Nutrition and Dementia: Foods That May Induce Memory Loss & Increase Alzheimer’s

Studies have shown that while some foods boost memory, others actually increase risks for Alzheimer’s disease. These same foods are linked to other serious health problems, making it that much more important to limit or remove them from a senior’s diet.

A healthy diet does more than benefit our waistlines. It improves our heart health, lowers our risk for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, and keeps our minds healthy. In fact, research has shown that a poor diet impacts memory and increases a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Why Some Foods Induce Memory Loss

The brain needs its own brand of fuel. It requires healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and adequate vitamins and minerals. Consuming too little of these foods and too many complex carbohydrates, processed foods and sugar stimulates the production of toxins in the body. Those toxins can lead to inflammation, the build-up of plaques in the brain and, as a result, impaired cognitive function.

These effects apply to people of all ages, not just seniors.

Foods That Induce Memory Loss

Unfortunately, the foods that hamper memory are common staples in the American diet. White breads, pasta, processed meats and cheeses, all of these have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Some experts have even found that whole grain breads are as bad as white breads because they spike blood sugar, which causes inflammation.

Foods That Increase Alzheimer's Risks

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Here’s a list of foods linked to increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Processed cheeses, including American cheese, mozzarella sticks, Cheez Whiz and Laughing Cow. These foods build up proteins in the body that have been associated with Alzheimer’s.
  • Processed meats, such as bacon, smoked turkey from the deli counter and ham. Smoked meats like these contain nitrosamines, which cause the liver to produce fats that are toxic to the brain.
  • Beer. Most beers contain nitrites, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s.
  • White foods, including pasta, cakes, white sugar, white rice and white bread. Consuming these causes a spike in insulin production and sends toxins to the brain.
  • Microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, a chemical that may increase amyloid plaques in the brain. Research has linked a buildup of amyloid plaques to Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy Foods That Boost Memory

Changing dietary habits is never easy. However, avoiding foods that induce memory loss and eating more of the foods that boost memory improves your chances of enjoying all-around health.

Here’s the list of foods that help boost memory for seniors and the rest of us:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Salmon and other cold-water fish
  • Berries and dark-skinned fruits
  • Coffee and chocolate
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cold-pressed virgin coconut oil

Do you know a senior whose memory improved after making dietary changes?

More Articles:


Clarke R, et al. Folate, vitamin B12, and serum total homocysteine levels in confirmed Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol. 1998 Nov;55(11):1449-55.

Desilets AR, et al. Role of huperzine a in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Ann Pharmacother. 2009 Mar;43(3):514-8.

Gu Y, et al. Food combination and Alzheimer disease risk: a protective diet. Arch Neurol. 2010 Jun;67(6):699-706.

Lourida I, et al. Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: a systematic review. Epidemiology. 2013 Jul;24(4):479-89.

Mandel SA, et al. Understanding the Broad-Spectrum Neuroprotective Action Profile of Green Tea Polyphenols in Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011;25(2):187-208.

Mangialasche F, et al. High plasma levels of vitamin E forms and reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk in advanced age. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20(4):1029-37.

Pettegrew JW, et al. Clinical and neurochemical effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 1995 Jan-Feb;16(1):1-4.

Scarmeas N, et al. Physical activity, diet, and risk of Alzheimer disease. JAMA. 2009 Aug 12;302(6):627-37.6. Unlisted. Citicoline. Alt Med Rev. 2008;13(1):50-7.

Baum L, et al. Six-month randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot clinical trial of curcumin in patients with Alzheimer disease. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Feb;28(1):110-3

Cardoso BR. Importance and management of micronutrient deficiencies in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:531-42.

Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Alice

    I would like you to publish the links to the scientific studies that back up these claims. I believe with a topic as serious as this, that it is an absolute necessity to always link to the SCIENTIFIC STUDY that supports the claims. I would be highly interested in this information. Thanks!

