An estimated 47 million people globally have Alzheimer's disease, and that number is projected to triple by 2050. There is no cure or real treatment, but studies show and according to the Alzheimer's Association, there are some things you can do to keep memory loss at bay: exercise, education, not smoking, reducing the impact of chronic conditions such as diabetes, getting adequate sleep, staying socially engaged, learning new things, taking care of your mental health and eating a healthy diet. One effort in particular, diet, is getting some renewed interest from scientists.
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The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, known as the MIND diet, is a brain-friendly eating plan developed by researchers at Rush University in Chicago and Harvard's School of Public Health in Boston. Since most people experience some kind of memory loss as they age, even if they don't suffer from Alzheimer's, it's not a bad diet for anyone who hopes to live long into old age.
The diet, driven by medical research, is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which have been shown to have a positive impact on full body and brain health. The MIND diet may be a little bit simpler to follow than the other two as you have to eat less fruit and fish. In an observational study, people who stuck closest to eating the MIND diet saw a 53% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's, even people who ate the MIND diet most (instead of "all") of the time saw a 35% reduction in developing the disease. It's a result that is considered "significant."
The MIND diet suggests eating at least one serving of fish a week. In contrast, the Mediterranean diet suggests eating more like 2-3 servings a week. Salmon, considered a "superfood," gives you a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids which studies show lower the risk of heart disease and fight inflammation. Earlier studies showed it also reduces anxiety.
Carbs are allowed on this diet, particularly of the whole grain variety. You should have three servings a day. Earlier studies have shown a connection between high fiber consumption and living a long life.
A glass of wine a day is allowed on the MIND diet. Wine is a good source of antioxidants, which is also good for your heart health. Resveratol in red wine may also help prevent damage to blood vessels.
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Poultry is on the MIND diet menu, two or more servings a week. Stick with baked, grilled or broiled, but skip the fried.
Snacking is allowed on the MIND diet. It suggests eating nuts five times a week. Eating pistachios has been shown to lower blood pressure in some people. Peanuts are known to be a good source of resveratrol, a compound with antioxidants that help brain and heart health, earlier studies show.
Eat three servings of beans a week. Beans are a good source of fiber which is important for digestion and also help you feel full, meaning you won't want to eat as much. A study in Japan found high soy bean consumption was associated with a lower incident of dementia and long life.
You knew leafy greens were on the MIND menu. Try six servings a week. Greens are good for your vascular health, earlier studies show. They're also good for your digestion.
A serving a day of other vegetables is also important. Vegetables provide nutrients your body needs, they are naturally low in fat and are a good source of fiber. Side benefit: the vitamin A in vegetables keeps your skin looking healthy and younger.
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When you cook your veggies or low fat poultry and fish, try olive oil. It should be your go-to oil. Earlier studies have shown people have improved cognitive function using it. Considered a healthy fat, it has antioxidants, and can also reduce the risk of heart disease and has been shown to prevent the spread of cancer cells, earlier studies show.
What doesn'tmake the MIND diet is dessert, at least of the pastry variety. Sweets are empty calories and while they make you happy for a moment, the fat and sugar is not good for your health. Avoid them if possible.
The butter-loving French culture won't like this news, but butter is not on the MIND diet. You can have a tiny amount a day, but you may want to replace it with the healthier fat in olive oil.
Cheese is also on the forbidden list. The MIND diet suggests keeping your cheese habit to once a week, if at all. Low fat cheese may be a better option if you can't break the habit, according to earlier studies.
Sadly, fast food doesn't make the MIND diet either, and neither does fried food. Again the empty calories and fat are not worth breaking your healthy diet.
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And finally, red meat doesn't make the MIND diet menu either, but the diet does allow people to eat a serving once a week. A number of studies link red or processed meat consumption with chronic conditions and heart problems.