Dementia: MIND diet could slow the decline in brain health says researchers – what to eat

Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature

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Dementia isn’t a single disease. Instead, it’s a broad term that describes a collection of symptoms. These symptoms can affect someone’s memory, as well as their ability to think, process information, and communicate with others. According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people worldwide live with dementia, and more than 10 million new cases are diagnosed every year. With these shocking statistics, doing all you can to reduce your risk is vital.

MIND (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay) is an association with the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet.

Research suggests it may reduce the risk of developing dementia or slow the decline in brain health.

The diets concept was brought upon during a study by nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris and colleagues at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The results were published in September 2015 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia and referenced past studies on the dietary connection between food and cognitive decline, and then borrowed concepts from the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet — two plant-based diets — to develop a meal plan with brain-boosting benefits.

The diet encourages fuelling up with flavonoid-rich produce which highly benefit the mind.

Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries have been shown to prevent cognitive ageing in women by up to two and a half years, according to a study published in the Annals of Neurology.

Eating leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens is also another staple of the diet.

These foods have been proven to lower inflammation and oxidative stress, two factors that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This was further bolstered by a previous study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Other important aspects of the MIND diet include:

  • At least three servings of whole grains a day
  • Green leafy vegetables (such as salad) at least six times a week
  • Other vegetables at least once a day
  • Berries at least twice a week
  • Red meat less than four times a week
  • Fish at least once a week
  • Poultry at least twice a week
  • Beans more than three times a week
  • Nuts at least five times a week
  • Fried or fast food less than once a week
  • Mainly olive oil for cooking
  • Less than a tablespoon of butter or margarine a day
  • Less than a serving of cheese a week
  • Less than five pastries or sweets a week
  • One glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day.

It’s possible that eating a certain diet affects biological mechanisms, such as oxidative stress and inflammation, that underlie Alzheimer’s.

Studies have shown that people with high intakes of saturated and trans fats in their diet have a higher risk of developing dementia, while people with a diet that favours unsaturated fats have a lower risk.

It’s important for a person to learn to adapt to healthier types of diets proven to lower risk and make adjustments where they can.

Early symptoms of dementia include:

  • Memory changes
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Changes in mood
  • Apathy
  • Difficulty completely tasks
  • Confusion
  • Failing sense of direction
  • Repetition.

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