    • doglover

      I totally agree with you! Too much misinformation is cause for skepticism.

      • Chelsia Hart

        Hi Doglover, the sources are listed at the bottom of the article. Sorry about that!

    • Chelsia Hart

      Hi Alice, sorry about that! We listed the sources at the bottom of the article.

    • Chelsia Hart

      And thank you for pointing this out.


    Is it possible to be able to print out this table and also the one on memory boosting foods only? I mean without the whole article, thanks!

    • MO

      Yes. Cut and paste is all you have to do.


        Thank you very much, my memory is definitely slipping. I should have known that simple solution.

        From my Android phone on T-Mobile. The first nationwide 4G network.Disqus wrote:  Settings

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        MO (Guest):
        Yes. Cut and paste is all you have to do.
        11:57 p.m., Sunday July 20


        MO’s comment is in reply to ALFREDO GUTIERREZ:

        Is it possible to be able to print out this table and also the one on memory boosting foods only? I mean without the whole … Read more
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  • las730

    Alice is seriously rude!!!

  • You don’t have anyone in your family dealing with AD, do you. The foods you list as the worst thing possible, are some of the best things with dealing with AD. There is no scientific study to support these claims, only the food police.

    • tpkyteroo

      I know it is hard to give up the very foods you love. Think of your family and friends. They deserve to have you live for many years. Eating healthily can also help deal with depression, negativity and other illnesses and diseases that we shouldn’t have to deal with.

      One study did find that eating a very healthy and clean Vegan plus Fish diet, plus a specific cocktail of meds and exercise, reversed AD in the 9 of the people they studied. They hope that this can be duplicated on a much larger scale. Until then, they aren’t calling it.

      However, Vegans who eat healthy vegan, aren’t known for getting much cancer or AD. All the people with AD and cancer I know, worshiped Beef, Pork, Chicken with Pasta and White rice. They would couple this with highly processed breads. The Vegans I knew, didn’t have any of these issues, and I knew several in both camps. Just saying. You do what you want. You have freewill as I believe that God gave us all freewill.

      signed one who eats too much white rice and is trying to eat healthier

      • That’s 9 people. In a major study out of the UK, with something like 1.5 million people, those who were ‘obese’ were 30% less likely to develop AD than those who were of a normal weight. That’s 1.5 million people.

        My father did better on cheap, lousy carbs. Complex carbs were a total brain drain. We finally gave up, and for the last year of his life, let him graze on cookies, Cheetos, and peanuts. It was quite remarkable. We could time it. Twenty minutes after tanking him up on what people now consider to be evil refined sugar, his brain was working. Give him a meal of seafood with a balanced complex carb and he was in trouble, mentally.

        I have a real problem with AD meds. If you get down to the fine print on some of them, they are used to control behavior. About a year ago, I went to pick one up at Walgreens. It was $300 that I did not have. I wrote down what it was and went home to start researching it. I discovered that it was starting to be prescribed for kids who were ADHD (or what ever they call it now). In other words – it was drugging him into more passive behavior. A week later, he was no longer sitting around with a vacant look in his eyes. He was active, curious, and his old personality was back. His brain worked better. My sister and I were almost ill over the fact that we had spent the last 5 years keeping him drugged and almost sedated.

        The brain need sugar to form energy to function. I think we are hurting people, almost creating what could be a serious dementia problem, by treating sugar like it is evil. There is some interesting work being done on a combination of whole oats, coconut oil, cinnamon, and honey. We kept my father on it, every day, for 3 years.

        Some of the most promising work being done on AD is with caffeine. In lab rats, when their brains are injected with caffeine, the damaged AD cells actually repair themselves.

        • tpkyteroo

          I’m fully aware that they want more research done to see if the results can be replicated on a larger scale. Still, they have proven in other studies that too much zinc, copper, iron, sugar and processed foods causes grey matter to form on the brain which in turn causes alzheimers or dementia. They also proved that Fish is good for memory, in other research studies.

