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Alzheimer’s disease and nutrition

Although people with Alzheimer's disease don't need to follow a special diet, following a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet can help maintain overall health.

Good nutrition can also help to protect against infections and other conditions. Here are some tips for good nutrition with Alzheimer's disease:

The basics

  • Eat a variety of foods from each food category.
  • Maintain your weight through a correct balance of exercise and food.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat.
  • Try to limit sugars.
  • Moderate your use of salt.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day - unless you are fluid restricted due to another medical condition, such as congestive heart failure.
  • You may have alcoholic drinks in moderation - but always consult your doctor for advice.

Medication

Ask your doctor if any foods can interfere with the medications you're taking.

Preventing constipation

  • Eat foods high in fibre. Good sources of fibre are fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread. Fibre and water help the colon pass stool and help to keep the bowels working properly. Most of the fibre in fruits is found in the skins.
  • Eat bran cereal or add bran to other foods, like soup and yoghurt.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water and other fluids a day - unless you are fluid restricted.
  • Exercise.
  • Go to the toilet when you feel the urge.

 

Tips to relieve constipation

  • Drink 2-4 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 2 weeks without seeking medical advice.

Dining environment

  • Minimise distractions in the area where you eat.
  • Stay focused on the tasks of eating and drinking.

General tips

  • Eat slowly.
  • Cut your food into small pieces and chew it thoroughly.

What to do if you have a dry mouth

As we age, our bodies often signal us less when we are thirsty. In addition, some medications can dry you out, so it's important to keep drinking plenty of fluids.

  • Dip or moisten breads, toast, biscuits or crackers in milk, tea 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 more moist. Try gravy, broth or melted butter.
  • Eat sugar-free chewing gum or fruit ice to help increase saliva and moisten your mouth.
  • Consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Ask your doctor about artificial saliva products. They are available over-the-counter or on prescription.

Maintaining your weight

Malnutrition and weight maintenance are often issues for those with Alzheimer's disease.

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating 5-6 times a day may be easier than eating the same amount of food in three meals.
  • Consider taking a daily vitamin/mineral supplement.
  • Liquid diet supplements may be helpful.

Always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 09, 2017

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