Nutrition for People With Alzheimer’s Disease


Adapted from: AFA Care Quarterly • SPRING 2015

By Layne Lieberman, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., an award winning, internationally recognized culinary nutritionist and author of “Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy.” 


Living with Alzheimer’s disease can make it difficult for individuals to get the nutrition they need. Symptoms of the disease may lead to lack of interest in eating, loss of taste and smell, difficulty swallowing or an inability to feed oneself. In addition, people with Alzheimer’s disease may forget whether or not they have eaten. Further, it is important to keep in mind that conditions such as diabetes and obesity are also risk factors for dementia.


• Consult a professional. Work with your loved one’s physician and a registered dietitian to address dietary concerns while being mindful of other elements of his or her care plan. The care team can help raise flags about foods that may interact with certain medications.

• Stick to the seasons and think locally. When possible, strive to purchase local, in-season and organic foods to ensure freshness and reduce the ingestion of synthetic chemicals, pesticides and added hormones.

• Think Variety, Think Color. The outside color of a fruit or vegetable can be a good indicator of its nutritional content.

• Go fish! Eat seafood twice a week. Choose varieties that are high in beneficial omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout. Buy from reputable sources to help conserve our oceans’ resources and ensure our seafood supply is safe and sustainable. Visit for a list of safe seafood.

• Grab a handful of nuts. Research published in the May 2012 issue of “Neurology” suggests that eating foods that contain fatty acids found in nuts may be associated with lower blood levels of a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease and memory issues. Strive for one serving of nuts per day. One serving equals 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 12 hazelnuts, 8 Brazil nuts, 15 pecan halves, 14 walnut halves or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Nuts are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, trace minerals, and healthy monounsaturated fats with good amounts of fatty acids similar to those found in seafood. When choosing nuts, go for dry-roasted or raw varieties.

• Steer clear of saturated fat and trans fat. A diet high in saturated fat and trans fat can clog arteries, restricting blood flow and impacting both heart and brain health. Instead, choose monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, safflower oil and canola oil, or foods like avocados.

• Shake the salt habit. Season food with pepper, dried and fresh herbs, lemon and other citrus juices. Check the nutrition labels on grocery products. On average, the ratio of calories to sodium should be one to one. Choose low-sodium varieties of packaged foods like soup and tomato sauce.

• You’re sweet enough! To avoid empty calories, cut back on refined sugars like table sugar and artificial sweeteners. Use small amounts of natural sweeteners like maple syrup. Otherwise use fruit purées, applesauce and dried fruits to replace sugars.

Click here to see the full article from: Alzheimer’s Foundation Of America Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2015