Did you know that the foods your consuming on a daily basis could have an impact on your cognitive health?
According to recent research conducted by Rush University, a specific diet - the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet - may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The study followed 923 individuals aged 58 to 98 for an average of 4.5 years. The participants were told to follow the MIND diet and were then assessed with a 154-item questionnaire and 19 cognitive tests. The researchers found that those who followed the diet the closest had the greatest cognitive impact.
The results showed that participants who followed a strict regimen of eating only foods from the MIND diet had lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer's by as much as 53 percent. Those who followed the diet moderately lowered their risk by about 35 percent.
"Unlike the other two diets we studied, even moderate adherence to the MIND diet brought about significant reduction in dementia risk," said Martha Clare Morris, director of the section on Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology at Rush University and leader of the study.
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets - two regimens that have been found to reduce an individual's chances of developing cardiovascular conditions, such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke, reported Rush University Medical Center.
According to Morris, the MIND diet may be easier to follow than the Mediterranean diet, as it does not call for daily consumption of fish or three to four servings of both fruits and vegetables.
The MIND diet foods
If you are considering following the MIND diet, here are the brain-healthy foods you can consume and how often you should be eating them, according to Today's Geriatric Medicine.
- Green leafy vegetables - every day
- Other vegetables - at least once a day
- Nuts - every day
- Berries - at least twice a week
- Beans - every other day
- Whole grains - three times a day
- Fish - at least once a week
- Poultry - at least twice a week
- Olive oil
- Wine - one glass a day.
These foods recommended in the MIND diet are rich in nutrients such as vitamin E and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
"Dietary vitamin E (tocopherol), which is found in nuts, plant oils, seeds, and leafy greens, is a very potent antioxidant associated strongly with brain health," according to Morris.
She also added that fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can contribute to synaptic proteins in the brain.
Foods to avoid
While it's important to follow the MIND diet in a strict manner for the best results, your progress will not be defeated if you slip up a bit. However, it is in your best interest to completely avoid or limit your consumption of the following foods:
- Red meats
- Butter and stick margarine - limit to less than 1 Tbsp. per day
- Cheese - less than one serving a week
- Sweets and pastries
- Fried or fast food - limit yourself to less than one serving a week.
Tips for following the MIND diet
Taking an initiative and eating to fight Alzheimer's disease doesn't have to be difficult. Consider these tips from Rush University Medical Center for starting the MIND diet off on the right foot:
- Try to eat vegetables raw or lightly steamed whenever possible for the most nutrients.
- If you choose to saute vegetables, always use olive oil, and don't use more than 1 Tbsp.
- Try dressing your green leafy salads with fresh herbs, spices, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice instead of heavy dressings and butter.
- Don't get bored with salads - try substituting lettuce with fresh spinach or chard every once in a while.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living