Did you know that what you eat today could determine if you get dementia tomorrow? Most of us don’t want to think about getting older. The statistics are scary and make cognitive impairment seem inevitable.
Alzheimer’s Disease affects more than five million Americans and the numbers are increasing. Dementia is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. It is also a major cause of dependency and disability. One in three Americans over the age of 65 die with it. One in five seniors have mild cognitive impairment. One in seven are diagnosed with dementia.
Should you cross your fingers and just hope it doesn’t happen to you? Absolutely not. There is a lot you can do today to be proactive in the fight against degenerative brain disease and disfunction.
According to the CDC, cognitive impairment is NOT inevitable. The lifestyle choices you make today can make or break your golden years. There are ways to protect your learning, memory and thought processing. Following the MIND Diet is one of the best.
The good news is that you can slow brain aging by seven and a half years, and lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53%!
WHAT IS THE MIND DIET?
The MIND diet combines elements from the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It zeros in on foods that prevent and slow brain aging, reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
MIND DIET BRAIN-BOOSTING FOODS, SUGGESTED SERVINGS & EXAMPLES
- GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES: 6+ ONE-CUP SERVINGS PER WEEK. Salads, spinach, kale
- OTHER VEGETABLES: 1+ DAILY. Bell peppers, beets, eggplant
- BERRIES: 2+ HALF-CUP SERVINGS PER WEEK. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries
- NUTS: 5+ SERVINGS PER WEEK. Walnuts, almonds, cashews
- OLIVE OIL: use for cooking in place of butter or other oils
- WHOLE GRAINS: 3+ SERVINGS DAILY. Oatmeal, quinoa, 100% whole wheat bread
- FISH: 1+ SERVINGS PER WEEK. Salmon, tuna, sardines
- BEANS: 4+ SERVINGS PER WEEK. Garbanzos, black beans, lentils
- POULTRY: 2+ SERVINGS PER WEEK. Turkey or chicken
- WINE (OPTIONAL): 1 (OR LESS) 5 OZ. SERVING DAILY. Red or white
MIND DIET FOODS TO AVOID OR LIMIT
- BUTTER AND MARGARINE: USE LESS THAN 1 TBSP DAILY. Replace with olive oil
- CHEESE: CONSUME LESS THAN ONCE A WEEK
- RED MEAT: 3 SERVINGS PER WEEK OR LESS Beef, pork, lamb
- FRIED FOODS: LESS THAN ONCE A WEEK
- SWEETS: 4 TIMES A WEEK OR LESS. Desserts, processed snacks, ice cream, cookies, doughnuts, pastries and candy.
HOW THE MIND DIET WORKS
The MIND diet reduces inflammation and oxidative stress which leads to cognitive decline. It contains nutrient-rich foods that are good for your brain. These foods contain: Carotenoids, Flavonoids, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamin E.
WHAT ELSE CAN THE MIND DIET DO?
The MIND diet also lowers your risk of heart disease, some cancers and diabetes
37% lower risk of death
60% lower risk of breast cancer
13% lower risk of Parkinsonism Motor Impairments
It can also be modified for weight loss
THE MIND DIET, EXERCISE & COGNITIVE TRAINING: A WINNING STRATEGY
The MIND diet works best for those on it the longest and most consistently. Seniors who follow the diet moderately have a 35% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Those who follow it strictly lower their risk by 53%.
Combining the MIND diet with physical activity and cognitive training programs is a surefire way to optimize your brain power.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps to supply it with nutrients. Being physically active reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50%.
Cognitive training programs improve memory and thinking skills. Detecting patterns, memorizing lists and timing thought responses are ways to keep your brain active. Chess, puzzles, math problems and crafts also benefit your brain long-term.
A lifestyle that incorporates the MIND diet, exercise and cognitive training optimizes brain and overall health.
Dementia is the elephant in the room that threatens your peace of mind and independence. You can’t control all of your risk factors for cognitive decline but there is a lot you can do. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory MIND diet is the best place to start. It promotes eating minimally processed, largely plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients.
Blueberries, salmon, eggs, walnuts and broccoli are some of the superfoods on the MIND diet that boost brain power. Avoiding or limiting saturated fat and added sugar also protects your brain. Following the MIND diet, and exercising both your body and brain are the best ways to keep your mind sharp and young.
Rush.edu; Hsph.harvard.edu; healthline.com; webmd.com; health.usnews.com; forbes.com; medicalnewstoday.com; eatingwell.com; everydayhealth.com