Step 4 - Follow a healthy diet

If you drink alcohol, keep it to no more than two standard drinks on any day.

Your brain needs a range of nutrients to function properly. Evidence suggests that a healthy, balanced diet may help in maintaining brain health and functionality but more research is needed to understand if there are specific foods that may be able to reduce the risk of dementia.

Several studies have found that a high intake of saturated fats, such as those found in meat, deep fried foods and takeaway food and trans fats often found in pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits and buns are associated with an increased risk of dementia. So what you eat could affect your brain.

An eating plan that includes a higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats or 'good fats', such as those found in fish and olive oil, is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Foods that are high in antioxidants such as tomatoes, pinto and kidney beans, pecan nuts, cranberries, blueberries and oranges also seem to be good for brain health.

The omega 3 fatty acids, such as those contained in oily fish and walnuts, may reduce inflammation in the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells. Some studies have shown an association between higher fish consumption and lower dementia risk.

Follow the National Dietary Guidelines by eating a variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, fish, grains, nuts, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), and lean meat. Reduce foods high in saturated fats including full fat dairy products, fried food and desserts.

What about alcohol?

Over time, drinking large quantities of alcohol may increase the risk of developing dementia. In fact, there is a type of dementia that may develop in anyone who regularly drinks excessive amounts of alcohol over a number of years.

Light to moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of dementia. The benefits of moderate consumption include reducing inflammation, increasing good cholesterol and increasing brain blood flow, all of which have positive effects on brain health.

See the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.

Step Five - Enjoy social activity

Your Brain Matters was supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Fund from July 2012 to June 2015.

DCRC

The National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500

Alzheimer's Australia would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians and carers of the country of Australia. We acknowledge and respect the Aboriginal people of Australia's relationship with country and their cultural and spiritual beliefs.