The Alzheimer’s Diet Connection

Can you keep Alzheimers disease at bay by changing your eating habits? One study shows that patients who followed a blend of two popular dietary plans called the MIND diet cut their risk for developing Alzheimer’s by as much as half.

The Science

Nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues at Rush University Medical Center developed a diet to fight Alzheimer’s disease called the MIND diet, according to a news release by the school.  It’s a combination of the popular Mediterranean diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Both eating plans are recommended by the Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association and are thought to reduce the risk of hypertension, heart disease and dementia. Many people concerned with stopping memory loss and promoting brain health follow these diets.

In a paper published online March 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the study found that those who followed the MIND diet rigorously cut their risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent. And the great news? You don’t have to follow the diet perfectly all of the time. Even those who followed it “moderately well” cut their risk for developing Alzheimer’s by about 35 percent, according to the school.

What to eat

In a news release, Rush University Medical Center lists 10 “brain healthy” foods on the MIND diet that people should eat to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

These Alzheimer’s-fighting foods are

1. Nuts (snack on them most days)

2. Berries (half-cup serving at least twice a week, blueberries especially)

3. Whole grains (at least three servings a day)

4. Leafy green vegetables (one salad a day plus one other vegetable daily)

5. Other vegetables

6. Olive oil (use as primary cooking oil and in place of butter or margarine)

7. Wine (a glass a day)

8. Fish (at least once a week)

9. Poultry (at least twice a week)

10. Beans (eat every other day or so)

Similarly, the MIND diet suggests avoiding the following foods to promote brain health and to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

What to avoid?

1. Red meat

2. Fried or fast food (less than a serving a week)

3. Pastries and sweets

4. Butter and stick margarine (less than a tablespoon a day)

5. Cheese (less than a serving a week)Further research is needed, and diet isn’t the only component in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. But the study gives a promising look at the way a healthy diet can contribute to brain health and ward off dementia and memory loss. For more information on the MIND diet, visit Rush University Medical Center at www.rush.edu.

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