        • John Wilson

          First, these are more anecdotes. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” However, if people are addicted to simple carbs, they DO perform better on them than they do during carb withdrawal. Sure. But that DOES NOT mean that simple carbs are good for you. If you are addicted to anything, you will “do better” on that substance if you ingest it during the withdrawal period. If you are addicted to cigarettes, and you quit for a couple of days, you’ll “do” poorly. But if you suddenly smoke again, you’ll “do well.” The trick is go make it THROUGH the withdrawal phase. For example, when people go on the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet, they go through carb withdrawal for about two weeks, often called the Keto Flu. They then usually feel GREAT as they start burning body fat and running their brains on ketones.

      • manfromsima

        All the ppl with AD and cancer got it from the pasta and white rice, the meat is very good if its clean .Meaning grass fed,cage free,wild caught.In fact i read somewhere that going low carb has been working out real well.

        • tpkyteroo

          It was any and all processed foods – not just white rice and pasta – and too much copper, zinc and iron. Beef does contain a lot of iron. My grandfather and my mother both ate lots of beef. They abhored a healthy diet. Meats are not off the hook. Dr. Neal Barnard’s family has an extremely high amount of Alzheimers who were all on the “healthy farmers” diet, no to Vegan, no to whole foods diet. Dr. Neal Barnard went Vegan and whole foods. He does not have Alzheimer’s. I am working my way towards being more whole foods, but due to food intolerances and allergies, I admit that I won’t be able to go completely grain free. Personally, I think Dr. Barnard has the best diet, if you add in enough Chia seeds and Flax seeds (which does give you the same benefit as fish).

          • manfromsima

            I look at it like this.What were the hunter gathers eating.Meat veggies a little fruit maybe some seeds or nuts.Best of luck to you finding what works for you.

          • tpkyteroo

            Low carb, high protein has been debunked I was told. OTOH, I think that everyone is different and that what works for one person, does not necessarily work for another person. Not everyone can or should go Vegan. I can’t and should never go non-Vegan. Food Allergies play a huge part there. But some people’s bodies just do not process B12 very well except from very specific protein sources. I have a cousin who gets light headed if he doesn’t eat chicken or beef on a regular basis. Fish doesn’t work for him.

  • Gloria Wilson

    Could you possibly eat pasta and cold cut that are organic?

    • Colleen Markham

      Brown rice pasta, non-GMO. Unfortunately even non-GMO, organic wheat is very different from the wheat we ate a hundred years ago, even 50, because of selective breeding to make the gluten portion of the wheat larger so that it could grow in more harsh climates. This renders the grain unrecognizable by our bodies, creating inflammation.

      • Rayray

        All commercially available wheat is non-GMO. There is no GMO wheat on the market. And yes, it’s easy to find organic pasta.

        The reason stated in the comment above regarding the purpose for selective wheat breeding is incorrect. The breeding from the 1930s-60s was focused on growing shorter stalks of wheat (“dwarf wheat”) to reduce lodging: where tall wheat stalks fall over under their own weight, causing the wheat head to rot on the ground. It was all about increasing yield. Less lodging = less crop lost = higher yields. This became even more important with agriculture practice shifting to nitrogen based fertilizers, which would cause non-dwarf strains to grow even taller, increasing the rate of lodging. Don’t believe the “Wheat Belly” hype.

        As for pasta, just remember most pasta is made with durum; an ancient form of wheat.

        • Riozobo

          I think you may be mistaken. I have family who grow wheat. The wheat they grow (and all farmers in the region grow), has been genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup. They spray routinely with this chemical- especially toward the end of the growing season-. It puts the plant into a shock mode- (before killing it), causing the crop to ripen as quickly as possible- they’ve also found that it makes the kernels larger. This is great for farmers but means that we’re ingesting that crap- which Roundup has not been tested for this use.

