Research shows the MIND diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s

Here’s what to eat what to avoid eating to protect against cognitive decline and dementia.

Do you know of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease? More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization.

Up to 50 percent of all men and women over 80 years of age will develop Alzheimer’s disease; one in nine adults over 65. We spend more than $100 billion in health care costs in the U.S. to treat Alzheimer’s disease in the primary care setting alone.

A study done at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago published March 19, 2017, in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association showed that a specific eating pattern showed promise in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by an estimated 35 to 53 percent.

The study compared the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean diet to a new collection of foods that showed strong links by previous research to protect against cognitive decline and dementia. The new eating pattern, named The MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), puts emphasis on brain-protective foods and avoiding foods that are thought to harm brain health. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

The good news is that this easy-to-follow eating pattern not only may help to prevent this disease, it also helps prevent high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. There are many lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that play a role in who gets Alzheimer’s.

The disease takes a devastating toll on cognitive function. Symptoms include memory loss, as well as a decline in language skills, reasoning, attention and visual perception.

Now we know that what we eat may also play a significant role in who gets the disease and who doesn’t.

The MIND diet reflects nutrients shown to slow cognitive decline, lower risk of Alzheimer’s, decrease amyloid (a plaque that is a distinguishing marker of Alzheimer’s) in the brain or neuron loss in animal studies and a decrease in inflammation. The study results implied that people who follow this pattern of eating earlier in life and who practice it consistently over the years gain the most protective benefit from it.

You eat these 10 food groups:

Green leafy vegetables (like spinach and salad greens): At least six servings a week

Other vegetables: At least one a day

Nuts: Five servings a week

Berries: Two or more servings a week

Beans: At least three servings a week

Whole grains: Three or more servings a day

Fish: Once a week

Poultry (like chicken or turkey): Two times a week

Olive oil: Use it as your main cooking oil.

Wine: One glass a day

And avoid these five food groups:

Red meat: Less than four servings a week

Butter and margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily

Cheese: Less than one serving a week

Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week

Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week

This is for information only and not intended as personal medical advice.

Good nutrition, no matter what the age, helps us to prevent, delay and manage many chronic diseases and improve overall health and well-being.

Kim Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified health and wellness coach and founder of Total Health. Visit www.totalhealthrd.com or www.facebook.com/totalhealthnutrition for more. Follow her on Twitter @healthrd.

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