patterns.
- The relationship between dementia and diabetes.
- The importance of eating together for people living with dementia.
- How changes as we age affect eating habits.
“I think whenever talking about sugar, I like to emphasize really whenever talking about nutrition in general, that nutrition is more about addition than subtraction. It's not about taking out the sugar from the things that we enjoy, but adding things that are going to support our health in a different way.”
- Julie Beitel, MSc Student
One of the best things we can do for our brain is engage socially with others. Julie explained the benefits of engaging with others due to the continued use of cognitive skills involved in socializing. She stated we use our memory to make connections and bond over similar experiences and we're often teaching or learning from others when we gather. These bonds sometimes lead to benefits from positive emotions involved in in that experience of accomplishment and connection.
“Social interactions can support our health and risk reduction as well is that having these supportive relationships can help us process difficult or stressful situations, reducing that impact of chronic stress that has that well documented negative impact on overall health.”
- Julie Beitel, MSc Student
Dr. Cammer expanded on what dietary patterns are best for our health, including a lower saturated fat intake, having whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil and using variety of herbs and spices instead of salt. She also suggested having fish and seafood a couple times a week, poultry and dairy in moderation, and having more heavily processed meats and high in saturated fat meets less frequently.
“Within any kind of diet, you really want to start thinking about what are the health promoting foods that fit under this dietary pattern that I'm going to try and how do I emphasize the different health promoting nutrients within this?”
- Dr. Allison Cammer
Allison and Julie also discussed their Cognitive Kitchen Program -- a Saskatchewan-based cooking and education initiative aimed at promoting dementia risk by encouraging home cooking and gathering with others. The Program offers the science of nutrition risk reduction and education in a fun environment where participants feel supported.
For more information, we invite you to visit our previous blog on the Cognitive Kitchen project: https://alzheimer.ca/sk/en/whats-happening/news/recipe-fun
If you are a care partner of someone living with dementia and are interested in participating in an upcoming Cognitive Kitchen session, care partner-specific offerings are being prioritized in the new year. To best accommodate your scheduling preferences, the coordinator has included a section in the linked intake survey where you can indicate your preferred session time(s).
Here is a direct link to the intake survey if you’re interested in joining the Cognitive Kitchen: https://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/cognitivekitchenintake
If you are 55 or over and are interested in the general risk reduction-focused stream, you are also invited to complete the intake survey at your earliest convenience. Priority is given to those living in rural Saskatchewan and in-person sessions will only be offered in communities within a 150 km radius of Yorkton, SK.
Several virtual programs will be scheduled from January-July and in-person offerings will resume in the spring. The Cognitive Kitchen coordinator will get in contact with you when a program is scheduled that may be suitable for your indicated preferences.
Here is a link to the Dementia Supports in Rural Saskatchewan page on the CK for more information: https://www.ruraldementiask.ca/?page_id=2769
Community Conversations give our community a chance to engage with a panel of experts and ask questions on different topics related to dementia, such as dementia friendly community initiatives and ways you can live well and reduce your risks of dementia.
If you would like more information about dementia friendly communities and reducing your risk of dementia, please visit our website https://alzheimer.ca/sk/en/take-action/public-awareness/reducing-your-risk-dementia or contact Erica Zarazun at [email protected]
Please call our Dementia Helpline (Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm) if you have questions about dementia and/or would like to connect with our community of support at 1-877-949-4141.
Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging Brain Health Food Guide: