Protect Your Brain from Alzheimer's Using This Diet?

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Berries are one component of the MIND diet.

You do not need to follow it rigorously, but even moderate adherence to the "Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay" (MIND) diet may protect your brain against Alzheimer's disease. This diet was developed by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and her colleagues. This article reviews some research about this diet and what the diet entails.

Development of the MIND diet

The MIND diet was developed based on research on other diets for optimal brain health. It is essentially a combination of the Mediterranean and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets. Both of these diets have been shown to improve cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, and some studies demonstrate that they may protect against dementia.

The MIND diet and Alzheimer's disease

In the study reviewed, the MIND diet was not an intervention in itself, but was compared to the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. Researchers drew from data from a body of research started in 1997 known as the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), and examined what volunteers for this project were already eating. Participants' eating habits were then compared to the incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

The study demonstrated that adherence to all of these diets was correlated with a declined incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

With the MIND diet, however, even a moderate adherence was associated with a decreased incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

What does the MIND diet entail?

Fortunately, the MIND diet does not require one to eliminate every delicious type of food that exists from his or her diet. It also is not as difficult to follow as other diets, such as the Mediterranean diet.

 

The MIND diet entails a minimum of at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and another vegetable daily. It also includes eating nuts, beans, poultry and berries minimally twice weekly, and fish at least once a week. The MIND diet additionally includes a daily glass of wine.

Berries are the only fruits considered important for the MIND diet. Blueberries are especially good for the brain, and strawberries are also noted to be beneficial. 

It is important to limit certain unhealthy foods in order to maximize one's chances of warding off Alzheimer's disease. One is encouraged to have no more than a tablespoon a day of butter, and maximally one serving of cheese, fried or fast food per week.

Points were earned by participants in the study by eating the "healthy" foods and limiting the "unhealthy" foods, and an extra point was received if olive oil was the primary oil used in household.

Can changing your diet really protect you from Alzheimer's disease?

The study reviewed adds to the body of literature demonstrating that dietary choices may have an impact on whether one develops Alzheimer's disease.

Obviously other factors such as one's genetics and other aspects of lifestyle also come into play when considering the development of Alzheimer's disease or any other disorder. Diet definitely is one area that can be controlled, and should be attended to in order to maximize the chances of protecting one's brain.

Source

Morris M C, Tangney C C, Wang Y, Sacks F M, Bennett D A and Aggarwal N T. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. Published Online: February 11, 2015

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