          • John Wilson

            According to a 2016 article by Reuters (and many others), “There are currently no commercially approved genetically modified wheat varieties and incidences of rogue plants are rare.” GMO wheat is apparently being TESTED, but it is apparently NOT being commercially grown.

          • Fatbully777

            Reuters is owned by the Rothschilds. Not a reliable source for humanity’s well-being.

  • Doc

    The opposite may actually be true with beer; it may be neuroprotective; it is a rich source of a component called uridine which helps new neurite growth; i would recommend that beer be removed from the list

    • Noddypocket

      Keep beer on any list. Unless it’s French beer.

  • Yvonne

    I saw on the news this morning that Dr. David Agus is involved in a study that may have some breakthroughs in an
    Alzheimer’s study. A drug that reduces plaque in the arteries and brain. Hopefully on the marked in 2016. Solanezumab. An infusion once a month with no serious side effects.

    • happyskydiver

      From “Lilly Announces Top-Line Results of Solanezumab Phase 3 Clinical Trial” there is this:

      “While the study results, including many secondary clinical endpoints, directionally favored solanezumab, the magnitudes of treatment differences were small. There were no new safety signals identified in the study. Lilly will not pursue regulatory submissions for solanezumab for the treatment of mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.”

  • Pedecia

    Whole grains complex carbohydrates linked to increase risks of alzheimer?? What a joke!! What about meat and diary?? Why are not mentioned here as the first principal cause of most all diseases of humanity??? Until all you people decide to speak up the truth and stop with the non sense people will always be affected by alzheimer, MS, Heart disease, Cancer and premature death. Only a complete Natural Plant Base Diet without any animal products and sub products can prevent these diseases nothing else. Good job on keeping confusing the masses. All these disease are nearly all connected to arteries and veins blockage. When a vein gets clogged in the brain that’s what happens. Just recently an Italian team of doctors discovered the hot water saying that MS is caused by excess Iron into the brain. Iron that could not be flushed out because of veins blockage. A diet with animal products will clog your arteries and veins, a diet full of fat and cholesterol will clog your arteries and veins including in the brain. The body needs 80% carbohydrates, 10% protein and 10% fat on a meal and these percentages are perfectly reached eating a full natural plant based diet without added processed oils of any kind. So also olive oil, coconut oil and the like are all highly detrimental for the human body. If you want the benefits claimed by the producers of oils eat the product itself in his integrity. Eat coconuts, eat olives, eat flaxseed, eat chia seeds. Don’t believe on these corrupt, money driven scumbags. They just want your money and will always hope to get you sick so you go back to them for more. Eat a natural whole food plant based diet without unnatural oils and you will never need to worry about alzheimer and all the other diseases the thiefs made up so they could sell us more pills and unnatural remedies. Give it a try and you’ll see for yourself. Namaste’.

  • Is the current GMO wheat to be the cause agent to make wheat (whole or white) the culprit of causing alzheimer’s?

    • Rayray

      This is a common misconception. There is no commercially available GMO wheat on the market, anywhere in the world.

  • Before wheat was termed GMO’d was it discovered that wheat (whole or white) could cause alzheimer’s?

  • Coozoe

    Complex carbohydrates (beans, potatoes, etc) are never the problem. The article should say simple carbohydrates (processed foods, simple sugar). Don’t cause more confusion that’s already been set up by Big Food. The misinformation held by 99% of the population is a travesty of justice. Big Food will go by way of Big Tobacco. Hasta La Vista.

    • mask sweger

      right arm…I mean right on…blood pressure is a factor I think…no scientific basis…sorry…but trash food like heavy white pasta butter garlic and eggs…Martha has great ideas about combining these …I;ve been scarfing this shit down like its going out of style monitoring my blood pressure and even regulating outside doctors orders but within his parameters and I am improving…not 17 yet but ….always ask Martha first, she knows a lot more than shes letting on…im just saying …I hope this helps….thank you for your time…oh by the way flat bread chicken breast garlic butter and mozzarella put together adds protein I think…again lean heavy on marthas techniques shes a sturdy girl she can take it!!!

