Eating Like This Reduces Your Risk of Alzheimer's By Half

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Eating Like This Reduces Your Risk of Alzheimer's By Half about undefined
What would you say if I told you there’s a delicious way to adjust your diet that could reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by 53%? And not only can you reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases, but cardiovascular disease as well? Plus you’ll look and feel 7.5 years younger than someone your age who eats the typical American diet. Would you want to know the foods that could do this for you? Then read on to discover the 10 most important foods to include in your diet… And a few to avoid. Recommended by a couple of doctors in our video interview series Awakening from Alzheimer’s, this eating plan to prevent dementia is aptly named the MIND diet. It stands for:
  • Mediterranean-DASH
  • Intervention for
  • Neurodegenerative
  • Delay
The MIND diet is compiled from two other proven healthy eating plans: the Mediterranean and the DASH diet. The DASH diet is an acronym for "dietary approach to stop hypertension." To eliminate hypertension, the theory goes, you eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry and nuts. You also eat less cholesterol, sodium (salt), saturated fat, meat and sugary drinks. Martha Clare Morris and her colleagues at the Department of Internal Medicine and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago created the MIND diet specifically as an early intervention to treat Alzheimer’s disease. In their research, published in two studies in 2015 in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Dr. Morris and her team reviewed the foods included in the Mediterranean and DASH diets and singled out the ones that are scientifically shown to have positive effects on the brain.

What the Research Shows About the MIND Diet

One study led by Dr. Morris followed 960 participants in the Memory and Aging Project, measuring their cognition over time while they lived on the MIND diet. The researchers found the MIND diet was associated with slower decline in their cognitive ability as measured by objective tests.1 The people who adhered strictly to the MIND diet saw a 53% decrease in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Those are dramatic results. Even people who only stuck to the diet moderately well saw a 35% risk decrease.2 According to the study, "The difference in decline between the top tertile [one third] and lowest was equivalent to being 7.5 years younger in age."3 I don’t know about you, but being biologically 7.5 years younger sounds attractive to me.

What’s on the MIND Diet?

By now you’re probably thinking, "So what’s on this diet that’s so effective, anyway?" The 10 foods on the MIND diet, chosen for their neuroprotective qualities are:
  1. Leafy greens
  2. Vegetables
  3. Raw nuts
  4. Berries
  5. Beans
  6. Whole grains
  7. Fish
  8. Poultry
  9. Olive oil
  10. Red wine
The plan is to eat three servings of whole grains, leafy greens and another vegetable every day, along with a glass of red wine. Add in fish, beans, or poultry once or twice a week. Snack on nuts and berries every other day. Generally avoid butter, cheese, fried and fast foods, pastries and sweets on the MIND diet, as these things can cause inflammation. (Side note: I don’t advocate drinking every single day. A couple of glasses of red wine a week would be better. See Issue #311 for details about alcohol consumption and brain health.)

The Connection Between the MIND and the Polymeal Diet

The Polymeal diet, much like the DASH diet, is designed to reduce your risk of heart disease. It includes:
  1. Vegetables
  2. Fish
  3. Almonds
  4. Garlic
  5. Fruit
  6. Dark chocolate
  7. Red wine
It’s pretty similar to the MIND diet, with the addition of garlic and dark chocolate, both of which have a lot of health benefits. Research shows the Polymeal diet can reduce your risk of heart disease by three-fourths.4 A study published in the British Medical Journal found that eating this way can:
  • Increase the life expectancy of men and women at risk for cardiovascular disease by 6.6 years and 4.8 years, respectively.
  • Increase the life expectancy of men and women free from cardiovascular disease by 9 years and 8.1 years, respectively.
The researchers concluded that "the Polymeal promises to be an effective, non-pharmacological, safe, cheap and tasty alternative to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and increase life expectancy in the general population."5 Lowering your risk of heart disease also soothes chronic inflammation, which benefits your brain. Inflammation figures in all the so-called degenerative diseases of aging. It should be fairly easy to incorporate the variety of foods listed in the MIND diet. All the usual disclaimers apply: buy organic whenever possible, consume alcohol in moderation and listen to your body first and foremost. If you have gluten or lectin sensitivity, modify your whole grains and bean consumption accordingly.
  1. MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging.
  2. Diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s.
  3. MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging.
  4. The Polymeal: A more natural, safer, and probably tastier (than the Polypill) strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75%.
  5. The Polymeal: A more natural, safer, and probably tastier (than the Polypill) strategy to reduce cardiovascular disease by more than 75%.

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