    • Liz regan

      I thought the same Cooke, I wonder if it was a misprint.

  • solarray51

    My roommate eats exactly the foods you mention (he is 67); namely laughing cow cheese, American singles, processed cold cut meat, pasta in a soup he makes, frozen sausage muffins for breakfast alternating with croissants, and every day for a snack microwaved popcorn. He is fighting skin cancer but that is because he lost most of his sweat glands in a fire. He is on experimental chemo to prevent its spread which seems to be working. Meanwhile he has an incredibly sharp memory is extremely intelligent. His memory is both short term and long term. Of course he has little stress – Retired and watches a lot of TV. talks to his little bird who is 25 year-old cockateil.

  • Alexis-Azrael

    Your body is a temple created by God. Jesus warned us all clearly through God own word NOT to eat and do certain things in life there abominations and unclean for you.

    Eat impurities all your life that temple God gave you becomes damaged. Not only by food but by outside pollutants and negative spiritual energy that is grounded here on earth ‘the darkness’.

    The impurities and negative spirit sits in the body and does unfruitful works. Over time if not taken care of cast out or manged through life style changes and faith. You iminnantly put into your body at risk from these environmental ‘toxins’ Negative spirit is poisonous to you. When I first ever encountered ‘the Devil’ that’s one of the first things he told me ‘I am Beelzebub and I AM POISON!’ (It’s online, in the evidence review video, if you don’t believe me. I found out by pure chance really that one of his favourite foods was sausages. He came every time I ate Pork products after that. I can see and hear the Spirit, I won’t touch unclean foods. It will eventually kill you. It damages your soul as well sow and reap!

    Eating healthy protects your body

    Prayer protects your body family and soul

    Not been around pollutants and toxins (Cities) also protects your body

    You have all been dubbed down by medicine and science just like the Devil wanted you to be. The more stuck in mans medics you become the more undercover his unfruitful works become. Hence why he is poison! He works in the most sickening of ways my friends you really do not know how evil and twisted this thing really is. He wants you to turn to science think about it, ‘I am poison’

  • Rusty Nale

    Another protectant that has shown promise is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is the ingredient in Marijuana that DOES NOT make you high. It is also helpful in patients who suffer from epileptic seizures, anxiety, PTS, as well.

    • Donna Mattingly

      I have been using organic CBD oil for several months now, started because of the serious stressors that I worry are causing Alz. I am so much improved! A company doctor called about 4 months after I began to check on the effectiveness – what was most profound to me was when he began asking what has changed. Yup, memory is much improved, train of thought flowing more smoothly. The he began asking about many things (cystic disease my husband has, for instance) and we came to vision. I told him I was very worried about my eyesight, never good. He told me to go get last year’s glasses and I’ll be damned, they were perfect! Two months later I am wearing glasses from two years ago.

      Check it out, it’s miraculous with stress, depression. – and my crippling anxiety.

  • Mary

    Approximately thirty-five years ago, I began realizing that I had problems when I ate sugar and wheat. I stopped eating sugar, and started making my own bread with stone-ground whole wheat flour, thinking that the refining process that flour goes through was the problem After a period of time, I realized I couldn’t tolerate that either. After eating wheat, I became bloated, had joint pain, sleepiness, and forgetfulness. If I had an amount that most Americans eat in two or three days, I would have mood swings and anti-social behaviors, as well.

    I never found scientific data explaining my problems, but my experiences were significant enough to basically stop eating these foods. Occasionally through the years, I would “fall off the wagon,” and the results were the same.

    I’m 78 years old now, and my health, both physical and mental, is good. I enjoy intellectual pursuits and have a good memory.

    I’m grateful that I became aware of my problem, and sometimes wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t been able to identify the cause.

    • Just saying

      Check out Wheat Belly by Cardiologist Dr. Wm. Davis – he explains the problem of what wheat does to the liver & consequently the body overall.

  • Connie

    My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the late 1960’s, He was in his early 60’s. He lived until 1981. (note: my mom was an RN and kept him at home until she broke her hip in 1980.) I noticed in 2014 that I was experiencing fogged memory, difficulty focusing, problems remembering terms and words. Also I had struggled with osteoporosis since my early 40’s and through the years had used evista, forteo, and boniva. Now I was beginning to experience stiffness throughout my body, skin problems and hair loss. In what I believe was an answer to my prayers, the first part of 2014 I came across a gluten sensitivity quiz. Soon after I took the gluten out of my diet. I started to see improvements in my overall health and ability to think. In 2015 I threw out all cane sugar and grains, going 95% Paleo. I do eat rice and unprocessed organic cheeses from time to time. I buy organic fruit and vegetables. We eat grass fed beef infrequently. We eat Wild fish, organic eggs and free range chickens. Almond flour, arrow root flour, Maple sugar, honey, flax seed, coconut milk and coconut flour. We rarely eat out and when we do I ask for a gluten free menu. I also take multiple supplements, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B’s, etc. Weight bearing exercise and cardio 4 to 5 times a week. I’m blessed with a supportive partner in my husband who is a certified personal trainer and is studying nutrition and has worked with me on getting the right supplement balance in my diet. My mind has cleared, my skin has improved, my hair stopped falling out, and my bone density has improved (as measured by a recent bone density exam, which has amazed and pleased my doctors) even though I no longer take pharmaceuticals, which I took for years. I will be 59 in 2017 and I’m optimistic that these life style changes will make the difference in the quality of my life going forward. It may seem extreme but once you start living this way you can’t see living any other way.

    • Liliya

      Thank you for sharing your testimony, Connie.

  • Muni_Corp_Citizen

    “Lean proteins?” The bunk continues! Sugar can only be replaced by fats
    as protein should never exceed ~ 30% of one’s diet. There are only three
    macro-nutrients, carbohydrates, fats and proteins and there’s no such
    thing as “essential carbohydrates.” The brain operates better on natural
    fats, animal included. With the excess carbohydrates consumed in the
    west, we see a correlations between ailments caused by excessive sugar
    consumption and Alzheimer’s and dementia, like diabetes. Throw in heart
    disease, which is a result of long-term, chronically unstable blood
    sugar. Now research is uncovering a possible connection between wheat,
    brain lesions and ALS to those who might be genetically sensitive. How
    ironic that Lou Gehrig was the first public image on the Wheaties box.
    Wheat has been GM since the early 1980s.

    “Researchers Report a Possible Association Between ALS and Gluten Sensitivity”

  • Bad Will Hunting

    I think you should include vegetable oils on your list. None of them are safe. The incidence of cancer and heart disease took a dramatic increase in the 1950’s when animal fats were replaced with “healthy” vegetable oils, margarine and shortening. They are not natural or healthy. For example, Crisco shortening was invented in the 1920’s as a gear lubricant. Animal fat contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which we need to function properly. When you replace those saturated fats with unnatural vegetable oil, you ingest mostly polyunsaturated and Omega 6 fats, which is very unhealthy and sets up every cell in our body to fail.

    The only safe plant-based oils are extra virgin coconut, palm, and olive oil. Watch out for the olive oil, though, because most of it is adulterated with cheap vegetable oils to increase profits from unscrupulous companies. A good company I’ve come across is California Olive Ranch, where the oil is 100% sourced from their own olive trees.

    Google the term “vegetable oil hazards” and look it up yourself. Good luck.

  • Nicola

    I’m really interested in this feed. My mum is going through memory tests at the moment and is in the fairly early stages of dementia or alzheimers. Do these diet changes just help prevent alzheimers or is their any evidence that they can stop / slow the progression of it once it’s started. My parents have a healthy diet but it does contain a lot of processed meat and some cheese, however as routine is really important to them, I don’t want to suggest a change unnecessarily

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